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Batting Selection

Innovations in the batting industry have made it easier than ever to find the perfect batt to compliment your quilting project.  However, there are also more choices than ever – making it a bit challenging to determine which batt is perfect for you.  The information below will provide some insight into batting and help you make your decision.

Loft - Batts are available in differing weights and thicknesses called “loft.”  Low loft means thin, the perfect choice if you want your quilt to have a flatter appearance.  High loft, like polyester, means thick and will provide more definition to your quilting stitches.
Fiber Content - Quilt battings are available in both natural (cotton, wool, silk, bamboo, soy) and synthetic (polyester) fibers.  Final use and finished look should be considered when choosing fiber content.

If you want to create the puckered look of antique quilts, 100% cotton battings are the best choice.  To maximize this effect, do not prewash any of your fabrics and choose a batt that will shrink at least 3%.  Note that all 100% cotton battings shrink 3-5%, regardless of the manufacturer.  Quilts made with cotton batts are popular throughout the year.  Cotton doesn’t hold heat, helping you feel cooler in the summer.  Cotton batts  absorb and trap air, creating a cushion of air to keep you warm during winter nights.

Polyester battings are loftier and lighter than cotton batts.  The fibers are stronger and more stable, therefore, it holds its shape better, even with repeated washings.  Best of all, it resists mold and mildew.  Polyester keeps you warm without being heavy.  However, polyester fibers don’t breathe, so you can overheat in a hurry.  Also, polyester has a greater tendency to ‘beard’ (work it’s way out through the weave of the fabric) than battings made of natural fibers.  Polyester is non-allergenic and does not shrink, so if you want to avoid the puckered look as much as possible, polyester is your best bet for a batting choice.

**If you are a fan of poly batting, try Hobbs PolyDown.  This is the ultimate polyester batting.  The fibers are Siliconized, making them easier to quilt (by hand or machine).  Love it!  Available in all sizes (crib, twin, queen, king).

Cotton/polyester blends provide the benefits of cotton while offering more loft. This quilt batting has a blend of 80% cotton and 20% polyester. By using this combination, your quilt will be thicker and warmer without the weight of 100% cotton.  Cotton/polyester blend battings have you covered in all seasons, providing heat on winter nights and keeping you cool in the summer.

**For your convenience, I stock Hobbs80/20 on a 96” wide roll.  This batting drapes wonderfully and performs very predictably.  It can be quilted up to 4” apart and shrinks about 3%.

Wool battings are light, warm, lofty and resilient.  Wool breaths and act as a natural insulator, regulating body temperature in summer and winter better than any other fiber.  Wool is more absorptive than any other fiber; it can absorb a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp!  Wool is naturally flame-resistant, making it an excellent choice for infants and children.

**Hobbs Heirloom Washable Wool is my favorite batting!  It drapes wonderfully, is light weight and warm.  It washes really well (if you follow the recommendations).  I stock this in Queen and King sizes and can order smaller sizes if needed.

Bamboo is extremely fast growing and requires no pesticides or fertilizer.  Bamboo battings are a blend of 50% bamboo and 50% cotton.  They are breathable and cool, drape beautifully and provide terrific stitch definition.  It is machine washable with typical shrinkage between 3-5% and it can be quilted up to 8” apart.

**I stock this in Queen and King sizes and can order smaller sizes if needed.

Silk is a very lightweight, thin, and supple batting.  It is favored by many quilters for making quilted garments or for baby quilts when allergies are a concern.  It offers great warmth while being light weight, supple and drapable.  It shrinks up to 5% on the first washing and does require careful handling when washed.


Proper Handling and Care of Batting

Always read the package directions; some battings need prewashing. If this is the case, expect cotton batting to shrink up to 5%. Poly battings will have minimal shrinkage. Think about whether your batting will be large enough after prewashing it. When in doubt, buy a larger size.

If you buy quilt batting off the bolt, you won’t have folds. But if you buy pre-packaged batting, you will. Here’s how to get rid of those pesky folds: Remove batting from the package and gently unfold it. Toss it in the dryer on a NO-HEAT setting for a few minutes. What a difference this makes!

Battings made from different fibers vary greatly in warmth, breathability, comfort, and ease of quilting. Even if you have a favorite batting you’ve used for a long time, lots of new batting options have become available in recent years that are worth investigating. Some of the new battings are more eco-friendly than the old standbys. These include batting made from organic cotton, bamboo, and even corn sugar. Others include premium fibers like silk or alpaca. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of batting to choose the right one for your next before you you’re your next quilt.

Bonded batting vs. Needle-punched Batting

Commercially available battings are held together in one of two ways:

  • Bonded batting has the fibers bonded together by a glue-like bonding agent.
  • Needle-punched batting has the fibers mechanically felted together by punching them with lots and lots of needles. They are firmer and denser than bonded battings. Their density can also make them harder to hand quilt.

If you’re hand quilting, you may want to avoid needle-punched battings. If you want to avoid chemicals in your quilt, avoid bonded battings.

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