Basics: All About Batting

Batting (also called wadding):  General Information

  • Quilt batting places special emphasis on quilting and will support your quilt through generations.
  • Cheap wadding can allow more bearding. ‘Bearding’ is when fibres work their way out of the quilt. 
  • Natural fibres are cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • Synthetic fibres will dull a rotary blade so use an old blade when cutting batting. 
  • Use one with a heat resistant layer for table and kitchen use
  • Some are fusible, to secure layers
  • It’s often a good idea to match the wadding to the quilt, e.g. cotton for cotton, silk for silk.
  • Waddings often shrink – check the manufacturers guidelines on the package to find out whether you can wash the wadding before use to reduce shrinkage. 
  • Wadding is available in pre cut pieces for standard quilt sizes.

Loft

‘Loft’ refers to weight and thickness of wadding 

Low loft wadding are thinner giving a nice flat finished quilt. High loft is puffier. Puffier batting is better for higher definition quilts. Very puffy battings best for tied quilts and comforters.

Wall Hangings:  Use a low loft, flatter, batting for wall hangings, it drapes better.

‘Warm and Natural’ is a good stable cotton batting for wall hangings . ~It has a scrim that keeps it from sagging but it does not fold well for shipping.

Cotton Fleece can work as a lining for a wall hanging – this has the thinnest loft

Batting Material

Choose batting that require less dense quilting

You can get an Iron on batting for small projects like wall hangings.

For hand quilting use batting without scrim, machine quilting best with scrim but this may need pre washing

Polyester

Synthetic fibres with  weights 60 g to 300 g. Lightweight, least expensive, easy to handle, washes well and creates a lightweight quilt.  Ir gives a deeper quilted effect with more depth in the stitch. However, it can beard, is less breathable and flammable. It’s no good for pot holders. Do not use a hot iron on polyester wadding Good for wall hangings and throws.

Low loft poly can be hand quilted.

High loft are good for tied quilts ..

Remove from package 3 days before use because you can’t iron it. You can tumble dry on air dry without heat.

Hobbs Polydown Premium Polyester, crib size, is machine washable.

Alpaca 

Natural, warm, soft, light, flame retardant, water resitant and hypoallergenic

Silk

Natural fibre wadding but expensive so not the most sensible choice. However, lovely  for quilted clothes.

Bamboo 

Natural fibre with a low loft and quilts well. Very soft and naturally anti bacterial so it is useful for baby quilts.

Bamboo blends of 50/50 bamboo and cotton, made with long staple cotton and soft bamboo fibre is suitable for machine and hand quilting. No chemicals or bleach. Pre-wash – less than 5% shrinkage.

Cotton 

Fine, heavy and warm. Can be hand quilted but some brands need to be close quilted i.e. 2 inches between lines. Good for small and/or thinner items

Good for beds

100% cotton batting will give a traditional, flat, antique look to quilts. They will be low loft, soft and easy to drape.

Most cotton wadding is no good for tied quilts as wadding will break up unless secured at close intervals

‘Warm and Natural’ can be quilted up to 10 inches. Good for a tied quilt

Murray Glay Old fashioned up to 6 inches

‘Fairfield Soft Touch’ up to 2 inches

Mauton Mist Blue Ribbon up to 2 inches

‘Simply Cotton’ is 100% cotton wadding, made with long staple cotton suitable for machine and hand quilting. It is perfect for that antique wrinkled look you get with traditional cotton wadding. No chemicals or bleach and less than 5% shrinkage. Pre wash recommended.

Cotton/Poly Blends

These are made from blended fibres. This is more stable and less apt to shift. Not as much stretch than 100% cotton 80% cotton/ 20% polyester stabilises the cotton fibres. You can quilt most from 2 to 4 inches apart. These are good for big quilt stitching

Lofts range from very low in Thermore to high loft in Polydown which mimics down.

Hobbs Polydown dark 4 inches

Hobbs Polydown light 4 inches

Fairfield Traditional 4 inches

Hobby Thermore 6 inches

Mountain Mist light 3 inches

Fairfield High Loft 4 inches

Mountain Mist Designers Choice 5 inches

Mountain Mist regular 3 inches

‘Soft and Elegant’ is an 80% cotton/20% polyester wadding that can be quilted up to 10 inches apart. Made with long staple cotton and soft polyester it is suitable for machine and hand quilting. No chemicals and no bleach. Pre washing is recommended.

Hand wash only (do not machine wash or dry) Use cool water and mild detergent. Soak for 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture by rolling in a towel. Dry naturally by laying flat. Less than 5% shrinkage.

Needle punched cotton

This batting creates a micro thin polyester scrim so you can quilt at 8-10 inch intervals. Needle Punched means fibres are broken up to make the needle easier to pass through. This has minimal shrinkage and will pucker in an appealing way, but you can wash it first.

Traditional, needle punched batting has a blanket like quality and dimension, even when close quilted. 

This is natural lightweight breathable and easy to hand or machine quilt. The natural fibre breathe well and it is comfortable, soft and very warm. Can be heavy. It does beard due to static build up, but not too badly. 

Hobbs wool up to 3 inches

Wool Naturally up to 10 inches

If it is for a child, don’t use wool.  Quite expensive and care needs to be taken with storage and cleaning. Lambswool dense and fluffy. Wool and poly mixes are less stretching but same considerations about storage and cleaning

Tips

Each time to get a different batting, create a muslin sandwich with it inside for testing. You can try washing it to see how it shrinks and drapes after wards. Then test quilting it, using a hoop. Hand quilt different designs and use different threads e.g. 100% cotton, poly cottons rayons and metallics. If the thread of the needle is hard to push through the sandwich try a larger needle

It is very important to keep a note of the  batting type  with the batting so that you know what it is. Write it on the back of the sandwich you make and keep notes.

Buy only enough for your quilt 3-4 inches larger than the quilt on top on all sides or 8 inches longer and wider.   If you have to stitch a piece on it to make it longer, don’t overlap it when stitching it together or it will cause a welt. Cut a clean edge by putting two pieces slightly on top of each other and cut a straight line. But the two clean edges together and join using whip stitch. Some quilters like to use a serpentine edge when join pieces because it is more invisible to the eye.You can buy a special coated cloth tape that can heat press batting together to fit a special size. You can use it on any type of batting.

Sort and store pieces of the same batting together as you must use the same thickness when you add pieces from other quilts. Use a Milliners needle and white or cream thread to join the pieces. This needle is longer and gets a bite of both sides of the batting. Pull the thread tight enough to keep the piece aligned but not so tight that a wrinkling forms. Stitch by hand. 

Prefer not to use batting?

If you don’t want to use batting, felt can be used to back finer quilt projects.

Minky and Fleece  – for turned through quilts with batting or binding. Can be quilted but not much. 

You can use flannel sheets or blankets when you want weight but not loft. Use bold stitching on these.   

Batting/295 High Loft Volume Fleece from Vilene

Very light polyester wadding with great volume and a lovely bouncy feel. High quality with a delicate super smooth and soft finish.  Idea of particular voluminous effect in quilting and patchwork projects such as bedspreads and wall hangings.

Washable in temperatures of up to 30% on a gentle cycle or dry cleanable.