Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Machine Quitling 101: batting

It's high time I get back to my machine quilting 101 series and finish it up! I have a few more topics to cover. Today's topic is batting. I've been putting off writing this post for a L O N G time, because it's so much to cover, but I'm going to give it a shot. Here goes!
First off, when selecting a batting, read the labels! There is so much information on the label: fiber content, maximum stitch distance, care/washing directions, loft, shrinkage, whether it is ideal for machine or hand quilting, etc. These are all things to consider when choosing a batting.
When I first started quilting, I used polyester batting. Those quilts are still around and they have held up surprisingly well over the years. In fact, these are used every day (I actually snatched these off of beds for the photo) and they are some of my family's favorites! Eventually I switched to Warm & Natural/Warm & White. After about 200 quilts, I got kind of sick of using the same type of batting all the time. (Can you imagine?) One of the main reasons I wanted a change was because the fold lines in my quilts were so pronounced. I experimented with many different batting options. Do you know what? I think I'm back to where I started. Figures!

After my Warm & White phase, I purchased a bolt of Nature's Touch by Pellon. It is 100% cotton batting and it's fairly dense. It is even heavier than Warm & White-which I think is pretty heavy-and it tends to shrink a bit more than most battings that I've used. (The package says 3-5% shrinkage is expected.) This isn't really a problem, as long as you plan ahead. If you are making a quilt that needs to fit a bed, make the quilt a few inches larger to compensate for shrinkage, because it's better to be safe than sorry! This is a good all purpose batting and it is definitely my go-to batting when I do spiral quilting. I've had great success with it, even on a king size quilt, so I'm sticking with it.

Price point and availability: I bought a roll of it which was 25 yards (that's a bit of a commitment) when it was on sale at JoAnn's, so it ended up being about $5/yard (a few years ago). It also comes pre-packaged which avoids the cutting line and it is a bit cheaper than buying it by the yard. I think the sales on the pre-packaged BOLTS are worth taking advantage of.

Most recently I bought a (25 yard) roll of Soft n Crafty batting by Fairfield at JoAnn's. It is considerably lighter weight than both Warm & White and Nature's Touch. Soft n Crafty is easy to work with and has a nice crinkle effect after washing. I used it in the quilt shown above, and loved the results, especially for a baby quilt. It is also 100% cotton. The shrinkage is less than 3%. I think it is a good and economical option for making charity or "everyday" quilts. Since it is on the lighter side, it is a great option for spring and summer quilts.

Price point and availability: I bought this on a super sale last January at JoAnn's and it ended up being about $4/yard for 90" wide batting. You really can't beat that price!

Quilter's Dream batting is wonderful! It is very high quality and I've only seen it sold in quilt shops. (It is available on line, as well.) There are many options of quilter's dream batting, but I like the request weight 100% cotton batting. It is thin and warm without being heavy. It quilts up beautifully. I have only worked with it a little bit, but when I did, I was impressed. Shrinkage is minimal. I think this type will be my next bolt purchase. (What can I say, I like to have lots of batting on hand!)

Price point and availability: It's a bit more expensive than some batting, but the quality can't be ignored. Again, I've only seen it in quilt shops. It comes in white and cream, but my LQS only carries the cream. I wish I could get it in bright white locally.

Hobbs 80/20 is another batting that I've used off and on. It has a bit of a loft to it, so I've had some troubles with it shifting when trying to straight line quilt, but I've also had some success. I used a bit of each in this quilt and I love the texture! The stitching is more defined because of the loft and it quilts up beautifully. It washes and dries a bit flatter than you might expect, but in a good way. It's on the lighter side, so perfect for spring/summer quilts. I am extra careful when I baste, because this batting shifts a bit more than 100% cotton battings that I've used. It may be prone to puckering on the back just a bit more for that reason, but the puckers can be avoided by quilting carefully and keeping an eye on the back as you quilt. Shrinkage is estimated between 3-5%.

Price point and availability: I've purchased this type of batting at quilt shops and at JoAnn's. There IS a difference in quality between the two. The product I've bought in quilt shops was of better quality that the product purchased at JoAnn's. (I have no idea how that works and I don't claim to.) But, I have personal experience of getting a noticeably better product at my local quilt shop.

