Changes Happening and a Quilt Batting Primer

6dfa7320b9df7b2d116879a5ca140fd2--quotes-about-giving-up-quotes-about-people-changing

Winter seems to have come early in this part of the world, we even had snow a week ago. One day I am walking the dog wearing just a sweater and two days later we are having to pull out the complete winter gear. Yikes. I hope that is not a sign of how this winter is going to progress.

Well, it’s been awhile since I have posted an update here. I have been super busy working and quilting customer quilts. I have made some changes in my work life these days as I am no longer working at The Cloth Castle. I really enjoyed my time working there, however, I was offered more hours at my other job and it does pay far better. So with that and the fact that I am getting busier with client quilts as well, I made the decision to simplify my life a bit.

It has been a good decision even though I do miss working at the store and meeting all of the customers. I now have my weekends back and it is far easier to schedule in time with family and friends, as well as time for quilting. Now I just need to find some time to quilt my own quilts.

Awhile back I wrote a newsletter on how to choose the right batting for your quilts. This question has come up again so I thought I would repost this article here.

Batting Primer

Batting-Choices-ChasingCottons

 

There are a lot of different types out there and I could probably write a whole book on the subject. Not sure it would be the most interesting book mind you but still…

Each step of bringing a quilt to completion has its own choices, challenges, and delights. Some people love piecing the quilt top but could easily forgo the sandwiching and quilting part of the process. I guess that’s why I know lots of people with a drawer full of unquilted tops.

Batting selection can be boggling these days as there are so many choices on the market. So how do you choose the right batting for your project?

Where to Start?
First off you need to start by asking yourself some basic questions.

What am I making? 
Is this a baby quilt that will be washed over and over, a wall hanging that may never be washed, a bed quilt or heirloom keepsake.

How will I be finishing it?
Will this be tied, hand quilted or machine quilted.

Machine Quilted
If the quilt is to be machine quilted, what kind of quilting is required, loose all over design or an intricate custom quilted design?

The type of batting to be used in your project will vary depending on the answers to the questions above.

Basic Batting Terms
Once you have answered the questions above it is time to move onto what types of batting are available. Here are some simple terms to help you get started.

Loft: High
Loft is the thickness of the fluffed batting. A high loft is anything above 1/2 inch, and the highest lofts come in the polyester battings. These types of battings are typically used for hand tying quilts

Loft: Medium
The fluffed batting is somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2 inches.

Loft: Low
The fluffed batting is somewhere between 1/4 – 1/2 inches. This is the most common loft for machine or hand quilting.

Quilting Distance
Quilting Distance is the distance between rows of quilting stitches which will keep this batting from shifting or bunching. This varies radically depending upon the type of quilting you are using.

Bonded 
Fibers are held together through a bonding agent, similar to a glue. Some bonded battings may not be able to be preshrunk as the glue used may dissolve. Another drawback to this type of batting is that the quilting stitches may need to be really close together.

Scrim
A light, loosely woven fabric, sometimes used to stabilize batting fibres when needle-punching. Often a polyester fibre, it may even be used in batts labelled as all cotton.

Needle-punched
Fibers are loosely felted together by a felting process using tiny needles. This creates a more stable batt, but some hand quilters find it difficult to use as it is quite firm. Most needle-punched batts include a scrim for securing the fibres. They may provide more stability for wall hangings.

Different Batting Fibers 

So now you have decided what the quilt is to be used for, whether you are going to tie, hand quilt or machine quilt the finished top and you have some idea of batting terminology, now it’s time to pick what type of fibre you want your batting to have.

Cotton 
Fiber from harvested cotton bolls.Cotton is stable, soft and washable however it will shrink. Cotton tends to yield a flatter look than a polyester or cotton/poly blend when quilted. The cons of straight cotton batts are that the batting can ‘beard’ or have fibres migrate through the stitching holes of the quilting.

Polyester
Polyester batts have a higher loft than cotton and offer great stability between fibres. Polyester batts are the best choice when you want to ‘tie’ a quilt as it will have the least bunching.

Cotton/Poly Blend
Considered by many to be the best of both worlds, these blends offer the softness of cotton and the stability of polyester. Bonded ones may be easier to hand quilt than needle-punched. Blend percentages vary by product however the most common blend is 80% cotton and 20% polyester.

Bamboo 
The fibres from bamboo are long and strong, but surprisingly soft. Bamboo can be as drapeable as silk, and as soft as fine wool.

Wool
Wool is extremely soft, and the warmest batting option. It is easy to hand quilt and is a good choice for machine quilting as well.

The above types are the most common on the market today although there are others. There is a batting made out of recycled plastic bottles that is called a green batting and I believe it has the colour green as well. There is also silk batting and organic batting. Both of these types are more expensive.

As well as the above there are also thermal battings used for oven mitts and very low loft thermal battings used for placemats.

