Batting choices

A few people have asked me what is the best batting to use for hand quilting.  That is not a question that can answer as a blanket statement for everyone.  Every quilter is different and has differing opinions and differing objectives.  The batting choice will have an effect on the overall look of the finished quilt.

My preference is for the antique look.  When I finish a quilt I wash it and dry it (in the dryer) because I want the slight puckering that is caused by the shrinkage.  I most often use cotton batting because I like the way the finished quilt feels, I like the shrinkage, and I like how it quilts.

So which batting to use?  I have tried several and Here are my thoughts on each.

Polyester:

Tends to be the least expensive and if you want a lot of loft you can get it in poly. (you can also get it very thin)  It is not difficult to hand quilt (with the exception of the fusible).  I do find that it can beard , fibers are pulled through the batting by the thread and show on the front of the quilt.

Here is a quilt I made with polyester batting

I wanted a lot of loft on this one and the poly worked for that.

80/20

there are many blends of batting and I have used the Hobbs 80/20 often.  It has the feel of cotton, a mid loft, and I like the shrinkage.  I find that it gives the antique look that I like.  here is a wedding ring quilt that I made using 80/20

and a friendship quilt with 80/20

I used Hobbs 100% cotton on my trees quilt

And my tumbling blocks

One of the things that I hate is basting so I tried a Hobbs fusible 80/20 once on this quilt

I did not like it!…the fusible did not really hold the layers together well and I had to pin baste it anyway and the fusing made the quilting harder so I am not a fan.

Warm And Natural

Warm and natural I like because it is available by the yard (90″ wide) at my local store.  I like the loft, I like the shrinkage.  It is a denser batting and it is not as easy to hand quilt as some but It is one of my favorites.

Here are a few of the quilts I used it on.

I like the loft because it shows the quilting very nicely.  I used it on my pineapple quilt

Quilters Dream Cotton

Available in four lofts:

  • Request: Natural or White. lowest loft for hand and machine quilting.
  • Select: Natural or White. Midloft for hand and machine quilting.
  • Deluxe: Natural or White. High loft.
  • Supreme: Natural or White. Thickest cotton batt of all

I have read great reviews so I tried it out.  I started this one with request

It is so thin that it feels like quilting through nothing.  I have yet to finish this one because I was so disappointed with the lack of definition in the quilting.  To me the loft is too low.  I imagine when the quilting is done and it is washed I will like it more.  It is lightweight so I think it would be perfect for a summer weight quilt.

I am currently using the select on the pyramids quilt

So Far I like it…I will save my final verdict for after it is washed.

Pellon Natures Touch Cotton Batting

I love this one and have only found it locally once, but I know I can order it on-line.

It has a very soft feel and drape, quilts beautifully, and washes great. I used it on this quilt.

The quilting always shows best in pictures from the back.

Wool

I love it!  I quilted this one with Hobbs heirloom wool

I love the loft of the wool batting, and wool is great because it is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.  What I also like about wool is that it doesn’t have a memory, which is to say that folds and wrinkles do not stay in the quilt like they do with cotton. Wool is more expensive but it is my new favorite.  I wash it in the machine on gentle and dry it on low and it comes out beautifully.

I used it on the houses quilt

And I plan to use it for my next quilt.

I know that every quilter is different, and if you have good luck with other things you should definitely use them!  There is no right or wrong, just what works for you.

Happy Quilting

Tim

26 thoughts on “Batting choices

  1. Sue says:

    Very great review, Tim! I personally love the wool too as my favorite for just about anything….but then again, I am a huge fan of wool no matter what it’s used for. But I really do love hand quilting with it.
    Have you tried Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon all cotton batting? I have hand quilted with it a few times and find it to be good..at least for me and when it’s washed it gives that nice antique look. It is quite thin.

  2. Karen says:

    does the wool batting shrink a little?

