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Thread: Help! Which wadding?

  1. #1
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    Help! Which wadding?

    Hi quilters,

    I have come in search of some advice about which wadding (or batting if you are English like me!) to use for a quilt. I have just made a great big patchwork quilt front - 6' by 6' (180x180cm). I have got a lovely organic cotton sheet for the back. I just need something to go in the middle! I have made three smaller quilts in the past, when I was a child and it didn't occur to me to worry about materials, so I just got cheap polyester stuff in the shop down the road, and it seems perfectly OK but this is a serious quilt and I am wondering if I should do better.

    There seem to be an awful lot of parameters to consider, so I am getting quite confused! Can anyone help?

    1) Snugglyness (weight, warmth, thickness, squashiness and drape)
    The quilt is a wedding present for a friend, so I've made it double bed sized. It could just be a flat bedspread I suppose, but it would be much nicer if it could work as a blanket in winter or be cozy to sit under on a sofa as well. So that would mean something medium warm, not too heavy and not too stiff; unless I go down the "just a bedspread" route. I know the puffyness of the quilt will affect how well my quilting pattern stands out, so puffy would be nice from that point of view, but that is a lesser consideration, I think.

    2) Durability (structural stability, washability and decay resistance)
    This has potential to be a proper "heirloom" quilt; as I've said it would be nice if it could be of use as a blanket and didn't have to be kept flat; and I want to be able to reassure my friend that she can wash it as she is hopelessly clumsy with tea (preferably in a 40 degrees Celsius favourite T-shirt strength wash, since the front and back can cope with that and it's enough to get things properly clean, but 30 degrees wool wash in the machine would be OK - just no messing about with dry cleaners!)
    Also, I am intending to space out the quilting as much as possible as I am hand sewing in a hurry. For previous quilts I used wide-spaced pocketing on the back and just a few little hidden pegs of stitches on the front, and I like how it looks; I don't want the front to look quilted and I'd like to do a loosely spaced pattern of hearts on the back that wouldn't work with the squares on the front. So this batting needs to have it's own structural integrity as it won't be seriously sewn down. That seems to work fine for cheap polyester, would it be a problem for cotton? Is it important for the cotton to be sewn into pockets both sides - i.e. for the stitching to go through the front and the back? There seems to be huge variation on the recommended spacing, but at least there are guidelines on the packets!
    Wool is out of the question as we have moth issues (as is silk and feathers). Polyester is mildew resistant etc.; I know plastic is meant to last for ever, but I am wondering if polyester loses quality over time, the way my gran's plastic photo albums from the '80s have gone crumbly and the rubber on the dashboard of my mum's old car just sort of melted. "Bamboo" sounds lovely but if it's bamboo viscose it may also potentially degrade? I know they have problems with viscose conservation at the V&A museum!

    3) Availability (postage times, sizes, prices, messing about with washing machines)
    I am in the UK, a lot of wadding sellers seem to be American and I need to get a move on so three week delivery times would be a major nuisance. The quilt is 6 feet square (so 2meters square would do), which I thought would be a standard size but it looks like most batting is significantly bigger or smaller so I'll probably have to cut something down to size: being available in something not much more than the right size would be a bonus, and if it's too small it's no use.
    I am prepared to pre-shrink it but I'd rather not have to. The backing cotton says it will shrink in the first wash too, so if necessary I could quilt it to the back and then shrink them together, but the front is recycled from old clothes and bedclothes so it's been washed already and won't shrink.
    I am prepared to pay extra to do this properly this time as it is a work of art, but any improvement on cheap polyester would have to be justifiable!

    4) Environment etc. (fairtrade, organic, biodegradable)
    I am trying to buy sustainable and fairtrade materials wherever possible. I've not spotted any fair trade wadding out there, and it seems most "organic" claims are unsubstantiated. I am torn between wanting the quilt to last for ever and not wanting to add any more plastic to the environment! The sustainability of bamboo depends a lot on whether it is bamboo wool or bamboo viscose, and they don't seem to specify (feeble US trading standards regulations again, it would seem).