Batting Colour
Once you have finally decided on what type of batting you are going to use there is one final consideration to make and that is the batting colour. Now some people may not care about this but depending on the project and how the quilt is to be used it may be a consideration.

Battings can come in three colours (4 if you count the green plastic bottle one). These are

Cream or Off White
This is the most popular colour of batting. Both Hobbs 80/20 and Warm and Natural two very popular types of batting are cream or off-white in colour.

Black
Hobbs 80/20 batting also comes in a black colour. You may wonder why anyone would use a black batting, however, consider this, if your quilt project is mostly black and bright colours you don’t want a white or cream batting showing through the needle holes. In that case, you may prefer to use a black batting. Black batting is a little stiffer than the cream because of the black dye however it does soften up with use.

White
Most 100%cotton batting is white and there is a batting called Warm and White that is also very white. You would want to use a white batting if your quilt is more modern with a solid white background colour. The cream batting would dull the bright white look of the quilt.

Conclusion 

I think for batting you may just need to get some small samples and test them out yourselves until you find the brands types you love.

As for me, I have used the following battings.

Hobbs 80/20 (my go-to batting for everything)
Hobbs 80/20 black
Kyoto Bamboo Batting (lovely to work with
Hobbs Wool
Warm and Natural (quilts up nicely)
Warm and White

Well with all of the above I may have just confused you more than enlightened you. I didn`t even touch on fusible batting something which I loved to use when I was quilting using my domestic machine. I never used fusible on baby quilts though.

Click here to receive the free Inspiration Journal pattern and sign up for the newsletter

Inspiration Journal

 

Busy End of Summer

The first day of Autumn. I love Summer and this one was particularly good however the weather has changed now, it’s still sunny but much cooler.

The last few weeks have been busy with some local travel going on. Kevin’s daughter had her housewarming party in Nanaimo a few weekends back so Kevin and I headed up there for the day. We got there early so enjoyed fish and chips on the wharf in downtown Nanaimo as well as some window shopping before heading to the party.

It was a beautiful sunny day especially considering it was Labour Day weekend. Picture perfect actually.

The next weekend my Mom and I took the ferry to the Mainland to visit my sister and her family. It rained the Saturday but the weather turned warmer on Sunday. Didn’t matter much though Mom and I spent most of Sunday at Ikea in Coquitlam doing some damage to my credit card. You should have seen us trying to fit everything in the back of the SUV and we still had to pick up my friend Karen from New York at the airport on the Monday. Ha we got it all in but it was a tight squeeze.

My wonderful nephew holding my sweet great niece Georgia. She is just too cute for words and loves to cuddle.

So on the Monday Mom and I picked up my friend Karen from New York and we headed for the ferry. We lucked right out and were able to see a pod of whales along side the ferry half way through the trip. Ha saved the money for having to take a whale watching trip.

I had made Karen a quilt (of course, that’s what I do) so here I am presenting it to her. The picture isn’t great. Kevin is awesome at editing videos, painting and music but picture taking isn’t one of his strengths yet.

It was fantastic seeing Karen again and getting to show her around the beautiful place where I live. I had a great time and it gave me the opportunity to see some places on the Island that I haven’t visited in quite some time.

We lucked out too as the weather held right up until her last two days here. We spent an afternoon touring Fort Rodd Hill which I hadn’t done in years. Above is a snapshoot of Fisgard Lighthouse.

Last Friday we went up the Island and stopped at Whippletree Junction for some shopping. I found a great old Elna sewing machine (which I haven’t taken a picture of yet) and two lamps. We had lunch at a great restaurant right on the water in Qualicum Beach and then stopped at Little Qualicum Falls. From there I took her to Cathedral Grove to see an ancient Douglas Fir ecosystem. It was so still and quiet in the Grove except of course for the cars on the highway. Oh well.

Karen flew back home on Tuesday and I miss her already. I had a great time playing tour guide and falling in love with Vancouver Island all over again.

With Autumn comes the cooler weather and of course quilts. People are starting to get back to sewing again and thinking it’s only a few months now until Christmas, so back to work to help my clients finish their projects.

Click here to receive the free Inspiration Journal pattern and sign up for the newsletter

Inspiration Journal

 

Weekend Fun at Qualicum Beach

The weather here in Victoria BC is still holding. It has been a beautiful summer albeit a bit smoky at times re the forest fires raging all around the province and into Washington and Oregon.

A couple of weekends ago I actually had a weekend off of work. It turns out that Kevin got contacted about a band reunion that was being held on the Sunday in Qualicum Beach. The timing was perfect so we made arrangements to join in the fun. This was a band, Chevy Ray and the Fins (sorry have no idea why that name) that is still playing in the Nanaimo area today. Kevin played in it for 3 years in the 80’s so this was quite the reunion with as many different former band members that they could contact. One even traveled here from Ontario to be a part of the reunion.

