Is this enough machine quilting?
When it says to quilt up to 12" apart, can it be in a column or does it have to be a 12" square.
Good Question! One that you think batting manufacturers would addres on the packaging!
So I'll go through the reasoning of my answer.
The meaning of the 'quilting distance' is how much quilting do you need so that the batting doesn't fall apart and migrate through the quilt when it's used and then washed.
Quilt batting labeled with large quilting distances is typically needlepunched for stability--in fact, it's probably been needle punched onto a polyester scrim. The batting, itself, feels and acts more like a thick felt fabric.
So if your batting is labeled with a maximum quilting distance of 12" and it is needlepunched you should be fine with quilting in columns 12" apart.HOWEVER...
Personally I would prefer to have at least a grid of quilting (squares as you suggested).
If the stitches are 12" apart in columns (I'm assuming that it is a large quilt) whether you hang it on the wall or cover a bed, there's going to be a lot of stress on those few stitches. When you look at the old antique quilts that have survived, they tend of be heavily quilted. Those stitches helped hold everything together as the beds where made each day and, even more importantly, as those quilts were washed.
A wet quilt is a very heavy quilt. To protect the work I put into making my quilts, I add the extra stitches to help safeguard it through the stress of washing and moving the wet quilt around.
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Readers, what do you think? I invite you to share your experiences by using the 'comments' link below.