If I had to use one and only one type of batting, it would be Warm & White. It's just a good basic batting. Not too expensive, but not too cheap. The quality is just fine. It works well for straight line quilting or for free motion quilting. It is low loft, but still warm. Substantial, but not bulky. It is 87.5% cotton and 12.5% polypropylene. It has an approximate shrinkage of 3%. It's a good basic staple, like having flour in your pantry. :)

I get a lot of questions about wool batting, so I had to see what it was all about. I tried Wool premier batting by Pellon for the first time this spring. I put it in this quilt, which I haven't washed or dried yet, but I am anxious to do so to see what happens. I like it, but I can't see using it all my quilts. I think it's a great option for a special quilt here and there. Wool is warm but lightweight. It is a natural fiber, so breathes while it keeps you warm. It is loftier (1/4") than most batting I use, so the quilting is more pronounced. The wool that I used had some visible fibers in it, which could show through if I had a lot of light fabrics in the quilt. I don't think I will have any troubles with it, but it's something to consider. I think wool battings vary quite a bit by manufacturer. This particular brand says there is 0-3% shrinkage.

I tried bamboo batting, and just once, for a baby quilt. It was expensive ($9.99 yard/45" wide) and while it was soft when basting and working with it, after washing I wasn't impressed. It didn't seem as soft as cotton batting would be after washing. So, while I didn't feel like it ruined the quilt, I don't foresee myself using it in the future. (I only used one brand of bamboo batting, so my experience is limited.)

One more word about poly batting. It's not something I would recommend for every quilt, but if you are going for a throw back, cozy, warm, tied quilt, I would recommend poly batting for that. The one drawback is that it really doesn't breathe well. But other than that, it has a nice poof and it is cozy. I slept under one of these types of quilts when I was a little girl, so I may have a soft spot for them.

This may seem like common sense, but still I think it should be noted. When using white fabric in a quilt, use white batting. A creamy colored batting will tone down the white, but a bright white batting will enhance the look of your white quilt top. It DOES make a difference!

At the end of the day, I would say experiment with different batting and see what you like best! Take notes on what you like and what you don't. There are certainly a lot of options out there and I've only reviewed the few that I've worked with. I hope that it has been helpful!

61 comments:

java diva said...

Wow this was very helpful, thank you! I have one question about polyester, I only use it in mini quilts & mug rugs. I've noticed after ironing on it it hardened. Do you know what would happen after being in the dryer? How do your polyester quilts stay pliable & not stiffen from the heat?
Also, I'm making my first baby quilt with W&W, do you think I should wash it before gifting it. I think if I wasn't a quilter & saw a difference after the 1st wash might freak out a little & fear it's ruined. Thanks for your insights!

molly b quilts said...

thanks for sharing! very interesting read!

Lee said...

Great post, Amanda! I like to spray baste, and I've been switching back and forth recently between Quilter's Dream and Warm and White. One interesting discovery I've made is that Quilter's Dream cotton batting does not seem to take spray baste as well as Warm and White. In fact, I've switched back to pin basting when I'm using Quilter's Dream—the spray baste just doesn't hold the way I want it to with that batting. I was surprised that there would be a difference, but there absolutely was.

EBattles said...

This was so informative- comments too! Thank you for taking the time to explain everything in detail.

Quick (novice) question about the quilt photo in this blog of the predominately white quilt with the single 8x8 patchwork block. Is that block an appliqué on top of the white solid or is the white background comprised of blocks as well? Thanks! I love love love this idea for a baby quilt.

Carie said...

Wow I never knew there were so many sorts of batting out there - around here the quilt shops carry Quilter's Dream so that's what I've always used - I tried a few but my favourite is still the Request weight - it's just so nice and floppy, you can properly wrap the quilt up around you and snuggle in!

amandajean said...

java diva,

I haven't had any of the same issues that you are experiencing with the poly batting. I've washed and dried it in the drier without a problem. I am sure that poly batting can vary quite a bit from brand to brand.

Pre-washing a quilt before gifting is a whole other topic! I think for the reasons stated, it might be a good idea to do so. If not, give the recipient a heads up and some washing instructions. It all depends on how far ahead of schedule you are working, if you are anything like me. :)

Hope that helps!

AJ

amandajean said...