Since I had the weekend off Kevin and I decided to make a weekend of it and traveled up the Island on the Saturday, taking our time and making some “touristy stops” that we don’t normally do. It was a lot of fun and the weather was sunny and warm. We stayed at the Buena Vista by the Sea in beautiful Qualicum Beach BC on Saturday Night.

We checked in at 3:00 pm and then I settled down on one of the lounge chairs on the patio with an audio book where I could learn and enjoy the fantastic scenery at the same time. Kevin went down to the water and enjoyed a swim in the ocean. I prefer the tropics for that type of activity although he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

This was the view of the back of the Inn and one of the loungers I enjoyed.

The next day Kevin and I spent some time reading on the beach and then had a lunch in town before making our way further north to the reunion.

We had a really great time and even though it was only a one night getaway we both really felt like we had a wonderful break from the everyday things we do. What do they say, a change is as good as a rest.

Click here to receive the free Inspiration Journal pattern and sign up for the newsletter

 

Inspiration Journal

 

Time vs Money

What a beautiful summer we have been having here in Victoria BC. It has been a busy one too.

Have you ever thought about the term Time vs Money. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. We had a woman come into the store where I work the other day and she wanted a new sewing machine which would use a ruler foot (a foot that allows one to use long arm rulers on a domestic sewing machine). She had a sewing machine but it would not take a ruler foot and someone told her that machine quilting with rulers on a domestic sewing machine would solve all of her problems.

Here was the difficult part though. She didn’t want to spend the money to get a decent machine to make free motion quilting easy. She wanted the cheapest machine she could get. Unfortunately the more inexpensive machines, while being able to get a foot to fit, didn’t have the throat space she would need to enable the ruler to fit. The other factor is the more inexpensive machines may not have the best stitch quality for free motion quilting either.

When I started asking questions like how much experience she had with free motion and since she was just doing baby quilts why not just use a walking foot I got some interesting answers. First she had tried taking free motion classes and she said she just wasn’t any good (none of us are when we first start out). Second she said she was now using stencils and marking the quilts and then using a walking foot but she keeps going off the line and so it wasn’t perfect.

So why did she want to try rulers?! She was told by a group of woman that all her problems would be solved by using rulers on her domestic machine.

First it takes TIME to be good at anything and you are not going to be perfect when you first start. When you were little did you just hop on a bike and start riding? No you more than likely had training wheels and had a few falls first.

Second it does take MONEY to be good at something. You need to invest in the right tools. A good machine helps, you don’t need to spend thousands but a Walmart special may not cut it either. You also need to invest in some good classes whether they are in person or on-line. The rulers themselves are not cheap.

As I started asking this woman questions to find out how best I could serve her I learned that she wanted perfection without spending either the time or money.

Well, for one there is no such thing as perfection unless maybe you invest $30,000 in a computerized longarm and even then you have to spend time to learn how to use it.

For another, well, you just have to put in the time and practice and be willing with the knowledge that the quilting is hand guided and it is never going to be perfect.

So, sadly I was not able to help this woman as she was after something that simply did not exist. She wanted perfect machine quilting without spending the time to get better and without spending the money on the tools that would help her.

This incident has led me to think about things in my own life. Time vs Money how many times have we all come up against something similar?

Let me know in the comments if you have come up against this time vs money thing.

Click here to receive the free Inspiration Journal pattern and sign up for the newsletter

Inspiration Journal

 

 

 

Getting back to Normal (whatever that is)

Wow the smoke from the BC Mainland fires is really making things look like fall around here although it is still really warm outside these days. It would be downright unbearable if we could actually see the sun. I had a text from a cousin that lives south of Seattle and he sent a picture of the skies above him and the smoke from all of the Mainland BC forest fires has even reached down in his area. I don’t think I have ever seen a fire season as bad as this one in my lifetime. I am hearing of a lot of homes being lost and that is so sad.

I myself have been feeling better although I did overdo things yesterday and am paying the price today. It’s fine though and I am finally back to quilting (OK maybe not today but I have been).

  

This was a fun quilt to do. It was a Dresden plate quilt design made up of all different types of fabrics. In keeping with the more traditional design of the quilt, the client decided on just simple stipple quilting in the background. I know some people don’t like stipple quilting however, for this application and design I think it worked well.

I used three shades of Superior threads So Fine 50. A Royal Blue, Soft Mint Green and a yellow. I can’t recall the numbers at this time though.

I just completed another quilt for the same client, she had made a quilt using old hankies and had hand quilted most of it however decided she didn’t want to hand quilt the sashing and borders so asked me to again just machine stipple quilt it. I don’t have a picture of this quilt but we used a soft yellow to tie the colours in the hankies together and it worked well.

I finally got a picture of Kevin wearing the hat I knitted for him. So here it is.

This was a simple hat to knit and it should keep him nice and warm this winter when he is working outside.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far now to go and see about maybe having an ice cream cone.

Click here to receive the free Inspiration Journal pattern and sign up for the newsletter

Inspiration Journal