Friday, July 29, 2022

How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting

Choosing The Right Batting

This post will hopefully help you find out everything you want to know about choosing the right quilt batting for YOUR quilt.


A quilt is like a sandwich and is made of three layers. The top, batting and backing. The batting is what goes in the middle of the "quilt sandwich.” This little informational tutorial will discuss many different types and uses of batting (See 70 Uses for Batting ). You can choose from 100% cotton, polyester, cotton/polyester blend, bamboo, wool, silk, etc.

  • To help decide which to use, you may want to ask yourself a few questions first:
  • What will the finished product be used for? Quilt, wall hanging, bed-spread, etc.
  • Who will the end user be? Does it need to be flame retardant for children?
  • Does it need to be especially warm?
  • In a warm climate - does it need to breathe?
  • How do I want the finished quilting project to look - flat or fluffy? Contemporary or traditional?
  • Do I need a light or dark batting?
  • Will it be hand or machine quilted?
  • How much am I willing to spend?

Standard Pre-Cut Batting Sizes:

  • Crib ............... 45˝x 60˝
  • Twin .............. 72˝x 90˝
  • Double ........... 81˝x 96˝
  • Queen ............ 90˝x 108˝
  • King .............. 120˝x 120˝

These are the sizes of the batting if you purchase packaged batting at the local box store. Your longarm quilter will probably have batting on large bolts (usually 30 yards, around 98 - 108" wide) and will charge you on a linear inch. It is always nice to support your local quilter rather than bringing your own batting.

Batting Terms:

  • Bearding (AKA “migration” or "Pokies"): When the fibers separate and start working their way through the weave of the fabric, escaping the quilt. To avoid bearding use a good brand of batting.

    Note: sometimes this happens if the the 'scrim' side is UP instead of DOWN when the batting is placed in the layers- see Quilt Sandwich for more info
  • Bonded: The fibers are bonded together by either thermal or resin method. Thermal bonding has a low melt fiber blended with standard polyester to hold it together. This can allow bearding but doesn’t break down with washing and dry cleaning as fast as resin bonded batting. Resin bonded batting is made from a variety of fibers including polyester, cotton, and wool. Resin is applied to both sides then dried and cured. This makes it resist bearding better than any other batting.
  • Drape: How a quilt feels and hangs after being quilted. Good batting will allow your quilt to drape around your shoulders following the natural curve of your body without being too stiff.
  • Loft: This refers to the thickness/puffiness of the batting. Cotton is generally low-loft, but it is available in several different thicknesses so you can find higher loft cotton batting.
    Low-loft batting is easy to needle and handle, and is soft and drape-able.
    Medium-loft batting adds texture, gives a puffier look, and is warmer, but the higher the loft the harder to machine and hand quilt. 
  • Polyester is generally high-loft.
    High-loft batting is good for highlighting detailed quilting and mimics the look of down, and it is also often used in tied quilts
  • Needle-punched: The fibers in the batting are mechanically felted together by punching them with thousands of tiny needles. This causes the batting to be stronger and denser while being lower loft. Because of the denseness of this batting it isn’t generally good for hand quilting. These battings will tend to migrate but will not bunch and shift. Needle-punched batting can be thermal or resin bonded.
  • Scrim: A thin stabilizer that is needle-punched into the batting to add strength, loft, and to prevent stretching and distorting.

Fiber Content Pros and Cons




Machine Quilts Wonderfully.

Some brands may require pre-washing to remove oils, etc.

Gives the flat look of traditional quilts.

May require closer stitching.

Launders without bearding or pilling
usually more expensive than polyester.

Heavier once quilted, thus, may be warmer than polyester.

Made from natural fibers is favored for its soft texture and comfort. 100% cotton batting is usually 1/8" thick.

 Subject to shrinkage when laundered.




Generally less expensive.

Prone to bearding and pilling.

May be quilted farther apart than some types of cotton or wool batting.

May be harder to machine quilt on a domestic machine due to the extra puffiness.

Makes a very lightweight quilt.

Comes in a wide variety of sizes or widths.

