The term batting refers to the stuffing or filling of a quilt. This is what gives the quilt its shape, warmth, and loft. In simple words, batting is the layer of material that lies between the top and backing of a quilt.
Batting comes in a variety of types, each of them with its own set of characteristics. Although they look the same, batting can make a quilt flat or puffy, stiff or drapey, depending on the batting you choose.
During this post, you’ll learn about the types of batting and different batting materials, as well as a simple guide to choosing a quilt batting for your quilting project. So let’s jump into the topic now!
Terms Related to Quilt Batting
The loft is the height or thickness of the batting. Lofts range from low to high when it comes to batting. A low-loft batting is flatter, while a high-loft batting looks puffier.” Cotton has a relatively low loft, while polyester tends to have a higher loft.
Drape refers to the way the batting hangs. Depending on the type of batting, some are quite soft, while others are stiffer. This influences how the batting hangs, as well as how the quilt that uses it drapes. Good batting will allow your quilt to drape around your shoulders following the natural curve of your body without being too stiff.
Scrim is a thin stabilizer that is often layered over batting to hold the fibers together, preventing them from separating or stretching, so that quilting stitches can be placed further apart. Besides, Having a scrim makes batting stronger and more stable. The scrim is typically needle-punched onto the batting (batting can be needle punched but not have scrim).
Types of Modern Quilt Batting
Needle-punched batting is made by felting/interlocking the loose fibers together using thousands of tiny barbed needles without thread. Typically, the fibers are punched into a fine base cloth called “scrim” before being rolled into huge rolls. This makes the batting stronger and creates a dense, lower loft. Needle-punched batting works great for machine quilting, but you should probably avoid it if you are planning to quilt by hand since it is too dense for hand quilting.
This type of batting is made by putting or bonding the fibers together using either a thermal or resin method. The bonded method uses a blend of low-melt fiber and polyester. This method prevents fibers from breaking down easily when washed. On the other hand, the resin method involves applying glue to each side of the batting. The batting is then allowed to dry and cure. In this way, it resists bearding (when the batting fibers push through the fabric) better than any other batting.
Fusible batting is a type of batting that comes with a thin layer of glue on both sides, which is usually ironed in place after being sandwiched between the top and backing, allowing you to skip pinning or spray-basting. It may not be practical to use this type of batting for larger projects because ironing can be a hassle. However, depending on the brand, it may be a good option for smaller pieces, such as mini quilts or small wall hangings.
Types of Batting Materials
Natural fibers like cotton are soft, breathable, and comfortable. Besides being machine washable and dryable, cotton batting drapes well and lasts for a long time. When washed, it becomes slightly soft and shrinks, creating a crinkled, “antique” look. Cotton batting generally offers the heaviest weight compared to others. There are many uses for cotton batting, but it is particularly suitable for bed quilts, table runners, placemats, and wall hangings.
Even though polyester is a synthetic material, it holds its shape and thickness well. As with any material, polyester has its advantages and disadvantages. Although it’s thicker and non-breathable, it’s lighter, keeps you warm, and is mold and mildew resistant. It’s also very durable and easy to wash and dry. With its high loft, polyester batting is ideal for those who wish to show off their quilting skills. Moreover, it lays flat, which makes it ideal for things like table runners, placemats, and wall hangings.
Wool is a lofty and natural material ideal for bed quilts and garments that are appropriate for all seasons and climates. The material is lightweight, warm, and moisture-wicking. Similarly to polyester, wool holds its shape well and resists creases. When used on a gentle, cool cycle, it can be machine washed and dried.
It’s possible to have it all with cotton/polyester blends. Cotton/polyester blend batting typically contains 80% cotton and 20% polyester. As cotton makes up the majority of the material, you can expect to enjoy advantages such as breathability and softness as well as a bit more loft thanks to polyester.
The lightweight, breathable, and drapey nature of silk makes it a great fabric for quilts and clothing. If you are planning to quilt by hand, using silk batting is highly recommended. When it comes to silk projectsIf you plan to wash and dry silk projects, you have to be very careful about how you wash and dry them. I think it’s better to go with the traditional hand-washing and air-drying methods.
Bamboo batting is considered to be a greener alternative to cotton since bamboo is renewable more quickly than cotton. For quilters looking for a gentle, eco-friendly batting material, bamboo is a preferred choice. When it comes to loft and feel, as well as shrinkage, it is sometimes hard to distinguish it from cotton batting. Bamboo is usually made from a 50/50 blend of bamboo and cotton. Bamboo batting is very breathable but shrinks slightly when washed. Though bamboo is more expensive than cotton, if you are trying to go green, it is a great choice.