EBattles,

It's patchwork set in a large solid border. There is actually a pattern for it in Cheryl Arkison's book "A Month of Sundays". It's a fabulous go to baby quilt!

AJ

Petra said...

That was very interesting and informative. New to quilting I didn't realise that there was white batting. Thanks😀

EBattles said...

Thank you very much! Now off to get that book!
Elena

Christine Feldstein said...

Thank you for all those valuable informations about batting! Your quilts are always great!

Di~ said...

Learned a lot, but loved loved looking at all your beautiful quilting! :)

Erin @ Why Not Sew? Quilts said...

Another great Quilting 101 post! I have used most of the batting you mentioned except for bamboo or wool. I stick to warm and natural or warm and white most often. Love the flour analogy...so true for me. Love seeing all of the quilts too!

Kathy said...

Very informative. Thank you for taking the time to write this up.

Liz said...

Thanks for this post, I'm bookmarking it for future reference. I really appreciate reading reviews, especially from such an experienced quilter like you. I've used warm and white before and have liked it (and the price!) but have been looking to try out some other battings too, this will be a good jumping off point :)

Ruthann Grace said...

Great post Amanda Jean. Very thorough and first hand knowledge......always a plus! I shared the link to this post to our guild FB page. Thank you!

Elisha R said...

Still have my poly quilts from when I was a little girl, and I love them and their superior poofiness. But of course I love natural fibers, too.

There's room for all batting in the quilt world!

Simple Dreams said...

I have enjoyed your education on quilt batting. I personally buy Hobbs 80/20, by the bolt/tube, from a local shop that is 96" wide x 30 yards long for around $155. That comes out to about half the cost of buying it off the bolt elsewhere and I always have batting on hand when I want to start a project later in the evening. I will refer back to this lesson 101. Thanks, Lisa

lelandavestudios said...

This was a great post! Thanks for all of the information!

Nana said...

Thanks for all the info. I have not done nearly all the types you have, but the warm & white has been my choice also.

Judy said...

I'm not impressed with the 80/20 battings. I find they give off more lint than the polyester battings and the warm-n-white battings (needle punched). I probably notice the lint more than the average person because I have asthma. I haven't even looked at wool battings because I'm afraid of the loose fiber thing and breathing.

One thing you didn't mention that might be important to new quilter is if your fabric has a high polyester content (think gingham) the batting will come through the fabric (bearding) with washing and use. You want a 100% cotton batting in that case.

the girlfriend gap said...

Just want to say thank you for this post..... I struggle with batting choices. It was interesting to hear what you had to say about each one. Janita

Debbie said...

Thanks for this. I'm about due for another bolt and am debating what I want. I'll be checking back to reread...

Terri Faust said...

Many quilters have strong opinions as to which batting to use, and what I've found is their opinions are all different! I also like the Warm and White because it is easy to find and sometimes on sale with a coupon. I thought I would mention that if you like the Pellon batting, I recently learned it can be found on Walmart's website for a good price, sold by the bolt. I am thinking of purchasing some. My quilting customers often bring that to me for their quilts, but I have never used it before to see how it washes for myself. It quilts nicely on the machine, though. Thanks for all the info!

Sharon said...

Great information, thank you for writing and sharing 😊

SeaBreeze Quilts said...

Thank you very much - that was great!

A Quilter's Mission said...

Thank you Amandajean! This was VERY informative.

VeeV said...

talk about timing, i was going to email you and ask your opinion on batting (buying a bolt) based on your experiences. in the past i've taken your advice on certain things and purchases, and have never been disappointed..... so bolt of batting was my next question.
thanks for your detailed descriptions and your honest opinions.
you are the best!!!!
thanks
eva

excuseme23 said...

Yes your info has been helpful, great series. Thank you.

Kate Marshall said...

The prices you mention made me gasp. I've paid almost $40 a metre (not much more than a yard) for 90" Warm and Natural here in Australia. That was when the Australian dollar was on par with the US dollar. Now I wait till it's on sale for a slightly lower price. I swear, every quilt made in Australia is a substantial investment of time AND money!

Julie Beard said...

Hello Amandajean, Thank you so much for all your helpful information. I don't know a lot about batting considering that I am a reality beginner quilter. Here in Australia we get even less types of batting due to availability. However, I have used both cotton and bamboo batting. With good results.

Annabellouise said...

