Back to Basics: Batting

This topic unfortunately is very vague due to the fact that batting is more of a personal preference than anything else. It's kinda like the whole Ford vs. Chevy thing. They're both cars, they both get you from Point 'A' to Point 'B', but people tend to like one more than another without explanation.

I'm going to first list the different types of battings available and what I know and like from personal experience. I then will give you some checkpoints to keep in mind when selecting your next batting and give you links to some major manufacturers of batting and their information about each product they provide.

Cotton - I personally like this batting for quilts that are going to be well used. I keep this in mind with anything that is potentially going to be washed often. Cotton fibers are meant to stay together and wear well over time. However, this batting typically is not good for hand quilting, it's very dense and hard on hands and needles.

Poly - This is my go-to batting at the moment. It's relatively cheaper than cotton but with new style poly battings, it's similar in feel and wear ability. Poly battings now-a-days are much smoother and softer than they used to be. There are still some "brillo pad" poly battings available - my tip with these is to avoid them at all costs. If the batting doesn't feel nice to the touch, why put it in a quilt?

Blends - These tend to combine usually cotton and poly, but other blends are available. The benefit with using a blend is usually getting the best of both worlds, being whatever they used to make the blend. For instance in a cotton/poly blend, you can get the wear ability of cotton with a price closer to that of poly. More blends are available, research the two (or more) products that were blended to see what benefits may be in store for the type of project you are working on.

Exotics - Anymore they are making batting out of just about anything. With exotic battings you will find bamboo, silk, fire resistant materials, recycled pop bottles, and many more types made out of various materials. Some of the benefits with these battings include lighter weight, better "hang" or just greener materials. I'm sure if you haven't already you'll see more and more of these styles on the market.

Wool - The grand-daddy of them all! Wool is a great batting. It's virtually resistant to wrinkling which makes it great for show quilts that may go from being folded for a long time to hanging beautifully in a short amount of time. This benefit also comes with a hefty price. Wool is typically much more costly than other battings.

Specialty - This really isn't a category, but it is... In this section I've included fusible and heat-purposed battings. Many manufacturers now have some type of fusible batting on the market. There are staples like Pellon that have been available for years, but companies like the Warm Company are making your favorite battings into fusible styles now too. The heat-purposed battings include Insulbrite, Warm Tater (Warm Company) and others that are made to be used in either high heat situations or food preparation. These are great for hot pads, iron covers, potato sacks and many other things.

Checklist - What really determines for me what type of batting I need is what do I plan on for the future of my quilt. Is it going to be chewed on, dragged around and washed often? Is it going to hang there and look pretty and that's it? And a few other things like:

Shrinkage - How much will this shrink once washed? Some styles are more prone to shrinking than others. It should say on the manufacturer's website or package label as to the specifics.

Loft - how thick is the batting? Just because a batting is thicker may not mean it's warmer. If possible, try to feel a piece of the batting first. The more air and "squish", the cooler it will be. This also could mean it's not a good quality though too. Denser battings are best (personally)

What Type of Quilting - as I mentioned before, poly is great for hand quilting but cotton isn't so great. Determine what style of quilting you're going to do or have done and choose from there. On the manufacturers websites, some of them give detailed information about what style of quilting works best with certain products.

Density of Quilting - this is very important with T-Shirt quilts or other designs that can't be quilted in certain areas. Some battings need quilting as close as 4" and other may not require batting for 12" or more. If you choose a batting that requires quilting every 6" and only quilt every 10" or so, expect your quilt to act like a comforter over time - all that batting will fall apart and end up in one corner or another.

Color - This is one of those small details people overlook. It's easy to think color doesn't matter, but it does! When your fabrics include anything considered "white" DO NOT use a "natural" color batting. The natural color of the batting is typically tan or creamy and can make your white fabrics look dingy or dirty even when they're not. A white batting is best with any white or near white fabrics. Also on the flip side, for quilt tops that use primarily dark colored fabrics, black colored battings are available. I personally have never had the opportunity to use a dark batting as my projects include many fabrics from light to dark.

That about covers the wide spectrum of topics associated with choosing battings. Just remember that whatever you choose, if it comes out of a package where it's been rolled or folded for long periods of time, it needs to air out for a short period of time. It's usually best to air it out overnight prior to working with it. It'll help get rid of the wrinkles that may have set in. Below you'll find the websites for manufacturers that I've found. If you have time be sure to check into the details they list and see what batting would work best for you and your projects. Either that or bookmark this page and revisit it when you do have time. Thanks for listening and let me know what batting you like and don't like. There's so much more information that couldn't be crammed in here, remember to share any helpful hints you may have in the comments below!

Manufacturer's Websites:

Quilter's Dream Batting

The Warm Company


Mountain Mist


  1. Poly bating melts in a fire and should never be used for quilts for babies, children, the elderly or anyone who cannot get around easily. Quilters Dream has a special batting that is fire-resistant that should be used for quilts for these people. http://www.imqa.org/media/uploads/2011/11/17/files/BattingArticleFall2011_1.pdf did a burn test on batting. Just something to consider when choosing batting for a quilt.

    1. Great advice! With man-made fibers there are other things to consider than just warmth and loft. Good thinking! Thanks for the comment!


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