    The options:
    It seems the options are polyester, cotton, bamboo or a mixture of the above.
    There seems to be different ways of making cotton wadding, so that there would be a trade-off between fluffy and light but weak cotton that might not be able to cope with my lack of quilting pockets, and flat and heavy but strong needled cotton that is more like felt - is that correct, or can I have it both ways? Does anyone know any reason why I shouldn't just use polyester, and what to look out for in terms of "quality" - has anyone had experiences of old polyester decaying? How can I find out if bamboo fibre was produced mechanically or chemically, and does anyone know a good eco-friendly wadding supplier?


    Sorry for the long-windedness - as you can see, I have got in a right old pickle!

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    An update on polyester stability - looks like it's pretty tough (unless of course they use additional glue-type materials in the wadding)! http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/journal...m-environment/
    (sorry, I am a scientist so I like to know these things have been tested properly )

  3. #3
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    For the time crunch - perhaps you could take a picture of the progress so far - and present that to the bride and groom - rather than take short-cuts on the making process that you might regret. ???

    As to the batting/wadding - I have a quilt that is over 20 years old that I used Mountain Mist polyester batting that was glazed - (no washing of that before using it!!!!!) - we use it as a couch quilt and it has been washed many times. The batting has not bunched - but it was quilted "all the way through" -

  4. #4
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Wool fits all of your criteria. However wool does have very specific washing requirements. If you can get washable wool in the UK, I would go with wool. You also have to watch your distance. Most wool battings I have worked with require minimum quilting distance of 4". You definitely want a bonded wool to reduce the risk of bearding. Also you really have zero control over the durability aspect if the intended recipients don't take proper care of the quilt it won't last no matter how well constructed. Oops just reread your post and you say wool is out of the question. I would go with Poly but it isn't exactly considered sustainable.

    It should fit all your other criteria.
    Last edited by feline fanatic; 04-22-2019 at 05:53 AM.

  5. #5
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    I don't know what the options are there, but recently bought Warm and Plush, an all cotton batting made by Warm & Co. I haven't actually gotten the quilt back from the LA yet, but asked a question about it a week or two ago and got some great responses. If you do a search of "Warm and Plush" (above right under "advanced search") you'll find lots of reviews that are very positive.

  6. #6
    Super Member thimblebug6000's Avatar
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    After reading and re-reading your post, I am wondering if you might consider inserting a flannel wholecloth blanket rather than a batting. It sounds like you are not wanting to actually have your stitches go through all three layers of the quilt sandwich....
    " Also, I am intending to space out the quilting as much as possible as I am hand sewing in a hurry. For previous quilts I used wide-spaced pocketing on the back and just a few little hidden pegs of stitches on the front, and I like how it looks; I don't want the front to look quilted and I'd like to do a loosely spaced pattern of hearts on the back that wouldn't work with the squares on the front. So this batting needs to have it's own structural integrity as it won't be seriously sewn down. That seems to work fine for cheap polyester, would it be a problem for cotton? Is it important for the cotton to be sewn into pockets both sides - i.e. for the stitching to go through the front and the back? There seems to be huge variation on the recommended spacing, but at least there are guidelines on the packets! "

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the answers so far!

