close up of cloth batting

Beginner’s Guide To The Types Of Batting: Which One To Use

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the variety in batting choices? Or wondered which batting is right for your quilt?

The weight and the warmth of the quilt you sleep under at night comes from the type of batting used, so knowing all about the different types can help you to sleep (and sew) better!

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I had no idea what batting was or how to use it..(I used to refer to it as the middle quilt layer).

I’ve got you covered and will help you to learn everything there is to know about batting and when to use the correct batting for your quilting and craft projects.

What is batting and what does it do?

Batting, also known as wadding, is used as an insulating layer between the quilt top and back quilt used in quilting.

Batting is the filling of quilts that gives warmth and weight. Batting is usually manufactured from cotton, polyester, bamboo, wool and silk.

It’s available in different thicknesses known as loft which can make a quilt more bouncy and warm, or light and will drape well.

There are plenty different types of batting as described in this video below.

Different types of batting you can buy

A quilt is made by creating a quilt sandwich of batting between two layers of fabric. Quilted fabric is used for making quilts, potholders, insulating protective pads and even some garments. It’s used to give padding to a material or to change the dimension of a fabric surface.

Quilt terminology

Let’s look at some basic batting and quilt terminology you’ll see referenced in the world of batting before we go any further.

Bolt

You can buy batting in either a bolt or roll for your sewing project. Whilst a roll is pretty self-explanatory, bolt is a rectangular piece of cardboard that batting or fabric is wrapped around

A roll of cotton batting
A roll of cotton batting (1)

Loft

The loft of a fabric is the measurement of thickness and weight. Low loft means thin, high loft means thick.

Lower loft batting is used if you want your finished machine quilting projects to have a flatter finish such as place mats or table runners. It’s a good type of batting for summer quilts and works easier for a running stitch whether done by hand or machine. A high loft batting is a much thicker batting used for fluffier comforter type finish on a quilt.

Drape

Drape is the way batting hangs and therefore the way the quilt hangs. Some batting is quite soft while other batting is much stiffer and therefore won’t drape so well. I think silk and cotton batting blend is the best batting for a drape.

Needle punched

In needle punch batting, the fibers are mechanically felted (put) together with thousands of tiny needles.

Scrim

Cotton and cotton polyester blend battings sometimes come with a feature called Scrim. Scrim is a thin layer or stabilizer that is layered onto batting to prevent the fibers separating or stretching in your quilt. Scrim batting is often used with needle punching (but not all needle punched batting has scrim).

A piece of scrim cloth in front of a wall
A piece of scrim laid in front of a wooden wall

Batting with a scrim is great for machine quilting a quilt as it’s stronger, but it is too dense for hand-quilting.

What kind of quilt batting should I use?

The types of batting you choose will depend on what the batting will be used for. A quilt fabric can be made flatter or fuller depending on the thickness of the batting you are using. Using the right quilt batting is important for the right outcome of your project.

Warmth

One of the main purposes of using batting in quilting is the warmth. Wool provides the most warmth with better thermal qualities than other materials.

Wool provides the most warmth

A wool or cotton blend batting is the best batting if you want warmth but at the same time, lightweight batting. Cotton/bamboo batting is one of my favorite batting blends because of the warmth, even though it’s lightweight.

Cotton and bamboo breathe better than polyester. Wool and silk are usually more expensive.

If you want your project to have a flatter appearance for wall hangings then a low loft batting is a good choice. If you want a really thick sturdy quilt, wool batting is usually the thickest, and bamboo is the lightest loft.

Appearance

If you are aiming for a fluffy quilt you will need to use a high loft batting, which is great for showing off quilting lines, which look more prominent when these high loft battings are used.

Different cloths laid out on a rack
Different types of batting even have different shrink rates (2)

Polyester can be much fluffier and have a high loft than most other types of batting. It’s good batting to show off decorative quilting stitches in a quilt as it gives a nice defined quilted lines as it’s much puffier.

Polyester fibers don’t shrink so it’s a good choice for warm winter kids quilts. Polyester and bamboo batting drape better than cotton and wool batting.

Garment making

When making clothes, you can use batting for padding where fullness is needed such as around shoulders, cuffs and collars.

You will need to use a high – mid loft batting for this depending on the desired look, so the best quilt batting for this could be a cotton blend.

NOTE

If you do use a high loft batting, ensure that your sewing machine will be able to sew through the thicker fabric layers

What size does batting come?

When quilting your own custom size quilt, it’s important to know that there are different size batting which generally follow these measurements:

  • Craft batting 36” x 45”,
  • Crib batting 45” x 60”,
  • Twin batting 72” x 90”,
  • Full batting 81” x 90”,
  • Queen batting 90” x 108”, and
  • King batting 120 x 120”.

What is the thinnest quilt batting?

The thinnest or low loft quilt batting is usually a 100% cotton batting, which is made with natural fibers that offer a really flat appearance. Thinner quilting stitches would be used for thinner battings and are also easier to work with when hand quilting.

