Sunday, August 8, 2010

Battings

You have many choices in choosing a batting. There are lots out there. I list several that I really love and recommend for beginners on my hand quilting supply list. First of all, what you are looking for in a batting for hand quilting, and beginning hand quilting is not necessarily what you would choose for a machine quilted quilt. You want ease of needling, and you want a good result when you are done. I like natural fibers. I think most quilters do. So, I don't recommend polyester. It is easy to needle, but that's about the only good thing it has going for it. Sorry, but that's just how I feel. There are just too many good natural fiber products out there that are easy to needle to have to settle for the unnatural look of polyester. (I await your emails of protest, polyester batting people)

So, what are are the natural fibers you can choose? Cotton, of course. Wool, silk, bamboo, and blends of all of the above. You can't go wrong with cotton. It has been used for hundreds of years with great results. Not all cotton batts are equal, though. If you have ever tried to hand quilt a Warm & Natural cotton batting, you know this. Warm & Natural is a great batt. IF you are machine quilting. It's miserable to hand quilt. I know, I done it. I have also watched beginning quilters try to quilt it too. Take it from us ....... keep it for your next machine quilted piece. Fairfield, Hobbs, and Quilter's Dream all make good battings and I have used them all. Hobb's has a 100% cotton Heirloom batt that I really like. It acts like an antique batt. Once hand quilted and washed, it shrinks up and the quilt puckers around each and every quilting stitch. It you really want your quilt to be an antique reproduction I think you will like it. It's easy to needle, but not the easiest. In my experience, the easiest cotton batting to needle is the Quilter's Dream batting in the "Request" thickness. If you want an easy hand quilting experience - this is a good one to try. What you want in any brand is a thin, 100% cotton batt. After that, the differences are subtle and there are pros and cons to all of them.

The easiest batting to needle is the wool batt. I use wool, more and more. It is particularly wonderful for hand quilting. Like Buttah! Hobbs and Quilter's Dream have great ones. I get the most questions about wool battings in the classes I teach. Contrary to our first impression, wool is not necessarily too hot. It's a natural fiber that is light and will wick moisture away from the body, so it will be cooler in summer and warm in winter. It's isn't hard to care for. There are laundering directions on the package, but basically, just wash in cool or tepid water with little agitation and line dry. Just treat it like you would any hand quilted quilt. Heat and agitation is what you do to wool to felt it. Keep away from hot water and wash it in gentle agitation and you won't have any problems. Not only is wool easy to quilt - the end results are really nice too. Quilting stitches LOVE wool. Here are a couple of quilts that I hand quilted that used a wool batting. The pictures aren't very good, but you can still see how well the stitches show. As for bamboo... I have only used bamboo in a bamboo/cotton blend and had it machine quilted. I liked the result as it is light and a little poofy like a wool batt. I can't comment on how well it hand quilts yet, but am anxious to try. I have seen quilts made with a silk batt, but I haven't tried it yet either. The word on the street though, is that silk is just as nice as wool to needle. It is a bit hard to find and is expensive.

So, to make a long blog short..... pick a good, thin 100% cotton or 100% wool batt for your next hand quilted project and your efforts will be rewarded.
And.......Since we didn't have a winner for the Moda lunch box..... The random number generator at www.random.org came up with another winner - Abbybeth!!

Abbybeth, email me here and I will get it out to you asap.

Laurie

28 comments:

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Oh I'm still holding on to some home for that cute lunchbox prize1

*Stitches* said...

thank you for your in put! I have a machine quilting business and the more and more I quilt with wool...it's my favorite! I heard from a rep that it does not hold a memory like cotton. So if one has it folded for a time, it will not leave those folds in the quilt like cotton does. I yet to see if this is true...do you know? I LOVE Wool batt!

badlandsquilts said...

Very useful information... I have a small quilt to hand quilt so thank you for the shopping list!

Janet said...

I couldn't agree with you more on all the information you've been sharing from your vast experience. It seems I like the same materials, in battings and thread. I've only ever used a polyester batting once and never again, I just don't like it and it doesn't breathe.

moosecraft said...

