Answering All Your FAQs About Quilt Batting

How To Test Your Batting Before You Buy?

If you’ve been in a fabric shop or looked online for batting, you know that there are bunches of different kinds — polyester, cotton, cotton blends, wool, silk, low loft, puffy, needle punched, and more. Each of these batts has been created to allow you to get the exact effect you want for your quilt.

  • If you are making a puffy lap quilt, you will probably want to use a high loft polyester batting.
  • If you are making a quilt for a mountain cabin that you want to cuddle up in late at night when it’s cold, you might be looking for a wool batting.
  • If you can’t decide what you want, or if you are making a group quilt, it might be a good idea to test the batting before you buy gobs and gobs of it.

Get a small piece, then layer it with fabrics you will be using for your quilt, and quilt away — either hand quilt or machine quilt. This will give you a good idea of what your finished quilt will look and feel like. Where do you get samples of batting? Several of the batting vendors at quilt shows have packs of samples for sale or cheap. Sometimes you can find sample packs at quilt shops.

Or, invest in a small (crib size) batt of some of the types you are likely to use, and keep them on hand to use as “test batts” for your future quilts. Sounds like a lot of extra work? Kind of, but remember, this quilt will last many lifetimes, and the extra hour or two you spend on it now will be nothing compared to the years of enjoyment future generations will spend with your finished quilt.

What Is Cotton Batting?

Before Eli Whitney perfected the cotton gin in 1793, quilters used cotton batting that was filled with cotton seeds and stems.

After that, batting that came from the South had fewer seeds and stems in it. Because Eli’s cotton gin was not in use and housewives had no time to remove the seeds and stems in the North, batting from the North still had seeds and stems. After 1830, all parts of the country were using the cotton gin, so the batting had fewer seeds and stems.

When I began quilting in 1981, the 100% cotton batting available in my area (Southern California) still had some seeds and stems. It wasn’t until the 1990s that cotton batting was completely free of stems and seeds.

It’s interesting to note that the batting is used as a method of dating quilts and determining where they were made.

What To Do If My Batting/Backing Is Too Small?

“We put the quilt together with the batting and the backing the same measurements as the quilt.  I’ve got it on an old rack now, but I am hesitant to start the quilting, afraid that the edges will not be good when I finish. what should I do?”

When you quilt, your quilting stitches will tend to make the quilt top, back and batting get somewhat smaller, and generally at different rates.

At this point, I would add fabric to the backing and add batting.  Assuming that the quilt is basted together, the first step is to remove enough basting so you can work with the outside 2-3” of the quilt back and batting.

The first step would be to add backing material.  If you have more of the same material, you could add about 3” to each side of the piece.  If not, you could add a contrasting piece of fabric to the backing, just like you would add a border to a quilt top.  Once those pieces are added, be sure to press the seam allowances flat, and probably toward the bigger part of the quilt.

Next is to add batting.  This, too, is relatively easy, following the instructions in this Article about Piecing Batting.

Once you have those extra pieces added, you’re ready to quilt without any worries.  Baste the top, batting and backing.  You will have extra batting and backing sticking out from your quilt top.  I would baste those to each other.  Normally I don’t do that, but since your batting is pieced, you will probably want to secure it, so the piecing is less likely to come out.

Once your quilting is complete, trim off the excess batting and backing as you normally would.  It is likely that there will be just a small amount of the extra backing that actually remains in your quilt.  I would use binding to cover the extra little strip.

The easiest way is to make your own binding.  Before cutting fabric for the binding, measure how much of the backing you want to cover up.  Add at least 1½” to that measurement.  That will give you enough fabric to sew a ¼” of binding on the front, fold it around to the back, and secure it well past the seam for the extra fabric you pieced onto the back.

What Are The Types Of Quilt Batting?

Have you ever thought about using something other than traditional batting — the cotton, polyester, wool, or silk you can buy at your local quilt shop?

Using something different seems to go with the whole quilting-thinking (using scraps, bits and good left-overs). Some quilters have gotten quite creative!

Here are some ideas of other fabrics you can use in place of batting in your quilt.

• Thin cotton blanket
• Bath towel
• Good parts of an old mattress pad
• Osnaburg cloth (frequently used in doll making)
• Cotton flannel sheet

===> More Inspiration For Quilters, Click To Get Inspired! ===>

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