As a professional quilter I am often asked, Which batting is the best? Which types do I carry? What do my customers like? What do I use in my own quilts? There is no simple answer so instead I share my criteria:
(in order of importance to me)
#1. Care Instructions and shrinkage
#2. Fiber Content and loft
#3. Sizes Available (width and length)
#4. Cost – including shipping
My #1 criterion is care and shrinkage. For many years quilters were willing to pre-shrink their batting if they didn’t want their washed quilts to have that crinkley ‘antique’ look. Well, I don’t have time to pre-shrink , and I won’t do it for my customers. So, I read the fine print on the batting packages, and choose easy-to-care-for battings.
Criterion #2 is fiber content. I have customers who consider cotton to be the only ‘real’ batting because it is a natural fiber and it drapes so nicely, so I stock cotton.
The customers who ask for heirloom quilting designs will often choose wool batting because the extra loft shows the quilting stitches better, so I stock (washable) wool.
Kid’s quilts – or any utility quilt that will be washed often – work well with a polyester batting because of the durability. Just be sure not to stitch too densely because it gets stiff. Poly comes in flat (great for wallhangings) and fluffy (great for comforters & trapunto) and I stock both.
Poly/cotton blends are a good choice because they have good qualities of both fibers – Poly-durability, and Cotton-drape. I stock Poly/cotton blends too.
There are some new battings available now that are interesting. One claims to be flame retardant (I tried it, and it really works!) making it a good choice for baby quilts. I found a flame retardant batting that drapes beautifully and I use it in all size quilts – and yes, I stock it too.
Another really soft batting I have tried (and I stock) is a bamboo blend. Since it is made of bamboo, it is considered ’green’. I am not sure what the ‘green’ criterion are, but I do try to make environmentally friendly choices when possible.
There is also a green batting made of recycled soda bottles. It is green in color, and a bit stiff for my taste, but I bet it would work well for many craft projects!
Criterion #3 is size choice. Many of my customer quilts are queen size, so 95” width is a must for me, and I prefer to buy batting by the roll. Traditionally rolls of batting have been 25-30 yards long, and I stock at least 7 different battings, so this gets expensive (Cost is Criterion #4). Since a roll is considered ‘oversized’ it earns a shipping surcharge too.
What to do??? Buy (and resell) batting on a bolt. The first time I saw batting-on-a-bolt, it was 60” wide, designed by Penny Haren for Checker Distributors. This is the perfect width for smaller quilts and for Quilts of Valor, which I participate in. The 60” width is so much more useful than a 48” width, and Penny has designed 60” wide fabric for backings too, but I digress – back to the battings.
Now, many batting companies have seen the benefits of batting-on-a-bolt (also known as batting-on-a-board). It is available in many different fiber contents and widths, even queen size. These boards hold 9 yards of 95” wide batting, which is perfect for doing 3 queen size quilts, with little or no waste. Batting on a board is so reasonable, I can justify carrying 7 or more different types of batting without needing a second mortgage.
But, if I needed something special or I just didn’t want to keep that much batting in my inventory, it would be wonderful if I could go to my local quilt shop and purchase the batting I needed. Batting-on-a-board can be taken to the cutting counter, and custom sizes can be cut much more easily than batting-on-a-roll.
When I need King size batting, I prefer to purchase a packaged batting, and I would buy that at my LQS too since I will get it fast. I don’t have to wait until I build an order large enough to meet the wholesale minimums, and I would not have to wait for the batting to be drop shipped from the factory. After all, time is another type of revenue, and inventory carrying costs are expenses.
Start surfing the www.Checkerdist.com website, and search for ‘batting board’ or ‘batting bolt’, logon to your account to place your order. There are lots of new batting choices for shopowners to make, and they are affordable and convenient!
Always “checking” for a better way to quilt! Sewlong,
|c 2011 By Design Quilting, LLC. This copyright entitles you to reprint this article. All other rights reserved.
Note for professional longarm quilters –
I know how important it is to provide products and services that help your customers, but please remember that your local quilt shop (LQS) can also be a good business partner for you. I have adopted a “LQS Partner Policy” which simply means I will not compete against my LQS when it comes to goods and services that are not my ‘primary’ business. For instance, my primary business is quilting, not retail sales of fabrics. I do carry some retail products (batting / backing) but I will not discount any retail products that my LQS also offers.
My customers can bring their own battings/backing if they choose, in fact I encourage it. I want my customers to purchase those items from their LQS because it keeps the LQS in business, it supports the quilting industry in general, and I benefit from that. So, don’t compete with them, Collaborate!