If you’re new to quilting, you’re probably familiar with the term “batting,” but you may not know what it does, what types are available and which one to choose.
Simply put, quilt batting is a layer of insulation between the top and bottom layer of your quilt’s patchwork. There are numerous types of batting available and a wide range of thicknesses, which can make it difficult to know which one to choose for your project.
Types of Quilt Batting
Batting can be created using a variety of materials. Typically, the fibers are held together using one of many techniques, which helps keep the batting together and prevents clumping.
Some of the most common materials used to create batting include:
Cotton is soft, light, breathable and natural – which makes it a popular choice among quilters. Batting that’s made from 100% cotton is typically 1/8″ thick.
While a synthetic material, polyester is favored because it holds its shape and thickness very well.
Polyester has its benefits and drawbacks. It’s non-breathable and thicker, but it’s lighter, keeps you warm and is resistant to mold and mildew. Quilters often choose this type of batting for bedding and cribs.
This material is available in a wide range of thicknesses, depending on the weight:
- 4 oz. is 3/8″
- 8 oz. is 3/4″
- 6 oz. is 1/2″
- 10 oz. is 1″
Lightweight and warm, wool is a lofty and natural option for quilters. Like polyester, wool holds its shape very well and is resistance to creases. With a thickness of 1/2,” this type of batting can be used in a wide range of different projects.
Cotton/polyester blends offer the best of both worlds. In most cases, the batting is an 80% cotton, 20% polyester blend.
Because cotton makes up the majority of the material, you get the advantages of breathability and a mostly natural fiber. The polyester adds a little more loft (something we’ll discuss shortly).
Another natural fiber, bamboo is preferred by quilters looking for a gentle, eco-friendly material for their batting. It’s also an excellent choice for machine quilting.
In most cases, bamboo batting is made with a blend of 50% bamboo and 50% cotton. This provides a very breathable material, but will shrink slightly when washed.
There are also different ways to “bond” fibers together when creating batting. These methods include:
Using the bonded method, the fibers are bonded together using either a resin or thermal method.
The bonded method uses a low melt fiber blended with polyester. With this method, the fibers won’t break down as easily when washed.
Resin bonded batting is made using a variety of fibers, including wool, cotton and polyester. For this method, a resin is applied to each side of the batting. The batting is then left to dry and cure. Resin resists bearding (when batting fibers push through the fabric) better than most other methods.
Contains a fusible web, which allows for basting of layers.
The needle punch method uses thousands of tiny needles to felt the batting together mechanically. Needle punch batting has a lower loft, but is stronger and denser than most other batting.
What is Scrim Batting?
Scrim refers to yet another method of fusing batting fibers together. With this method, a thin stabilizer is needle-punched into the quilt’s batting. This adds loft and strength while preventing distortion and stretching.
What is the Best Batting to Use in a Quilt?
There is no one type of batting that’s best for quilting. The batting you choose will depend on the project.
But there are several things you might want to consider when making your decision, which we’ll cover in the next section.
How to Choose Quilt Batting
To find the right batting for your quilting project, you’ll need to consider a variety of things, including:
What will the quilt be used for? Will this be a wall quilt, a baby quilt, bed quilt, child’s quilt or a garment?
Polyester is often chosen for crib and bed quilts, while cotton is a popular choice for garments. Bamboo is also a nice choice for baby quilts.
How the Quilt Will be Washed
Laundering is another concern, as some types of batting break down more easily in the washing machine.
Will you be washing the quilt often? When you do wash the quilt, will you be washing it by hand or in the washing machine? Do you want the batting to shrink in the wash?
- Bamboo will shrink in the wash.
- If you plan to use wool batting, you will need to wash by hand.
- Bonded batting holds up best when washed.
Loft and Fibers
Loft refers to the height of the batting. Low-loft quilts are flatter, while high-loft quilts are “puffier.”
The loft you choose will depend on how you want the quilt to look. When using high-loft batting, the quilting lines will be more apparent. When using low-loft batting, you will get a flatter finish. A flatter finish is a good choice if you want to show off your patchwork and not your quilting lines.
Another thing to consider when choosing batting is size. Batting can be purchased pre-packaged and often in standard sizes for bedding, including: king, queen, full, twin and crib.
You also have the option of buying it off the bolt and in your own custom size.
Will you be quilting by hand or by a machine? The method you choose will also play a role in which type of batting you choose.
High-loft batting is often not a good choice for hand quilting, but may be a perfectly suitable choice for machine quilting. Bamboo batting is also ideal for machine quilting.
Finding the right batting for your project can be a challenge at first, but once you find one that you like, you can continue using that type with similar projects in the future. And if you want to test a variety of different types of battings, you might consider hosting a batting party. With these parties, everyone brings a small piece of batting (each a different type), so everyone can try new ones.