QuiltNotes Learning Center
There is a lot of information on this page so be sure you scroll and browse to the very end so you won’t miss anything!
Quilt batting, also known as wadding in Australia, is the middle layer or filling in a quilt. Back in the “good old days” batting was made with cotton or polyester. Today batting manufacturers produce batting made from different fibers such as wool, silk, bamboo even recycled plastic. To accommodate both hand and machine quilters, battings have different loft sizes and features such as scrim and bonding. There is a quilt batting for just about every application and personal preference you could imagine. Quilt batting is available in sizes from crib to king and yardage on rolls.
NOTE: When choosing a batting, you should always use the manufacturer’s information as your guide. Links to the major batting manufacturers are provided at the end of this article. There is a wealth of information on all their products.
In addition to the fiber content and the manufacturing process, you should learn the quilting qualities of the batting you’re considering. Some things to check are: is the batting made for hand quilting and/or machine quilting and how far apart can you quilt it.
The drape of batting is the way it flows over things. In the case of quilt batting, drape is the way the finished quilt flows or hugs our bodies. Softer, heavier cotton batting drapes and hugs more in comparison to lighter, high loft polyester batting. Heavy quilting can make the finished quilt stiffer causing the quilt to have less drape.
Batting weight or how heavy it feels in your hands is easy to determine. Typically cotton fibers are heavier than polyester fibers. I like my quilts to be heavier when I sleep under them so I choose cotton batting over other fibers.
Batting thickness is called loft. In polyester battings the loft is described as low, medium or high. Generally cotton battings don’t have a loft classification. However Quilters Dream Batting produces many of its batting lines in up to four different lofts.
Scrim is a thin layer of material such as polyester or cotton fibers added to one side of the batting. This layer gives the batting stability and keeps it from stretching as much. Scrim can also reduce the amount of bearding. Bearding happens during quilting. The needle brings small fibers from the batting to the surface of the quilt. Most quilters quilt the layers with the top fabric facing up. When using batting with scrim, place the scrim side towards the backing fabric. When the needle pierces the layers, the scrim prevents the fibers from exiting the middle layer, thus preventing bearding. Batting with scrim is generally not recommended for hand quilting
Cotton fibers from the cotton plant are balled up into a jumble of fibers. These fibers need to be combed, straightened and cleaned of other plant parts. This process is called carding. The fibers are rubbed across a carder which is something that looks like a hairbrush made from thin metal bristles. Once the fibers are carded, they can be used to make batting.
Most manufacturers don’t recommend washing batting before layering and quilting. I know of quilters who place batting in the dryer for a few minutes to remove the creases caused by folding. I have never done either of these things but I did see disastrous results of one washing occurrence. The quilter washed and dried a wool batting before using it in her quilt. I don’t know how much it shrank but I do know the loft was so high after washing it couldn’t be used in the quilt.
BE SURE to check with the manufacturer for any information on washing or drying their quilt batting before using it in a quilt.
100% cotton fibers are used to make pure cotton batting. Cotton has a soft texture. The natural fibers mean cotton batting is breathable and moisture is easily absorbed in the fibers. Cotton batting gives quilts a little weight and hugs your body as you lay under the quilt. Most cotton battings will shrink slightly after washing the quilt. Check with the manufacturer for shrinkage information.
Unbleached or Natural Cotton Batting
Natural cotton fibers are are not bleached. This batting is off-white in color and may contain bits of the cotton plant. Choose natural cotton for medium to dark fabrics.
Cotton batting is bleached to make the fibers white. Use bleached batting with white or light color fabrics. These battings generally have no shrinkage after washing
Polyester batting is thicker but lighter in weight. It is not breathable but keeps you warm without the weight. It resists mold and mildew. Polyester battings are available in various thicknesses called “lofts”. Common lofts are low loft, medium loft and high loft.
The video below shows how the Polyester fibers are blended, stacked and rolled.
Wool batting is lightweight and warm. It is great for hand or machine quilting. Use this batting when you want the warmth but not the weight.
Batting made from bamboo is generally 100% bamboo or a 50/50 blend of bamboo and cotton. Bamboo batting is very breathable and ideal for machine quilting.
Most of the silk battings I know of are blends. They are really soft and have an amazing drape. However I did have the chance many years ago to quilt for a customer who used 100% silk. She said it was very expensive. But let me tell you. The 100% silk was a little difficult to work with because it seemed to want to fall apart each time I touched it. But, the finished quilt was amazing! I don’t know how warm it was but it flowed like water when I picked it up. Luxury to the max!
Blended Quilt Batting
Two or more different fibers make many battings. These are the blended battings. Most common are the cotton/polyester blends. Most often these are 80% cotton-20% polyester. The idea of blending fibers is to take advantage of the qualities of each fiber. For example, the drape and weight of cotton mixed with the loft of polyester.
A heat activated layer of adhesive on one side makes a fusible batting. Heat from the iron melts the adhesive. Use fusible batting to stabilize projects such as tote bags.
Needle Punched Batting
Loose fibers are stacked into sheets. Hundreds of needles punch the sheets causing the fibers to intertwine. The needle punched fibers become a strong and stable batting. These battings are generally dense and low loft. The 2 minute video below shows the needle punching process of making an industrial batting.
Now for the mind blowing part. Listed below are some of the major batting manufacturers and their batting products. There are more than 50 different quilt batting products listed here. If I have missed some, please let me know and I will add them. Click on the manufacturer’s name to go to their information pages.
- 80/20 Cotton/Polyester
- 80/20 Cotton Blend, Natural, Bleached, Black and Fusible
- Natural Cotton with Scrim
- Bleached Cotton with Scrim
- Natural Cotton
- Bleached Cotton
- Organic Cotton
- Unbleached Cotton
- Bleached Cotton
- Cotton Wool
- 50/50 Bamboo/Cotton
- 60/40 – Cotton/Polyester
- 60/40 – Cotton/Polyester Black
- 80/20 – Cotton/Polyester
- Simply Cotton
- Simply Cotton White
- Poly Perfect
- Simply Bamboo
- Soft Soy Blend
- Super Soft Cotton
- Soft & Elegant
- Bamboo Blend
- 100% Wool
- 50/50 Wool/Cotton
- 70/30 Cotton/Polyester
- Cotton, Natural and Bleached
- 80/20 Cotton/Polyester
- Soy Blend
- Wool Blend
- Bamboo Blend
- Cotton, Natural and White
- Polyester, White and Black
- 70/30 Cotton/Polyester
- Dream Angle Flame Retardant
- Recycled plastic
- Bamboo, Silk, Polyester and Cotton Blend
- Fusible Cotton and Polyester
- Warm & Natural Cotton
- Warm & White Cotton Bleached
- Soft & Bright Polyester
- Warm & Plush Cotton
Where to Find Quilt Batting
In addition to your local quilt shop, use the links below to find batting and batting products offered by your favorite online retailers.
Craftsy Battings – Selections from Hobbs Bonded Fibers and The Warm Company as well as batting tape and batting scissors.
Create For Less – Large selection of battings from Fairfield Processing
Connecting Threads – Large selection from Hobbs Bonded Fibers