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Comparing Quilt Batting

by Judy Cozon
(Charlotte, NC)

I am interested to know your opinion and how you feel about 100 % wool, 50% cotton/50% bamboo batting compared to 100% cotton from a feel and hand point of view - am interested in a batting that has a lovely soft drape for quilts to be used as bedding. I appreciate that wool is obviously warmer than cotton but it is the feel/drape that I am looking for and most interested in.

Many thanks!


The short answer...

I personally like a flatter quilt, but if there are feathers, those should stand out. And I do like to add a lot of quilting to my quilts (the quilting part is a lot of fun!), so...

If there's not a lot of quilting on it (stitching lines are about an inch apart) Quilters Dream 100% Cotton either Request (very low loft - 1/16") or Select ( a mid loft - 3/32") is my choice. The wool would be just too darn puffy for my preference. (Unfortunately, I know this from experience.)

If there's lots of very close quilting or uneven quilting, then I would definitely go with Hobbs Heirloom 100% Wool Batting. Cotton batting isn't as forgiving when there is uneven or extreme quilting across the surface of the quilt. The Hobbs "smushes" down very thin where there's lots of quilting, puffs up nicely to fill my feathers, and the edges don't get that wavy look.

And now the rest of the story...

Quilt batting may have several traits that effect it's drape. They are:


The thickness of a batting. The same batting may come in several different lofts or thicknesses. A thicker batting would probably less drape able than a thinner version.


This is a layer of a netting-like fabric (not necessarily made from the same fiber as the batting itself) that helps hold the batting together. Batting with a scrim is typically more stable that those without and less apt to stretch. Possibly a bit less drape able.


Bonding holds batting fibers together. It also helps to reduce bearding (when fibers from the batting migrate to the surface of the quilt top or back). Bonding can be physical, chemical or thermal.

  • Needle Punched

    A physical process that binds the fibers of the batting together. The batting is punched with barbed needles (much like needle-felting) that twist the fibers of the batting together. It creates a dense, very stable batting with less stretch.

  • Resin Bonding

    A chemical (resin or glue) is sprayed on to the batting to help hold the fibers together. The more resin applied, the stiffer the batting becomes.

  • Thermal Bonding

    Heating to cause the batting fibers to melt slightly and bond together. (Sometimes called "Glazing")

If you take these traits into consideration, you'd assume a mid loft (3/32" thick) batting with a scrim and needlepunched may not be the most drape able choice. You'd probably be able to find a more suitable batting. (Warm and Natural is a batting with those traits.)

The Quilters Dream Cotton recommended above is needlepunched with no scrim/bonding. The Hobbs 100% Wool has a light acrylic resin bond, no needlepunching. Both are mid to very low loft quilt batting. Both, when washed and dried according to the package directions will have very little shrinkage. Both quilt beautifully. And both, in my opinion would do the job...depending on how much quilting you will add to your creation.

A Word About 50% Bamboo/50% Cotton Batting

I have not made and used and washed a quilt with the bamboo/cotton batting yet. I do have a Nature-fil Bamboo (50/50 blend) batting on hand. It has an 1/8" inch loft and is needlepunched with a scrim. People frequently comment on how soft the batting feels. And yes, it does feel softer than the Quilters Dream, but it feels more like the "finish" feels softer.

While bamboo, itself, requires less water and chemicals to grow, processing it into fiber we can use is not problem free. For that reason, combined with the additional expense, I'm not going out of my way to use bamboo batting, at least for now. And I do so love the wool.

That's probably a longer answer than you wanted or I intended, but knowing the "why's" of my choices is just as important for you.


Julie Baird

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