The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Quilt Batting

Congratulations! You have completed your first quilt top.

At this point, you will need to make a quilt “sandwich.” The pieced top and the backing make the top and bottom of the sandwich, while the batting goes into the center.

During the 1800’s, quilters used flannel or old blankets to make the center part of the quilt sandwich. This addition made their quilts heavy. Their goal was to provide warmth in a home that typically stayed at 50° during a mild winter.

Why do we need the batting then if our home is already warm?

What Is Quilt Batting?

When you go to your favorite fabric shop or craft store, chances are they have a quilt batting section. But what exactly is the point of batting?

Since batting is the center layer of your quilt “sandwich,” it not only helps keep you warm, but it also supplies structure for your quilt top.

Batting for quilts also is necessary for stability when quilting the layers together. Whether you are using yarn and hand tying the quilt or quilting with a machine, the batting layer provides the support needed for the quilt sandwich.

Depending on the type of batting you choose, the entire look and feel of your quilt can change. Different types of batting fiber give you different lofts or thicknesses.

If you leave out the batting, the quilt will appear flat, the piecing stitches can come loose, and the two layers would separate when washed.

Every quilt deserves to have the best batting. If you choose the wrong type of batting, your quilt may appear vintage when you want it to look modern.

How to Choose Quilt Batting

On the other hand, you may want it to look vintage, and it never seems that way even after several washings.

It may be too heavy for the intended recipient or not heavy enough. Also, the wrong batting fabric may make the quilt puffy, and therefore the amazing quilting on top is lost in the puff.

With so many choices on the market, how do you know what will be the best? Before you decide, you will want to ask yourself several questions to narrow down the options.

1. What type of quilt is this?

  • Baby quilt
  • Quilt for a bed or heirloom quilt
  • Wall hanging/table runner
  • Lap quilt

2. How do you plan on quilting the top and backing?

3. Do you want it to look vintage after you wash it?

4. Do you want it to be heavy or light? Appear thin or puffy?

Another point to consider — if your quilt top has a lot of white backgrounds, be sure to pick a white batting. Often the color of the batting can shade the white background making it appear gray or green.

The batting can also poke through while being quilted, creating small tufts of batting on the surface of the quilt.

In the same regard, pick a black batting for a largely black background. Never pick a white batting for a black background quilt.

Quilt Batting Sizes

We have created a handy chart to help you choose the correct packaged batting size for your next quilt project. Depending on your preferences and how much “drape” you want for your quilt, you may need to go up a size.

You always want your batting to be at least 3” larger all the way around your quilt top to ensure you always have batting in the quilt sandwich — just in case the quilt top shifts while you are quilting it. 

Choose the Best Fiber Content and Loft

Once you have answered the basic questions, the next step is to decide fiber content and loft.

Fiber content may include wool, cotton, polyester, bamboo and silk, recycled bottles and blended fibers. Let's look at some of the common fibers in more detail.

Common Batting Fibers

The care instructions, loft, and feel will vary between the different fiber types. I’ll go over the pros and cons of each.

Cotton:

Made from 100% cotton, the cotton fiber batting is a dense, low loft batting and is best for machine quilting.

Pros

  • Great for machine quilting
  • Natural fiber
  • Softens over time

Cons

  • Shrinks 3%-5% in the first wash
  • Heaviest batting option

Cotton Blend:

This is usually a blend of cotton (80%) and polyester (20%). Cotton blend is the most commonly used batting option.

Pros

  • Another great option for machine quilting
  • Less expensive than 100% cotton
  • Lighter weight than the 100% cotton

Cons

  • Can have “bearding,” which means the polyester fibers may come through the quilt top and backing creating a fuzzy texture.
  • Can flatten over time.

Polyester:

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is a less expensive option than the other options in this list. It is a great option if you want to hand quilt your quilt projects.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Warmer than cotton
  • Great for hand quilting

Cons

  • Loft may be too thick for machine quilting
  • Bearding may occur
  • Can loose its shape over time

Wool:

Another 100% natural fiber batting, wool is a beautiful option if you want a plush, warm quilt. With its plush high loft volume, you can show off some gorgeous machine or hand quilting designs with this batting option.

Pros

  • 100% natural
  • Warm and soft
  • Easy to hand quilt

Cons

  • More expensive than other options
  • Potential allergic reaction for some people
  • Does shrink up quite a bit. Check the packaging to see if it is pre-shrunk or not.

Bamboo:

100% natural fiber bamboo batting (sometimes blended with silk and/or cotton) is a lightweight breathable option. A unique attribute of bamboo batting is that it doesn’t hold mildew or become moldy if left damp. It also dries quicker than other battings.

Pros

  • Anti-mold and mildew
  • 100% natural and eco-friendly
  • Lightweight, perfect for the warmer months

Cons

  • A bit more expensive than other battings
  • Not as warm as other options if you have cold winters

Fusible:

As the name implies, fusible batting is…fusible. This means the batting will have an adhesive on both sides of the batting so you can fuse the layers of your quilt together with an iron for basting instead of using pins or some other type of adhesive. Usually, fusible batting is either 100% cotton or a 80/20 blend (cotton/polyester).

Pros

  • Makes basting easier
  • Not much more expensive than regular batting

Cons

  • Can be tricky to use
  • Adhesive isn’t super strong

In each example below, we will discuss the recommended fiber content. Loft means how thin or thick you want the quilt to look.

A wrong choice here can leave you disappointed and frustrated with the overall appearance of the quilt.

When giving a quilt as a gift, always remember to include care instructions either on the quilt label itself or on a recipe card that they can keep close by.

