The following information is based on my research into batting for my guild's batting program in October, 1993. Most of the information was obtained by calling the manufacturers of the 12 different batts that I put together into a kit for the guild members to play with. I do not guarantee the accuracy of this information, if you have a specific question about a batt I encourage you to call the manufacturer and ask them. In general I found them to be very pleasant and helpful. My other reference was the book "Machine Heirloom Quilting" by Hariett Hargrave. I have only included a tiny portion of the information from this book, where I thought it complimented what I learned from the manufacturers. I highly recommend this book, both for her information on batting and for the machine quilting techniques that she describes.
I concentrated on the top name brands of batts, those made by Fairfield, Hobbs and Mountain Mist. I also looked at the cotton batt by Warm &Natural, an open wool batt from a small private sheep farm and woven cotton flannel purchased off the bolt from a chain fabric store. Numerous other batts are available, many from other companies than the ones mentioned above.
Lisa , October 1993
There are 3 types of batts readily available in the US: wool, cotton (I include cotton/poly blends here because they are generally marketed as "cotton" batts), and polyester. Within each fiber type similar techniques are used to process the batts. The most common being bonding and needle punch.
In bonded batts a bonding agent, usually an acrylic resin, is sprayed onto batts to bond the fibers together, stabilize the batt and prevent bearding. According to Harriet Hargraves book "machine heirloom quilting", bonding can also be done by melting some of the the fibers although none of the companies I talked with mentioned using this process. Mountain Mist surface bonds their batts, they call this their "exclusive glazene finish", which means only the outer surface of the batt is bonded and the inner fibers are loose underneath. Fairfield and Hobbs have 100% bonded batts meaning the resin is sprayed and mixed throughout the entire batt. The 100% bonded batts supposedly beard less.
Needle punched batts are smashed with hundreds of needles, which causes the fibers to intertwine and bond together thereby stabilizing the batt. The fibers are well bonded inside the batt but the outer fibers tend to be looser and can beard. Needle punched batts tend to be denser and have little loft compared to the bonded batts.
Bearding, the unsightly problem of the fibers from the batting working their way through the surface of quilt, is a common problem with polyester and wool batts. Cotton batts do no beard according to the manufactures, although it is possible the cotton/polyester blends might beard. Once bearding starts it rarely ever stops, with the exception of the needle punched batts, in which case after the outer fibers have worn off the batt can stabilize and stop bearding.
Wool batts are usually from small private farms. These batts are "open" batts in that the wool is just scoured to clean it, then combed, carded and picked to fluff it up. Open wool batts are very puffy and very resliant, wool tends to bounce back to shape after being compressed. Because the fibers are not bonded in any way they tend to beard terribly if not encased in cheese cloth. Harriet Hargrave describes how to do this in her book. Taos Mountain Wool Works makes a needle punched wool batt. I have never actually seen a Taos batt but I have a needle punched wool batt from New Zealand that is probably similar. The needle punched batt is much thinner than the open batt so it provides very little loft. Although the fibers have been bonded by needle punching it is still recommended that these batts also be encased in cheese cloth to prevent bearding. Hobbs has just developed a new wool batt called Heirloom Wool that will be a 100% bonded batt. This batt is new as of the beginning of october '93 so no other information is available. Wool is very lightweight, breathes well, is warm, absorbs moisture well and is supposed to be great for hand quilting. The lanolin from the wool is reported to keep your needles sharp and your hands feeling soft. In general wool is the most expensive of the fibers.
Cotton also comes in bonded and needle punched. Mountain Mist 100% natural cotton batt is surface bonded with a water soluable starch. The first time the batt is washed the starch washes away leaving only a pile of cotton fibers. Therefore this batt must be quilted very close together so it doesn't lump up and you can not prewash this batt. This batt is the only cotton batt on the market that is truly a 100% cotton batt, after laundering. Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon Cotton batt is surface bonded with an acrylic resin so it holds together better although it can not be prewashed since it is only surface bonded. Because of the bonding you can quilt this batt further apart than the 100% natural batt. Fairfield Cotton Classic is a 100% bonded batt that is 80% cotton 20% polyester. This batt can be prewashed and doing so is supposed to make it easier to hand quilt. Hobbs Heirloom Cotton batt is also a 80/20 blend. It is both lightly needle punched and then lightly bonded with a resin. I found it to be the easiest cotton batt to hand quilt. This batt can either be prewashed to shrink it or it can be used right out of the package. Warm &Natural cotton batt, Mountain Mist Cotton Choice and Morning Glory's cotton batts are 100% cotton batts that are needled punched through a thin polyester scrim. This thin layer of polyester becomes part of the final product so in the end these batts are not truly 100% cotton. No bonding agent is used but these batts are hard to hand quilt because they are so dense. Cotton is harder to hand quilt than poly or wool in general.
