Batting Types 101

Everything You Need to Know About Batting Types

by Beth Cooper
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Understanding quilt batting can be overwhelming. There are so many choices – cotton, wool, 80/20, bamboo, high loft, low loft, fusible, batting with scrim, batting without scrim. Ugh! It’s exhausting! But don’t worry, Super Batting Woman is here to save the day!

So Many Choices!

First, what is the difference between cotton and polyester batting? Or wool and bamboo batting? Or a blend? These are the most common types of batting on the market right now. Cotton batting is usually 100% cotton and is so soft. Cotton is all natural. It has no artificial fibers in it. Because it is all natural, it may have flecks of dark in it. This is normal! They may look like little bugs but they are not. It is just part of the cotton. You can also choose to buy your cotton batting in a bright white color. It has been bleached but is still 100% cotton. Just like your favorite cotton t-shirt, cotton batting will shrink. This causes your quilt to look a bit wrinkled, crinkled, and “antiquey” after it has been washed. Many quilters strive for this look and then there are some who don’t like it. Keep that in mind when buying batting. Cotton batting is not super lofty (fluffy and puffy) and has a very nice drape (how it hangs and lays).

Natalie from Missouri Star Quilt Company does a great job explaining batting types.

Polyester

Polyester batting is man-made fibers. It is lofty (puffier and fluffier) and it will not shrink. If you prefer your quilt tops to not have that crinkly look after being washed, this may be the batting for you. Polyester is lightweight and doesn’t breathe well. It is not the warmest batting on the market, nor is it the coolest. It is usually the most affordable though.

Blends

Blended batting, such as 80/20, is sort of the best of both worlds. It is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It quilts up beautifully, is warm, and does not shrink as much as 100% cotton. It is not quite as soft as the cotton but once it is quilted, you don’t notice that. It is not lofty and lays flat, with a very nice drape.

Wool

Wool batting is made of all-natural wool. It is very warm and it is breathable. Wool can be a bit more expensive than cotton or polyester. Wool batting has a very lovely drape (how it hangs or lays) and is not very lofty. Wool is a great choice if you really want to show off your quilting. This batting will not shrink if dried on a cool setting in the dryer. Hot or warm drying should be avoided.

Bamboo

Bamboo batting is the newest contender in the arena. It is fabulous and worth the pricier cost. It quilts up like a dream, has a perfect drape to it, and is warm without being too warm. It also keeps you cool in the summer and is perfect for warmer climates. It is a spectacular batting for that special quilt you’ve been working on. Because it is more expensive, you may not want to use it on every quilt, but you’re definitely going to want to use it sometimes. It is not very lofty and it is so eco-friendly and sustainable. Shrinkage is minimal. Find the wonderful Kyoto brand at Sew to Speak.

Fusible

Fusible batting is different in the fact that one side of it has a fusible sticky side. This batting is perfect for bags, embroidery, jackets, and more. It does not become stiff but stays soft and has a nice drape to it. It does not have a noticeable shrink factor and has a low loft. The fusible side will not gum up your needle and is easily machine quilted or hand quilted.

Find Your Favorite!

Picking batting for your next project doesn’t have to drive you batty. Yes, there are a lot of choices, but there’s not really a bad choice in the bunch. Playing around with different battings and trying new ones is a great way to learn about each one. Eventually, everyone finds a favorite and you will too. Until then, don’t worry about it. The batting police never show up.

Here’s another great batting video from Nancy’s Notions

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