What are the best batting choices for machine quilting? If you’re a quilter and have spent time sewing blogs, forums, or social media groups, you’ve probably seen plenty of opinions about this topic! There are many recommendations out there ranging from polyester to wool, but what is truly the best option? We’ll take a look at some different types of batting and their pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision based on your preferences.
What is quilt batting, and why do you need it?
The batting of a quilt is the layer between the top and the backing. Its purpose is to add warmth, provide loft and insulation, and also some strength to make your quilt drape better. It also helps you to machine quilt in a straight line because it will not move as much as if your top is directly on the backing during the embroidery process.
The batting is what gives your quilt body and warmth, so choose carefully. There are many selections of batting out there, but they are not created equal. Some have a reputation for being a lot more difficult to work with than others are. So what batting is the best?
The answer depends upon how you want or need to use your quilt. Below are some of the most common quilt batting types, and my thoughts on them, and why I prefer one over the other in specific applications:
Types of quilt batting:
1. Wool batting:
Wool is one of the most commonly used types of batting. Its primary advantage is that it has excellent drape — meaning it will hang nicely from your quilt top, and it does not have a tendency to curl or wrinkle if you are using wool fabrics on both sides (like cotton voile or batiste). Its disadvantages are that it is expensive, and you need to take a few extra steps when washing. It tends to felt or shrinks in the dryer, so you should air dry it, and not use too hot of an iron temperature at your quilt finishing step. I like wool batting for my quilts that will be used mainly for decoration such as holiday decor. It is great because it does not need to be washed if it’s just a decorative quilt, although it can be if you want to.
I like using wool batting for wall hangings or other pieces with some weight, such as banners or table runners. Wool batting is also my choice when I need to conserve money because wool batting tends to be more cost-effective than polyester. You can buy it in bulk, and it has a great drape, so use it for decorative wall hangings, flags, banners, or table runners.
2. Polyester Batting:
Polyester batting is the most popular choice because it’s inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of weights. It does tend to wrinkle when you wash it, so you need to take special care when washing or drying it. Always air dry and use low heat on your iron! I find that polyester batting is easier to clean and take care of than wool, but it does not have that luxurious drape. Polyester batting tends to be a little sturdier feeling, but the advantage is that you can machine quilt very close to the edge because it will not fray as cotton batting does.
It’s best to use a cotton top fabric with polyester batting so that you can wash your quilt at least once in the middle of its life while maintaining its structure.
Polyester batting is my choice for most baby quilts because they will not be washed often, and I want something easy to maintain. It also gives the quilt a slightly sturdier feel that tends to make it a little more durable, and it’s not as delicate feeling as wool. I also like using polyester batting for my lap quilts because I don’t want them to be washed often. It’s just my choice on personal preference for the most part.
3. Cotton batting:
Cotton batting is the most common type of quilt batting, and as such, it has been used for generations. However, it does tend to wrinkle, so you do need to take care of it carefully when washing or drying. Cotton batting also frays a lot which means you need to be careful if your top fabric is cotton (meaning that its raw edge will fray if you’re not careful).
Do not wash your quilt for at least the first year. It is best not to think of cotton batting as something that you can regularly wash, but rather something that should be air-dried and only laundered occasionally. Quilts made from 100% cotton fabric are fine because they will shrink up, and then you can wash them later, but quilts with cotton on both sides should never be washed for the first year (unless they are very small).
Cotton batting is best suited for baby quilting projects and table runners etc., because it comes in a wide range of thicknesses and weights. It is also great when you have to be careful with washing.
The benefits of cotton batting are that it’s incredibly soft and very drapey. You can use cotton batting for large quilts because it drapes very well, which means you need fewer layers of fabric to make a nice-looking quilt, so you save on material cost. It is also good if you want a more traditional look for your finished project.
4. Bamboo batting:
This is a relatively newer product to the quilting world (or at least to me), but it’s very popular. It is made from rayon (a cellulose product) which comes from bamboo. It has a nice hand feel, although I found that it tends to be a little rougher if you rub it against your shirt.
You can feel good using bamboo batting because the process of making it is much better for the environment than many other products. Bamboo is a very fast-growing plant, and it grows without pesticides or herbicides, which make it good for the earth.
The downside to batting made from bamboo is that it does not come in as many thicknesses as cotton or polyester batting. It also tends to be a little more expensive than cotton or polyester, but it is worth the investment. Most experienced quilters choose between wool and bamboo because they are both so luxurious feeling… it’s a matter of what you prefer!
How to choose the best type of quilt batting for your project?
The first thing we need to consider when choosing batting material is whether it’s washable or not. Some people prefer using non-washable materials because they don’t want any chance of ruining their fabric with water. Others like the idea of being able to throw away used batting after washing without having to worry about damaging the fabric underneath. The choice really comes down to personal preference but generally speaking…
- Wool batting is great because it feels so luxurious but takes careful washing and ironing.
- Cotton batting is good if you want a natural feel that will fray easily when raw edge can shrink if you wash it.
- Polyester batting is best if you want something that does not shrink or fray easily (great for baby quilts) and will be easier to take care of in the long run.
- Bamboo batting has a nice feeling because it is soft and silkier but comes in few thicknesses and is a bit more expensive.
