We are nearing the time when you will be getting your quilt ready to quilt. That means that you have to make some choices about batting.
First of all, just what is batting. Batting is the middle layer of the quilt that provides warmth and comfort that we all know as a quilt. In warmer climates, thinner batting is a very nice choice, while in cold areas, thicker ones are more desirable. The thinness or thickness of the batting is called the loft. The more loft, the warmer the quilt. Use low loft batting if you intend to hand quilt, or if you want a lighter weight and feeling to your quilt. Low loft is also better for machine quilting as it will fit better under the arm of the machine. Long arm quilters use low loft batts. Batting with more loft is better for tied quilts or comforters.
There are a number of materials that batting is made of. Even more come on the market all the time. Synthetic batting tends to be warmer because natural fibers breathe with the skin, while synthetic fibers seem to hold in the body’s heat. Synthetic fibers are somewhat easier to put the needle through the layers, called needling. People who use wool batting say that wool is good because the oils in the wool will lubricate the needle.
Cotton batting is a good choice for many quilters. Cotton is also often paired with polyester to make a batt that has many of the qualities of cotton with stability of synthetic fibers. Such as Hobbs Heirloom, 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% Polyester) Thus far, Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 is my favorite batt. It has the combination of the old-fashioned look (after washing) of cotton with the stability of synthetic. While Polyester batts do not shrink, be aware that the blended batts may shrink a bit. So read the labels carefully.
Polyester batts shrink very little if at all, and are easier to needle than natural fibers. Migration and bearding are more of a problem with polyester batts, but there are methods used by the manufacturers that reduce these problems. You can read about these methods and much more at this URL: http://www.quiltersbee.com/qbfabtip.htm You can read about bonded batting, and needlepunch here. A few words about polyester batting: The fibers of synthetic batts are somewhat looser than natural fibers, making it possible for them to work their way through the quilt top or backing, the fibers migrate between the weave of the fabric. This is called bearding and can be unsightly on darker colors. The first photo is polyester fibers, you may recognize as poly-fiber-fil. The next photo is several different kinds of batts.
Wool and silk are natural fibers that make warm quilts because they are thicker-loft. These are premium quality batts that come with a higher price tag, but they would make a fine quilt if you make that choice.
Hancock’s of Paducah is a fabric store in Paducah Kentucky that is not associated with the country wide fabric chain of the same name. Hancocks of Paducah has a wide selection of quilt batting and a good explanation of each type and it’s use. This is a link to their selection of quilt batting. http://www.hancocks-paducah.com/ItemList--Batting--m-20
While I am familiar with many quilt batts, I do have my likes and dislikes. I am not here to promote any certain type of quilt batts or any particular place to purchase them. I am just conveying information on the places and products that I know. Please study this and other material by looking up the links I have shown and by doing a little research of your own. Type in some of these subjects. Quilting, quilt batting, making quilt batts, choosing a quilt batt. Go ahead think of your own word combination and see what you find. If you find something really good and interesting, tell the rest of us. We don’t all think the same and you may come up with some great ideas I never thought of. What would we do without the World Wide Web in this day of information on every possible subject, especially, Quilting and Machine Embroidery!
Bamboo has become the rage for many uses in the figer industry. While researching the subject of batting, I found this really interesting web site about bamboo fabric and batting that just might be of interest to all of you fabric lovers.
Stitches to you,