Wednesday, August 15, 2018 Filed in: Informative
Choosing a batting
Q: What batting do you use?
A: This is a question asked on-line, in our booth at quilt shows and classes quite often. Our answer usually begins: "How do you intend to use the quilt?" And that is a good question to ask yourself.
For our Hawaiian Quilts
we use high-loft polyester bonded batting because it provides loft for our Hawaiian quilts. The air between the polyester fibers makes it easy to hand quilt, and keeps the batting fluffy between the rows of echo quilting. The quilting shows beautifully from across the room when you use a high-loft polyester bonded batting. We have never had any trouble with bearding (batting fibers migrating to the surface of the quilt), so we use it all the time for our Hawaiian quilts.
For the Applique Quilt Borders & Runners
, we use a very low-loft batting because we intend to quilt it very flat.
We certainly do not want the wine glass tipping over when placed on the runner or placemat! If you want a flat runner, then start with a needle-punched, or low-loft batting. You can even get fire-retardant battings, a good idea for quilted items used in or around the kitchen, or open flames.
For our 2 Fabric Applique Quilts
, we use a low-loft or medium-loft batting, depending on its use. Because Connie and Nancy travel so much, we uses a very low-loft batting in our samples, that way we get more quilts in a suitcase and it keeps the weight down. For the wall hangings we use in our homes, we use either a low- or medium-loft batting (cotton, or 80/20 blend, wool, or polyester), depending on the look we want. If we want the quilting to be seen, then the medium-loft batting adds to the visual affect. If we want all of the attention on our fabric choice and the applique design, then a low-loft batting is our choice. Also, with a low-loft batting it is more likely the quilt will lay flat on the wall.
In general, our personal choice usually leads us in the direction of a higher-loft batting than what is typically recommended in quilting books and magazines. We want the quilting to show, and we also like quilts that will keep us warm. The Hawaiian quilting tradition is that the quilting stitches should be even, not necessarily tiny. We like that philosophy.
Here are a few more of our observations and opinions about the more traditional fiber options:
Cotton batting: Densely packed fibers; easier to machine quilt than to hand quilt; breathable (if not a bit heavy) in a bed quilt. Produces a relatively flat quilt.
Polyester batting: Loosely packed fibers, a lot of air in these battings; easy to hand quilt; if machine quilting, baste very well to keep the layers from slipping in the machine; warm in a bed quilt. Produces a fluffier quilt.
Wool batting: Moderately packed fibers; warmer and lighter than cotton, more breathable than polyester, but not quite as lofty. "Like quilting through soft butter," is often heard about wool battings. You guessed it, strikes a happy medium between flat cotton and fluffy polyester.
The bottom line: Use what YOU want in your quilt. Choose a batting that you will enjoy working with and that will give you the look and feel you crave.