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The Best Wadding for your project


Wadding (also known as batting in some parts of the world) is used as a layer of insulation or padding between fabrics, most often in quilt making, but also for wall-hangings, placemats, tea cosies, oven gloves, bags and more!


However, there is a wide range of waddings and many are very versatile and usable in a variety of projects, so choosing the correct wadding for your project can be daunting, but it can also make all the difference to your project. From our experience of selling a wide range of waddings over the years, we have found that most customers find a personal favourite and tend to stick with it, but, if you are starting on your making or quilting journey and need some expert advice then hopefully this blog will explain away the wadding worry and batting bamboozlement :-)


What’s in a wadding?


Before we get into options though, let’s briefly cover the terminology and main features:


Fibre Type: Waddings come in a variety of fibre types, which can be natural or man-made or blends. The Fibre impacts texture, thermal properties, washability, shrinkage, reaction to allergies and price. Cotton and Cotton Blends won't be as warm as wool and polyester, but all the natural fibres will be more breathable than polyester. The fibre is also important when considering the environmental impact of your project.


Loft: This is the measure of weight / thickness of the wadding. Low loft is thin. High loft is thick. The higher the Loft, the more quilted your project will be, so if you want the features on your wall-hanging to be more 3D or stand out more, you should 'plump' for a higher Loft. A lower Loft is slightly easier to machine sew as it fits under the needle more easily.


Price: The price of 100% Cotton and Cotton/Polyester Blends are very similar. They are more expensive than Polyester, but neither are as expensive as Pure Wool or Bamboo. Like most things you buy, there is a trade-off between price and the qualities you deem to be important for the particular project.


So, let's look at the most common waddings available and what projects they best suit, including what we have found to be the most popular with our quilting community!

Option #1: 100% Cotton Wadding


100% Cotton Wadding is a favourite of quilters for bed-quilts and throws. It is considered low loft. It is more expensive than man-made polyester because it is a natural quality product. Most quilters put many hours work into their projects and the finished article often becomes a family heirloom which is intended to last many years.


Most quilts are made using mid weight (quilting) cottons and many quilters will only use cotton wadding as it has a soft texture and comfort made from natural fibres, it will stand the test of time, and its breathability makes it a great choice for people with allergies to sleep under. A good quality cotton wadding will contain no resin, sprays or glues. Although it is low loft, this is because the fibres are compact and so the quilt is relatively heavy and warm.

We sell Matilda's Own Cotton Wadding. Pure Australian grown and made, cotton-seed free and from the best fibres. It can also be machine washed, which is actually recommended before use, as there will be a small amount of shrinkage in the first wash.


"We favour cotton wadding as it is the same natural raw material as the fabric layers and it's great for machine quilting" Elna Andrew, Quilting Tutor.


Option #2 - Cotton/Polyester Blend


This is typically a mix of 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It has the benefits of 100% Cotton above, but with slightly more loft. It is also a firm favourite of many quilters with extra softness and durability.


“My favourite wadding is a cotton/polyester blend because it has the softness and shrinking nature of regular cotton wadding (which gives you that crinkled, vintage look to a quilt), but has the added durability of polyester. It’s easy to work with, drapes really nicely and has a consistent loft.” Katy Jones, editor of the former ‘Quilt Now’ magazine and author of ’25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks’

Option #3 - Wool


Wool is very lightweight and has great thermal properties, lending itself to bed covers and lap quilts. Wool batting is a natural and lofty option, normally ½" thick and resistant to creases. It holds its shape and will spring back making it excellent for hand and machine quilting. In some rare cases people may have a wool allergy so, although the wadding will be totally encased between the fabric layers, it may be worth checking first.


The big drawbacks with wool are firstly, that it won’t stand up to frequent washing (if washed in too hot a temperature it will turn into felt, which although disappointing, has the silver lining that it can be the start of another project!), and secondly, it is also a lot more expensive than the other options here.


Option #4 - Bamboo


If you’ve ever experienced a bamboo bathrobe you will know how silky soft this fibre is. It also drapes beautifully in a quilt.


Organic Bamboo is the most environmentally friendly wadding available as it requires no fertilisation, irrigation, pesticides or intervention from man during the growing stages. It is naturally anti-bacterial and very breathable. It is ideal for machine quilting and also machine washable. It is probably the lowest loft of all the different waddings here so not a great choice for oven gloves or as a tea cosy.


Its price though tends to limit it to the most important projects.


