Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn about different batting choices and how to choose the best one for your project!
Batting is the soft layer between the quilt top and backing that gives a quilt dimension and definition and offers warmth. Because it comes in various thicknesses and fibers, it can make a quilt flat or puffy, stiff or drapable. It is available by the yard or packaged to fit standard bed sizes. The batting you use should complement the nature and use of your finished quilt. Check package labels, talk to other quilters, and test samples to find the batting with the qualities that are important for your project.
Low Loft Batting———->High Loft Batting
General Batting Characteristics
- Characteristics: Can give a puckered appearance if washing after quilted. Soft, drainable. Good for experienced quilters’ fine, hand-quilting stitching or machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural fiber so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: May have seeds and plant residue that can release oils and stain the quilt. Often cannot be pre washed. Shrinks 3% to 5% when washed. May be too dense for beginning hand quilters to needle.
Cotton/Polyester Blends 80/20, 50/50:
- Characteristics: Low to medium loft. Drapable. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Some natural fibers so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Easy for beginning hand quilters to needle. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Some shrinkage, which can be avoided by prewashing.
Wool and Wool Blends:
- Characteristics: Blend of fibers from different animal breeds. Resiliency enhances quilting stitches. Soft, drainable. Good for hand and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural insulator. Preshrunk. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: May have inconstant loft. May need to be encased in cheesecloth or scrim if not bonded.
- Characteristics: Has excellent body and drape. Lightweight. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Good choice for quilted garments. Does not shrink. Can be washed.
- Disadvantages: Expensive. Not widely available. Damaged by exposure to direct sunlight.
- Characteristics: 100% cotton. Lightweight, thin. Good for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Lightweight alternative to traditional batting. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Extreme low loft limits quilting pattern development.
- Characteristics: Available in many lofts. Suitable for hand quilting and machine quilting. High lofts is good for tied quilts, comforters.
- Advantages: Resilient, lightweight. Cannot be harmed by moths or mildew. Readily available. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: Synthetic fibers lack breathability.
- Characteristics: Good for machine quilting. Eliminates need for basting.
- Advantages: No need to prewash. Eliminates need for basting. Good choices for small projects.
- Disadvantages: Limited batting options and sizes. Adds adhesive to quilt. Difficult for hand quilters to needle.
Bamboo and Bamboo Blends:
- Characteristics: Thin scrim and smooth drape. Ideal for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Soft, silky, eco-friendly. Lightweight. Made from one of the fastest growing plants. Natural antibacterial properties.
- Disadvantages: Limited availability. Limited options and sizes.
Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!
Designer Amy Sinabaldi is the cover girl of our most recent issue of Make It Yourself magazine so, of course, we’ve been drooling over her blog. Sprinkled with beautiful pictures of her current projects, her kids, and her inspiration, this blog is a treat for the eyes. Amy is a see it, do it type of person and after scrolling through her projects, you’re sure to see something that makes your to-do list!
A Stitch in Dye
We’re not going to lie — we’re constantly learning from and inspired by designer Malka Dubrawsky’s blog. Know for her fearless color and design choices, Malka provides amazing tutorials for those looking to expand their horizons of what fabric can do. For example, her most recent tutorials cover improvisational quilting, which she not only gives great tips for, but shows off her own work as inspiration.
The Quilt Engineer
Designer Latifah Saafir has a BS in mechanical engineering. She also is a quilter, so if you are a creative type with a science mind, you’ll appreciate her projects. Using many geometric shapes, her quilts have a modern feel but with a planned purpose in both design and color choices. She uses a lot of curves (but we promise, she makes it easy!).
Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. With cooler temps settling in and the holidays approaching, we’re returning to tradition. Log Cabin quilts not only have a long history, but also look great no matter what your fabric choices are. From scrappy and warm colors to bright and modern designs, these books offer a variety of patterns using Log Cabin blocks.
Extraordinary Log Cabin Quilts
By Judy Martin for Crosley-Griffith Publishing Co.
This book is a Log Cabin gold mine. Not only do you get 15 Log Cabin patterns that a quilter of any skill level will enjoy, but you also get directions for multiple sizes AND multiple color ways. It’s eye-opening to see the hundreds of way a Log Cabin block can be used to create very different designs. A discussion of color and value will teach you lessons on choosing fabrics and how to arrange colors to get the look you want!
