Choosing the Right Batting
by Mary Stori
An Online Extra to Threads #93, pp. 49-51
There are many different types of batting from cotton, polyester and wool to silk, and various blends. The batting’s loft (how thick it is), fiber content, shrinkage, and manufacturing process all affect the quality of your stitches. Ask what type of batting other quilters use, and as you experiment with various kinds, keep track of which type works best for you.
The thinnest batting allows for the smallest stitches. Thicker batting can be so dense it’s hard to get a needle through it. Some are so spongy and full of holes they offer no substance to hold the stitch in place. The ease of stitching will differ between a 100% cotton batting and one made from silk or wool.
In the batting chart below, “quilting interval” refers to the distance between lines of quilting stitches, and “bearding” to the migration of batting fibers through the surface of the quilt.
Batting chart: readily available batting and its characteristics
|Brand||Fiber content||Prewash||Quilting interval*||Comments|
|Fairfield Classic||80% cotton/20% polyester||Presoak; dry in dryer||3 in. to 4 in. apart||1-1/8 in. thick, bonded to reduce bearding**|
|Fairfield Low-Loft||100% polyester||No||3 in. to 4 in. apart||Bonded to reduce bearding**|
|Fairfield Soft Touch||100% cotton||No||2 in. apart||Non-allergenic; very thin; drapes well; good for clothing|
|Hobbs Heirloom Cotton||80% cotton/20% polyester||Yes||3 in. apart||For an antique look, don’t prewash; 5% shrinkage|
|Hobbs Heirloom Wool Batt||100% wool||No||3 in. apart||Good insulator, breathes, stain and mildew-resistant, long wearing|
|Hobbs Organic Cotton||100% cotton||Yes||2 in. apart||Chemical-free, non-allergenic|
|Without Scrim Hobbs Thermore||100% polyester||No||3 in. to 4 in. apart||Very thin, lightweight; drapes well; good for clothing; does not beard**|
|Kelsul Quilters Cotton||100% cotton||No||Up to 8 in. apart||Comes in four different weights; needles easily; wears well|
|Morning Glory||100% cotton||Yes||4 in. to 6 in. apart||Unbleached cotton; shrinks less than 1%|
|Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon Cotton||100% cotton||No||1-1/2 in. to 2 in. apart||Does not beard**; antique appearance|
|Mountain Mist Quilt Light||100% polyester||No||3 in. to 4 in. apart||Bonded to reduce bearding**|
|Silk Batt||100% silk||No||1-1/2 in. apart||Lightweight, “adheres” to fabric, so little basting is required; wash only in cold water|
|Warm & Natural||100% cotton||Yes||Up to 10 in. apart||Does not separate, bunch, or beard**; 1% shrinkage|
* Quilting interval refers to the distance between lines of quilting stitches
** Bearding refers to the migration of batting fibers through the surface of the quilt.
Main Article: Perfect Your Hand-Quilting Stitch