  3. Carla says:

    Great review! I am a wool lover too, but have used quilter’s dream select and loved the weight for a summer quilt and that wonderful antique quilt feeling. I love, love running my hand over a hand quilted quilt, such a wonderul feeling.

  4. Barbara Wells says:

    My favorites are wool, 80/20 and recently bamboo. I ordered some YLI quilting thread after your post and I absolutely love it! Thanks for the tip! It is my new favorite thread-but I have tons of the other stuff to get rid of eventually!

  5. Regan Martin says:

    You are amazing! Thank you so much for all the info AND for showing what was quilted with the different batts! That helps so much! I have yet to try the wool batts but I really want to now! Thanks!

  6. Donna says:

    I’ll have to try the wool! I usually use the Mountain Mist blue ribbon cotton for hand quilting (it’s been awhile), but I’ve used the Quilter’s Dream select and the recipients like the weight of it, though to me it seemed heavy to work with (it was a king, so it was big). Thanks for all your input and the photos!

  7. Kate says:

    Hi Tim
    I have used Warm and Natural for ages but have always found it quite hard work, although I love the effect after a wash. I was interested to hear you liked the Pellon product – does it have scrim? I wonder if you have an opinion on Harriet Hargreaves’ (Hobbs) Heirloom cotton?

    • timquilts says:

      I agree that the warm and natural is a bit harder to work….the pellon is easier… and I think it is because it does not have a scrim. the hobbs heirloom cotton is what i called hobbs 100% cotton in the post…I like it

  8. Pippa Moss says:

    Yes, I have changed over to wool for my hand quilting. It looks great when it is finished and is a pleasure to work with, and I am not a fan of the flat look. Wool gives a lovely sculptural look. The care is a bit different, so I would use another wadding if I were giving a quilt away. Pippa

    • timquilts says:

      Yes I like the look of wool….it has a greater depth or sculptural non flat look, but I think you are right that for a quilt to give away I would stick with cotton

  9. Louise says:

    Tim,
    Thanks for explaining about different battings. I have wanted to try the wool for my little quilts and also wool stuffing for my dolls. I have tried a blend of bamboo and cotton but found it to pull through with the stitching. My last little quilt I did was all cotton and I liked it much better.

    • timquilts says:

      I have not tried bamboo but I have heard from several people that it does pull through (that is the main reason I have not used it) …but I have not ever had that problem with cotton or wool…and I like them both and I will continue to use both depending on the look and weight I want….anyway I think you will like wool

  10. STEPHANIE says:

    I agree about the wool. I like a bit of definition too. I started with Hobbs Polydown looked good, felt good but when you look closely you can see the bearding. Can’t get on with cotton too hard.
    (You know what? This is beginning to sound like the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears Story” !)
    I only realised recently that Hobbs “Heirloom” and “Tuscany” wools are not the same. The “Tuscany” (more expensive) is resin bonded, still easy to quilt thro’, not quite so bouncy but I can do smaller stitches.
    I like them both but wondered if other people have noticed the difference.

    • timquilts says:

      I just bought 4 packages of the tuscany but have not used it yet…so far I have only used the heirloom, but talked to the hobbs rep about it and she says it is almost the same…the samples that had to feel side by side were almost identical but the tuscany did feel a bit more stable, I do think I am going to like it because as you say it is easier to get small stitches

  11. Rose Marie says:

    Thank you ….. fantastic post and very informative! I’ll be looking to try out some of these brands depending on what quilt I will be working on.

  12. Thanks, Tim. I will be starting a big hand-quilting project (Dear Jane) soon, and I need all the help I can get. Locally, all I can find is needle-punched cotton, which is hard to push a needle through. I will need to buy something while I am overseas or by shopping online, but it is difficult to know which to choose when you cannot handle it first.

  13. Sherry says:

    This has been very helpful. I am a newbie as far as guiltily. Have done some tye guilty and have been working on a king size quilt top that I plan on hand quilting. It is the Hour Glass block and wanted to know what the best batting would be. Think I’m going to go with wool. Thank you😊

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