Only unbleached cotton batts will shrink. Of the above mentioned cotton batts Warm &Natural &Hobbs are the only ones I'm sure are unbleached. I don't remember about Fairfield and I know nothing about Morning Glory. The Warm &Natural batt must be prewashed before using because they didn't bother to clean the fiber before needle punching it. If you don't do a thorough job washing your batt the cottonseed oil can stain your quilt. The Hobbs batt was thoroughly cleaned so in theory it is the only cotton batt that you can quilt before washing and therefore have shrink after it is quilted. Now in my samples the 2 mountain mist batts also shrank but the company claims that is due to the close quilting drawing the quilt up - not because the batt shrank. Amazingly enough my Hobbs sample shrank exactly 5% like they said it would.
As for the polyester in the Hobbs batt - it is not there because they think quilters want polyester in a batt - the craftsman that I spoke with says this batt was made to the specifications of many quilters and the only way they could make a batt that would shrink and be easy to needle was to add polyester. As mentioned the cotton fibers must be unbleached to shrink, and the process of cleaning the cotton with out bleaching causes most of the long fibers to be removed. The polyester is added to the cotton so the batt can be run through the machinery. This batt is both lightly needlepunched and lightly bonded. This batt is probably the easiest cotton batt to needle.
copyright 1993 - Lisa Leutenegger
All batts in the kit are straight from the package unless otherwise noted below. Batts are label with the numbers given below.
1) 100% wool batting Carolton Farm &Fiber
5401 Carolton Lane
also comes in a Barboursville, Virginia 22923
natural dark color 703-672-2935
2) Mountain Mist 100% cotton The Strearns Technical Textiles Company
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215
3) Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon cotton The Strearns Technical Textiles Company
4) Warm &Natural needled cotton Warm Products, Inc.
16120 Woodinville-Redmond Road, #5
** prewashed according to Woodinville, Washington 98072
package directions 800-234-WARM
5) Hobbs Heirloom cotton Hobbs Bonded Fibers
P.O. Box 3000
Mexia, TX 76667
6) 100% cotton flannel forgot to check the brand on the bolt
** prewashed gentle cycle
dried in a hot dryer
7) Mountain Mist 100% polyester The Strearns Technical Textiles Company
8) Mountain Mist Quilt-Light The Strearns Technical Textiles Company
9) Hobbs Poly-Down 100% polyester Hobbs Bonded Fibers
** air fluffed in cool dryer
according package directions
10) Hobbs dk Poly-Down Hobbs Bonded Fibers
** air fluffed in cool dryer
according package directions
11) Poly-fil low-loft 100% polyester Fairfield Processing Corporation P.O. Box 1130
Danbury, Connecticut 06813
12) Hobbs Thermore needled polyester Hobbs Bonded Fibers
Data on the following sheets is based on manufacturer supplied information not from personal observation. Your experience with these products may vary. I take no responsibility for the results.
- Cotton breathes, it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool also breathes and absorbs moisture well making it comfortable in damp climates. Wool is warmer than cotton but cooler than polyester in the summer. Polyester does not breath and is warm year round.
- Polyester batts are made of thermoplastic fibers and are very heat sensitive.
- In general only unbleached cotton will shrink. The antique puckered appearance of Mountain Mist's 100% Cotton batt is a result of the very close quilting lines not shrinkage according to the manufacturer.
- All cotton batts will not beard. Cotton/polyester can beard. Open wool batts will beard if not encased in cheese cloth, even then they might beard. Needle punched wool batts (there are none in the kit) might beard but it is less likely than with open wool batts. Surface bonded batts (Mountain Mist) are more likely to beard than 100% bonded batts. Needle punched polyester can beard but once the outer fibers have worn off it might stop. Thermore, a needle punched polyester batt, has a special finishing process to secure the outer fibers and will not beard. Once bearding starts there is no way to stop it. The closer together the quilting lines the smaller the chance there is of bearding.