Log Cabin Quilts: The Basics and Beyond
By Janet Houts and Jean Ann Wright for Landauer Publishing, LLC
Janet and Jean give very detailed instructions and pictures on how to make some of the most classic Log Cabin settings, including Courthouse Steps and a Half Log Cabin. You can use one of the 19 quilt patterns in this book to try these block settings out or use their measurement guide to cut and piece your own design. Plus, they give some ideas for turning this classic block contemporary, including adding appliqué and trying some unique design options.
Log Cabin Fever: Innovative Design for Traditional Quilts
This book is great if you’ve perfected the Log Cabin and want to mix it with your other favorite blocks for a fresh design. The 11 quilts in this book showcase Log Cabin blocks with star blocks, heart shapes, basket blocks, and more for a new take on traditional. Plus, the instructions are simple to follow and include an easy technique for piecing!
Once a month, we highlight our favorite free quilt and sewing patterns around the web!
Halloween Trick or Treat Bag Pattern from The Cottage Mama
Personalize cute (and super easy) treat bags for your kids. They’re perfect for holding candy, but also double as spooky decor through the season. We love the little embellishments!
Solids and geometric designs are an easy way to add a modern (and totally livable) accent to your home. It may look complicated, but the tutorial is so easy and might get you a little out of your comfort zone.
Face Cloth Tutorial by Freckled Whimsy
We’ll never argue with an excuse to pamper ourselves! Not only are these face cloths so adorable, but they’re also the softest ever. Make multiples for easy gifts (or save them for yourself!).
I can’t believe it’s already October! With only three months left to finish the quilts on my to-do list, I find myself in awe of how much sewing time I was able to fit into my busy schedule and also equally in awe of how much I still need to do. I’m nearing the end of a few projects and have also really expanded my creativity, which was part of my goal this year. (Find out more about my goals in my resolutions blog – read it here.) With the holidays coming, I know I’ll be juggling these projects with handmade gifts and Christmas decor. See my tips at the end of this blog for prioritizing projects!
On my to-do list this year:
- Tula Pink‘s City Sampler (See all my blocks here.)
- American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt Along (Read more about it here.)
- Pat Sloan‘s Globetrotting Block of the Month with Free Quilt Patterns (Get details here.)
- Finish my Passion 48 (See our staff’s Project 48 rules here.)
- Quilts and More Welcome Home wall hanging series (in Quilts and More Fall)
Nine of the blocks for the Globetrotting Block of the Month are done. The quilt is almost done! I’m eagerly awaiting for Pat Sloan to release the setting block and finishing instructions so I can spend more time on this one!
So close to finishing my Passion 48 quilt! I just have to sew the binding to the back of the quilt. But with a 12-hour car ride this weekend, I’ll definitely be able to finish it. Then a final press before this quilt finds a spot on my wall!
My Welcome Home door hanging from Quilts and More was hung up on the first day of fall with cute burlap ribbon. I’m a huge fan of fall colors and motifs, so Im obviously in love with this project! I have other plans for the pumpkin and leaf motifs (including fulfilling a request from my mom for one, too!).
I have some tips for prioritizing projects. (See my tips for making your list here.)
1. Make a list. Although this seems like an obvious tip, writing down what you need to sew and any supplies you’ll have to buy can really help speed up the process. You’ll cut down on your number of shopping trips. Then organize your projects by how long they’ll take and when you need them done by. Then you can prioritize by deadline or squeeze in a project that will only take a few hours when you have a free afternoon.
2. Work before play. Although this isn’t something we love to hear, the quilts that you’re doing for yourself might need to take a backseat to any gifts or decor you need to make. And even though you may think you can always do your “work” projects tomorrow, my experience says that pushing back those type of projects can make you panic last-minute. Better to get them done as early as possible and if you have extra time, you can always do your “play” projects.
3. Recruit a friend. Did you decide to make holiday gifts for all the grandkids this year? Or did you get asked to make a few quilts for a charity auction? If you have fast deadlines or are overwhelmed with your to-do list, ask a sewing buddy to help out! Make an evening out of it with some snacks and a movie. Even if they don’t help you finish everything, they’ll at least make a dent and you’ll get some stress-relilef from the hangout.
Happy quilting in 2014! Share your own quilting to-do list in the comments and make sure to check back to see my progress.