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Choosing Batting

Basic Quilting Tools and Supplies

Batting is the material used to give a quilt loft or thickness and warmth. Warmth is determined by fiber thickness and type. For example, down feathers hold more air longer and are excellent insulators. Wool, silk and cotton are other good insulators. Our grandmothers used blankets, flannel or a purchased cotton or wool batting for their quilts. Polyester was not yet available. Today, quiltmakers are fortunate to have more choices.
Cotton battings are drapeable and fairly easy to quilt; they are also warm. Bearding, the migration of batt fibers to the outside layers of fabric, is not a problem. Cotton batting requires closer quilting lines (1/2" apart or closer) to prevent bunching and lumping, especially after laundering.
Cotton-blended batting combines the good qualities of cotton with the easy-care qualities of polyester. It is easy to work with and produces a thin-layered, warm quilt.
If you like to work with natural fibers, you may want to select wool or silk batting. However, both are much more expensive than cotton or polyester batting, and silk is not widely available. Wool is a joy to work with, soft and easy to handle. Silk batting requires special techniques, so be sure to learn about it before you decide to work with it.
Polyester batting is inexpensive, easy to quilt and care for and is non-allergenic. Because of the bonding and glazing process, quilting lines can be farther apart. Polyester does have a tendency to beard.
To choose the right batting, determine how you plan to use the quilt and your method of quilting. If a quilt will receive frequent use, such as a child's quilt, the batting should be sturdy and washable. Consider a different batting if you are making a wall hanging, which will probably never be laundered. Thinner batts are easier to quilt by hand. In machine quilting a thick batt is not a problem.
Batting can be purchased by the yard in different widths or by the package ranging in size from craft size (36" x 45") to king size (120" x 120"). The patterns in this series give the size of the finished quilt; purchase a batting size that can be cut a little larger than these measurements. The excess will be trimmed away prior to binding the quilt.
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