Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Batting: Part 1 of 3 -- Terms

How carefully do you consider batting? The "inside stuff" can affect the final look and feel of your finished quilt. Batting packages feature information that can be confusing so I'll start with batting terms, followed by batting choices, and my personal picks.

Much information on this subject comes from Harriet Hargrave who wrote From Fiber to Fabric (1997, C&T Publishing, Ch. 12, p. 95-112). Although this book is out of print, check your local library, Amazon used books or ebay. Harriet gives an indepth look by actually going into the factory to explain how batting is manufactured. It's important to know the "science" behind the product and not depend solely on popular opinion.

Brands: The current major manufacturers of batting include Fairfield, Hobbs, Mountain Mist, Quilter's Dream, and The Warm Company.

Fiber content: Battings consist of cotton, polyester, wool, silk, bamboo, corn, cashmere and alpaca, including blends of these fibers.

Bonding process: Batting begins with a web structure that is crosslapped with fibers to build up a certain thickness. Most battings are then bonded through a mechanical, chemical or thermal process to garner stability and minimize fiber migration.

Needlepunching: This is mechanical bonding where barbed needles puncture the web and stabilize the fibers.

Scrim: This is the net-like layer that can be added to the web before needlepunching, making the batting firm and less stretchy.

Resin: A chemical bond that is applied to the batting and cured. Resin bonding acts as a "temporary hold" and will soften up after the quilt is washed.

With thermal bonding, low melting point fibers are blended with other fibers in the web and heated to achieve bonding.

Quilting distance: This is the recommended number of inches between lines of quilting.

Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cat Quilt Nears Completion

A final look at Camie's Cat Quilt. This is a quilt of 12 cat blocks, representing each month. My favorite kitty to quilt was the October cat (my birthday month). Click on each picture to see a close-up of the detail. Quilting tip: Top thread is Presencia 50/3 cotton (black); bobbin thread is Aurifil 50/2 cotton (cream--I used this exclusively in the bobbin to match the muslin backing). The cat looks and feels like he has real fur. I put a clamshell background behind the cat using Aurifil 50/2 (gray). Finally I used Sew Art nylon monofilament thread (smoke) to stitch-in-the-ditch between the patchwork below. All my anchor quilting, which is the first step in securing the rows of quilt blocks, was completed using mostly nylon thread in the top. With cream thread in the bobbin I was able to deal with thread pop-ups to the top of the quilt by using a very fine point black pen (Pigma Micron .005) to do touch-ups. This is what many award-winning quilters do and it works!

Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs