What Type of Quilt Batting Should You Use?
Batting is the soft layer between the quilt top and backing. It provides the warmth and determines how your quilt will look and lay. Thinner, stiffer battings will give a more standard quilt, and fluffier paddings will add dimension.
Batting may look boring, but it will help determine the final look and feel of your quilt or quilted item. The type you choose is important.
Even people who don’t quilt have often been exposed to polyester batting. It’s used in many craft projects to add fluff.
Polyester is resilient and lightweight. It doesn’t attract moths or mildew. It’s available in black, which can be convenient if you’re making a darker quilt and don’t want any tufts of white coming up with the needle to be visible. It’s available in many lofts, which means varying degrees of “fluffiness.” It’s suitable for hand quilting and machine quilting. High loft polyester fleece is good for tied quilts and comforters.
A combination of natural and synthetic fibers, it combines the breathability of cotton with the durability of polyester. It resists fiber migration, so it has less risk of turning lumpy with repeated washings.
It’s stiffer than polyester batting, and doesn’t have the range of lofts. It tends to have a good drape and is good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
On the downside, cotton/poly battings will shrink some if you don’t prewash them. It’s a minor amount of shrinkage, but shrinkage can make your stitches look a bit puckered.
Cotton/poly blend batting is recommended for beginning quilters.
100% cotton batting is a full natural fiber batting. It breathes well and resists lumping. It’s commonly available like all the ones listed so far.
100% cotton has a few drawbacks, especially for beginning quilters. It’s dense, with a low loft, and can be more difficult to push needles through It may contain seeds and plant residue that can release oils that stain the quilt, though this is uncommon. It usually can’t be prewashed. It shrinks 3 to 5% when washed, which can lead to a puckered appearance. It’s good for hand quilting and machine quilting. If you’re choosing 100% cotton batting you should know the perks and potential drawbacks, especially for beginning quilters.
Wool and Wool Blends
Wool, the ultimate insulator. It comes preshrunk and is available in black. It’s very resilient, soft, and drapable. It’s good for hand quilting or machine quilting.
On the downside, wool can have an inconsistent loft, making it a bit lumpy. It might also need to be encased in cheesecloth or scrim if not bonded to stabilize it. It isn’t easily available so you’re unlikely to accidentally buy the batting that needs more care during use.
Flannel batting is a very low loft, lightweight alternative to traditional batting. It is readily available, and is useful for clothing and very flat quilts. Because of the lack of loft, it isn’t good for many fancy quilting techniques and designs. Flannel is good for machine quilting. It is usually readily available and 100% cotton.
Silk is an excellent choice for quilted garments. It doesn’t shrink, it’s lightweight. It has an excellent drape and can handle hand quilting or machine quilting. Like all battings, it can be washed.
On the downside it’s expensive, and difficult to come by. It also takes damage if exposed to direct sunlight.
Fusible batting eliminates the need for basting or spray basting. It’s a good choice for small projects.
On the downside, there are limited batting options and sizes available and it is only recommended for machine quilting because the adhesive makes it difficult for hand quilting.
Your quilting project will look and feel different with each of these types of batting. Choose the one that best suits you based on how you want your quilted project to look and feel. Cotton/poly blend batting is suitable for many projects most beginning quilters will want to undertake, but don’t be afraid to branch out.