- Cotton batts are flat with little to no loft. Open wool batts usually very puffy and very resilient. Polyester batts range from thin to puffy but are not very resilient because over time the fibers tend to stick together. The new slick hollow fibers are an attempt to make polyester batts more resilient.
- All cotton batts, except cotton flannel, tend to be more difficult to hand quilt than polyester, blends and wool.
- All batts are washable (including wool batts). Wash quilts by filling your washing machine with warm water adding a mild soap, insert the quilt and allow to soak 5 to 12 minutes. Spin out excess water. To rinse remove quilt from washer and refill with warm water, replace quilt and soak, spin out water. Repeat rinse until water runs clear. Do NOT agitate wool batts, manufactures recommend minimal or no hand agitation for cotton and polyester batts. Dry flat, when quilt is barely damp you may air fluff in dryer. Use industrial sized washers for king sized quilts.
doesn't slide as much as poly
good for tied comforters
little sliding of quilt sandwich
smaller when rolled for machine quilting
2) Mountain Mist 100% cotton
don't tie this stuff
3) Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon cotton
not recommended for tieing
4) Warm &Natural needled cotton
5) Hobbs Heirloom cotton
HD Wilbanks - craftsman at hobbs
goals - (1) shrink -> must be unbleached
(2) quilt up to 3 1/2" apart -> must be stable
(3) easy to hand &machine quilt -> must have undense hand
after cleaning the cotton fibers too short to feed through equipment -> poly lightly needled then lightly resinated
6) 100% cotton flannel
was popular in antique quilts
can get tiny stitches
can double as backing
7) Mountain Mist 100% polyester
8) Mountain Mist Quilt-Light
loft similar to cotton
close dense stitching with out stiffness of other polyes
can do close in one area and dense in others with no distortion
9) Hobbs Poly-Down 100% polyester
10) Hobbs dk Poly-Down
distance - 3 1/2" very safe - if washing in machine maybe up to 4-5
11) Poly-fil low-loft 100% polyester
12) Hobbs Thermore needled polyester
originally made for ski industry
great for quilted clothing
Pellon fleece works great for wallhangings
Do you always prewash batting, or only Warm &Natural
I have never prewashed my batting. Some battings may shrink slightly and if you have prewashed your fabrics but not the batting, you may get some puckering. But I think quilts are supposed to be a little puckered once they are washed so I don't prewash the batting.
One quiltnet member reported preparing the batt by putting it in the washing machine on full load, gentle cycle, then put it in the dryer. No problem at all. Another recommended putting the batt inside a standard or large pillowcase and pinning the pillow case closed with safety pins, and then put a few towels in to balance the washer. Then dry the batts in the dryer using a low heat with nothing else in the dryer. Another recommends using the delicate cycle on an oversize machine, and fill the machine to the high level even if the quilt doesn't take up that much space. This gives it room to move around. I then throw it in my large dryer on air dry, and it comes out fine.
Another reported setting her machine on delicate/slow, warm wash/cold rinse put in a little Tide Free then the bat and let the tub fill with the lid open. When it was full I gently pushed the bat down with my open hand. I then let the batting set for 30 minutes as recommended on the bag. I turned the machine to the spin cycle and spun the water out. ( I used a paint stick to push the little button in so I could keep the lid open just in case shredding started.) Everything was fine so I turned the dial to rinse and repeated the process until the soap was gone. I opened the batting before putting it in the dryer on low.
Another reported washing it first in cold water in the machine, and then dried it on low in the dryer. It came out a lot whiter and less seedy.
Some people have reported having problems with holes in the batt after machine washing and drying. The rest of the batt is usable, but you will have to go get a new batt in this case. One person reported using a mesh laundry bag and reported it shredded in parts and was barely passable in others.
If this happens to you - Write to them immediately. They have a wonderful reputation with customer service and proudly stand behind their product. I know of many people that had some mishap, wrote to them, and got replacement batting for free. One person followed all directions for washing, basting, etc - started to machine quilt, following the instructions, and when she reached the other end of the quilt, was a foot short. (They said it wouldn't shrink beyond a certain point so she purchased just enough to account for this). They apologized a lot and sent her another King size length for free.
