Changes Happening and a Quilt Batting Primer

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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.

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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.

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Happy Canada Day

Well here we go again another two weeks goes by and no post. Last post I mentioned maybe quilting one of my own quilts before my schedule got crazy. I should have known better, life got really crazy and still is. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel though so that is good.

I was just sitting at my computer with a brownie in the oven that I was making for the church Canada Day picnic. I don’t like to leave the room when I have things in the oven. I tend to forget them and not hear the timer, this never turns out well. I received an email from Craftsy regarding a sale they had on this weekend, I haven’t looked at Craftsy lately so with 20 minutes to kill I thought I would take a look and see what was new.

There was one class that I hadn’t seen before on machine quilting so I watched the trailer and then went down to the reviews. Sometimes I don’t know whether to shake my head or just laugh. I actually do a bit of both. This particular class got mostly rave reviews but there were a few 1 and 2 star reviews so I read them.

This is where the head shaking comes in, after reading the reviews it is quite obvious that the writers reading compression is not very good. The few bad reviews all complained about how disappointed they were etc etc re whatever it was but here’s the deal, the class wasn’t about those things, in fact it clearly says it in the description of the class and in the trailer!!! These people are leaving bad reviews not because the teacher can’t teach but because these people can’t READ!

Oh well, I feel sorry for the class instructor though as these people who obviously have issues are bringing down the overall score of the class which is a shame. Hopefully the instructor realizes this and doesn’t take these comments personally.

On Sunday there was a silent auction for Dee’s Orphan Kitten Fund. It was fun catching up with an old work friend and seeing all of the items up for action. Kevin and I adopted our Mia through Dee’s and my friend had asked me to make a quilt for the auction. I heard it went for $180.00 which is below it’s value but still better than it could have been. I had taken a bigger picture of this from my phone but when I moved it over to the larger screen realized it was fuzzy. This was a small lap size although I put a hanging sleeve on it in case someone wanted to hang it.

Cat's in the Window-2

The other quilt I finished was a custom made quilt.

Pia's Memory Quilt-3

Pia's Memory Quilt-4

This was a graduation present and it was made of fabrics that all had meaning for my client. Some of the fabrics she picked out at the Cloth Castle  and some were from old duvet covers she had growing up. The pattern was one she saw on pinterest and wanted me to make. It is just 2.5 inch strips cut at different lengths and made into 12.5 inch blocks. I cut some of the panels of the duvets apart and used them on the back of the quilt. I used the Bora Bora pantograph from Urban Elementz which you can purchase at the Cloth Castle. I love the way this turned out and hope she gets many more years from her memories.

So Happy Canada 150 to all.

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A Quilting Update

Well the days are whizzing by, or at least it seems like that. I remember being told that time moves faster the older you get. I could never figure that one out when I was younger but I am beginning to see how that saying came into being. Of course being busy helps with time appearing to move faster.

The weather here in Victoria continues to be unusual or at least it seems that way. It appeared to jump from winter to summer overnight, a few wonderful days and then back to winter overnight again. So far we appear to have missed spring altogether this year.

Here are a couple of random photos taken while Cocoa and I were on one of our daily walks. We ran across this turtle behind the pond near where we live. He/she had come out to enjoy the sun that had finally shown itself that day. Don’t worry Cocoa didn’t harm it. I picked Cocoa up and we carefully stepped over the turtle and left it in peace to enjoy the day.

My crazy work schedule has slowed down a bit and that is both good and bad. Good as I finally have time to relax and do some planning and maybe actually quilt one of my own quilts (we’ll see how that goes), and bad because slower work means less money coming in. Oh well, I am enjoying having a little time to sit back and actually think about what I want re the future. Besides come July 10 the schedule will go back into crazy mode again so I need to just enjoy the time I have while I have it.

Princess Kieva Quilt-1Princess Kieva Quilt-2

Recently I got the chance to work on this wonderful quilt. This was really fun to work on, the only drawback I had is that the silver Superior Sew Fine 50 thread I used as the background colour for a large part of the quilt ended up being back ordered. I had one small spool of the thread so I ordered a cone the same day I started working on this quilt and I didn’t receive the thread in the mail until 10 days later. Not great however it all turned out well and I love how this quilt turned out.

Even though I previously posted that I am not a huge fan of doing pantographs there are quilts that call for just an all over edge to edge design. I am very good at doing simple edge to edge for kids and baby quilts and I really enjoy those however I thought it would be nice to have a couple more sophisticated edge to edge designs available for people who want them. The Cloth Castle where I work recently brought some pantographs in so I purchased two that I liked.  Both are by Urban Elementz, one is Deja Vu and the other is Bora Bora.

I have used the Deja Vu on a client king size quilt (which I forgot to take pictures of) and it turned out great and I have also used it on a smaller quilt for a client that needed a quick wedding present.

Blue Quilt-1Blue Quilt-2

I did like the way these turned out. I just finished a custom quilt (one I completed from start to finish) with the Bora Bora pantograph which also turned out really well, however I am still sewing down the binding on that one so the client hasn’t seen it yet other than in pictures I have sent so that will have to be posted later.

Good friends are like quilts they never lose their warmth

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Part 1 Panama Canal Trip

Hey I’m back!! Brr it’s still cold here in Victoria, what’s up with that! I really thought that the good weather would have been here by the time I returned from the trip. It was beautiful on Friday afternoon when the Nieuw Amsterdam pulled into port in Victoria but the next day rain and COLD! Ugh!

Mom and I had a great trip. We picked up the ship in Fort Lauderdale Florida. The weather was warm but not really that sunny as you can see from the photo below. Panamal Canal Trip-1

Panamal Canal Trip-2

Here I am sitting by the aft pool. Mom and I arrived at the ship early so we were able to tour the ship with relatively few people hanging about. The Nieuw Amsterdam is with the Holland America line. It is one of the larger in the Holland America line but it’s not so large that you get lost.

Fort Lauderdale is has many canals and small channels near the port. Here is a picture of a freighter coming through the channel that we left by.

Panamal Canal Trip-3

Our first port of call was Holland Americas own island Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. It is a beautiful location with a gorgeous white sand crescent beach. I found the water temperature cooler than I expected however it was nice and refreshing once you took the plunge.

Panamal Canal Trip-4.jpg

Here is a picture of the Island taken from the ship. You can just make out the crescent shape beach.

Panamal Canal Trip-5

Mom and I got there earlier than most so once I had settled her into our sun shade I walked the length of the beach. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was still a bit of cloud cover so although it was nice and warm it was perfect for a long stroll on the beach and since we were one of the first groups to land on the Island the beach was almost empty. Heaven!!

The next two days were sea days where we found time to relax and enjoy the warm weather and find things to do on the ship. Mom and I splurged for a “spa package” where we had access to a thermal pool, sauna, heated beds and a meditation room.

Image result for nieuw amsterdam hydropool pictures

Image result for nieuw amsterdam hydropool pictures

During those sea days Mom and I spent some time getting to know two of our dinner table mates a little better. It was great fun going to name that tune or listening to some of the on board bands and music with them.

Well that’s it for this leg of the journey soon I will post pics on Cartegena and the Panama Canal transit.

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