    RE time - yes, I agree my plan was to see how it goes and give them the front half with a note that I'll need it back to attach the rest of it if the back isn't ready!
    RE wool - I've just dug out the baby quilt I inherited from my great uncle from the cupboard, which is indeed very nice, but quite heavy. It appears to be a) made of wool and b) not eaten. However, something seems to have destroyed some of the patches in a strange way (which is why I can see the batting). I think it may be unwashed wool - it's kind of yellow - with the lanolin still protecting it, and I'm not sure that's very good for the cotton! I agree that wool is good, but probably not worth the risk - a housefull of moths would not be a good wedding present.
    Re polyester: I've also now investigated the other quilts I made: one is at Gran's house, and I always use it on my bed when I am there, and Gran uses it on her chair. It is very cuddly, and the middle is made of polyester. I found the offcuts in the attic here, and it seems to be lovely soft fluffy polyester, and very different from the strange stiff crackly polyester that the other two quilts I made is stuffed with. Of those, one was in a drawer in the spare room because it was so much stiffer and harder to wash than a blanket, and the other Mum has taken the middle out of because she didn't like it. So now I can see what makes for good polyester! I agree that it can meet the criteria, but only if I get the right sort rather than whatever is to hand.
    RE Warm and Plush - I've also heared lots of good reviews about Warm and Natural, and was wondering whether to use that - is it similar?
    RE wholecloth blankets - that's an excellent idea, what's the best sort to use? Is it flannel as in towelling, or thinner than that? Is it what we call "waffle" in the UK? Flannel as in brushed cotton seems too thin! Presumably I'd have to find one the right size, or it would unravel if I cut it? Or I could give up on environmentally friendly and use a polyester fleece blanket, which doesn't unravel. I was also wondering if I might do something similar and cheat a bit and get some of that batting that has hideous backing cloth already thoroughly quilted to one side, and then quilt the back through both sides of that and cover the "backing" with the front? Might get a bit too much of a sandwich, though!
    Last edited by SophieHatter; 04-22-2019 at 10:26 AM.

  8. #8
    Junior Member charley26's Avatar
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    I am not sure of your location in the UK, but there are many, many places where you can get batting/wadding here, either online or any local fabric shop. Empress Mills do a wonderful quick delivery service, and I have used them recently. They have a wonderful selection of batting/wadding.

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    Another thought: is it possible to a) quilt invisibly, e.g. by sewing along the stitching between the patches on the front so that I don't make lines across them - my great uncle's quilt seems to be like that but it's been mended so much I can't tell - and b) quilt different patterns onto different sides, so it's attached both sides, e.g. by not pushing the needle all the way through? Is either of those a thing?

  10. #10
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SophieHatter View Post
    Another thought: is it possible to a) quilt invisibly, e.g. by sewing along the stitching between the patches on the front so that I don't make lines across them - my great uncle's quilt seems to be like that but it's been mended so much I can't tell - and b) quilt different patterns onto different sides, so it's attached both sides, e.g. by not pushing the needle all the way through? Is either of those a thing?
    Yes it is commonly referred to as stitch in the ditch (SITD). Edited to add that I would not recommend any kind of quilting where you are not going through all 3 layers of the quilt (top, batting and backing) but SITD would be the least visible on the front.

  11. #11
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    If I am understanding your original post correctly -

    You want to attach the top by stitching only partially through the wadding/batting and do not want the stitches to show on the back

    and

    you also want to attach the back to the same wadding/batting by only stitching partway through through so the stitches will not show on the front??

    If you want two quilted designs, I am thinking it would be almost easier to make two quilts and just stitch through all three layers at one time on each of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    If I am understanding your original post correctly -

    You want to attach the top by stitching only partially through the wadding/batting and do not want the stitches to show on the back

    and

    you also want to attach the back to the same wadding/batting by only stitching partway through through so the stitches will not show on the front??

    If you want two quilted designs, I am thinking it would be almost easier to make two quilts and just stitch through all three layers at one time on each of them.
    I had planned to do a pattern of hearts on the back, but if I have to stitch through the front too then I would have to do squares, that's all! The front is a completely rainbow patchwork of squares, so any other shape of quilting will create lines across them that will spoil the effect of the squares because it wouldn't be possible to use an invisible colour of thread. I can do squares "stitched in the dip" if necessary, and forget about the hearts/ embroider some hearts instead.

    Alternatively, it looks as though my great uncle's quilt has a new, unquilted back sewn over the original quilted one, which works, and I was wondering if I could perhaps get one of those ready quilted backings and quilt it to the back in the heart pattern, then sew the front over the ready-quilted bit, with a few strategically placed stitches to stop it flapping...

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sailorwoman's Avatar
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    I found this article quite informative and helpful. http://www.hobbsbatting.com/resource...k5ZlkifQ%3D%3D

    There are so many battings out there that it is hard to decide. Hopefully it will be usesful as a reference.

