Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Batting Average- a short history of batting

The choices of what to put between the layers of our creative textile creations, can be confusing. Way back in the 'day', when I first started quilting- I would pretty much use whatever I could find, like old blankets or felt. Being self taught, I just did the natural thing. Historically, blankets covered in tied patchwork were called Haps. One day I decided to wet a finished piece and throw it into the dryer to 'pouf' it up so the stitching would stand out. I liked this so much I continued until I forgot to pre-wash a piece of old red blanket. Well, I had a result I really didn't appreciate much.  I was still hand quilting and appliqueing then and disasters like this were not worth the risk anymore!  So the search was on for a 'new' batting. In 1980, I was introduced to a 
new quilting guild. They used polyester batting and I gave it a whirl. I didn't like it at all. It stuck to my fingers, was difficult to hand quilt and the finished quilt seemed stiff and decidedly un-blanket like. SO, I moved on to try cotton. This batting needed to be quilted every 2 inches or it would shift. Thats when I decided to learn to machine quilt, which was not accepted then. It was untraditional. BUT, I figured, if the ladies hand stitching quilts had machines to quilt with, they would have. So, off I went, hunching over the machine, learning to quilt. BUT cotton was limp and unattractive for wall-hanging quilt batting. SO, I tried wool, which stitched well, smelled wonderful and had good body but was ex-pen-sive! Then, cotton natural, a needled cotton batt was introduced. It was firmer and didn't need lots of intensive stitching. I used this for many years and still have some I pull out for certain projects. I've also tried fusible battings which are quick and easy but seem to work best for small projects. I even made a transparent organza pieced quilt with organza inside to meet the 3 layers criteria of some exhibits. That was fun as it was an interior collage of sorts. My current favorites are stabilizers. They come in a variety of thickness and I like choosing just the right one for the project at hand. It is amusing for this old batt to review the progression of all the different kinds of battings I've used. I guess you could say I'm batting a thousand!

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