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Selecting the backing - muslin vs ?? And batting - cotton vs blend or wool?

Selecting the backing - muslin vs ?? And batting - cotton vs blend or wool?

Old 04-19-2011, 08:28 PM
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I was wondering if muslin makes a better backing for a quilt instead of other quilting fabric. It seems selecting muslin isn't as easy as it sounds since there are several widths to consider, thickness in terms of thinner and lighter or heavier and stiffer, and most of all the color; that of which white, cream and black come in more shades than you would think. Can anyone tell me if the thicker muslin actually softens during use or is it used for other purposes than quilting? And would it make for a longer lasting backing? I would think so, but when I feel the different qualities, I lean towards the one in between and that doesn't alway come in very wide widths. Am I making too much of this?

I know that when I begin the process of choosing my next project the pattern is as important as the fabric I choose and that means quality and comfort over cheap and scratchy. I want it to last and most importantly the receipient, I hope, will like it. So a lot of thought goes into each one; and that includes the batting as well. I have used a poly blend batting and I must say, that it is stiffer than the cotton/poly blend. Maybe even the brands have something to do with draping, weight and stiffness. Can anyone give me a quick rundown on what is the best batting to choose when making a quilt? I do know that it depends on whom it's for and baby quilts are best made with a cotton batting. I learned about a year ago that batting comes in black! That info would have been good to know when I made my daughter's black and purple quilt and used a cream colored batting. Yes, it punctured thru and.....I will leave it at that. Oh, pic attached.

To date, I don't think I've ever used muslin as a backing on any of my quilts. It seems that fabric with a print is more forgiving during the quiliting process and errors are not as visible.

We are a quilt family and every bed in my home has at least two quilts on the bed. One to cover the bed and one folded at the foot to use as a cover when napping. Then there are the ones that lie over the top of the couch and love seat and over a chair or two, a few in the cars to block the sun for a sleeping child and to transport an injured pet. If I were to guess I would say there are about 30 assorted quilts (I didn't make all 30) being used at some point in which we rotate by weight and season. I think someone on the board actually posted a question as to how many quilts we have in our home.

Can one ever tire of quilts? I think not. It's in my blood and as long as I need something to do, I will continue making quilts. And by the way, there are about 3 quilts in the making to date.

There are 1,172 two inch squares in this quilt
attachment-186626.jpe
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:48 PM
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Muslin isn't necessarily a better backing than other fabrics, but it can certainly be a good backing. Many antique quilts have muslin backings. The big thing you have to be careful about is the quality of the muslin, which isn't always easy to judge just from looking at it and feeling it. Many cheap muslins have been treated with stiffeners and glosses to make them look better, but washing takes all of that away. In general, premium muslin is what you want to look for. JoAnn Fabrics has a premium muslin that has gotten good reviews here. The width is less important than the quality of the muslin.

Choice of batting is very personal. My favorite is a traditional 100% cotton batting, Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon. It drapes well and gets softer with every washing. It shrinks about 3%, so my quilts come out with the softly crinkled look of antique quilts. I would not hand quilt this particular brand of 100% cotton batting again; there are easier cotton battings to hand quilt! Cotton battings don't beard (poke out through the fabric).

Hobbs 80/20 is another one I like. It is a little puffier than MMBR and is good for both machine and hand quilting. It also shrinks 2 to 3%. It is unlikely to beard.

I haven't used wool but if I did, it would be Hobbs again. Wool is very easy to hand quilt and shows off hand quilting stitches very well. Dream brand wool is also supposed to be good. I would not use any other brands because you can't be sure of what you are getting. You can get a lot of shrinkage, distortion, off-odors, and bearding.

I personally stay away from polyester battings. They slip and slide more in the quilt sandwich, and do not shrink. People who like a flat, modern look often preshrink fabric and use poly batting to avoid the crinkly effect. Poly battings are much more likely to "beard", although some of the newer bonding processes make certain brands and types of poly less likely to beard.

I could be wrong, but I think the black batting is poly.

Different battings drape differently. I used to use Warm and Natural, which is a very easy cotton batting to use, but decided its drape is a little stiffer than what I prefer in a quilt.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Prism99
Muslin isn't necessarily a better backing than other fabrics, but it can certainly be a good backing. Many antique quilts have muslin backings. The big thing you have to be careful about is the quality of the muslin, which isn't always easy to judge just from looking at it and feeling it. Many cheap muslins have been treated with stiffeners and glosses to make them look better, but washing takes all of that away. In general, premium muslin is what you want to look for. JoAnn Fabrics has a premium muslin that has gotten good reviews here. The width is less important than the quality of the muslin.