  14. #14
    Senior Member JanieW's Avatar
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    You could stitch your hearts by just quilting the backing to the wadding. Then put the top onto the already quilted backing and wadding and stitch in the ditch to join all three layers. The back will show the squares from stitching in the ditch but the top will not show any stitching.

    I have done this the other way around by quilting the top/wadding together and then laying it on top of the backing and joined with sitd.

  15. #15
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    My favorite and I have used in lots and lots of quilts is = high loft polyester batting. Warmth without the weight. I do mostly FMQ so no bunching or lumpiness after many, many washing and dryings.

    People on here will tell you their favorite kind, so it will be up to you to use what you want and like.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailorwoman View Post
    I found this article quite informative and helpful. http://www.hobbsbatting.com/resource...k5ZlkifQ%3D%3D

    There are so many battings out there that it is hard to decide. Hopefully it will be usesful as a reference.
    Wow, more to think about, but definitely useful, thanks!

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    I think I've been told that already... this is the point where I live up to my chosen username and realise that the actual problem is not the same as the apparent problem here. The actual problems are:

    a) Having googled quilt wadding instead of making it up as I went along like we did back in the 00's before the internet took over, I have realised that my previous quilts are held together by a mixture of optimism, geometry and shite polyester batting, and that if I want to make a proper quilt it is going to involve a lot more sewing.

    b) This means that if I do this properly there is absolutely no way it will be ready in time for my friend's wedding.

    c) Having experienced the heavy wool quilt and the stiff polyester quilt that are shoved in cupboards, and the fluffy polyester quilt that is constantly in use, I am instinctively aware that batting is really important but having never experienced the fancier varieties I have not the foggiest idea what they are actually like.

    The solutions:
    1) Quilt this properly, using the method suggested by JanieW where I quilt the hearts into just the batting and backing first and then the SITD squares through the whole thing. Then I just need to make sure I get something with a maximum sewing distance of at least 4" (my square size) and labelled as "machine washable" "suitable for hand sewing" and it should be fine! (Oh drat, it looks like the ones that are best for hand sewing are wool... but I've had an entire felt dragon turn to powder before and can't face that again. And the ones I had my eye on (warm and natural and heirloom 100% cotton) are apparently rather stiff to sew by hand. Hmm). I wonder if I could get away with quilting the back, then washing it so it goes a bit crinkly, then quilting on the front after it's shrunk so the squares stand out less?

    2) Accept that the quilt won't be finished by the wedding, but that I will probably be able to get it to at or near the stage I thought was finished, so I can give it half-finished so they can see what it's like and explain that I'll need another month or so to sew the squares in (and add the binding, which presumably comes after that).

    3) Go to a real-life fabric shop and poke stuff to see what feels right.

    Does that sound like a plan? Thanks everyone!

  18. #18
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    Maybe start with #3 - go to the fabric shop and check out the new battings/waddings?

    (Although here in the USA, sometimes they are folded up and tightly wrapped in plastic - but the shop(s) may have small samples that you can touch and scrunch.)

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    I have to agree with the suggestion to use flannel whole cloth as an alternative.

    (in the UK, look for a superking brushed cotton flat sheet or even a brushed cotton duvet cover that you can cut apart.)

    Quality Flannel/brushed cotton has become my default batting material. It’s cozy, it’s warm. It’s wonderfully cuddly. It takes a hot cotton wash without any issues. And because it is woven fabric instead of traditional batting, you don’t have the stability issues or quilting distance requirements some battings need.

    It would be be helpful if we could see a picture of your quilt top, to make suggestions on the actual quilting pattern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TXgirlinBDA View Post
    I have to agree with the suggestion to use flannel whole cloth as an alternative.

    (in the UK, look for a superking brushed cotton flat sheet or even a brushed cotton duvet cover that you can cut apart.)

    Quality Flannel/brushed cotton has become my default batting material. Itís cozy, itís warm. Itís wonderfully cuddly. It takes a hot cotton wash without any issues. And because it is woven fabric instead of traditional batting, you donít have the stability issues or quilting distance requirements some battings need.

