Batting: The Unseen Hero of Your Quilt

Batting adds a subtle third dimension to your quilt, giving your quilt top just enough loft to stop it from looking saggy and wrinkly. As with so many things in quilting, you have a few options when it comes to batting! We’ll talk all about batting and go over your most common choices today.

Why use batting?

Batting plays a few roles in a quilt. 

  • Loft – As mentioned above, batting gives your quilt top a little poof so that your piecing looks great and the quilting subtly stands out. The more loft a type of batting offers, the more the quilting stitch will stand out. Less loft leads to a flatter finish, which showcases the quilt top (and its piecing) more.
  • Drape – How stiff do you want your quilt to be? If you’re going to hang your quilt, drape isn’t important, but if you want it to go on a bed, more drape is better! The heavier the batting, the more it will drape.
  • Warmth – The weight and material of batting will determine how warm it is. Consider how you want to use the quilt to decide if warmth is important to you
  • Crinkle – (aka Shrinkage) Certain kinds of batting shrink slightly after being washed, giving your quilt a slightly crinkled look. Some people love this effect, feeling it makes the quilt look cozier, and more vintage. 

Batting Types Reference Chart

Batting Comparison 

(ranked in each category, 1 = Highest, 3 = Lowest)

Batting

LoftDrapeWarmthCrinkle

Cost

6-ounce Polyester

1

313

3

80% Cotton, 20% Polyester

2

222

2

100% Cotton

3

131

1

Batting Breakdown

Let’s dive deeper into the features of each type of batting listed above. There are many other kinds of batting out there, such as wool or bamboo, but to keep things simple, we’ll look at the three most common kinds used in machine quilting.

6-Ounce Polyester

This is usually shortened to “6-oz poly,” and refers to the weight of a linear yard of the batting.

A sample of 6-oz poly batting

  • Loft – 6-oz poly has the highest loft of the three batting types compared here, and in general, polyester is the highest-loft batting, especially when using heavy poly.
    • This can be a pro or a con depending on the finished look you want for your quilt. Polyester will make your quilt look poofier, which tends to look best in t-shirt quilts or quilts with large, simple blocks.
  • Drape – Despite being warm, 6-oz poly is very lightweight, so has the least drape of the battings covered here. However, it can work well in large quilts, where the top and backing will already be heavy from sheer size, so a lighter batting keeps the quilt from getting unwieldy.
  • Warmth – Polyester doesn’t breathe like natural fibers, so is great for retaining heat and creating a cozy quilt. This is something to consider: if you want a more breathable quilt, choose a batting with natural fibers or a blend.
  • Crinkle – Polyester batting will never ball up or shrink in your quilt from washing. This also means you don’t need to go with dense quilting
  • It’s mildew and mold resistant, hypoallergenic and dries quickly. This, in addition to its tensile strength, can make it a good choice for baby quilts, which are often washed more than quilts used by adults.

We offer six ounce polyester batting for free with your longarm quilting order. If you want to provide your own batting, or upgrade to a different batting we offer, you can do that as well.

80% Cotton, 20% Polyester

Generally shortened to “80/20,” this batting is a great middle ground between pure polyester and pure cotton.

A sample of 80/20 Batting

 

  • Loft – Being the happy medium, 80/20 has less loft than 6-oz poly, but a bit more than 100% cotton
    • If your top has more intricate piecing, you’ll generally want a less lofty batting like 80/20 or 100% cotton so that the finished quilt lays as flat as possible, showcasing the quilt top
  • Drape – 80/20 is heavier than 6-oz poly. This can be good in smaller quilts when you want to aid in their drape, but can make larger quilts unwieldy
  • Warmth – This batting is mostly made of cotton, which is a highly breathable natural fiber
  • Crinkle – Thanks to the polyester in 80/20, you’ll find your quilt will shrink minimally after washing. You won’t need to go with dense quilting, nor will the batting be prone to balling up in the quilt over time
  • While cotton is hypoallergenic, its breathability comes from its moisture wicking capabilities. So it can be prone to mildew if left damp for too long. It’s also slow to dry.

You can upgrade to our Hobbs Heirloom 80% Cotton, 20% batting on your longarm quilting order or provide your own.

100% Cotton

The material of choice for many traditionalists or those who want to use only natural fibers in their quilts, 100% cotton batting is at the other end of the spectrum from 6-oz poly.

A sample of 100% Cotton Batting

 

  • Loft – This is the least lofty of the battings discussed here, but that’s not a bad thing. To showcase your piecing, it’s best for the quilt top to lay as flatly as possible. With a low-loft batting like 100% cotton or 80/20, your quilt looks as smooth as possible
  • Drape – 100% cotton is the heaviest of the battings covered in this post. This can be good in smaller quilts when you want to aid in their drape, but can make larger quilts unwieldy
  • Warmth – This batting is made of cotton, which is a highly breathable natural fiber.
  • Crinkle – Without scrim and/or polyester to hold the fiber in shape, cotton is prone to shrinkage. Some people like this; once the quilt has been washed, your top will get the cozy crinkled vintage look.
    If you want your quilt to stay smooth and flat, even after washing, pre-washing the batting can help. Make sure to follow pre-washing guidelines so your batting doesn’t fall apart in the process.
    You’ll also want to go with dense quilting (unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise) to avoid the batting balling up in the quilt over time.
  • While cotton is hypoallergenic, its breathability comes from its moisture wicking capabilities. So it can be prone to mildew if left damp for too long. It’s also slow to dry.

We don’t offer 100% cotton batting in house, but you’re free to supply your own! When supplying any type of batting, please make sure that it’s at least 4” bigger than your quilt top on both dimensions.

So, for example, if your quilt top is 80” x 90,” your batting should be at least 84” x 94.”

1 reply
  1. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    Thank you so much for this explanation! I am a novice quilter and recently took my first quilt top to a local store to be quilted. They asked me questions (that I didn’t know they would ask, so was unable to research ahead of time) regarding the batting I wanted and density of the quilting but weren’t able to give me enough information to help me make an informed decision. Needless to say, I came home and immediately began researching. Thankfully, I found your page and have all my answers! AND ~ I will be using your shop for my next quilt top! I appreciate your thorough information!

    Reply

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