Choice of batting is very personal. My favorite is a traditional 100% cotton batting, Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon. It drapes well and gets softer with every washing. It shrinks about 3%, so my quilts come out with the softly crinkled look of antique quilts. I would not hand quilt this particular brand of 100% cotton batting again; there are easier cotton battings to hand quilt! Cotton battings don't beard (poke out through the fabric).

Hobbs 80/20 is another one I like. It is a little puffier than MMBR and is good for both machine and hand quilting. It also shrinks 2 to 3%. It is unlikely to beard.

I haven't used wool but if I did, it would be Hobbs again. Wool is very easy to hand quilt and shows off hand quilting stitches very well. Dream brand wool is also supposed to be good. I would not use any other brands because you can't be sure of what you are getting. You can get a lot of shrinkage, distortion, off-odors, and bearding.

I personally stay away from polyester battings. They slip and slide more in the quilt sandwich, and do not shrink. People who like a flat, modern look often preshrink fabric and use poly batting to avoid the crinkly effect. Poly battings are much more likely to "beard", although some of the newer bonding processes make certain brands and types of poly less likely to beard.

I could be wrong, but I think the black batting is poly.

Different battings drape differently. I used to use Warm and Natural, which is a very easy cotton batting to use, but decided its drape is a little stiffer than what I prefer in a quilt.

Thank you so much. I will keep that in mind. I have a large amount of assorted batting to use up and I think I will keep the poly for the wall hangings and table runners. They've come out very nicely so far. I usually get my batting from JoAnns, but I am beginning to feel that JoAnns isn't always the best choice and I am not hung up on their coupon marketing gimmicks. I want to buy quality because it will last longer. Once again, thanks for your advice.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:26 PM
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I am not positive about this but I think Hobbs 80/20 can be found in black. That is the batting I have used the most (cream colored). I like it, but haven't compared it to much else. I have bought Hobbs wool and am anxious to try it. I also want to try Tuscany silk, I will choose to use it in a special quilt because of the price. I can't help with the question concerning muslin, I have only used it occasionally. If I were to buy some now, I would go with a brand I trust, like Moda, or other well known fabric company's.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:17 PM
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Bubblegum, your quilt is awesome! I love 2-colored quilts! Nice job.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:39 PM
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I completely agree with Prism99. My favourite battings are also 100% cotton or 80/20 blend. I use the Hobbs brand (it is also available in black), but I also like the Legacy 80/20! It is folded, not rolled, so it has less crinkles coming out of the package. It is very soft, easy to needle and drapes wonderfully. The same with the 100% cotton by Legacy.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:05 AM
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i love the wool batts but they are a bit more expensive- also DREAM POLY is wonderful to work with- and no shrinkage- lasts and lasts the dream company batts are all very high quality great batts to choose from. the poly blends are especially good to use in kids quilts/utility quilts they hold up to frequent washing/drying - make great 'drag around' quilts.
as for backing- one thing to consider when thinking of going with muslin- yes muslin softens with washes-
when quilting a solid backing will show every stitch- a printed backing will hide an errors in stitching. printed is much more forgiving- if using solid anything less than perfect is quite evident.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:27 AM
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Can't offer an opinion on muslin for you as I've never used it for a quilt backing - only other odd projects. I usually use typical quilting cottons to coordinate with the front of my quilts. As to batting I almost exclusively use Warm & Natural. Purchased a bolt at Joann's last year with a 50% off coupon and it's keeping me going nicely. I hand quilt. I find the drape initially to be a little stiff but it does soften with use/washings. It can be a little more difficult to hand quilt but no more so IMO than the 100% cotton Quilters Dream that I'm working with currently. I like 100% cotton batts as I like the crinkley look as well. Can't tell you shrinkage rate with the W&N - hasn't been a consideration for me. If I was looking for a very drapey batt and $$ were not a consideration I'd probably try silk. Might still one of these days on a small project. When handling silk batt on it's own it's incredibly soft/drapey but also very pricey. Again, no idea of shrink rates with that.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:45 AM
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Moda makes a wonderful muslin. Dream products are my favorite. They're soft and drape the best. Their Dream Wool doesn't shrink and is a little poofy like poly. Their Dream Cotton deluxe is what I use most.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:52 PM
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For all of our personal quilts I use wool bats they are so warm and easy to quilt.
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