Tips for Choosing the Correct Quilt Batting
When I first thought about getting into quilting, I spent a lot of time just looking at all the beautiful materials that were used in the quilts; I never thought much about what was in between the layers of all those gorgeous quilts. Although there are a lot of decisions to make concerning your choice of batting, luckily there isn’t as many different batting’s to choose from as there are materials or I would never get started on my projects. I always thought that batting was batting, not realizing that the batting could make a big difference. I remember that my mother would use older blankets in her quilts at times for batting. Padding, Batting or I’ve even heard it called wadding can be made from natural fibers like wool, cotton or man-made and synthetic material and in different thicknesses and texture. Some of the different ones, Cotton, Wool, Polyester, Bamboo, “Green” Batting and also a variety of different batting’s where they combine fibers.
Cotton - The quilt shop suggested when I started to quilt, to work with Cotton Batting. It’s easy to work with and you can usually get a more even look using it. Cotton falls into the low-loft category, thinner than polyester batting, but actually heavier than polyester. It’s best to do a little more quilting when using cotton batting to help avoid it separating and pushing up thru your fabric.
Polyester - This is usually the least expensive of the choices and will add puffiness to your quilt. As mentioned in the Cotton Batting segment, Polyester batting’s are thicker than cotton, but lighter. Don’t worry though; Polyester will keep you warm without the extra weight. It’s not a very breathable material, so you can get too warm. Polyester will hold it’s shape even with repeated washing and will also resist mold and mildew. I actually like the best of both worlds when they blend cotton and polyester.
Wool - Using wool for batting is perfect in cooler and damper climates, as it absorbs moister better. You have to be more careful when cleaning, because wool can warp and change the look of your finished quilt. Because the wool fibers are not as interwoven as cotton or polyester batting it requires more quilting on your finished project. They recommend having your quilting lines no more than 4” apart. With wool, be sure that you hand wash your quilt in cool water and dry it flat. When storing, it’s also recommended that you wrap it in a sheet and not put it in a plastic storage bin.
Bamboo - I had never heard of bamboo batting so I did a little research on bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth and doesn’t require any fertilizers (No Chemicals, what a wonderful thought) it seems that most pests don’t bother it. Bamboo can grow up to 47” in just 24 hours, releases more oxygen that other plants and even absorbs more carbon dioxide. I think we need to plant more Bamboo! I also found out the bamboo that is used for batting is not the one that the Panda Bear eats. The Panda Bears are excited about that fact. Bamboo has excellent loft and is perfect for machine quilting. Like wool, it has great breath-ability to help keep moisture away from the body but providing warmth as well.
Corn Batting - Little did I know growing up on the farm that corn was used for more than just eating. Not only do they make fuel from it, they also blend it with cotton fiber to make an environmentally friendly batting. Corn is plentiful and renewable, great for hand and machine quilting, breathable and safe for your family and our planet.
Plastic Bottle Batting – This is the one that surprised me the most and I think it’s great. What is better for our environment than keeping plastic bottles out of our landfills? Quilters Dream Green batting is made from recycled plastic bottles. They say that for every pound of batting, it keeps 10 plastic bottles out of our landfills. This is a very soft batting with wonderful consistency and strength. You can quilt up to 12” apart or as close as you want. Somehow they cut up the bottles, melt them down and then turn them into fine polyester fibers without depleting our precious natural resources and make them soft at the same time.
These are just a few of the choices you can make when it comes to “filling” your quilt. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure your read the package before you start. Some batting’s need pre-soaking, special drying needs, cleaning needs or how far apart they recommend you top stitch, just to mention a few things to be aware of. With all the time and care you put into making your quilt top, take the time to do a little research to make sure that your treasured quilt will last by using the proper batting.