What is batting, exactly?

Batting is usually just an afterthought once the fun parts (picking fabric, and designing and piecing the quilt) are done. But it’s more than that! It’s the heart of the quilt: when you snuggle under a quilt, batting keeps you warm. It deserves just as much care as the rest of your quilt! So use these tips, our cheat sheet, and our size chart to pick the best batting for your quilt.

Let the quilt pattern guide your choice of batting.

Modern quilts generally have a more streamlined look than soft, fluffy baby quilts. So modern quilters tend to use cotton batting, which gives a flatter finish, while polyester batting, generally the loftiest, is common in baby quilts. Cotton and polyester are the two most common types of batting; see our cheat sheet below for info on bamboo, eco-friendly, and wool batting.

Batting in a 2.5″ wide strip is super useful! All those jelly rolls and strip quilts can use this size batting, especially for quilt-as-you-go projects, and it works really well in small projects like potholders, Christmas ornaments, or quilted jewelry, too.

Moldable batting is a stiff form of batting used in tote bags, hats, and other craft projects. It works great in those projects, but it’s generally too stiff for quilting.

Click to download and print or save this handy quilt batting reference guide.
Click to download and print or save this handy quilt batting reference guide.

What color batting to buy?

If you are working with a deep, true Amish black fabric, consider a black batting. This minimizes contrast in case of bearding. Otherwise, white or natural should be fine.

What size batting to buy?

Re-measure (measure, don’t guess!) your quilt top when it’s done, then look at our quilt batting size chart below. Compare the size of your top to the sizes listed, allow an inch or two extra batting (quilting always takes up some batting), then decide what size is best.

If your quilt will be longarm quilted, you must allow much more. The Keepsake Quilting longarm service asks for an extra 6” all around; all longarmers ask for at least this, and many ask for more. As a result, you might have to go up a size in batting. It’s worth it to get your quilt finished properly!

Quilt batting sizes

Batting size chart

Terms To Know When Choosing Batting For Quilts:

  • Loft: the degree of puffiness that batting gives the finished quilt.
  • Sandwich: the three layers of the quilt as a group: top, batting, back.
  • Longarm: a large quilting machine that pulls the top, batting and back through separately, and hence always needs extra batting.
  • Bearding: when bits of batting work up through the quilt top. Keep your piecing nice and tight and you won’t have to worry about this!

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Categories

Beginner’s Corner, Informational, Quilting Notions
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About kqstaff

We here at Keepsake Quilting are dedicated to bringing you all the fabrics, notions, tools, and kits you love—plus expert advice on how to use them to make beautiful quilts, table toppers, wall hangings, accessories, and more. We enjoy quilting just as much as you do, so we’re always up for fun contests, events, and ways to live the quilting lifestyle. As we observe our 30th anniversary, we hope you will join the discussion and celebrate with us!

12 thoughts on “What is batting, exactly?

  1. This is a great chart but I disagree with the wool batt information. I have hand quilted two quilts with wool batt and it is lovely to hand quilt.

    1. Hi Pat,
      Thanks for writing! My info on wool batting is from personal experience and from talking to my quilting buddies: several quilters warned me away from wool, I tried it anyway, and found it difficult to needle. I had a flannel backing, which might have mattered. I used my regular quilting needle, which is a little larger than what the other hand quilters I know use. That may have something to do with it also. I was using Hobbs Tuscany.

      But really, thank you for your opinion. We can all talk quilting, even if our opinions are different. Maybe I should give wool another try, or try machine quilting it. The quilt I wanted to use it on was autumn colors with a flannel back, and I had in mind a super-snuggly winter quilt, which is why I went for wool.

  2. One piece of information that should be added to every discussion on batting for beginning quilters is this: If your project has fabric that is high in polyester (such as most gingham or making a keepsake quilt with someone’s clothing) use a cotton batting or an 80/20 because you will have bearding if you use 100% polyester.

  3. What a great guide to battings! As I am working towards become an instructor, this would be a wonderful reference tool to include in my class handouts… who do I need to contact for permission to use your Quilt Batting Reference Guide? Thank you for the great info!

  4. Your chart says to only quilt wool by machine/longarm yet when I click on wool in the text above, the link takes me to a product page which says it is excellent for hand quilting. Please check these things out for consistency and accuracy before you educate your readers. Thanks!

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