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

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