How to Choose
Batting is the soft layer between the quilt top and the backing. It gives the quilt dimension and definition as well as offering warmth. Because it comes in various thicknesses, it can make a quilt flat or puffy, stiff or drapable. It is available by the yard or packaged to fit standard bed sizes.
Historically, quiltmakers used whatever natural fibers were on hand for the quilt’s middle layer. Today’s quilter can choose from natural and synthetic products that have a variety of characteristics.
The batting you choose should complement the nature and use of your finished quilt. The following pages will help you compare batting products and choose the one that will work best for your project.
These terms will help you compare the various types and features of batting products.
Drapability: The density or sparseness of the quilting and the loft of the batting will affect the drape, or relative stiffness or softness, of the finished quilt.
Grain line: The lengthwise grain is stable and doesn’t have much give; the crosswise grain will be stretchy.
Loft: This term describes the thickness of the batting. Different loft levels result in different appearances in a finished quilt.
Resiliency: This is the batting’s ability to regain its original shape--how quickly it can spring back when unfolded and how it resists creasing.
Warmth: Cotton battings absorb moisture, making them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool battings provide warmth with little weight.
Washability and shrinkage: Polyester and wool battings resist shrinking, while cotton can shrink from 3 to 5 percent. Some quilters prefer the puckered, antique look that results when batting shrinks.
Compare types of batting and the pros and cons of each using this chart.
How Will Your Quilt Be Used?
Before you make your final batting choice, consider how you’ll use your quilt. These questions will help you evaluate which batting is best for your project.
Is it a baby quilt that will be washed and dried extensively? Will it be placed on a child’s bed and get pulled and tugged? Are you making a wall hanging that needs to maintain sharp, crisp corners? Or are you making a quilt that you want to drape loosely over a bed and tuck beneath the pillows? Is it an heirloom project that will be used sparingly and only laundered once every few years? Or is it a decorative item that will never be washed? Is it a table runner that needs to lie extremely flat?