Home » Different types of BATTING & 10 things to consider in choosing the best for your project

Different types of BATTING & 10 things to consider in choosing the best for your project

batting

Batting (or wadding as it is called in some parts of the world) is a non-woven textile used as an interlining material. Batting is sandwiched between layers of fabric and stitched together and is usually used for insulation and dimension.

Quilted fabric is made by sandwiching batting in between two layers of fabric – this is one of the most important uses of batting. The quilted fabric is used for making quilts, potholders, insulating protecting pads and even garments. A batting also makes a very good backing for any kind of delicate thin or open weave fabric which needs support. It is also used as a padding material and to change the dimension of a fabric surface. 

Different types of Batting

The most popular battings are made of polyester, wool, and cotton fibers. Others are made of silk fibers, cotton-wool blends, cotton-polyester blends, organic blends, bamboo batting, and recycled fibers. 

You can buy batting in rolls or bolts for your sewing projects. 

How to choose the best batting for your sewing project {10 things to look out for}

There are some considerations to look out for when selecting the best batting for your projects.

Loft of the batting

Do you want the project to be Puffy or flat?

Loft is the measurement of the weight and thickness of the fibers that the batting is made of. You can buy either thin and soft batting or thick and stiff batting, according to the function or the design of the project.

A quilt/quilted fabric can be made flat or fuller depending on the thickness of the batting you are using. If you are aiming for a fluffy project you will need a high loft batting. The quilting lines look more prominent when these high loft battings are used.

Polyester batting is  fluffy. Wool batting is generally heavy and dense. So if you want a lightweight project, wrong choice! But if you want a fluffy effect, good choice. It gives you nice defined, and quite satisfying quilted lines. Cotton batting comes in all kinds of thicknesses, though it is generally considered low-loft. Cotton-polyester blends are supposed to be of higher loft than pure cotton batting. 

For a flatter finish, it is always better to choose a low loft, thinner, batting – like cotton. A mid-loft batting is preferred for making quilted garments. Batting made of polyester micro-fibers (1 denier or less) will be very lightweight.

If you want to use a high loft batting ensure that your sewing machine will be able to sew through the thick layer it will make along with the fabric layers. These are best if you want dimensional textured projects. Also for quilts which are tied rather than quilted. 

In garment making, batting is used to make sleeve heads, to give some padding in areas where some fullness is needed for example, on collars, cuffs, and across shoulders in coats. You will need a high loft /mid loft batting for this, depending on the look you are aiming for. 

Warmth

One of the main purposes of batting in quilts is the warmth that it provides. Most people prefer natural battings – wool and cotton. Out of these, wool batting is the favourite. Wool provides the most warmth as it has better thermal qualities than other materials.

Maintenance of batting

Polyester batting is easier to handle than any other batting. One important consideration in buying batting is to check out the care label of the batting. If your project is to be washable you will have to use synthetic batting or cotton batting (or cotton-polyester blends) for it.

Check the labels for all the care info. If it says “No need to presoak” do not. But otherwise, do. Natural fiber battings like Cotton and silk batting will shrink in the wash. If using these fibers, do prewash them before sewing them. If you want a non shrinking batting choose synthetic fiber batting. 

If you are using wool batting, you may have to use it for non-hand washable projects. Usually wool batting is not suitable for home washing. But nowadays there are brands manufacturing wool batting which is easy care, home washable – look for it, if you want soft comfortable batting which is easy to care for.

Bearding, migrating and shrinking are the most common problems sewists have with batting. You need good quality batting which will not do any of these and is easy to care for.

Gentle machine wash and air drying are the two methods suggested for maintaining most batting in good shape. To prevent bunching up of natural fiber batting experts suggest hand laundering at home. Synthetic batting is machine washable and drywashable and machine dryable. But cotton batting doesnot behave well with machine drying.  

Do not dry clean, bleach, iron or steam any of the batting unless specifically mentioned in the care label.

Bonding

For projects where you need to fuse the batting to the material you can get a thermal bond batting – it contains fibers that fuse when it is heated (by pressing with iron). This can be used in machine embroidery. If you cannot get hold of a thermal bond batting you can use other batting and use a sprayable temporary adhesive and it is then adhered to the fabric.

Needle punch batting (usually polyester) has layers of fibers inside bonded by a needling machine – this creates a dense low loft batting which is firm and easy to handle.

Breathable and lightweight

If you are making garments with batting (quilted fabric) you will need batting that is breathable and comfortable to wear. You can get silk batting which is breathable and lightweight, though it is slightly expensive. Wool batting is heavy and not easy to maintain. Cotton batting is a good choice as it is not as expensive as the wool or silk battings but still breathable and comfortable

For outerwear (coats, jackets) that is not touching the body, you can use synthetic batting. The same is the case when making quilts – if the quilts are for decorative purposes, synthetic batting can be used. Some brands have breathable synthetic batting. 