    It would be be helpful if we could see a picture of your quilt top, to make suggestions on the actual quilting pattern.
    I can take a picture later, but the gist is: very simple but very big patchwork of squares. The squares are all different colors and in a normal boring grid. They are 4" and there are 18 to a side, so the quilt is (about) 6".

  21. #21
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    Warm and Plush is 50% heavier than Warm and Natural. Warm and Natural has a scrim, which Warm and Plush does not have. No scrim means that Warm and Plush needs quilting to be a bit closer together; no more than 5", I think?

    Many people have said that Warm and Plush shows the quilting lines more distinctly than Warm and Natural, even aster washing both. That may or may not be a plus for someone, depending on the look the maker is wanting. As I won't ahve that quilt back for another week or so, I can't really do much more than put the info out. Hopefully, I will soon be able to say that I do (or don't) care for it!

  22. #22
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    Well, I've just had a look at what was available in John Lewis:
    1) Brushed cotton flannel sheet. This seems awfully thin and flat for a quilt?!
    2) Polyester, no labels, seems not very dense. I think this is what I used for Gran's quilt. It's OK.
    3) Natural cotton, needled, it's this: https://www.johnlewis.com/cowens-nee...white/p3399982. Very lovely and fluffy and light, and not at all what I thought cotton wadding would be like, so that's a useful experience! But this one is perhaps a bit fragile. The lady behind the till said she uses it for all her quilting projects but you do have to treat it kindly. I think it's a "high loft" version, and if I get something denser it will be tougher but harder to sew. I can't find any info on what loft they'd call it, recommended quilting distance etc. - it seems Cowens specialise in "carriage and coffin trimmings" and kits for soaking up spills of hazardous substances, rather than crafting!

    The polycotton was out of stock, so I don't know what that, or denser cotton, would be like.

    I was also firmly told by the John Lewis staff that for a wedding present I should avoid polyester because it has a much lower range of comfortable temperatures (something I can agree with from my polyester jumpers which I can only wear when it is seriously freezing), and so was more likely to result in disputes over whether it was warm enough to need it on a bed! I hadn't thought of that parameter
    Last edited by SophieHatter; 04-23-2019 at 12:20 PM.

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    I've found yet another parameter! Does natural cotton make people sneeze? What about after it's in the quit?

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    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    I am a Huge Fan of wool batting. Hobbs and Dream wool being my favorites. I love The loftiness, the breathability, the ease of stitching is wonderful hand and machine, the drape Beyond compare. Each time one of my quilts with a wool batting come out of the dryer- after laundering once or twice a year- the quilt is simply Fabulous! Lofty, soft, huggable. It also shows beautiful quilting stitches well. I love wool batting.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  25. #25
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    I know wool's the best, but I have MOTHS! Their larvae eat wool, and poo out dust. It is extremely depressing.

    I am going to have to quilt this properly in 4" squares, so that will mean I can use fluffier and more natural stuffing.

    These are my favourite options from my research:

    1) Quilter's Dream 100% cotton (natural). Not sure whether I'd go for the lightest (Request) or medium (Select) loft. https://www.quiltersdreambatting.com...-dream-cotton/
    2) Pellon Eco-cotton with Polyester. All the benefits of adding a bit of polyester without feeling guilty about the environment: http://www.pellonprojects.com/produc...otton-batting/
    3) Bamboo blend 50/50. I can't find the manufacturer's website, but this one has details: https://www.secretgardenquilting.co....n-Wadding.html It's what they sell in my local haberdashery, which is ridiculously posh and eco-friendly!

    They all are apparently fairly light but solid, soft, drapey, medium warmth and loft. They all say they are easy to hand sew. They all say you can sew up to 8" apart, so my 4" squares will be very secure. They are all mostly natural fibres, so will be breathable (I'd guess the bamboo most and the polycotton least, but all OK?). They all say you can bung them in a washing machine (once quilted) on a wool cycle. They all have some eco-friendly credentials. There are more things to compare (price, durability, availability and shrinkage may well differ) but I'd better go to bed now!

    Any reviews of the above?

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