Choosing the Right Batting for Your Project
Quilt batting is used in sewing and quilting projects to serve as a layer of insulation between fabrics. It is the filling of a quilt that makes them warm and heavy. There are several types of batting to choose from.
Cotton, Polyester, Blended, Silk, Bamboo, or Wool?
How do you know which batting is right for your project? There are several factors to consider when choosing batting.
Price - Polyester batting is the least expensive and wool batting is the most expensive. Cotton batting falls in the middle.
Warmth - Wool batting is by far the warmest, followed by polyester and cotton battings. Cotton and wool battings breathe much better than polyester.
Drape - A lightweight batting will drape better than a thick batting, and polyester batting tends to drape better than cotton batting. If you are making an art quilt or wall hanging, thick cotton batting with hold its shape better and not sag. Wool drapes well and holds its shape as well. If your quilt will be folded, then wool batting is more appropriate as it will not show creases.
Weight - If the quilt will be used as a cover, the weight is a matter of personal preference (I have a heavier bed quilt for the winter months, and a lighter quilt for the summer months). A baby's quilt should be much lighter than an adult's quilt. Wool and polyester battings are lighter in weight than cotton. Also, many manufacturers offer batting in different weights.
Loft - If you want a puffier quilt, then use wool or polyester batting. Among the many brands of wool and polyester batting, you will find the same weight can have different loft. Hobbs and Quilters Dream make very lofty polyester batting. Quilters Dream offers an overview of the lofts of their batting.
Appearance – Although most Quilter's Dream batting is pre-shrunk there is some shrinkage, especially if the quilt is washed in warm water and machine dried. Some people prefer the slightly puckered look quilts get when the cotton batting shrinks more than the fabric. Polyester batting does not shrink. A blended batting provides the benefits of natural cotton fibers with the added control of polyester without shrinking, so the quilt does not get the slight puckering effect.
Environment - Cotton and wool are both natural fibers; however, cotton growing is an environmentally taxing process. There are now more environmentally friendly batting options available. Quilter's Dream Green is made from recycled plastic bottles and provides the same finish as polyester batting. Quilters Dream also has an Orient batting made from silk, bamboo, Tencel, and cotton…with a luxurious feel and made from environmentally friendly products.
Quilting – If you are hand quilting your quilt, you will want to avoid battings certain batting. Natural cotton battings have tiny seed parts in them, making them much more difficult to hand quilt. Some battings hold together differently, and some require dense quilting to keep from separating or bunching. Test out different battings to see which type is the best for your project and the look you want to achieve.
Other Types of Batting
Bonded batting has a light adhesive on both sides to hold fibers together, making sure the batting won't shift or beard. (Bearding is when batting fibers push through the fabric.)
Fusible batting contains a fusible web, making it easier to baste quilt layers together. To adhere the batting to the layers, use the iron's wool setting. Iron on the quilt top, pressing out from the center of the quilt, pressing each area 3-4 seconds. Allow the quilt to cool and repeat on other back side.
Needle punch batting is mechanically felted together by punching the batting with lots of needles. This makes it firmer and denser than other battings. Needle punch batting is used as a durable quilt backing, as well as in apparel and blankets.