In between the quilt top and the backing lies what we call the quilt batting. The quilt batting gives the quilt its characteristically warm attribute. Batting comes in different fibers and thickness. It can be puffy, still, flat, or “drape-able.” You can also purchase it by the yard or by the package that readily fits a standard-size bed. When selecting batting materials, however, you should choose something that would readily complement the attributes of your finished quilt. So, before you even zero in on a particular batting material, you should at least do your research on which batting would be appropriate for your given project.
Factors You Can Use for Comparing Batting Materials
When looking for batting for your quilt project, you may get confused because of the myriad of choices at hand. Yet, if comparison factors properly guide you, you can easily zero in on the right batting for your project. Here are the important factors you need to consider when purchasing batting materials:
1) Compare the Loft
The loft is the thickness of the batting. As you shop around for batting, you will notice that the same batting materials may come in different thickness or loft. You should bear in mind, therefore, that the thicker the batting, the less its draping capability is.
2) Consider the Bonding
The factor that holds the batting fibers together is called Bonding. Bonding can come via the physical, thermal, or chemical method. Moreover, Bonding is necessary because it lessens bearding or the migration of fibers from the batting out to the quilt back or top.
Some manufacturers chemically bond the fibers of the batting by adding to the fibers. The good thing about resin bonding is that it enables batting materials like polyester and wool to resist bearding. Some manufacturers also make use of heat.
You will readily notice that those battings that have undergone Bonding appear airier and come with great loft. Furthermore, they do not need extensive quilting because they hold up well. Battings that are not bonded usually have an irregular and uneven appearance. They are likewise difficult to work on.
3) Bear in mind the Scrim
The batting is usually loosely held together by a layer of net-like fabric. This net-like fabric is called “scrim.” Those battings that come with Scrim are more stable than those without it. Moreover, they don’t tend to readily stretch. However, they are also less “drape-able.”
Manufacturers usually bleach battings to create bright-colored battings that could be used for light color fabrics. Of course, natural batting fibers often come in ecru color. Hence, they need to be bleached to match the colors of lighter fabrics.
5) Avoid Bearding
Bearding is the process whereby batting fibers migrate to the quilt back or top. This could be a significant problem, especially if the color of the battings doesn’t match the quilt top. If you use, for example, light battings for dark fabrics, once the fibers bearded, you would readily see the protruding fibers, and this is surely not nice to look at. You can prevent bearding by testing the battings beforehand or by letting the battings pass through a washing process. You should ensure that you use treated battings to avoid bearding.
6) Go for Great Qualities
Battings come in different qualities. Hence, when shopping around for battings, you should read the manufacturer’s label carefully to figure out the qualities of a specific batting. You should likewise know at the onset the qualities that you desire in a batting. You can also carefully inspect the finished projects of some quilters to figure out the qualities of battings that they had used in their finished products. You should keep a tab of the battings that you have used in the past likewise. In this way, you will be able to know which battings have the qualities that you desire for a specific project.
7) Grain Line
Fabrics do have grain lines, and thus, battings can also have grain lines. Lengthwise grain appears to be more stable. Crosswise grain, on the other hand, is stretchy. To avoid distortion, you should at least match the batting’s lengthwise grain with that of the backing. Start quilting first with the lengthwise grain to lessen distortion.
8) Consider its Drape-ability
Another factor that you should consider is the drape-ability of the batting. Two factors affect the drape-ability of the battings. These two include the density of the quilting along with the batting’s loft. These two factors can affect the stiffness or softness of the quilt. You should bear in mind that denser quilting and thinner batting usually result in a softer drape. Thicker battings, on the other hand, which were not heavily quilted would surely exhibit less drape-ability.
9) Consider its Moisture Absorption Capability
Different battings made of different fibers exhibit a varying capacity to absorb moisture. Cotton fiber, for example, shows greater capacity to absorb moisture, and thus, it offers better cooling comfort, especially during warm weather. Wool battings, on the other hand, is a little less weighty but can provide more warmth. Synthetic fibers, however, exhibit less breathability, and thus, is warmer.
10) Consider its Resiliency
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back to its original shape. Battings that are resilient, therefore, readily bounce back to their original shapes. Polyester, as batting material, exhibits great resiliency. It resists creasing and folding. Cotton battings, on the other hand, are not much resilient; hence, it is prone to creasing. A blend, however, of polyester and cotton produces great balance.
11) Washability and Shrinkage
Some battings resist shrinkage. These battings include wool and polyester. Hence, at the onset, you should read the labels of each batting product. Check if it is washable and anti-shrinkage so that you will know if it would need preshrinking or not.
12) Types of Bonding
There are three manufacturing methods used to hold the fibers together to make a quilt batting, namely, needle-punched or Bonding. Bonding can be done by way of using chemical, or thermal.
Needle-Punched — is a physical process that readily binds fibers together. In this process, the batting is pierced with barbed needles. Eventually, this punching of needles twists the fibers together creating a stable and dense batting that exhibits less stretch, stronger, denser, and having a lower loft. Needle-punched batting can be resin bonded or thermal bonded.
Resin Bonding — is a bonding process wherein the chemical is sprayed onto the batting. This chemical may be in the form of glue or resin. It helps bond the fibers together. The more amount of chemical is applied to the batting, the stiffer the batting gets, and it is more resistant to bearding compared to other types of batting. Resin-bonded batting can be made using a mixture of different fibers, polyester, cotton, and wool.
Thermal Bonding — refers to the use of heat to slightly melt and eventually bond the fibers together. This is sometimes referred to as “glazing.” Batting made using thermal Bonding tend to beard a little, but it does not break down after numerous washing or dry cleaning.