I do have a suggestion for using the "ruined" pieces. First I'd cut out the biggest rectangles to be used for smaller quilts, wall hangings, etc. Then, I've used the leftovers for making pot-holders. Using two layers of W&N seems to be enough padding, and the batt will not melt as a poly-batt will. I made them for my mother and brother and they both really like them. Maybe someday I'll make some for myself :-).
Also, you could piece the pieces together, as this quiltnetter reports: I have used a blanket stitch to piece my Warm &Natural bits together. I think a zigzag would work too. First I use the rotary cutter to make sure I am dealing with straight edges. Then I butt them together and stitch them on the machine. As you stitch, make sure the stitch straddles the cut lines (or butt lines) so that there is even stitching on both sides. I have used this on several quilts with no problem. The W&N is so wide that I end up with some pretty good sized pieces that I piece together for smaller projects.
This won't solve the problem of thin spots, however. I have also had that problem. But I used it anyway and can't tell where it is now that its quilted. For the record, in the past 3 years I have only used W&N and have treated it fairly roughly with no ill effects. I wash it in the machine with detergent and then I put it in the dryer. It has been great so far except for the one thin spot. My quilting materials need to stand up to a lot of wear and tear or they just don't work for me. Survival of the fittest at my house!
It is harder to needle, but I like the look. This stuff is definitely worth trying.
It comes out feeling like a giant piece of felt. It's great for machine quilting since the material clings to the batt making shifting less of a possibility.
Warm &Natural is an all-cotton batting that is VERY stable; you can leave spaces between quilting up to 10" apart. The Warm &Natural company seems to supply every quilt store and fabric store I've been in with samples - just ask for one.
Do you like it? Is it easy to quilt? What about bearding?
Will the Warm &Natural take 15 and 20 stitches per inch on hand quilting?
Make sure you pre-rinse the bat before you use it. It make a quilt that is thinner but incredibly warm - take it from a person who quilts in a hoop, in bed with the rest of the quilt over my lap. I've been very warm!!
I used this recently and I did have some trouble quilting it in small stitches. But I did not pre-wash it. I just wasn't able to get the size stitches that I usually can when I use a split (half) batt of a polyester type.
It doesn't surprise me that someone had difficulty finely quilting unwashed warm &natural. My understanding is that the reason for prewashing is that there is still a lot of natural oil that needs to be removed. A while ago someone mentioned that the "seeds" might "bleed" onto the quilt fabric. Has anyone had this happen? ...even though you prewashed it?
I attended a lecture on batting with Harriett Hargarves and she said that the seeds can have a oil that will get on your quilt. She said that she has spoken with the manufacturer, but no changes have been made to the process. She did say that one side of the batting usually has less seed than the other so put it towards the top.
Does anyone have any experience with hand-quilting cotton bats? I heard it was impossible, but have since heard talk indicating otherwise. My second choice would be a wool batting. What kind of care is involved for these two bats - I suspect wool will be trickier or more expensive to clean....
I have hand quilted 2 bed sized quilts using 100% cotton (Mountain Mist), I did find this batt a bit heavy going, so I am switching to the Hobbs 80% poly 20% cotton. This is supposed to be good for both hand and machine quilting, but haven't started on any hand quilting with this. I am starting to quilt one next week using the Hobbs 100% wool batt. It's very light and fluffy like and it too, is supposed to be great for both and and machine quilting.
Reply to Deanna: well, I had heard that quilting through cotton was akin to quilting through cardboard!! Yes, believe it!! :-) From my quilting teacher, nonetheless. I send thanks to you and Carol Heys for setting me straight....
I've hand-quilted cotton bats. It's certainly not impossible, but it does quilt harder than polyester. The best I can do with a cotton bat is 7 stitches per inch. On polyester, I can get 11 stitches to the inch if I concentrate, 8 or 9 if I relax. I suppose if I concentrated *really* hard, I could do better than 7 with a cotton bat. It's just too much work for something that will probably get abused by my kids, between how hard it is to quilt small stitches, and how closely quilted cotton has to be to keep the bat from shifting.