Can I quilt without batting?

Absolutely you can. And I often have – I made my niece a baby quilt once with a pillowcase as a middle layer!

You can keep it really simple by only quilting together a top quilt and a bottom layer of fabric, or you can use an unconventional batting such as a flannel or some other cotton fabrics instead.

There are no rules when it comes to quilt batting and making your own quilt.

Types of quilt batting

The most common types of quilt batting in are made of wool, polyester and cotton fibers. Other types of batting are silk battings, cotton blends and recycled fibers.

Cotton batting

Cotton batting is made for its soft texture and comfort. A 100% cotton quilt batting is made from natural fibers, and is usually 1/8” thick. Cotton is a long favorite of mine to use in quilting.

Folded cloth laid out
100% cotton deluxe loft batting (3)

The batting has a nice feel and look to it after washing, you can pre-wash or shrink cotton batting before making a quilt. I think they often feel like a thick flannel although they are usually low loft batting.

Polyester batting

Polyester batting is thicker than cotton but lighter so keeps you warm without the weight.

Polyester batting is a really good warmer batting option providing a good layer of insulation. It’s not very breathable but it resists mold and mildew. It holds its shape and thickness compared to other batting fibers and is a preferred choice for cribs and bedding.

… a preferred choice for cribs and bedding

Polyester batting is generally the least expensive batting in the quilting world, and the most common. Polyester batting tends not to show fold lines in the same way that cotton batting does, however it doesn’t have the same drape or soft feel as other types of quilt batting.

It’s also the least environmentally friendly batting as it’s made from 100% synthetic products.

NOTE

If you want a dimensional texture, choose a thick batting like polyester which can be turned into tied quilts.

Silk batting

Silk batting is a great balance of strength and softness in a batting and is the quilters dream! It’s usually blended with cotton or polyester as 100% silk batting would cost a fortune.

Slik batting drapes beautifully and is easy to work with. These battings are a high quality batting and can be found in decorative bed quilts.

Needle punched

Needle punch batting is felted together by punching them with lots of needles. Because of this it’s firmer and denser.

Needle punch batting is used for durable quilting blankets, backing and apparel.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a natural batting and is very breathable and good for use with machine quilting. Although it’s machine washable, it will have 2-3% shrinkage.

The inside section of a quilt being exposed
Bamboo-cotton batting used in a quilt sandwich (4)

Bamboo batting is processed into a luxurious natural fiber using pollution- free methods with little waste. This batting is the greenest option, even more so than cotton as bamboo is renewed more quickly than cotton.

Wool batting

Wool batting is used for its warmth, being a natural fiber is lofty and is very lightweight. Wool batting is ½” thick, it holds its shape and it springs back, it’s also resistant to crease.

It’s an excellent option for hand and machine quilting and can also be tied.

Wool batting is the warmest batting, followed by polyester and cotton which makes it a good choice to make a three seasons quilt or a wall hanging quilt.

Blends

The most popular blends out there are cotton polyester, usually 80:20 quilt batting which tends to be a favorite for long arm quilters as it has the qualities of being soft like cotton, but durable and puffy like polyester.

A cotton batting blend is usually easy to work with when making a machine quilt. Cotton poly blends are good for a simple throw quilt.

Resin bonded batting

If your top quilt is very thin, a resin bonded batting could be a good choice when you choose batting. This batting has a light adhesive on both sides to hold fibers together, this is so the batting doesn’t move or beard. Bearding is when batting fibers push through the fabric.

Fusible batting

Fusible batting contains a fusible web so you can baste layers together. When using fusible batting later quilt backing, batting and quilt top together.

Cloth held together by stitches
You can even baste leftover batting from previous projects (5)

Use the wool setting on your iron, press from the center out by pressing each area 3-4 seconds. Once finished, allow the quilt to cool and repeat on the other side.

Colors

While most batting comes in white or off white, you can buy black batting for use with dark fabric. You can work with black and white batting combined for different colored fabric of a quilt’s patchwork.

Conclusion

I hope you feel absolutely batty about batting and quilting after reading this post.

Regardless of the type of batting you choose for your project, always check the label carefully for manufacturers recommendations if they suggest you pre-treat it.

What’s your favorite batting to use?

If you’re feeling more confident in choosing batting for your project, share this post to inspire others too – after all knowledge is to be shared! Happy quilting and good luck with choosing the right batting for your finished project.

(1) cotton batting by sweetjessie – licensed under CC BY-NC-2.0
(2) Shrink rate guide of batting by gina pina – licensed under CC BY 2.0
(3) 100% Cotton deluxe loft by gina pina – licensed under CC BY 2.0
(4) quilt sandwich by Beck Gusler – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
(5) Baste scraps of batting together by SK – licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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Kris Daub
Kris Daub
[email protected] byCurated I'm a maker at heart! I love to create and tech others to create. I particularly sewing and hand crafts like ebroidery. I also love larger home decorating projects. ✂️ 🧵