QUILTING HELP!… or really just advice.
October 8, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

i'm making my first quilt and would like to hear input on various batting options. this is a non-patchwork quilt meant to emulate all of the luxury bedding i've lately become obsessed with but can't afford to buy. i want the softest most luxurious quilt i can get. non-pieced, straight forward top with simple quilting and ties. i'm in the shopping stage now and will be using linen, silk or a linen/silk blend for the top and backing and i want an equally soft batting.

i've read what i can find on linen, bamboo and silk batting but would like to hear what experienced quilters have to say about the subject. can you really feel the difference between something like Primaloft and cotton? are natural battings just a hassle because of bunching? are they nicer in terms of feel? are fusibles worth messing with? also, i will need to machine wash and dry it so how does that play into things?

i don't mind spending a bit more on something nice but am willing to let practicality and usability hold the reins. i own a lot of quilts that my grandmother made and in some of them the synthetic batting has outlasted the tops so i'm not opposed to using synthetics. i want the most ridiculous and soft quilt i can make but don't want it to become a lumpy eyesore. i'd would love to hear what others have learned. thank you in advance!
posted by Conrad-Casserole to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've used The Warm Company batting for all my quilts and have never had a problem. It is right-in-the-middle as price goes. They have multiple different products and a customer help number if you want to contact them about your specific needs. I personally use Warm & White.
Don't go too cheap, especially when you're still learning.
posted by pibeandres at 8:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

First step. Find a baby.

Make the most luxurious baby quilts ever while you practice for your quilt. First, get your techniques down on cheaper fabric like cotton. The first one might end up in the scraps bin, but that's ok. In garment making, this would be called a muslin. You need to learn how to cut, how to measure, how to set up your workspace and equipment and all the other fundamentals.

Then start upgrading your materials, still working at baby quilt size. Give it a few dozen trial washings. You'll likely find linen requires ironing.

Then, once you feel comfortable you have two options. Conservative option is to make a full sized quilt with your muslin materials. Or jump into your final material.

If you're doing a king size bed, looking at cotton batting of considerable loft, and silk or silk blend, you'll be dropping $200-$500 on materials alone. That's a lot to figure out your needle/foot snags the fabric horribly or your scissors need sharpening, or you'll need to borrow a table to extend your work surface, etcetera.
posted by fontophilic at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Fusibles can get too stiff over time and they could get really unpredictable in a machine dryer. Do you have to machine dry? I think that will age the quilt faster than you would like. Set up some chairs, drape the quilt over them and point a fan at the whole set up.
posted by soelo at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2014

Response by poster: i'm not so worried about the sewing/stitching part, i have some fair experience with sewing and hand-stiching. i also have plenty of help with that should i need it. i have wholesale sources for everything so expense is not a big issue.

i really just want to know what works best on the inside and what other folks have learned through experience. how do different battings age over time? is it worth it to go with naturals even if it means quilting to a tighter grid? (i'm doing small x's on a diamond grid).

fusibles sound kind of gross, thanks oello
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 10:37 AM on October 8, 2014

Most of the real quilters I know avoid synthetic batting, both because of a preference for natural fabrics and because the current style is for low-loft quilts with the bunchy look that comes from shrinking the quilt by washing it after all the quilting is done.

So some of your decision may come from aesthetics--do you want that shrunken look? Do you want something puffy? How much do you care about distance between rows?

I would never use a fusible batting for anything other than a display quilt, definitely not for bedding you want to use daily and have it be super soft.

Here's a good overview of the pros/cons of different battings.

Honestly the best possible thing you could do is to get a pack of batting samples (a bunch of online stores will sell these for the cost of shipping) and try quilting them using the fabric you've chosen.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One factor to consider is weight. Cotton batting is heavy -- personally I find it on the verge of too heavy for me. I haven't worked with linen batting, but I suspect it would be heavy as well. Fibers like linen and cotton are also not great at being drapey in a batting application.

I personally like wool batting. Soft, bouncy, lofty. Amazingly lightweight. All the benefits of polyester, but it's softer and breathes better. Not sure about wear yet, though, as I only recently switched over from cotton (and I still use cotton or a cotton/poly blend for things like baby quilts that will be washed frequently). If you go wool, make sure it's washable and make sure you follow the quilting instructions. (All battings will tell you how far apart you can place your quilting lines. If they don't, well, don't use that batting.)

If your batting comes on a roll, you can ask for a swatch and try washing it first. (Most battings will wash without being quilted, although some do fall apart. Generally the packaging or roll will tell you if you can prewash. If you can't prewash, you can create a swatch with some fabrics you don't care about to wash.) Or if it's in a package, check online reviews on places like Amazon, CreateForLess, etc. You don't have to buy there, but the reviews might be helpful.

Also, for searching -- what you are making is a "wholecloth quilt". I suspect you may have issues finding fabric you like that's wide enough to use for a bed, so you may need to piece together two lengths of fabric (although of course they can be the same fabric).
posted by pie ninja at 12:57 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Steam a seam 2 is the only bondable that I know of that doesn't get stiff after fusing.

I agree with the recommendation to make some baby quilts or lap quilts first and get your feet wet that way. Starting off on a giant project is a perfect way to start collecting UFO's (unfinished objects), and even advanced quilters such as myself find ourselves with collections of them. 😛

If you use a cotton batt they need to be tied pretty closely to avoid shifting. I often choose an 80% cotton, 20% poly batt for that reason. Wool batts are a luxury and my favorites to use. I save them for very special projects due to their cost.

Good luck. I'd recommend finding a local quilt shop and taking a beginners class to get you started with the baby quilts. I've sewn since I was a child but found quilting to be different in subtle ways and taking the class really helped.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:55 PM on October 8, 2014

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