Other Synthetic Batting Materials
Batting is often made of synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, or a blend of polyester and acrylic. Polyester batting usually comes in various densities and thicknesses. Polyester is hypoallergenic, does not absorb moisture, and is easy to care for and wash in a washing machine or dryer with no shrinkage or stretch. Acrylic batting can also be found in a variety of densities and thicknesses. Due to its lightweight and high loft properties, it is commonly used as a filler in quilts. You can throw acrylic batting in a washer but, in order to minimize shrinkage, it is advised to air dry rather than using a machine.
A Guide to Choosing a Quilt Batting
To choose the right batting for your project, you have to consider a whole number of important factors such as the price, the size of your project, the washability, as well as many more things.
When choosing your batting, keep in mind how you intend to use your quilt. This is because the type of batting you should use depends on how the quilt will be used. For example, if you are making a quilt for your child’s bed, you should probably select a material that is soft, comfortable, and moisture-wicking, such as linen or cotton. This is why considering the project or quilt’s purpose is crucial in making a decision.
The loft is another factor to consider when choosing quilt batting as the loft determines the height or thickness of the batting. The higher the loft, the more difficult it is to work with it, especially if you are planning to quilt by hand.
Are you going to quilt by hand or by machine? Your choice of method will also influence the type of batting you select. In many cases, high-loft batting is not a good choice for hand quilting but may be a perfect choice for machine quilting. So whenever deciding on batting, consider what method you will be using to quilt.
Warmth & Absorbancy
The warmth and absorbency of the batting should be taken into account when choosing one for your quilting project. You should choose batting made of a material that is warm if you live in a colder region. In summer, it would be best to choose batting made from lightweight, breathable, and absorbent material.
When choosing batting, it is also important to consider the size. Batting can be bought pre-packaged and often comes in standard sizes including king, queen, full, twin, and crib. You can also buy batting off the bolt in your own custom size.
Batting Size Recommendation
Although there is no right size for a quilt as quilt sizes are decided by the quilter, below is a list of standard quilt sizes and the matching pre-cut Hobbs batting sizes. Hobbs is one of the most popular pre-cut batting brands. Hobbs batting can be found in local fabric and craft stores as well as in sewing supply stores.
|Quilt Size||Hobbs Batting Sizes|
|Baby/Crib (approximate – 36″ x 40″)||45″ x 60″|
|Throw/lap (approximate – 40″ x 40″ and up)||60″ x 60″|
|Twin (72″ x 90″)||72″ x 90″|
|Full/Double (85″ x 108″)||Use Queen Size|
|Queen (90″ x 108″)||90″ x 108″|
|King (110″ x 108″)||120″ x 120″|
|California King (106″ x 112″)||Use King Size|
There are also other brands like Quilters Dream, Pellon, and Fairfield that offer pre-cut batting of similar sizes.
Washability & Shrinkage
No matter what type of batting you use, as long as the quilt is fully stitched and enclosed with no part of the batting exposed, it can be washed. However, shrinkage is a major problem. In order to minimize wrinkles, it is better to Pre-wash Quilt Batting before inserting it into the quilt. While polyester batting resists shrinking, natural fibers like cotton can shrink by 3 to 5 percent. Even though some people like the wrinkled appearance as it shows how much the quilt has been loved, not everyone prefers this. So, take your liking into consideration and choose a batting that’s best for you.
What to Use if You Don’t Have Batting? (Alternatives)
If you do not have batting on hand or would like to experiment with something different, there are several alternatives available. You can make your own batting by using an old blanket or towel. You can also insert foam padding instead of batting, which can be found in most hardware stores. Batting can also be made from straw or dried leaves. Whether making a quilt or carrying out another project, using these materials will result in an increased amount of bulk and insulation.
Is batting the same as wadding?
Batting is not the same as wadding. Batting is a material made of wool, cotton, or other natural or synthetic fibers used to make quilts, blankets, pillows, and other bedding. Wadding is a material made of down, feathers, wool, cotton, or other natural or synthetic fibers used for filling pillows and cushions. Batting is usually made thicker than wadding, and it is often treated with fire retardant or other chemicals to make it safer.
So, if you’re looking for insulation material, you should probably go with wadding. But if you’re looking for batting to use in a quilt or other craft project, then you can choose based on the type of fiber you prefer. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
What is fleece batting?
Fleece batting is a type of padding used in quilting. It is made from polyester fiber and is available in various thicknesses. Fleece batting is often used in place of traditional batting because it is less likely to shift or bunch up when quilted. It is also less expensive than other types of batting.
What was used for batting in old quilts?
In the past, most batting was made from cotton or wool. These natural fibers are breathable and provide good insulation. However, they can also be heavy and difficult to work with. Today, many quilters prefer to use polyester batting. Polyester is lightweight and easy to work with, but it does not breathe as well as cotton or wool. It is also not as warm as natural fibers.