With so many types of batting (or wadding) out on the market today, choosing the right batting for your project can be overwhelming. However, picking a good batting for your quilt is very important as it affects your quilt’s appearance, loft, drape, softness, comfort, and washability. For those that are new to quilting I’m going to begin with some definitions:
Batting: is the middle layer of your quilt between the quilt top and the backing fabric.
Loft: the thickness of your batting, it can be thick (high loft) or thin (low loft) and this is dependent on the type of fibre you use.
Scrim: is a very very thin layer of polyester that is needle punched into the fibres and helps to better hold the fibres together. Generally, a 100% cotton batting allows quilting up to 4” apart whereas the same 100% cotton with scrim can be quilted 8” – 10” apart! Make sure you read the manufacturers information as this will tell you all you need to know.
Fibre: this is what your batting is made from. The main fibres are 100% cotton, Cotton/Polyester Blends (80/20 or 50/50), wool or wool blends, and bamboo. Others include silk, flannel and fusible batting. Each of these fibres have their own pro and cons which you will want to consider before deciding to use on your quilt.
Polyester – less expensive, lightweight, readily available and cannot be harmed by moths or mildew. It’s readily available. Because the fibre is synthetic it’s lacks breathability although is warmer that it’s cotton counterparts. It doesn’t need to be quilted as closely together. Although this can be used for machine quilting, it is better suited for hand quilting and comes in various lofts. High lofts are great for tied quilts.
100% Cotton – is a natural fibre so the batting breathes and is readily available. It resists fibre migration, however it may contain plant seeds that can release their oils and stain the quilt. Also it shrinks around 3-5% when washed. Allows for closer quilting up to 4”. This batting can give a puckered appearance when washed giving that vintage look, and is great if that is the look you’re after. It’s also good for hand or machine quilting.
Cotton/Poly Blend (80/20 or 50/50) – as it contains some natural fibres this batting also breathes and is readily available. It resists fibre migration and can have a small amount of shrinkage compared to 100%cotton. This batting is drapable and has low to medium loft and is generally warmer than the 100% cotton due to it’s poly content. Allows quilting 8-10” apart. This is good for machine quilting and appears to be a popular go-to for quilters.
Wool – is a natural insulator and hence is very warm. It’s usually pre-shrunk, pre-washed and on scrim and also comes in black. Although wool batting is expensive it has excellent drapability, is soft, enhances quilting stitches, and is suitable for hand and machine quilting. Wool/poly blends tend to be the same.
100% Bamboo – It’s very soft, luxurious, silky and supple to the touch, with excellent loft. It dries three times as faster than cotton and does not allow mould or mildew to grow. Bamboo is the most environmentally friendly batting as it requires no fertilisation, irrigation, pesticides or intervention by man.
Batting can be purchased by the metre/yard, in pre-cut sizes (for example in crib, twin, queen or king sizes), or by the roll (in different widths and up to 50 metres in length). Of course buying by the roll is a very expensive option and assumes that you are not only familiar with the batting type but love to use it for all your quilting projects. Also keep in mind you need to find a large enough place to store it.
Suzanne and I basically use what we have on hand. We’ve used both 100% cotton and a Cotton/Poly (80/20) blend.
The biggest monetary cost for us is purchasing batting and backing fabrics. As you know batting is very expensive and we’ve had to purchase it by the 30-50m roll! As part of Sew Generous we have purchased several 30-50 m rolls and this has cost us thousands of dollars. We do not begrudge this as we love what we do as part of Sew Generous with you. But if anyone is able and could donate some batting or backing fabrics it would be greatly appreciated. Even large scrap pieces of batting would help as they are easily joined to make one large piece. Or if you know of somewhere that sells batting at a very good prices or even wholesale please let us know.
Let’s all be sew generous,