Tips on how to use different types of quilting batting with a machine or by hand:
Machine quilting will be easiest if you use polyester or cotton batting. It will give more support, and it won’t fray easily when machine quilted, making for a smoother finish on the back of your quilt.
Hand quilting is best with wool batting because it’s so fluffy and soft that it makes hand quilting easier.
I hope that helps you in choosing the best batting for your quilts. I do not have personal experience with every type of batting, so if you have something to share about a certain kind, please do! (I would also love to hear from anyone who has tips and tricks on hand-quilting with wool batting!)
FAQs related to quilt batting:
What is a Poly Batting Blend?
Poly batting is made from recycled plastic bottles melted into shapeless form and spun to create the batting. It’s a good way to use less material in your quilt while creating something that will be nice for the environment! However, poly blended batting retains some crinkled look of the recycled plastic bottles, and they tend to be a bit stiffer than cotton or wool batting.
What is the Quilter’s Dream batting?
Quilter’s dream is a polyester batting that can be used in home sewing, as well as for quilts. It comes in many colors and different feels, including soft and firm. It is a little on the pricey side, but it has quality that really sets it apart from other batting.
What are the benefits of using Pellon?
Pellon is a non-woven material that you can use instead of batting. It has the advantage that it’s not as thick and heavy as batting, so if you’re doing a project that involves cutting down on the bulk (like making bags or quilted jackets), Pellon is a good alternative. It’s also great for small craft projects like making doll clothes with a machine or by hand.
What are the Best Quilt Batting Options?
Depending on the purpose of the quilt, you may want to choose different batting than others. Cotton is a good choice for home decor because it is a natural fiber and easy to care for. Polyester batting would also be good if you want the quilt to last. If you are making a quilt for comfort, wool batting would be great because of its softness. It’s nice to have a variety of options when making your quilt.
What is the difference between low loft batting and high loft?
One other term you should know when checking out batting is “loft.” Loft refers to how thick or fluffy your batting is, with lower loft being thinner. Low loft is good for things like cushions, body pillows, and duvets. High loft batting is better for quilts that are used more for decoration than for comfort.
Is there a batting test you can’t get rid of?
Perhaps you see some sort of batting problem that you just can’t correct. Many types of problems are easily solved with little knowledge about the best batting and how to use it. If you are at a point where you feel like your project is entirely in pieces, there may be some way to save it. If not, at least you can learn about the best batting for quilts so that your future projects go more smoothly!
What is the thickness of batting?
This means how thick or thin your batting is. The thicker your batting is, the warmer your quilt will be. However, if you go too thick with the batting on a small project, it can really bulk it up. On the other hand, thinner batting is not as warm and can leave your project feeling flimsy.
What are the best ways to use batting scraps?
One thing that can be fun when making quilts is to use up the scraps from your batting. It may seem like a waste to cut up your batting, but scrap pieces can be used to make quilt labels or put together a fun project like a quilted card. If you have extra, don’t throw it away; put it to good use!
What is the best batting for hand quilts?
It may be hard to believe, but I rarely use batting for hand quilts. I like using bare cotton in my hands because it gives my quilt a really simple look. Not only does it save on cost, but it also saves time because you aren’t having to fuss with the batting.
What is Bamboo batting?
Bamboo batting a made up of 50% organic cotton and 50% bamboo blend. It is soft and durable. Bamboo is a sustainable fiber that will make a good thermal layer in your quilt.
What is Bonded Batting?
Bonded batting has a light glue or adhesive on both sides of the batting that holds them together. This gives the batting extra loft and helps it to stay together better, which is good for large projects.
What is fusible Batting?
Fusible batting is made of cotton fibers and a thin layer of fusible webbing on one side. When the fusible webbing is heated, it melds to the quilt top, adhering it to the batting. Fusible helps hold your quilt together and makes for an easy quilting process.
What is quilting distance?
Quilting distance refers to how far apart the “rows,” “meandering stitches,” or “channels” should be–close together (every inch or so) or farther apart (such as 4-6 inches)? Depending on the design, some quilt patterns will be more flattering with closer spacing, and others with wider spacing. It’s a personal preference that you should experiment with.
What is the best way to use batting?
It’s very easy to whip-stitch (largish) scraps together. You can make up a bunch of 2 “x2” or 3 “x3” scraps, then piece them together into larger pieces. Use a contrasting color for the seam allowance, and you have a very attractive way of embellishing your quilts. Before stitching it to your backing, baste your scraps to some muslin, then quilt it or use it in a way that lets the stitching show. You can even piece more scraps into your batting sandwich. This is a fun way to use up leftovers and cut down on fabric costs.
What is the best way to wash a quilt?
I like to put a quilt in a large pillowcase (one that you like, with a pretty print) and tie it securely close. This allows the quilt to move around freely and prevents other items from being washed with it. You can, of course, wash your regular loads of laundry, but I would put quilts in an extra load so that they are cleaned and rinsed separately.
What is the best way to buy quilt batting yardage together?
If you are looking at purchasing quilt batting as a single fabric, such as for backing or an accent piece, consider choosing from one of the many online quilt shop merchants selling it by the bolt or roll. This way, you will have a larger piece of fabric to work with, which will save your money.