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.
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