Batting (also called Wadding in the UK)
- 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 a batting with a heat resistant layer for table and kitchen use
- Some are fusible, to help secure layers together
- It’s often a good idea to match the wadding to the quilt, e.g. cotton for cotton, silk for silk. A dark batting for a dark background fabric, a light batting for a pale background fabric.
- Waddings can shrink – check the manufacturers guidelines on the package to find out whether you need to wash the wadding before use to reduce shrinkage.
- Wadding is available in pre cut pieces for standard quilt sizes.
‘Loft’ refers to weight and thickness of wadding. Low loft is thinner and below 1/2 inch, wheat high loft is thicker and above 1/2 inch. Medium lofts are available.
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 but I heard that it causes bindings to be less firm. Is that true? It’s more often used to back children’s quilts for softness, warmth and because it is easy to wash and quick to dry.
Scrim is a thin stabiliser that is added to needle punched batting to hold it together better but a layer of scrim is harder to hand quilt through than one without. Hand quilters often look for batting without scrim for this reason.
This is an alternative to resin bonded and makes batting denser and harder to hand quilt.Needle punched cotton 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. It can be heavy and it does beard due to static build up, but not too badly.
This recommended quilting distance depends on the type of batting and whether you are hand or machine quilting. The distances given are to to prevent bunching and movement while you are quilting
Off the Bolt :
This is batting that can be bought in larger sizes rather than the pre-packaged sizes
This is when the batting starts to come through the surface of your quilt. Batik fabrics and tightly woven cotton help to prevent this as well as batting that is less prone to bearding
Choose battings that require less dense quilting for ease, especially if you are a beginner
You can get an Iron-on and fusible battings for small projects like wall hangings.
For hand quilting use batting without scrim.Machine quilting is best with scrim but this may need pre washing. Check your manufacturers instructions.
This batting has synthetic fibres with weights 60 g to 300 g.It is lightweight, least expensive, easy to handle, washes well and creates a lightweight quilt. It gives a deeper quilted effect with more depth in the stitch. However, it’s hard to get the creases out of when you buy it, it can beard and it’s flammable. It is very popular for making baby quilts but because it can get too warm and is less breathable , some people think it shouldn’t be used for babies. Do not use a hot iron on polyester wadding. It’s no good for pot holders but it is good for wall hangings and throws.
Low loft polyester batting can be hand quilted.
High loft polyester batting is better for tied quilts.
Remove polyester batting from package 3 days before use because it will have creases in it and you can’t iron it. You can tumble dry on air dry without heat or hover a steam iron above it to steam out the folds.
Hobbs Polydown Premium Polyester, crib size, is machine washable.
Natural, warm, soft, light, flame retardant, water resitant and hypoallergenic.
This is a natural fibre that is light but strong and therefore good for summer use, like lap quilts and throws and for wall hanging that are not over decorated. It is also lovely for quilted clothing. It is breathable, washable, good for hand quilting, and drapes well but it is expensive. It usually comes asa mix like 90% silk and 10% polyester.
A natural fibre with a low loft and quilts well. It has a lovely soft feel and naturally anti bacterial so it is useful for baby quilts. It drapes better than cotton though it is often blended with cotton, or silk or Rayon.
Bamboo blends of 50/50 bamboo and cotton, made with long staple cotton and soft bamboo fibre is suitable for hand or machine quilting. It contains no chemicals or bleach. If you pre-wash there is less than 5% shrinkage.
Fine, flat, heavy and both cool and warm. It is hard wearing and washable, so good for kids. It is needle punched, preshrunk and tends not to beard. It 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 like mini quilts.
Good for quilts that go on beds. The drape is not ideal for wall hangings.
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
‘Hobbs Heirloom 100% bleached cotton’ batting is perfect for mini quilts. The same brand also produces is also a 80/20 bleached cotton mix that is lightly needle punched and resin bonded. Quilt 4 inches apart.
‘Hobbs Heirloom Premium Cotton’ is lightly needle punched. You can quilt as close as 1/4 inch or as far apart as 3 1/2 inches. This is also available as a fusible batting.