I had a good giggle reading your post this morning... My very first attempt at hand quilting was with Warm & Natural Batting! Good thing the quilt was only 20" x 20" as I sewed the stitches in one at a time as I could simply not rock multiple stitches onto my needle as supposed to when hand quilting. So, I vowed to never hand quilt agin! LOL! Since reading your post, I just may have another go at it trying the Hobb's brand... thank you! Oh... I can hardly believe how many stitches you hand quilted into the 2 examples you have here! It would take me two lifetimes to complete 2 quilts like yours! :-)

Pookie said...

Thanks for the info on batting!

Boomer, Schnookie, and I all went to our local quilt shop this weekend to look for any books about hand quilting patterns. Most of the women in the shop scoffed (for some reason there is no culture of handwork at all in this store; they still laugh at us for hand-piecing!) but one said, "Oh, I teach a class in hand quilting! I haven't done it in a while. Let's clear a spot on the calendar for it!" Yay! Your blog posts are so inspirational, they're causing quilt shops all the way in NJ to offer hand-quilting classes! :D

Abbybeth said...

I only machine quilt so far, but did my very first one a few years ago w/ polyester and since I've switch to cotton batting I can't get over the difference in how it feels/drapes/looks ... and thanks for picking me in for the box - I've emailed you! I'm SO excited!

Taryn said...

I couldn't agree more about the polyester batting. In an attemtp to learn some "secrets" to better hand quilting I've signed up for two different classes at two different shops in two different states and both of the instructors said the very best batting for hand quilting was poly. I was surprised since I've always used cotton with great results. I did have an unfortunate Warm and Natural queen sized quilt experience but the end result was spectacular even though it took forever.

Mary Lou Casada said...

I love, love, love wool batting!! It really does quilt like "buttah!" I also use cotton, but I reserve it for that "antique-y look" (I plan to use it on my Dear Jane IF I ever get the top put together! :-D) Great information, yet again! Loving this blog!

Janet said...

Another great post! Your hand quilted quilts are beautiful!!! I am using silk batting for the second time and I find it just beautiful to work with.

Marilyn C. said...

Bamboo batting although natural and available has some cons. Apparently the chemicals that they have to use to get it ready to put into garments,
batting, etc. are very destructive to the environment and where the bamboo is produced these chemicals are dumped into the streams, etc.
The production of cotton has similar problems but can be grown organically.
I think that when you put so much time into the quilt you should buy the best supplies that you can.
I have had too many students bring in cheap fabrics to make clothing that even a experienced sewer would have trouble "making it into a silk purse".

Sharon said...

No uprising here about poly batts, I've only used Thermore for table runners. I love hand quilting wool and/or Hobbs 80/20. But early on, I did hand quilt a good sized quilt using W & N and machine quilting thread. My hand & wrist were SO sore and tired, but I just didn't know. Your tips and right up my alley with what I do, thanks for sharing.

patchworksails said...

Hi there sisters, thank you for your teaching and hand quilting tips. I really like the nine patches you have there on top the colors are well thought out. I would like to try the Hobbs batting because I yet havenot found one that gives me the old combed cotton with seeds and all look..By the way if your ramdom number abby doesnt show I would love to receive your lunch box LOL !!!

colleencl said...

Laurie, I have learned so much about hand quilting from your blog. My continued thanks for all the information and inspiration ... such beautiful work!

Vicky said...

Great info, and it certainly explains the problem I had with my only awful attempt at hand quilting! I do have a couple of silk batts in the closet, and will keep my eyes open for a wool batt. I'm gonna do this hand quilting thing yet! I yam; I yam!

Anonymous said...

Laurie, It looks like you hand quilted this quilt in a Baptist Fan design. Did you do this on a hoop or a frame? I have always loved this design and can't figure out how to do this without making the whole quilt first, I quilt on a hoop. I hope this is a future lesson....please

S. said...

Thanks for the batting info. People need to try out batts for the desired look they want their quilts to have after quilting is completed. Battings plays a major role in the drape of a quilt and choosing an excellant batt is a result of good education. As I didn't think I'd be a lunch box winner so I made one.I used a clear plastic box with an attached lid from Wegman's, used as a salad box at heir salad bar. It slipped into a wicker suitcase perfectly. I used your good suggestions and pics to install a pin cushion on the inside of the lid. The small wicker suitcase had been sitting idle, waiting for a good idea to come along. Thanks to you, my lunch box is pretty grand!

