When your goal is to make a warm quilt, what extra steps should you take to keep comfortable during a cold winter or when sitting in the stands of a football game in January? When winds are blowing, you are much more concerned about the insulating properties of a quilt vs. the decorative ones! |
What Makes a Quilt Warm?
Since a quilt consists of a top fabric, a batting in between for warmth, and a backing fabric, finding ways to increase warmth through one of these components is the logical choice.
Choices for the top fabric. When quilting, the fabric that you use for the top of the quilt probably contributes the least to warmth. You can use cotton or calico fabrics, but some fabrics such as flannel, fleece, or corduroy have a warmer feel to them. As a new quilter, you can't go wrong sticking with 100% cotton fabrics.
Selecting the backing. The backing on the quilt is what most often touches your skin. Many experienced quilters use fleece or flannel on the back. Some find that fleece is too stretchy, so flannel is always a good choice. For best results, use fabric that is the same color and weight on the back, especially if you plan to machine quilt. It can be difficult to quilt through uneven levels of material.
What about the batting? The material that is sandwiched between the top and bottom makes the biggest contribution to keeping a quilt warm. When selecting the batting for the interior of the quilt, you may be concerned with fiber (the material you use) and loft (the thickness).
Popular Types of Batting
There are four common types of batting that quilters use:
• Polyester batting is available in many thicknesses or lofts, with the thickest being the warmest. It is durable and washable, but is the most flammable type of batting. If you are making a quilt for someone who will be sitting near a fire, this might not be the best type of batting to use.
• Cotton batting is stable, soft, and washable for a lightweight all season batting. Pre-shrinking cotton batting is recommended, as it shrinks. Some quilters consider a brand called Warm and Natural a "warmer" batting because it will not bunch up or separate, so the batting remains consistently distributed.
• Cotton/poly blends mix the softness of cotton and the stability of polyester. Their loft is between cotton and polyester.
• Wool is the softest, warmest batting to use. Low loft varieties may be washable, while thicker batts may need dry-cleaning. If washability is important to you, make sure to check the specs. Wool has long been the standard for a warm quilt. Some quilters who want warmth without bulk use a wool blanket as batting
There are also other choices such as bamboo, soy/corn/flax, and other animal fibers, but the warmth as well as other characteristics such as washability vary for each one.
Should you Hand Tie, Machine Tack, or Machine Quilt for Warmth?
Thick quilts seem like they would be warmer, but many very warm battings are rather thin. Some types of batting such as extra high loft batting, Fat Batt, or a double layer of poly batting can add to warmth, but this type of inside material makes machine quilting difficult.
For best results, you should be prepared to tie it, or machine tack thick batting, as working on the machine is cumbersome. If you absolutely must have machine quilting, take it to a quilting service with a long arm machine if you decide to double up batting material. The risk? Machine quilting compresses the batting and loses the loft that makes it warm. Hand stitching may be preferred. The type of batting you use will affect the ease of hand quilting as well.
The most important factors in making a warm quilt are the type and loft of batting, and your method of finishing the quilt.
Related Articles -
making a warm quilt, quilting, quilt fabric, quilt batting, quilting fabric, pre-shrink quilt fabric, polyester batting, cotton batting, wool batting, ,