‘Warm and Natural’ can be quilted up to 10 inches. This CAN be used for a tied quilt. It’s good for babies as it does not contain any chemicals or glues. it is strong, soft, durable and does not separate, bunch, beard or migrate. You can quilt lip to ten inches apart and it can be machine washed and dried.
‘Warm and Plush’ is a 100% cotton batting which has 50% more soft cotton than Warm and Natural. There is no scrim and it has a perfect drape. Sew close or up to six inches apart. It is needle punches so there is no separation or shift. It is machine washable and machine dribble.
‘Murray Glay Old fashioned’ can be quilted up to 6 inches
‘Fairfield Soft Touch‘ can be quilted up to 2 inches
‘Mauton Mist Blue Ribbon’ can be quilted 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. It contains no chemicals or bleach and has less than 5% shrinkage. Pre wash is recommended, however.
These are made from blended fibres. This is more stable and less apt to shift. It doesn’t have as much stretch as 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 – can be quilted up to 4 inches
Hobbs Polydown light – 4 inches
Hobbs Polydown has hollow fibres which means it washes well, is soft, easy to quilt and fibre migration is low.
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. Again, no chemicals and no bleach. Pre washing is recommended. Pre washing instructions are as folllows:
‘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.’
These are for quilts that are not going to need washed frequently. Wool quilts hold their shape more firmly than cotton and are heavier and firmer to quilt. The wool used is usually sheep Woolwich is quite heavy and can beards. It is not always machine washable and can shrink
If it is for a child, its is best not to use wool. It’s quite expensive and care needs to be taken with storage and cleaning. Lambswool is dense and fluffy. Wool and poly mixes are less likely to stretch but the same considerations are needed with regard to storage and cleaning
Hobbs wool up – can be quilted up to 3 inches
‘Wool Naturally’ – up to 10 inches
Fusible batting is best used for smaller projects as it is a temporary fusing, to allow you to skip basting (UK- tacking) when attaching the batting to the quilters piece.
‘Hobbs Heirloom Fusible’ Cotton Blend batting (80/20) – no pinning is required here, just layer and fuse. It is lightly need punched and resin bonded and is heat activated on both sides. Quilt up to 4 inches apart. It is sold in packs and by the yard. It is washable.
‘Quilters Dream’ single sided fusible batting. Can be hand quilted. Quilt up to 8 inches apart. Cool machine wash only.
‘Fusible Thermalon Plus’ – This is an extra lofty needled fleece made of acid free polyester with a fusible adhesive (blue) on one side. It remains lofty after fusing.
There are many other fusible fleeces but these are most often used for craft projects and toys. They could be used for tiny quilts.
Each time you 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 batting for your quilt so it is 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 this 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 wrinkling occurs. Stitch by hand.
Battings Best for Babies
‘Dream Puff’ Crib batting – soft and twice as warm as a high lift polyester batting. It will not shrink, resists creases and fold lines and is great for hand quilting and trying.
‘Soft and Bright’ Baby Batting – no glues or resins and holds its shape after many washes. Good for tied quilts or quilt cup to 10 inches apart.
‘Warm and Natural ‘crib size – will not beard but may need pre-soaking. 60x 45
‘Hobbs Heirloom Premium Cotton’ Crib size 60 x 45. Lightl needle punches. Sew from 1/4 inch to 3 1/2 inches apart.
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 can be used for turned through quilts without batting or binding. These can be quilted but not much. Fleece is very low loft pre-washed cotton, suitable for tablecloths, runner and quilt backs for children.
You can use flannel sheets or blankets when you want weight but not loft. Use bold stitching on these.
Batting/295 is a High Loft Volume Fleece from Vilene, a very light polyester wadding with great volume and a lovely bouncy feel. It is high quality with a delicate super smooth, soft finish. It will have a voluminous effect in quilting and patchwork projects such as bedspreads and wall hangings.
Most of these are washable in temperatures of up to 30% on a gentle cycle, or dry cleanable.