If there is one thing all professional quilters agree on, it’s the advantages of using quilt batting. However, beginners may struggle to understand what batting even is and how it helps.
If you are one such newbie, worry not. You have come to the right place. In this article, we will talk about all things quilt batting.
What is quilt batting?
Simply put, quilt batting is the insulation placed between the top and bottom layers of your quilt. Also known as wadding, this is the material that fills quilts making them heavy and warm. There are several types of quilt batting out there, each one made of a different material.
Is batting necessary for a quilt?
Many newbies usually struggle with the decision whether to use batting or not and with good cause. It just seems like too much work.
And truth be told, you don’t actually need batting. You can still quilt without it, but your quilts won’t be warm and cozy.
I would say it all depends on what you are going to use your quilt for. Most people use their quilts for bedding and put in the batting to make them warmer and great for the cold weather. But if this does not apply to you, then by all means carry on without one.
What are the different types of quilt batting?
As I mentioned before, there are several types of quilt batting. These include:
- Cotton batting
Since it’s light, natural, warm, and soft, cotton batting is very popular, especially among those who do machine quilting. Pure cotton batting is around ⅛” thick and doesn’t pile when washed. You should also know that cotton batting shrinks slightly when washed, giving the quilt a soft, crinkly worn feel to it.
While this can be amazing for beddings, it is not appealing for patchworks like wall hangings that need to maintain their distinct shape and sharp corners.
- Polyester batting
Unlike cotton, polyester is thick and not breathable. It does have its advantages though. For instance, it doesn’t shrink and holds its shape quite well. Moreover, it is good for hand quilting and can be used for special quilting techniques.
Other advantages of polyester batting are that it’s light and resists mildew and mold. It is commonly used for baby quilts.
- Wool batting
Loved for being natural and soft, wool batting doesn’t crease or fold easily. This breathable, warm batting usually has a thickness of ½” and is popular for making winter bed quilts.
To cap it all off, it has an amazing stitch definition, making it perfect for fancy machine quilting and innovative hand quilting designs. On the flip slide, it shrinks a lot. That’s why if you are thinking of buying wool batting, you should always ensure that it’s pre-shrunk. Beware though, it is a bit expensive.
- Bamboo batting
If you are looking for an eco-friendly and natural batting, bamboo is the way to go. It is soft, silky, and drapes beautifully. Like polyester, it is highly resistant to mold and mildew. Since bamboo batting dries much faster than cotton, it has become a good replacement for it, especially in humid conditions.
Also, bamboo has a static grab that makes it easy to handle when quilting. However, it does shrink a little when washed, giving it a worn vintage vibe. You should know that bamboo is commonly mixed with cotton to make it softer.
What is the best quilt batting?
Well, I’m afraid there is no “best batting”. It just depends on what you’re working on. What’s good for one project will not necessarily work for another. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for when choosing batting.
How to choose quilt batting
To avoid quilting mishaps, you should consider the following factors when choosing batting:
This is the thickness of the batting. Low loft batting is thinner while high loft batting is thicker. While the former gives your quilt a flat appearance, the latter is used to create the fluffier, poofier quilts. Ultimately, you have to decide based on how you want your final product to look like.
If you want to show off your killer quilting lines, then you should go for the high loft batting. On the other hand, those who seek to display their great patchwork should opt for low loft batting.
Usually, quilt batting comes pre-packaged in standard bedding sizes like crib, full, twin, queen, and king. However, you can get your own custom size off the bolt. If you quilt regularly and want to save some cash, you can even buy large chunks and cut them up yourself at home.
Some batting types like cotton and bamboo shrink when washed; a feature you need to keep in mind when making a choice. Also, wool batting needs to be washed by hand, a deal-breaker for some quilters.
No matter how much you like a certain type of batting, you can only get what you can afford. That’s why price is a very important factor to consider. Most times, cotton and wool are more expensive than polyester.
- Batting Brands
Let’s just face it; brand reputation is important regardless of which product you are buying. When it comes to batting, some trusted brands are Quilter’s Dream, Pellon, Hobbs, and The Warm Company.
To reduce the chances of getting quality issues like bearding, you should stick to reputable brands.
- Quilting method
Are you planning to machine quilt or hand quilt? Believe it or not, the answer to that question will greatly affect which is the best batting for you. Hand quilters generally steer clear of high loft batting but those who machine quilt can handle it quite well. Bamboo batting is also pretty great for machine quilting.
What can I use instead of quilt batting?
If for whatever reason, you don’t want to use traditional batting, there are several alternatives out there. The most popular one is flannel sheets. Other ones include cotton towels, fleece, and old blankets. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong choice.
I know wrapping your head around the vast world of batting can be a bit confusing, but with time and practice you will eventually figure out what works for you. So take it easy and enjoy the ride!