Thursday, February 17, 2011

Batty about Batting

Tailoring Thursdays™, Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Sewers


Are you ever confused by what batting to use?  

I will briefly touch on the 

EDIT: [There are three basic types of batting and combinations of each.] 
 three readily available, cost effective and commonly used types of batting.

These three are Bamboo, Cotton, and Polyester.  

Polyester Batting:
  • Anti-bacterial
  •  Anti-fungal
  • Mildew Resistant
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Hypo-Allergenic
  • Light, Fluffy
  • Non-shrinking
  • Machine washable and dryable

Bamboo Batting:
  • Naturally Anti-bacterial
  • Naturally Anti-fungal
  • Mildew Resistant
  • Anti-static
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Shrinks
  • Machine washable and dryable

Be careful to note the manufacturing processes used when choosing your bamboo batting.  Chemical processing of bamboo can take away it's natural properties and become a possible health hazard. 

Cotton Batting:
  • It's been used Forever!
  • Fabric naturally clings to it
  • Shrinks
  • Machine washable and dryable

These three are very common and each has it's own place depending on your prject.

 The best way to decide on a batting you like is to practice with all of them.  

And, like most sewing products you get what you pay for, the higher the price, the higher the quality.  

For example, there are some polyester battings which can look and feel like cotton batting. 

What is my choice? 
 I really like bamboo batting.  I like how it holds up to washings.  And I like how it feels like cotton but has all my desired properties that polyester possesses. 

Additional Info:
As discussed in the comments below there are other batting options.  I have chosen to discuss and highlight the three above because they are easily bought from almost all local sewing and quilt shops.

I tried not to be too wordy in this brief overview.  Only highlighting the qualities of these three battings.  Personally, the two important qualities for me are:
- Hypo-allergenic
 -the ability to resist mold and mildew
this is because we have a lot of allergies in our family.

I also love being able to use my washer and dryer, I do not buy clothes or other cloth decor that cannot be washed and dried.  I am too busy and do not live in a place where I can hang up clothes to dry. 

For more in depth details on batting the following sites are great places to visit:


FabricsNQuilts said...

Great post! Definitely sharing!

Camilla said...

> Also, it is much lighter than cotton
> batting, so it needs to be quilted
> tightly or it is not as warm.

This really doesn't make any sense. Most fibers are warm proportional to their ability to trap air. A lofty, loosely quilted quilt (provided that the batting hasn't shifted) should be warmer than one made with the same batting that's stiff and tightly quilted.

Polyester batting is usually very warm compared to much heavier cotton battings, though of course it is going to depend on the exact batting that you choose.

Mauby said...

Hi Camilla! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Yes you are correct to say, "that fibers are warm proportional to their ability to trap air."

And in that respect, polyester batting does not trap air as well as cotton or bamboo batting does.

A simple test for this is to put each type of batting up against your nose and mouth and breath in and out. You will notice that the polyester does not trap air nearly as well as the cotton or bamboo batting.

And of course, there are higher priced versions of polyester batting that closer mimic the density of cotton.

I have often found quilts with polyester batting to be less warm than those made with cotton.

Camilla said...

I don't think that's a realistic test, because insulating ability is different from the ability to stop wind. The test that's used by manufacturers of outdoor equipment, etc. is generally to wrap equal bottles of water in sleeves made of the various substances, and measure temperature change with a thermometer.

I've got handy finished quilts made with Quilter's Dream cotton and Quilter's Dream poly; I'll see if I have a chance to run the test for you with nalgene water bottles and finished quilts, if the children go to bed easily tonight.

(I really think polyester is going to keep it warmer, but there's no reason to argue about it when it can be easily tested.)

Camilla said...

Ok, here's my experimental results for you:

My polyester quilt feels lighter and thinner than the cotton one, but it keeps a bottle of water at least somewhat warmer.

(I know the quilt I've labeled as such is all cotton, but I don't recall precisely which weight of cotton batting it is. I suspect you'd get stronger results if you matched the quilts for thickness, and let the experiment run longer.)

My point is not that you should believe me, but that this is an easy experiment to run; I'd like to encourage you to do it yourself.

I think it would be neat to test two quilts made with same fabric and batting, but different spacings of quilting... but I don't have two such quilts, and I suspect that a more careful experimental setup would be needed to distinguish two very similar quilts.

Mauby said...

Hi Lynn,

The reason I did not include wool or silk is because they are not, "basic", battings.

They are, for lack of a better term, "exotic" battings.

Typically, neither are readily available at most stores, including local quilt shops.

Wool is also not included in my list because wool has a high allergy rate. I, myself, cannot work with wool because of an allergy.

Silk is also not included because it is very pricey, running over $21 a yard as compared to $12 a yard for higher quality bamboo. $8-$11 for cotton. And $6-$10 a yard for polyester.

Camilla said...

I can't work with wool, either, but there's a lot of historical precedent for using it. When you started with "three basic types" my mind immediately jumped to the more usual classification, which puts cotton and bamboo together (cellulose), and silk and wool together (protein fibers) and polyester as the third category.

Incidentally, I like polyester for being light, warm, and drying quickly. It's easy to handle right out of the bag, because it doesn't deform if you tug on it, like cotton does. If I felt I was buying a poor substitute for cotton (or if it felt "just like cotton") I would just get cotton...

Dora, the Quilter said...

Interesting, Mauby. However, cotton battings aren't necessarily heavy. I love using Quilter's Dream Request because it is so much like the lovely, drapable (is that a word?), light battings used in the finest vintage and antique quilts of the American South. On the other hand, a batting like Warm'n'Natural, found in many local and chain stores, has a much heavier, "chunkier" feel, much heavier than the Mountain Mist Cotton that was my aunt's favorite for decades. I'm not sure that anyone can assume that battings commonly found in local quilt or fabric shops are those found in shops across the country. Fortunately, shops and their stock are often as varied as their owners. Of course, I realize you were just trying to help and be concise for readers with limited experiences. Just wanted to clarify.

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