What makes a quilt a quilt and not a blanket is the construction of the quilt. A quilt is defined as a warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching, typically applied in a decorative design. It is the inside padding that I will be giving you the inside scoop on.
Yes, you guessed it! Not all battings are created equal. And you guess it again, you get what you pay for. Battings that are sold in big box stores are cheaply made, are mostly polyester (a cheaper, manmade fiber), and contain a lot of foreign substance in the batting because the natural fibers aren't cleaned well. I have actually plucked out small pieces of hay and wood from this batting. This batting also tends to stretch--A LOT! When it stretches, you get thin and thicker parts in your batting piece, which you can see and feel in your quilt. It also often has nubs and bumps that you can also feel in your finished quilt.
Poly Vs. Cotton
The cheaper battings tend to be made with different quantities of polyester to keep the price lower but also to resist shrinkage. Cheaply made cotton battings can shrink up to 8%! That's a lot of shrinkage! If you use these more inferior products, I would prewash both the batting and the fabric. Air dry the batting, as using a dryer will stretch your batting.
When using high quality batting like Quilters Dream, the question of poly vs. cotton is personal choice. They both have their pros and cons.
Quilters Dream makes great, high quality poly battings that particularly enjoy using. Poly batting, like poly clothes, don't shrink as much or not at all in the wash. But also like poly clothes, poly batting doesn't breathe. It can trap in the heat, creating a wonderfully warm quilt. Not everyone appreciates the warmth, and if that is you, then you might want to stay away from high content poly battings.
Cotton, nature's wonderful fiber, costs more. It needs to be cleaned and processed. It is a breathable fiber, allowing the free flow of heat. Cotton battings are incredibly soft and drapeable. The Quilter's Dream cotton battings are guaranteed to resist shrinkage and are exceptionally clean.
Loft is the thickness of the batting. Wool battings have a high loft and are great for quilts that want to accentuate the quilting design with high and low areas.
Lower loft battings diminish the puffiness of the quilting. Loft, like fiber content is a personal choice.
The Right Side of Batting
There actually is right side to batting. If you look closely, one side of the batting will have tiny indentations and bumps. It will look and feel a bit rougher than the right side. This is the wrong side. You want the smooth side of your batting to be up when you make your quilt sandwich.
You can actually see the difference. The bottom portion of the picture shows the wrong side of the batting. The top portion shows the right side.
Holding its Shape
One of the main characteristics that I look for in a batting is whether it will hold its shape. If the batting cannot hold its shape right out of the package, then it isn't going to hold its shape in your quilt. If your batting is inconsistent in loft, with thick and thin areas right out of the bag, then it is only going to get worse in your quilt with each washing.
Lots of different batting products are on the market. When shopping for a batting, don't settle for inferior products. You spent time and money in creating the quilt top. It would be a travesty to see that quality deteriorate by using a cheap batting that will fall apart, stretch out of shape, or shrink too much.
Our Quilters Dream Batting is one of the best in our industry and is made in the USA! It has proven over and over to be superior and one that we are proud to sell.