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for all of the great info on hand quilting and batting. I have learned a lot, and I have been quilting for several years. I am looking forward to reading about basting. It shouldn't be a big deal, but I think I am missing something when I do it.

Sandra Henderson said...

I have used Kyoto (bamboo/cotton) and SoySoft(soybean/cotton) and the one that is silk/cotton. I really like the silk/cotton one. Before that, only the 100% cotton. Yes, the puckering look is SOOO what I LOVE! However, I've purchased my first wool batting and can't wait to try it. Since I live in the DEEP SOUTH, the thought of wool was not appealing. Also, just can't be found here. However, you've convinced me! Love your tutorials

Kwiltsfl said...

I am convinced to try wool for my next quilt. Some people wash all quilts when they are done hand quilting - I don't. I can see washing one with the Heirloom to get it to pucker. Do you wash your quilts with wool batts when you finish - or only if the quilt is dirty?

Love these informational posts!

arlyce said...

thank you so much for all the wonderful and very helpful info you have been sharing. I will try wool for the quilt that so far is sitting in my imagination! If it ever becomes less hot and humid... comfortable enough to work on anything more than washing wool for rugs ...I have a lot to start!

Karen said...

Totally agree about Warm and Natural, about 10 years ago I knew I would never hand quilt another one. It was so hard on my hands. Now wool is another story, it is wonderful. I've used it many times to hand quilt with great results.

Janet said...

Ahhhh! I feel so validated! Have used Quilter's Dream Request weight for many years now and will not ever ever go back to polyester - bleh!!! I'm interested to try a wool batt and will probably do so soon. The only quilting I do is hand quilting - machine is good in many cases but hand is an entirely different method from machine,and is best for a traditional look.

Robin said...

I appreciate the information about warm and natural. I bought a full size batt but will save it to make wall hangings and such that I can machine stitch or big stitch. I am one of the "poly" crowd and use it because it doesn't crease in storage. I want the larger quilts I hang - to hang straight. That being said, nothing beats the feel of cotton or it's breathability (is that a word?)

L.E.O. said...

I love all of your hand quilting choices!
How do y'all feel about hand quilting frames??? I'm thinking on buying one from a friend and she needs an answer by tommorow!!!

Jeanne (RED) said...

How generous for you to do all these great tutorials about quilting! Even though I've been quilting for a few years, I find I continually learn something new. I, too, used Warm and Natural on a wall hanging and I thought it was just ME! Thanks, again, and I'll be looking forward to more quilt blogging! (And I can't wait to see that quilt you are working on! I love applique.)

Brenis said...

Laurie - THANK YOU SOO MUCH for taking the time to share your knowledge this way!! Man oh man have I learned a lot! And of course, have used ALL the wrong tools, and wondered why i cannot hand quilt better after trying for so long! LOL 2 or 3 years ago, i hand stitched and appliqued a queen size quilt top - was so excited to hand quilt it (can do small ones!) batted with warm and natural, and the majority of the fabrics are coarse homespuns, i had a pvc frame, and could not for the life of me quilt that baby!! :( There it still sits with about 10" quilted! I now know what i must do... unpick all those stitches and rebatt it, and get a proper frame - and maybe just maybe that ufo will get finished! LOL!!! It's no wonder i went to machine quilting! :D

Anonymous said...

OK now, please put down the stones so I do not get pelted!

I have also sewn with so many different batts, it is hard to keep count. It is my FAMILY, as well as myself, who love THERMORE. You would think I had committed a criminal act by using any other batts.

I enjoy the soft as butter feeling as the needle goes through. The best stitches on my quilts, have been with THERMORE also. The drape is great, the loft - or lack of it - is very antique looking .. mercy I do hope they do not discontinue THERMORE.

AnnieRose

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