All I've ever used are cotton bats. Until recently all I could do was the stab stitch (I'm a self-taught quilter), and now that I'm up to a running stitch, I thought it was supposed to be hard. Gee. Can't wait to try a different kind of bat. I knew there were differences in look, and how much quilting was necessary for different bats, but had no idea that cotton was harder to needle through. Thanks! Michele
If it's "impossible", then I've beaten the odds about twenty times now! :-) I think it is a great way to learn to hand quilt, you need to stitch more closely and if you use a "stiff" cotton batt, your fingers get more exercise (but the newer cotton batts like the Hobbs Heirloom are a lot softer than the ones I used to use, specifically Mountain Mist regular cotton batt tends to be more difficult to quilt.) However, the fabrics you use also make a big difference, it isn't only the batt.
I have heard wool is like quilting through butter. Easy to see why - imagine how hard it is to put a needle through a wool sweater. It is pricey, which is why I have not yet tried it.
Has anyone ever used it? Is it a whole lot warmer than either polyester or W&N? How does it smell when you wash it? (wet wool usually reeks). Where can you get it? How much does it cost?
You can get it mail order. The wool batting isn't cheap! Around here, it costs $33 for a queen size. That's from the quilt shops. I have checked and at Hancock Fabrics it's $20 plus $5 for shipping UPS.
Also, I have been told, that you wash it like other batts, and it doesn't shrink.
I have not used wool batting yet, mainly because it is so expensive. It is also prone to "bearding" which cotton batting isn't. It does seem lovely and soft, it's also very thin.
I have used cotton batting for five quilts and wool batting for five quilts. I started off using Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon batts because that was what my mother used, and I like the look and feel of it hand or machine quilted. But it costs $45 a batt here, and fine Australian wool batts cost only $34.
Australian wool batts are washable but only in cold water. Which isn't a problem because all quilts are best washed in cold water, and the less they are washed the better. No, I haven't tried to wash a quilt with a wool batt. I hang them out on the line to air several times a year and in three years none have needed washing.
I quilt only by machine. A wool batt quilts very easily, but it is puffier than a cotton batt, which makes it somewhat more difficult to manuver over the shoulder than a cotton-filled quilt-in-the making. I haven't noticed any problems with the wool coming through the quilt top, but it does fly out a bit while it is being quilted, which is irritating if you have asthma. I am careful to fold over the edges of the quilt back onto the front and baste firmly so that none of the fluff gets out while I am quilting.
Wool is definitely warmer than cotton and cosier and more affectionate than cotton or polyester. So far none of my wool quilts has lost body or compacted.
Now that I have used both cotton and wall batts I make my selection according to whether I want the quilt top to look like a sculpted bas relief (use wool) or whether I want the pieced pattern to be more prominent (use cotton).
No personal experience with dark quilts, but what I read says that ANY polyester batting will eventually beard, and that white beards through dark fabric are quite unsightly. Thus, if it were me, I'd use either the dark batting OR a good quality cotton batting--perhaps a cotton you can preshrink and quilt at wide intervals. This type of batting was discussed on the net, and most folks seemed to like it.
I've used the Hobbs dark batting and it machine quilted fine. I like my quilts plump - so I really like the extra-loft battings. The Hobbs batting was too thin for my taste.
About the black batting: yes, even the black will beard. The idea behind the black batting is that polyester batts will inevitably beard, but the darker fibers won't show as much on a dark top as the light fibers (as in a white or off-white batt.) Also, don't count on white cotton to not beard, either. I made a dark quilt with Warm and Natural last spring, and found lots of cotton fibers on the top of my quilt. (I was pretty disgusted, but I also have learned since then that they were having a production problem with that brand, and they gave away all the "faulty" stuff to worthy causes. Our Quilts for Kids program here in Flagstaff got a whole bolt or two, and it worked great for that purpose. So I do still buy the stuff and use it in my quilts.)
Most people said they had not used dark batting but had heard that it kept bearding from showing as much on a dark quilt.
About 6 people said they had actually used dark batting. It seems that only one company, Hobbs makes it. All of the actual users except for one were very happy with the results. Even if it bearded it did not show much, and the dark quilts looked better without having white batting glowing through the dark fabric.
The dissatisfied person (a machine quilter) found the Hobbs batting too thick and spongy. She hated it. However, other machine quilters liked it.
The hand-quilters generally found the Hobbs batt easy to needle.
Sounds like the dark batting helps the bearding and show-through problem, but that having only one brand to chose from makes it hard to please everyone as far as thickness and texture goes.
