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Cotton Quilt Batting

Quilting with Cotton Batting

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Cotton Plant

Cotton Plant

Photo by Jonathan Kantor / Photodisc / Getty Images
Cotton quilt batting is a traditional choice for the middle layer of a quilt sandwich. When you inspect older or vintage quilts with cotton batting, you might feel little nubs through the top and backing fabrics, remnants of the cotton plant that weren't removed from the batting. Today's cotton batts are manufactured using a multi-step process that eliminates the leftover bits and makes the cotton easier to quilt.

You'll find a large selection of cotton quilt batting when you shop; variations include loft (height, or "puffiness") and in how closely quilting stitches must be sewn to keep the batting intact in the finished quilt.

Advantages of Cotton Quilt Batting

  • Cotton is a natural product that breathes, allowing excess heat to move away from the body as you sleep under it.
  • Cotton batting becomes softer with age and use.
  • Cotton batting does not beard (a problem you'll encounter with polyester batting).
  • Cotton batting shrinks a bit -- a nice quality if you would like your quilt to have a vintage appearance.
  • Cotton tends to stick to the quilt top and the backing, allowing you to baste less.
  • Cotton batting is a good choice for wallhangings, because cotton isn't as stretchy as batts made with polyester fibers -- the quilts will hang nicely, with no drooping.
  • Thin cotton batting rolls up compactly (a nice quality for machine quilting).

Batting from Other Natural Fibers

Wool batting is more expensive than cotton, and is warmer to sleep under.
Silk batting is another natural-fiber choice. It's very easy to hand quilt and drapes nicely.

Variations in Cotton Quilt Batting

  • The minimum distance that lines of quilting stitches can be sewn from each other varies quite a bit, from 2-3" for some types of cotton batting to up to 8-10" for others (particularly bonded batting, which has a very thin stabilizing layer affixed to each side of the cotton).
  • Some types of cotton batting are bleached to make them whiter.
  • Some kinds of cotton batting are easier to hand quilt than others; buy samples if possible and make test sandwiches (if that isn't possible, read labels carefully and ask other quilters for recommendations).

Read labels carefully before you buy any type of batting.

Cotton Batting - Brands

Learn about cotton batting offered by the following manufacturers:

Warm and Natural needled cotton batting.

Mountain Mist offers many types of quilt batting, including 100 per-cent cotton.

Fairfield Batting, the link takes you to a page that describes their natural fiber batting.

Hobbs offers its Heirloom Natural batting and also manufactures batting that is 80 per-cent cotton and 20 per-cent polyester.

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