Batting is used in a variety of sewing projects and the type you could use may differ for every project depending on what the desired end effect is. Polyester, or a cotton polyester blend, versus a natural fiber batting like 100% wool, cotton or bamboo, the choices can make your head swim if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When looking at all the options, several questions should be considered:
How much loft do you want/need?
The “loft” of a batting refers to how flat or fluffy it is. Most small scale sewing projects like place-mats, table runners and wall hangings you will want to lay flat and therefore will want a batting with low loft. The fluffier the batting is the more the quilting will be shown off and the higher dimension between the quilted and non-quilted areas. Higher loft batting is usually used for bed quilts or comforters.
Do you want/need a natural or synthetic fiber?
- Polyester and wool battings tend to be lighter and fluffier, while cotton and bamboo are denser and flatter.
- Cotton and bamboo are more hypo-allergenic, while polyester and wool can cause trouble for allergy sufferers.
- Natural fiber battings tend to breathe better allowing for freer air flow to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Polyester batting tends to not breathe as well and can cause an undesired buildup of body heat if used for a bed quilt.
- Polyester batting tends to move and bunch more requiring a narrower quilting design while natural fiber is more stable allowing for a wider quilting. An 80/20 cotton polyester blend is the most stable of all allowing for up to a ten inch quilting interval.
Will you be hand or machine quilting?
Due to the airy nature of polyester batting it tends to be best for hand quilting. Cotton and bamboo batting are denser and better suited to being machine quilted. Wool batting is well suited for machine or hand quilting.
Pre-packaged or by the yard?
Pre-packaged batting comes in a variety of sizes allowing you to get just what you need for a project from Craft size: 36” by 45” up to King size: 120” by 120”. Rolled batting by the yard comes in 45” or 90” widths and you can purchase anywhere from a few inches to an entire bolt (usually 15 yards). Purchasing pre-packaged or by the yard batting depends on your ability to store large quantities of batting and the frequency you need batting of a specific size and type.
Decisions, decisions, decisions!
A great way to help decide what batting is right for you or your project is to have batting auditions. Invite a few quilting friends over, or suggest it for your next quilters guild meeting, everyone bring a different type and brand of batting: cut the different types of batting into 14” squares, then sandwich and baste them with two pieces of muslin or scrap fabric and quilt them in your preferred method. This is a great way to find what qualities you do and don’t like about a batting and make a more educated choice when the time comes to finish your next quilt.
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