Sandra had asked if anyone had seen a fluffy batt. I won a queen size batt called Super Fluff at a show in Lancaster this summer. It is made by Buffalo Batt and Felt Corp.. the phone num on the batt is (716) 683-4100. It says it can be machine quilted, but I found the sample I did was difficult. It does create a fluffy quilt....Pat
It was on the roll (not packaged) and the batting is polyester, about 1/3" thick. The paper on the batting says you can layer this batting without having it shift so that you can customize just how thick you want your batting. Three of the batts equals an inch in thickness. One side of the batting was pretty smooth (sizing??) while the other felt more lofty.
I have occasionally seen people mention that they have split poly batts into two thinner layers and would like to try this if anyone could give me any advice. I bought some batting by the yard at JoAnn Fabric and I think it is their lighest weight, but it is still sort of thick. I would like to split it to use in two baby quilts I am working on/planning. Any advice would be appreciated. I am going to hand quilt one quilt and machine quilt the other if that makes any difference.
A lot of people split batts when they make miniature quilts so that the batt will be in scale with the quilt. However, I'm not sure this is a good idea with a baby quilt because the side that is split will no longer have a treated surface to keep it from bearding (i.e., batt filaments leaking through the stitching holes).
If you are talking about a baby quilt to be hung on a wall, then this would be OK, but if it is a REAL quilt to be used and washed a lot, I wouldn't do it. I like Mountain Mist Quilt-Light for baby quilts, actually for most quilts.
I can summarize by saying that half said splitting is fine, they've never had a problem with it. The others said they'd be worried about bearding. I decide to buy new thin batting for the baby quilt and split thicker battin I already bought, but use it for wall hangings.
Yes, the split batt can be safely used for a quilt. I've been splitting batting for years to make quilted garments--any regular batting is just way too thick for clothes unless you live near the arctic circle. I especially like the way cotton batting splits. As long as it splits evenly (i.e. so you don't have holes or overly thin spots) it'll work great. Especially for quilt users in hot climates.
Mountain Mist Quilt Light batts are VERY cheap at Hancocks, and even cheap by mail order from them if you are ordering enough stuff; I'm pretty sure the mailing charge is a flat $5 regardless of how much you order. Their phone number is 1-800-845-8723; call them for a catalog if you don't already have information.
Keepsake offers a quilt batt sampler with 4-inch pieces of each batt they sell. It may be worth the time to get this sampler and test-quilt the natural fiber batts to see which one suits your work the best.
I often have small and/or fairly large pieces of batting leftover from various quilts. Can I put or sew together two smaller pieces of batting?
I have often put small pieces of batting together and never bother ed to sew them, and it's been just fine. I never used a lot of tiny pieces for bed size quilt, but I've added a scrap when I'm short near an edge. So go for it.
Elizabeth Ikana recommended three types of batting for hawiian quilts - wool, needlepunched polyester, and "thermal" bonded polyester batting: She noted that you should not use a "resin" bonded polyester batting because in some climates the batting can become "gummy".
I also carefully viewed the "Hawiian Quilting" shows and found that Fairfield is a sponsor of the show. I assume that Elizabeth Akana used Fairfield products on the show - Needlepunched Traditional and 100% Bonded Polyester (1 oz., 3 oz., and 6 oz. weights). She recommended a thermal bonded polyester that contains no resin (because in some climates resin in these batts can become gummy). The Needlepunched Traditional contains no resin, although the 100% Bonded Polyester does. The only other polyester batting I have been able to locate (besides needlepunched) that does not contain resin is a new product by Morning Glory which is an UNBONDED polyester. I have a queen size batt of this and want to try it, but I haven't used it yet. I am worried that it may shift over time (since it is unbonded).
The batt I chose for my small hawiian quilt wallhanging was the 100% Bonded Polyester batting manufactured by Fairfield in the 1 oz. batting weight. I hand-quilted the wallhanging with 3/16" echo quilting lines (I'm hoping that close quilting will reduce bearding). I won't know about any bearding problems until the quilt has been in use for a while. I found the 100% bonded polyester batting very easy to quilt and achieve fine hand stitches. The low-loft polyester provides a little dimension to the quilting design and stitches.
