Quilt Batting is the layer of insulation between the quilt top and back your quilt. This is the middle layer of your "quilt sandwich" that adds warmth to the quilt and can make your quilting design's puffy. Many types of batting are available in a variety of fiber content and lofts (thickness of the batting) and sizes. Thinner or low loft battings will lie flatter and are easier to quilt either by hand or machine. Thinner battings have less puffiness. Thicker battings add a pillow like puffiness to the quilt. The fiber content for batting is generally cotton or a cotton and polyester blend. Depending on your project and how the quilt will be used there is also wool, bamboo and silk batting available. When choosing a batting, you will want to consider how the quilt will be used, the batting fiber content and the quilting density or open space between quilting motifs.
Benefits of Batting
Batting adds the loft or thickness to your quilt and will help your quilt design stand out.
- Batting will help your quilt lay flat and display well on a wall, a bed or hanging on a quilt rack.
- Batting can be purchased from large rolls or in smaller packages sized to work with common quilt sizes.
- Batting will add extra warmth to a quilt or garment.
- Batting that has been needle felted can also be dyed for texture on quilts.
Supplies and Tools for Batting
Choose a Batting that fits the look you want to achieve and the purpose of the quilt. Keep in mind the quilting distance requirements for each batting. Most manufacturers will include the quilting distance requirements on the packaging.
- Cotton Batting gives a flatter look to your quilt. It is easy to handle and to quilt. It does not have much loft and requires quilting that is closer together. Some quilters prefer more loft so the quilt designs stand out more. This batting can shrink and may be washed in advance of adding it to your quilt, but be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions for pre-shrinking. If you try to pre-wash some 100% cotton batts, you can wind up with what looks like wet tissue!
- Cotton Blend Batting is typically 80% cotton and 20% polyester. This can be a good choice for machine quilting because it lies flat and is easy to handle at the machine. The polyester is loftier and shows nicely with quilting designs.
- Polyester Batting usually has a loftier appearance than cotton battings although it comes if different thicknesses. This batting is slippery because of the bonding on the fiber and may be more difficult to quilt. Polyester batting works well for tied quilts.
- Wool Batting has become popular over the last few years. It looks and acts more like a polyester batting when quilting and has more loft than cotton batting. It is also very warm.
- Other options include bamboo, silk and recycled soda bottles, which are all very soft batts.
What I Wish I Knew When I Started using Batting
I wish I realized sooner to choose BATTING based on method of quilting. For machine quilting a cotton or cotton blend works well, for hand quilting a cotton poly blend, silk or wool batting is easier to stitch through. The end use of the project can also dictate the choice of batting. For instance a quilt destined to be a wall hanging might benefit from two layers of batting, a base of 80/20 blend for stability and a top layer of wool for loft to emphasize the visual texture of the quilting.