Option #5 - Polyester


This is usually the least expensive option and there are many varieties, but it is not really suited to bed quilts, so comes in narrower widths more suited to smaller projects.


There are different lofts from low to high but all are generally considered lightweight. They are ideal for hand-quilting and durable, keeping their shape well. A number of polyester waddings can also be ironed on to fabrics for ease and speed.


Generally, it is suitable for use with all fabrics and has better washability than natural fibres so great for baby items, oven gloves, tea cosies, table mats or other items which are likely to get stained on a regular basis.


The finer polyester waddings are also a great option for wall-hangings, where you don’t need warmth, just a bit of thickness.


If your project is a quilted cushion, 3D wall-hanging, or a baby’s quilted book, you will probably want a 'spongy' look and feel. 6oz weight polyester wadding, which has a high loft, will provide better definition to areas you need to stand out or just make the finished object squishable. 2-3 layers of 6oz wadding are also great for upholstery projects such as chair seats or headboards where you want a durable solid feel, but you can be easily cut or compress the wadding at the edges and corners for a clean finish.


For applique, tie backs, a 2D wall-hanging, or a layer of extra warmth in clothing, where you want some padding but not a quilted look, low loft iron-on polyester fleeces such as Vlieseline H630 or H640 are perfect.


For a tote bag, curtain pelmet, or tie backs where you want a defined stiff shape and you are working with heavier fabrics, then ‘Bag Batting’ (which is a very solid wadding) or ‘Poly Perfect’ (a soft wadding) are both good choices, as the polyester fibres are compressed with a low loft, giving a stiffer quality.


If you need heat resistance, a compressed polyester wadding with very good heat insulation qualities such as Thermolam 272 by Vlieseline, is a great choice, and ideal if you are trying your hand at making oven gloves or table mats. It is recommended to use at least two layers for these items.


Of course, the main drawback is they are not natural and don’t currently recycle easily, but more and more products include recycled polyester so look out for R-PES if you want to be more eco-friendly.


What's right for My project?

Here is a summary of sizes and projects using the top-quality waddings from Matilda’s Own, Fiberco and Vlieseline for every project and price point.

Wadding

Width (ca.)

Projects

100% Cotton

240cm / 90”

Quilts, Throws, Wall-hangings

80/20 Blend

240cm / 90”

Quilts, Throws, Wall-hangings

Wool

240cm / 90”

Quilts

Bamboo

240cm / 90”

Quilts

6 oz Polyester

240cm / 90”

Quilted cushions and books, 3D wall-hangings, upholstery

Bag Batting

240cm / 90”

Stiff bags, stiff home furnishings

Poly Perfect

240cm / 90”

Lap quilts, bags, home furnishings, wall-hangings

H640 / H630 Fleece

90cm / 35”

Applique, tie backs, 2D wall-hangings, clothes, bags

Thermolam

90cm / 35”

Oven gloves, tea cosy, table mats

If you want get up close and personal with any of the above waddings, just ask one of the our retail assistants to show you our very useful folder of wadding samples, each type is shown naked and stitched inside a fabric sandwich.


How to Buy

To give you best value for your project, we cut from the roll by the quarter metre so you only need to buy what you need for your project. However, if you are a prolific sewer or part of a sewing group, you can now buy in bulk and save, with these 30m bulk buy rolls below, saving you up to 25%




We hope you have found our words of wadding wisdom useful. Check out our top tips for using waddings below, and please let us know your views and any other handy hints you may have!


Top Tips for using Wadding

  • Lightly press your natural fibre wadding before use and smooth out the layers with your hands before basting the quilt. Don’t press a polyester wadding!

  • Remember to wash and thoroughly dry a cotton wadding first, if you don’t want the quilt to have that old-fashioned wrinkled finish, as cotton wadding will shrink slightly after washing.

  • You can join wadding if your piece isn’t large enough – push together the edges and stitch with a big zigzag on your sewing machine or by hand. Alternatively, you could use a fusible tape to hold the pieces together as they will be permanently in place once quilted.

  • Baste the three layers of a quilt together with the wadding in the centre. You can baste with quilters’ safety pins, quilters' clips, long tacking stitches, a tacking gun or basting spray (505 spray a very popular choice for this), depending on your quilt size and preference or whether it is going to be hand or machine quilted. Your layers need to be sufficiently basted so they don’t shift as you quilt.

  • Take great care if you’ve used polyester wadding and want to press your finished quilt – use a very low heat but be aware that the heat may damage the quilt.


Keep Crafting


The Crafty Fox Team

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