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All About Quilt Batting


A Little Bit About Batting

A quilt is like a sandwich and is made of three layers. The top, batting and backing. The batting is what goes in the middle of the "quilt sandwich.”  This little informational tutorial will discuss many different types and uses of batting (See 60 Uses for Batting ). You can choose from 100% cotton, polyester, cotton/polyester blend, bamboo, wool, silk, etc.

Batting.jpgTo help decide which to use, you may want to ask yourself a few questions first:

    • What will the finished product be used for? Quilt, wall hanging, bed-spread, etc.
    • Who will the end user be? Does it need to be flame retardant for children?
    • Does it need to be especially warm?
    • In a warm climate - does it need to breathe?
    • How do I want the finished quilting project to look - flat or fluffy? Contemporary or traditional?
    • Do I need a light or dark batting?
    • Will it be hand or machine quilted?
    • How much am I willing to spend?

Standard Pre-cut Batting Sizes:

  • Crib ............... 45˝x 60˝
  • Twin .............. 72˝x 90˝
  • Double ........... 81˝x 96˝
  • Queen ............ 90˝x 108˝
  • King .............. 120˝x 120˝

These are the sizes of the batting if you purchase packaged batting at the local box store.  Your longarm quilter will probably have batting on large bolts (usually 30 yards) and will charge you on a linear inch.  It is always nice to support your local quilter rather than bringing your own batting.

Batting Terms:

  • Bearding (AKA “migration”): When the fibers separate and start working their way through the weave of the fabric, escaping the quilt. To avoid bearding  use a good brand of batting.  (Note: sometimes this happens if the the 'scrim' side is UP instead of DOWN when the batting is placed in the layers- see Quilt Sandwich for more info_
  • Bonded: The fibers are bonded together by either thermal or resin method. Thermal bonding has a low melt fiber
    blended with standard polyester to hold it together. This can allow bearding but doesn’t break down with
    washing and dry cleaning as fast as resin bonded batting. Resin bonded batting is made from a variety of fibers
    including polyester, cotton, and wool. Resin is applied to both sides then dried and cured. This makes it
    resist bearding better than any other batting.
  • Drape: How a quilt feels and hangs after being quilted. Good batting will allow your quilt to drape around your
    shoulders following the natural curve of your body without being too stiff.
  • Loft: This refers to the thickness/puffiness of the batting.
    • Cotton is generally low-loft, but it is available in several different thicknesses so you can find higher loft cotton batting. 
      Low-loft batting is easy to needle and handle, and is soft and drape-able.
      Medium-loft batting adds texture, 
      gives a puffier look, and is warmer, but the higher the loft the harder to machine and hand quilt. 
    • Polyester is generally high-loft.
      High-loft batting is good for highlighting detailed quilting and mimics the look of down, and it is also often used in tied quilts
  • Needle-punched: The fibers in the batting are mechanically felted together by punching them with thousands of
    tiny needles. This causes the batting to be stronger and denser while being lower loft. Because of the denseness of this batting it isn’t generally good for hand quilting. These battings will tend to migrate but will not bunch and shift. Needle-punched batting can be thermal or resin bonded.
  • Scrim: A thin stabilizer that is needle-punched into the batting to add strength, loft, and to prevent
    stretching and distorting. 

Fiber Content Pros and Cons

COTTON

Pros Cons
Machine Quilts Wonderfully. Some brands may require pre-washing to remove oils, etc.
Gives the flat look of traditional quilts. May require closer stitching.
Launders without bearding or pilling
usually more expensive than polyester.
Heavier once quilted, thus, may be warmer than polyester.
Made from natural fibers is favored for its soft texture and comfort. 100% cotton batting is usually 1/8" thick.  Subject to shrinkage when laundered.

POLYESTER

Pros Cons
Generally less expensive. Prone to bearding and pilling.
May be quilted farther apart than some types of cotton or wool batting. May be harder to machine quilt on a domestic machine due to the extra puffiness.
Makes a very lightweight quilt. Comes in a wide variety of sizes or widths.
Very warm, as it does not 'breathe' Easy for longarm quilting

WOOL

Pros Cons
Retains fold lines less
(therefore it is often used for show quilts).
One of the more expensive battings.
Retains warmth even when damp. As with all wool items, may be attractive to moths.
Handles nicely.  Easy to hand quilt or machine quilt

BLENDS

Blends will usually have most of the pros and cons associated with both types of fibers they are made of; however, they are generally less expensive than 100% natural fiber batting, and can often be quilted further apart.

Blends are typically 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has the benefits of cotton, but with more loft.  This is what most professional longarm quilters will offer as their desired batting of choice.   It can be 'tugged' on and will stand up to the process of machine quiltling.

Loft

Low:

  • It is easy to needle for hand quilting
  • May be easier to handle
  • Creates a product that is soft and drape-able
  • Your quilt will resembles soft old traditional quilts
  • Easier to achieve nice hand quilting stitches
  • Beautiful results when using longarm quilting

Medium:

  • Adds texture to the finished product
  • Gives a puffier look
  • It will be warmer

High:

  • Good for highlighting detailed quilting
  • Mimics the look of down
  • Warmest
  • Most often used for comforters, bed-spreads or tied quilts

For information about the manufacturing process go to the Hobbs Bonded Fiber website.

At T-Shirt Quilts of Texas and Shadywood Quilts we only use the highest quality materials to complete your project.   For more information, be sure to download our T-Shirt Buyers Guide to help you decide about your quilt maker.

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