Backing purpose

If you are using the batting to make insulated baskets for food which you mean to keep inside the microwave ensure that the batting is microwaveable. Most synthetic batting is not to be used in a microwave as it can catch fire and melt.

If you want quite detailed quilting lines, wool batting is a good choice. It is useful for making beautiful wallhangings. Many 100% cheap polyester batting never lies flat so it may not be the best choice for wall hangings.

Price of the batting

Price-wise silk  is the most expensive followed by wool, cotton and then polyester. Silk-polyester blend is an alternative to 100% silk batting with all the advantages of silk and polyester, without the cost. 

One problem with synthetic batting which is cheap is that after some washings they may bunch up inside and may even look distorted. This can be avoided if you use good quality but expensive batting.

You should buy a little extra width and length of batting than the quilt top (by 2 to 4 inches) to take into account shrinkage in quilting. 

Brand names

Brand names are an important point to be considered while choosing batting. The professional quilters who are known for their high-quality products always buy branded batting in rolls or bolts. Airtex, Bosal, Mountain Mist, Fairfield processing corporation, Pellon are some of the popular batting manufacturers. hobbsbatting.com, airtex.com and www.quiltersdreambatting.com are websites selling good quality batting. 100% polyester Polyfil batting of Fairfield is a favourite of many quilters. Hobbs Tuscany 100% wool batting is another favourite if you are looking for premium quality wool batting.

Thinsulate is a quilted, polyester filled batting from 3M, which is popularly used inside outerwear.

If you are looking for an insulating batting to use inside potholders you can buy a brand called Insul-Brite – it is made of a thin layer of polyester batting on both sides with an insulating layer inside. You may need to use batting along with this for the best insulating protection.

Different brands make the same type of batting in different qualities so it is always better to try out new brand batting before using it for big projects.

Function and design

Distance between quilting lines is another consideration. If you want to quilt with wider rows of stitches you may want to use batting with scrim ( a layer of woven fabric on one side). Some of the batting manufacturers will specifically mention the desired quilting distance between the rows of stitches for eg: 2, 4, 6 8 inches.  

But if you are using bonded quilt batting which means adhesives are used to hold it together, the quilter must go for short or close distance quilting lines as the bonded batting may become loose when the quilt is washed.

A little consideration can be given to the color of your project. You can buy black batting (or charcoal colored) if your project is mostly dark-colored. Likewise, choose bleached white batting if you are making a white quilt.

Other Quality issues

Ensure that the batting is even throughout without being thick in some places and not so in others. Some natural cotton batting may have small impurities which may hinder machine quilting.

Some people may be allergic to wool, though it is very rare and the wool in batting doesnot touch skin usually- but still a consideration for some. They may find bamboo batting and organic batting up their alley.

When you open the batting first it may look all shabby or with wrinkles. Do not despair. It may not be a low quality product. Just open it flat and allow it to relax for a period of time. If your batting looks still looks wrinkled, put it in the clothes dryer for 30 minutes with a damp towel without heat or very low heat. Usually this solves the problem.

Some good quality Cotton Batting has a right side and wrong side. You can know which is the wrong side by checking if it has a thin fabric layer on that side. A light layer of woven fabrics (a mesh fabric) which holds them together while stitching is added to these battings. This is called scrim. Scrim adds a layer to the batting that holds the batting together – the advantage of using batting with scrim is that batting does not separate when the quilt is washed. The batting is more stable with a scrim. Scrim also allows the quilter to go for wider quilter lines.

One thing you have to be aware is that the scrim is a polyester layer so if you want a 100% cotton batting, you will have to do without the scrim. 

Bearding is one thing most quilters are afraid of when you are quilting with batting inside. Another is pokies. Both means that the fibers of the batting are poking out of the fabric. Sometimes it may be because the batting is placed upside down as you are sewing. So you just need to flip it so that the scrim side is down. Or maybe you have a dull needle.

Or it maybe because you have low quality batting. Most low quality polyester batting will beard. Go for good quality batting and most of your quilting woes are over.

You can read more about the right and wrong side of batting here. And about dealing with bearding and pokies here.

Reference: Quilting by machine by Singer

Related Posts : The best interlining materials.

AUTHOR : Hi, I am Sarina. I am passionate about clothes, sewing, fabrics, fashion and surface design techniques in no particular order and absolutely love writing about all of these including what I learn, what I experience, and what I have bought to do all these. You are more than welcome to stay here and learn with me.

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