With regard to your question about Hobbs Thermore. I believe that this batting contains resin, although it is also a needlepunched batting. I used a Thermore batt in a quilted vest and was able to produce fine hand stitches. According to Hobbs the process they use to manufacture this batt prevents bearding. My vest has not shown any bearding. IMHO I think this batting has less dimension than the Fairfield low-loft (1 oz.) and gives a flatter look.
What do you suggest I use for a very low loft batting ? I do not want to face a lot of grief with the batting pulling thru (bearding ?) as I quilt.
I just tried Hobbs Heirloom cotton batting (this actually has a polyester covering on it to prevent bearding) and was very pleased with it, it is nice and soft for hand quilting and works well for machine quilting too. The cheapest way to buy it is mail order from Hancock's (see ads in Quilters Newsletter) but they have a $25 minimum order so you have to buy at least three rolls of it--what the heck, you'll use it!
A couple of weeks ago I asked if anyone out there has had experience with the new Hobbs wool batt. Here's a summary of the replies I received:
Carol - Carol made one quilt using the Hobbs wool batting; she used machine quilting. In general she liked the batt very much; her only gripe was that it was so thin the quilt almost felt like there was no batting at all. Carol also noted that these batts are expensive ($30 to $36 in most stores, $28 at Hancocks).
Melissa - Melissa has not actually used one of these batts, but has a sample and says that it is beautiful. Uniform thickness and very very soft. These batts are washable, but you cannot agitate them, so washing them is a little more labor-intensive than washing a quilt with a polyester or cotton batt.
Sandra - Sandra has not actually used a wool batt, but she forwarded an old message to me from Diane, an Australian quilter who has used wool batts extensively. I gather that these batts are not the Hobbs wool batts, but Diane provided some valuable information about using wool batts in general. Diane says that wool batts quilt very easily, but they are puffier than a cotton batt. Diane also said that they are washable in cold water, but the less they are washed the better. The wool does not seem to "weep" through the quilt top, but it does fly out a bit while it is being quilted, which could be irritating if you have asthma. (I'm guessing that this might not be a problem with the Hobbs wool batt). Wool is definitely warmer than cotton batts.
Clare - Clare used a sample piece for a miniature; she also thinks the wool quilts beautifully (she hand quilted the piece) and will definitely buy a larger batt in the future.
Sandi - Sandi hand-quilted a full-sized quilt using a wool batt and says her quilting was the best it's ever been. The needle just glides in and out. She was told that these batts are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Sandi also mentioned that these batts are washable, but they must be washed on the gentle cycle or by hand, then dried flat after squeezing the excess water out.
I guess the consensus is that they are great for an heirloom quilt but avoid them like the plague if you're making a baby quilt.
Traditional cotton batting--1/4"-1/2"--no pre-wash--5% shrinkage
Blue Ribbon by Mountain Mist, treated cotton--up to 2"--no shrink,can wash.
Warm &Natural cotton (Warm Products, Inc.) and Old Fashion cotton (Morning Glory). Poly core--flexible and thin--pre-wash--4" for Morning Glory--10" for Warm &Natural. Good for crafts, clothing, wall hangings and thin bedcovers.
Polyfil Cotton Classic/Fairfield--thin, bonded, retards bearding--3"-4" intervals--can pre-soak/delicate dry but not necessary for machine quilting. Good for clothing and thin quilts.
Heirloom Cotton Batting/Hobbs. Thin--3" intervals--5% shrinkage. Pre-soak in tepid water, spin, use air setting in dryer.
Wool--2"-4" intervals--various lofts--some needlepunched--needs cheesecloth top and bottom to prevent bearding. Wash or dry clean quilt with care.
Silk--in fiber, not batt, form. Pull apart fibers, fluff, pat into place to desired thickness. Fine silk thread recommended--1 1/2" intervals--light weight--drapable--good for clothing, summer quilts.
Polyester Batting--various lofts--intervals 3"-4"--no shrinkage. Some bearding occurs in all.
Low loft--little texture--differences among brands. Ultra-Loft/Fairfield is dense and blanket-like. Good for machine quilting or tying. One type is "needlepunch" or polyester fleece. Dense; gives body to wall hangings, place mats, etc. Machine quilting recommended.
Regular loft--good for hand or mach. quilting. Poly-down DK/Hobbs is a charcoal batt--good for dark fabrics because bearding is unnoticeable.
High Loft--Super-Fluff/Buffalo Batt, tie every 4". Two inches thick; durable.