You are my inspiration for quilting. I am in love with your art quilt and plan to do a quilt in all solids soon. As a novice quilter, I have learned the hard way to use thin wadding in my quilts so my machine won't 'eat' the fabric. Even with a walking foot, it seems to push the top layer and bunch up the bottom layer. Thanks for the advice.

andrea_r said...

I finally made the investment to buy TWO bolts of 50/50 batting (not sure of the brand) and I'm super glad I did.

Much nicer than getting the bagged stuff. I'm a fan of 100% cotton but found it wrinkles & stretches badly when bagged, or handled a lot. Plus a had a LOT of waste.

The fabric chains here in Canada don't have very good by the yard (mater) pricing on batting. The small quilt shops only sell bagged. So even with HUGE shipping costs from the US for me, the 2 bolts I bought were totally worth it.

Rebecca Toman said...

In the seventh picture, your quilting lines are perfect. Do you just judge the distance between lines or do you Mark your quilts for linear quilting. Love all your inspirations.

Martha Cook said...

Thank you. This was very helpful.

lalaluu said...

For my first quilt, I decided to use bamboo batting, because I wanted to use a sustainable fiber. (Well, cotton is sustainable, too! LOL) So I bought packaged Fusiboo from Joann's. The great thing about Fusiboo is that you just iron your quilt sandwich to baste it. The bad thing is that it is HEAVY, especially on a larger quilt. When I first washed it, soaking wet it was REALLY HEAVY. However, after washing and some snuggling, it really is a warm and soft quilt. Really suitable for a winter quilt, not a summer one. Which means that in Houston, it's appropriate to use for about a month!!! Since then, I have stuck to 80/20 or 100% cotton, except for a small baby quilt that had a flannel backing. That one got Fusiboo, too, although I also pinned it before quilting. Thanks for your insights and for the insight of the above commenters. All of it is very appreciated!

Vicki H said...

Thanks for the great overview, very informative.

Debbie Lou said...

Thanks for a great post. Lots of information and a good resource.

Lauren said...

Thanks for another great post!! Just wondering if you have ever used a double layer of the warm and white? If so how did you like it? I love the warm and white but sometimes want a fluffy, thicker quilt. Have a great day!!!! Thanks!!!

✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ said...

One tip I think might be helpful is to use warm and white instead of warm and natural if your quilt has white fabric. On my first quilt I couldn't figure out why the crisp white sashing looked kind of ecru until I realized batting came in bright white. From then on I always use the white to avoid any yellowing of the quilt. That's a good tip for a beginner;)

I bought a roll of 20 yards soft and crafty for $99 at Joann's around Christmas. I think the quality is much poorer than the warm battings, a lot if thinner areas on my roll. I've been doubling the layers and using a little spray basting to hold them together so things don't shift too much with 4 layers.

I love reading these posts and will have to give quilters dream a try! I have a longarm and can get a good deal on it through the distributor. I've never ventured outside warm and white and soft and crafty. Time to take the plunge!

anne Scott said...

Many thanks. I enjoy your blog and love your work. You teach me new things and provide me with much inspiration on my quilting journey.

Denice said...

Loved to hear about the different battings. I've used a few you mentioned. Funny thing is. Bamboo is my favorite. It's lghtweight and drapes so nicely. I guess that's why there are so many choices!

FlourishingPalms said...

Such an interesting post, Amanda Jean. It's very insightful. Though I disagree about favorites (I never use Warm Company batting) I completely understand your reasonings. Certainly, not everyone can afford to purchase Quilter's Dream! Especially a quilter as prolific as you! :-) I recently purchased a roll of QD polyester request loft, and have no regrets. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten quilters about this topic. It's one that's often overlooked.

Sara Fiedler said...

I have really enjoyed this post. I have only tried a few different battings. I love wool for that very special quilt. I have found Warm and Natural/white to be my choice as the best all around batting and when you buy them from JoAnn at half price on a bolt of 40 yards it's very affordable. Thanks for this post.

Anita said...

Thank you for this post. I have tried a few battings, but you have given me so much information and now I don't have to try them all. Warm and Natural is my favorite, and for the charity quilts my guild uses the polyester.

Karen said...

