Many quilters do not take the time to learn about the correct batting for their quilting projects, but it can make the difference between a successful quilting project and an unsuccessful one. The right batting can have an enormous effect on the finished appearance of your quilt project. It can also make the difference between enjoying the process of quilting or hating it. You spend hours planning the design and look of the outer layers of your quilting project, why not take the time to learn a bit about the batting that goes inside?
Batting is the insulating fabric, which is the part of the quilt that creates warmth. Batting is layered between the quilt top and the backing. This quilting sandwich of three layers of fabric is then pinned at the edges in order to temporarily secure it. Most commonly it is then sewn together, either by hand or machine, but sometimes crafters tie the layers of batting and fabric together. Usually yarn is used to tie a quilting project together, but sometimes several strands of thread are used also. Be certain to tie a tight square knot if you choose this method of securing the batting to the fabric. You want to be sure the quilt will stand up to years of use.
Batting comes in several different fibers, most often polyester, cotton, and wool or blends that combine two different fibers. Polyester batting has a high loft which will remain through repeated washings. It is generally hypo-allergenic and usable for either hand or machine quilting projects. Cotton batting is a quilter’s dream. It has a much lower loft than the polyester batting, and is often used when quilters want to achieve an antique look. Because cotton is a natural fiber, it “breathes,” meaning it will help you to remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Cotton batting is not as suitable for tying, as it has a tendency to clump. Like cotton, wool batting breathes. It is easy to quilt, and thus a much beloved batting of many quilters. There are two different ways batting is manufactured–needlepunched or bonded. Needlepunched batting is a good utilitarian choice for a quilting project that needs to stand up to hard use. It is made by thousands of needles piercing the batting, interlocking the fibers. The needlepunched batting is firmer and heavier than bonded batting, which is manufactured by using a bonding agent to adhere the layers of the batting together.
Many battings, whatever form you choose, are available either pre-cut or rolled on a tube so that you can cut your own to size. If your quilting project is a standard quilt size (such as baby, twin, full, queen or king) you will probably be able to find a pre-cut batting quite easily. For other sizes you may need to buy batting on the roll.
Taking the time to learn about your choices in batting can change your quilting for the better, making it easier to complete projects, and increase your chances of being satisfied with the finished project.