Low Loft Quilt Batting

  • Allows needles to move smoothly through the layers.
  • Will not emphasize the stitches.
  • Suitable for table runners and wall hangings.
  • Will have a flat appearance.
  • Great for hand quilting.
  • An excellent choice for quilting on a home sewing machine.

Mid Loft Quilt Batting

  • Emphasizes stitches whether by machine or hand.
  • Great for hand quilting.
  • An excellent choice for quilting on a home machine and longarm.

High Loft Quilt Batting

  • Very thick with extra volume; adds warmth
  • Emphasizes stitches whether by hand or machine
  • Not recommended for hand quilting
  • An excellent choice for quilting on a home machine and longarm.

We recommend the following batting companies:

Quilting Batting for Babies and Toddlers

You have decided to make a cozy and soft quilt for a new baby or a busy toddler.

Most parents would agree that having a flame retardant material next to their child is a priority. Flame retardant batting, 100% cotton batting, and wool are all safe choices for a baby quilt.

Be sure to check with the parent regarding allergies because some children are allergic to wool.

Polyester battings will melt if they catch on fire.

A heavy batting can make a child uncomfortable.

When choosing 100% cotton pick one that is light-weight. These can be hand quilted, tied, or machine quilted.

RECOMMENDED:

Quilters Dream Angel (in either low loft or mid loft) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Quilters Dream Wool (crib size) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Hobbs Batting Wool (crib size) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

The Warm Company Warm and White (crib size)  =>Click here to read more on Amazon


More Related Articles:

The 6 Best Quilting Irons For 2021

7 Best Quilting Ironing Boards For 2021

The Best Quilting Rulers For New Quilters


how to choose quilt batting image

Quilt for Bed or Heirloom Quilt

After spending countless hours piecing a bed size quilt, you will want to carefully consider the batting options before you. Loft for the recommended batts varies by company.

Flannel Quilt Top Wool Batting (Be sure to put on the label that it has to air dry as it will shrink in a hot dryer.)

Cotton Quilt Top

RECOMMENDED:

Here are some batting types you might consider:

Quilters Dream-Cotton Batting Vintage Look, Heavyweight (Heirloom) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Dream Blend Vintage Look, lightweight, warm (Heirloom) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Dream Green Modern Look, lightweight =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Hobbs Batting Heirloom 80/20, Vintage Look, Lightweight (Heirloom) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Heirloom Premium Cotton Vintage Look, Heavyweight (Heirloom) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Cloud Loft Puffy Look, Warm =>Click here to read more on Amazon

The Warm Company Warm and Natural, Vintage Look, Heavyweight (Heirloom) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Warm and White,  Vintage Look,  Lightweight =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Warm 80/20 Vintage Look, Lightweight =>Click here to read more on Amazon


quilt wall hanging

Wall Hanging/Table Runner

Since warmth is not a factor, the choices here are fairly simple.

Typically you are looking for a low loft product made from polyester or a polyester cotton blend. Polyester or polyester blends can be hand quilted, tied, or machine quilted.

RECOMMENDED:

Quilters Dream 70/30 Poly Cotton Blend =>Click here to read more on Amazon

The Warm Company Warm 80/20 Poly Cotton Blend =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Hobbs Batting Poly/Down =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Lap Quilt

Nothing beats snuggling under a warm lap quilt during the cold winter months.

If you made the lap quilt in flannel, you would want to choose wool for your batting.

A lap quilt can be either heavy or lightweight in any loft you like. These can be hand quilted, tied, or machine quilted.

RECOMMENDED:

Be sure to check out the quilt batting reviews for each of the recommendations below.

Quilters Dream Dream Orient =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Dream Puff (warmth) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Dream Green (lightweight) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Dream Cotton (heavy) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

The Warm Company Warm and Natural (heavy) =>Click here to read more on Amazon 

Warm and Plush (lightweight) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Warm and White (lightweight) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

Hobbs Batting Heirloom Premium Cotton(heavy) =>Click here to read more on Amazon

What To Do With Leftover Batting

If you do end up with leftover batting, don’t throw it away! That’s perfectly good batting, and I have some fun ideas for you regarding what you can do with your leftovers.

  • Mini quilts or wall hanging quilts
  • Coasters/mug rugs
  • Jellyroll rug
  • Use to stuff a stuffed animal
  • Quilted makeup bag
  • Hot pad/ pot holder
  • Sew the batting together using a zigzag stitch to create a larger usable piece.
  • I personally use 100% cotton batting most of the time, and if I have small strips left over, I braid them together and give them to my dog for a toy. She loves them!

As a new quilter, the choice in batting can seem quite overwhelming. Talking with an experienced quilter or quilt guild can lead to a wealth of knowledge on the subject of best batting.

Everyone will have an opinion on what they like, and most will agree on what they do not want. It honestly comes down to a matter of one’s preference depending on each situation.

Remember if you are going to spend the money and take the time to make a quilt, the batting choice should not be taken lightly. It really will affect the appearance and further use of the quilt.

This quilter recommends visiting local quilt shops to look at the displays on the wall. Ask the owner what type of batting went into the display.

You will see a common theme depending on the type of quilt. They will also provide recommendations based on their experience. A longarmer will also make worthy comments.

Listen to their thoughts and opinions on what brands quilt the best. They see the effects of good vs. bad batting first hand and will likely steer you away from batting that will waste your money.

A quilt worth quilting will deserve the best batting.

1 thought on “The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Quilt Batting”

  1. Love the easy way to get information on this site. I am a beginner and this really encourages me to achieve the confidence to get going. Thank you

    Reply

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