Amanda Jean, you are truly my go-to blogger for tutorials and basic info (as well as a lot of inspiration!). As a beginner, I have NO clue about batting and have trouble starting a quilt since I have no idea how to finish it. Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to giving such a complete and detailed explanation about what all that batting is about!

asf said...

Really wonderful, thank you for this!!! I had used a couple of different types of wool battings that I really loved. I handquilted or string tied them. They gave a very puffy / quilted look that I had expected of all batting when I first started quilting. The woman who does long arming for me from time to time did tell me that using both wool & silk batting was amazing! I've been wanting to try that for something extra special.

u keep sewing said...

Thanks for the great information. Appreciate the time you give to the quilt world. Love your blog!!

Hilacha (loose strand) said...

Very helpful!

Needle and Foot said...

Very helpful post. Thanks Amanda!

JanineMarie said...

Before driving myself crazy at several quilt stores today, I researched different battings online.I had a scrap that I once used and loved, but I have no idea what it is. I didn't find it at any of the stores, so I gave up and finally settled on ordering Quilter's Dream Cotton Select in White. I would have saved myself a lot of frustration if I had read your blog first!! I'm hoping I like the Select loft, but I know I'll refer to your blog next time I'm buying batting--and from now on, I'll remember to keep notes and samples of what I like. Thank you so much!

Mama Urchin said...

So my camping quilts have wool batting ad it shrinks a lot. After the first quilt shrunk so much I don't dry the others in the dryer, I hang them dry.

Kate said...

Darn you! I bought Warm and Natural today for a quilt that has a very-nearly-white background, and I started second guessing myself as soon as I walked out the door. Sigh. Okay, fine, I'll go back for Warm and White.

Josie McRazie said...

Isaw recently that there is also black batting out there!!! I would love to try this out!! I do a LOT of blacks for my background!! Mostly I use 80-20 blend!! I love the shrink of the cotton and the little loft the poly adds!

Diadem Washburn said...

so common sense and getting my brain moving. thank you for mentioning the white batting if white in the quilt. at first I thought, "what does it matter it is INSIDE the quilt." then I finished reading and I thought, " Oh right! of course, duh." I have previously made quilts without sashing and I am just starting to use it and like the look it creates. In fact I am on my why out today to by batting. so your post was perfectly timed for me. thanks for all that you do.

Live a Colorful Life said...

Thank you so much for all this information in one concise place.

Donna Bowker said...

Thank you so much for this wonderfully explained and comprehensive description of batting choices. On the off chance that there are one or two other quilters like me that don't care for the post-washing crinkled look caused by the shrinking of natural fibers, I can recommend Soft and Bright, a needled polyester batting made by the Warm Company. It is just a fraction thicker loft than cotton, can be quilted or tied up to 10", is very easy to free-motion quilt, and washes and dries beautifully. I make lots of kids' quilts and love the easy care and the smooth look after washing. Quilts are perhaps just a little firmer or less drape-y that with cotton. I have found it at my LQS and also Jo-Ann's at a very reasonable price with a coupon or on sale. This sounds kind of like a commercial; I truly have no affiliation, I just like and use this batting a lot!

KWILEY said...

Thank you so much love your blog and tips - and this one came so that at a time I found warm & bright and am still trying tos ee if I use this or go back to warm N white. the price was right and feels much like the other but not sure what feel/look it will have after it's quilted and washed. I'd love to hear if you tried this type or any readers Thank you. kwileyatcomcastdotnet

Annie said...

Thanks for this post. It had some great information on batting.

Hitch and Thread said...

Thanks Donna! You're not the only one :)

Karen said...

Thanks ever SO much for sharing all that hard work on batting reviewing. Invaluable resource for future quilts!

JanineMarie said...

As a follow up to my comment the other day--my order of Quilter's Dream Cotton Select in White arrived today. I love the feel of it, but I was concerned that my order was mixed up by the online company I ordered from because the batting was off white, not bright white. So I contacted the Quilters Dream Batting company directly. They told me that (sadly for me) the white is not a bright white. Peroxide is used instead of bleach to keep the integrity of the fibers and doesn't give it the bright white look. Thought you might like to know. Maybe that's why local stores don't tend to stock it in white in addition to the natural color. There's not a huge difference except that the natural has flecks in it. Sigh! The search continues for the perfect white batting. Guess it's back to Warm and White for me when I need white.