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Home All About Quilting What the Heck is Scrim?

What the Heck is Scrim?

And Do I Need It?

by Beth Cooper

Scrim. What does that mean? Scrim is kind of a weird word and you probably only use it when talking about quilt batting. Some batting choices have scrim and some don’t. Let’s take the mystery out of the whole scrim issue.

First off, what exactly is scrim? Scrim is a thin layer of woven fibers that work as a stabilizer to your batting. It is only on one side of the batting and helps hold it together more securely. It allows you to quilt farther apart and helps prevent your batting from stretching. It is usually found on cotton-blend batting but is also on some polyester batting as well.

The debate over whether or not you should use scrim is about as varied as the question over whether or not you should prewash your quilting fabric. There are two teams to the whole scrim issue – Team Absolutely My Batting Must Have Scrim and Team Who Cares If There Is Scrim.

Team Absolutely believes that scrim is very important because it helps hold the batting together and prevents holes in the batting. They are correct. It does indeed do that. The whole purpose of the scrim is to hold the batting together and stabilize it. When batting is put on a longarm machine, it may get tugged a bit to get it to lay flat. It’s a disaster when you are tugging and oops! You suddenly have a hole in your batting. That can happen in any quilting situation and that is why scrim can be a good thing. Team Absolutely also believes that the scrim allows them to space their quilting out more than they could with a batting that did not have scrim. Correct. Scrim allows you to quilt up to 8-10″ apart in some cases. Some quilters like less quilting and when their batting has scrim, they don’t have to worry about adding lots of quilting.

Team Who Cares About Scrim believes that they are careful enough with their batting that they will never tug and accidentally get a hole in it. They also believe that scrim makes their batting less soft and cozy. They are also correct. That thin layer does make your batting and overall feel of your quilt a bit stiffer. It’s not super noticeable though and it is doubtful that anyone would even notice, other than an experienced quilter who knows what to look for. Team Who Cares also isn’t worried about how far apart their quilting is on the quilt. They add lots of quilting regardless of their batting, so they are not worried about the batting falling apart when it is washed and dried. Quilts that are made with batting without scrim should have quilting every one inch or so.

This image from Laura Wasilowski over at shows the scrim side of the batting. Laura has excellent advice on using batting with scrim in art quilts. You can also find her on Youtube.

Another important nugget of scrim knowledge is that you should never fuse your quilt to the scrim side of batting. This will cause your quilt to be wavy and puckered. Make sure if you are fusing your fabric to the batting that you use batting without scrim or fuse to the side of the batting that does not have scrim. Either way is fine.

How do you know which side has the scrim? The scrim side feels rougher, scratchy, and course to the touch. It may look slightly glossy when the light hits it. The side without scrim will be softer, puffier, and fluffier. When quilting, the scrim side should face your quilt backing.

Know Your Battings by Krista Moser is an excellent resource on battings. It is available on Missouri Star.

So now that you understand scrim, which team are you on? Team Absolutely or Team Who Cares? The best team to be on is really neither. Start a new team called Team Scrim When I Want It!

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Mary Jennings
Mary Jennings
1 year ago

Does this include questions?

Mary Hutto
1 year ago

Interesting topic. I just learned something new today! Why don’t the batting makers add some kind of markings, such as faint dots to the scrim side?