Very warm, as it does not 'breathe'

Easy for longarm quilting

Bearding No 'bearding'

100% WOOL



Retains fold lines less
(therefore it is often used for show quilts).

One of the more expensive battings.

Retains warmth even when damp.

As with all wool items, may be attractive to moths.

Handles nicely.

 Easy to hand quilt or machine quilt

Bearding More likely to 'beard'


Blends will usually have most of the pros and cons associated with both types of fibers they are made of; however, they are generally less expensive than 100% natural fiber batting, and can often be quilted further apart.

Blends are typically 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has the benefits of cotton, but with more loft. This is what most professional longarm quilters will offer as their desired batting of choice. It can be 'tugged' on and will stand up to the process of machine quilting.



  • It is easy to needle for hand quilting
  • May be easier to handle
  • Creates a product that is soft and drape-able
  • Your quilt will resembles soft old traditional quilts
  • Easier to achieve nice hand quilting stitches
  • Beautiful results when using longarm quilting


  • Adds texture to the finished product
  • Gives a puffier look
  • It will be warmer


  • Good for highlighting detailed quilting
  • Mimics the look of down
  • Warmest
  • Most often used for comforters, bed-spreads or tied quilts

Bearding (or Pokies)

What the heck is bearding? Bearding, in the quilting world, is when fibers from the batting travel through the top of the quilt.

The best way to avoid bearding from your wool batting is to use a sharp needle (probably fresh from the package) when quilting and piece your quilt top with tightly woven fabric. If your fabric is a loose weave or a low thread count, the wool can easily travel through it once the quilt has been washed.

How to Choose Quilt Batting: Brands

The material you use is a big divider when you're looking at utility, but which brand you choose will have a legit affect on the longevity and overall quality of your quilt. I have a few brands I use regularly and recommend. Here are the three brands that get our stamp of Approval:

Quilter's Dream​

Quilter's Dream batting is everything batting should be; consisting of high quality materials with soft and silky fibers. Quilter's Dream offers cotton, poly blends, wool, bamboo, and even an earth-friendly option made out of recycled plastic bottles! I love all of the options, and I love that I know I can count on all of them being well-made.​


For those who like to shop online or only have access to big craft shops – this stuff is very easy to come by. I've tried all of the big box store brands, and Pellon is pretty easy on the pocketbook.


Hobbs is another well-known, top-quality brand that pretty much offers every different kind of batting option out there. Many quilters I know are all about Hobbs Heirloom wool when they go the wool route, and though it's on the more expensive side, it's so reliable, and drapes really well.​ Hobb's 80/20 is probably what I have used in my quilting business the most since 2001 (over 10,000 t-shirt quilts!!). BUT, different quilts might need a different batting.
Hobbs Bonded Fibers - batting

So, What is the RIGHT Batting to Choose?

Choosing the Right Batting
Go for "white" or "natural." Now, this may be a more personal preference, but I always go for natural color batting because most of the quilts have a good deal of color in them. If quilting a with WHITE fabric, go with the white batting, as a neutral color may take some of the 'brightness' of the white away.

Does the Batting Have Scrim?. Some batting comes with "scrim," which is a thin layer of stabilizer that gives your batting some strength, and keeps fibers from escaping and creating that dreaded beard . If you decide to go with a batting with scrim, it's best to face it toward the back of your project.​ (You'll be able to feel the difference.) Your longarm quilter will appreciate it if the batting has 'scrim'. Most 100% cottons do not have a scrim.

Don't Get Too Lofty. One other term you should know when checking out batting is "loft." Loft basically refers to how thick or fluffy your batting is, with lower loft being thinner. Low loft batting is great for a flatter finish, where you want to show off your piecing more than your quilting lines (though if you are hand quilting, choose a 'low loft' 100% cotton without scrim, no matter how amazing your stitches are… it's just easier.) Go for higher loft if you want a nice, puffy quilt with very visible quilting lines.​

For information about the manufacturing process for my favorite batting go to the Hobbs Bonded Fiber website.

At Shadywood Quilts we only use the highest quality materials to complete your project.