And guess what? I only found 2 questions this week!
I guess this means I'm moving too slowly? Should we stitch it up a notch and move on to new designs or would you like to stick with Stippling for a few more weeks?
Make sure to share your opinion in the comments below.
Now for the questions:
Pat from Color Me Quilty has asked a great question about batting:
What type of batting do you normally use?
Do you use different batting for different types of projects? Without doing trapunto, which batting would best show off the quilting in the top block?
I use Quilter's Dream polyester batting almost exclusively. I do have other batting in the studio that I'm trying to use up, so occasionally I'll use something weird, but 99% of the time I'm using either Select or Request thickness Quilter's Dream Polyester.
As for different projects - no, I don't change batting for different projects. A quilt is a quilt is a quilt. And for me at least, I know a quilt comes out nice, and is predictably easy to stitch with this batting.
Of course the one exception is quilted garments. I can't ignore the fact that if you quilted a jacket using normal batting, even the thinnest poly, it would likely come out so puffy you'd look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. For garments I use 100% cotton flannel that has been washed and dried twice in hot water to get the shrink out.
As for what batting creates a super puff similar to trapunto - I have HEARD about using wool batting, but I have not tried it myself so I cannot really say whether it works well or not.
Keep in mind that I'm a crazy nut for trapunto! If I want something puffy, I'm not going to leave it for the fates to grant me good luck with a wool batting. I'm going to quilt that sucker twice and relish every second I get to clip batting away (my favorite part).
For trapunto, I use Quilter's Dream Polyester in the Deluxe thickness for the first layer and Select thickness for the second layer. It always comes out perfect. Always.
Now that I've answered the main question, it's time for a little lecture...
Just like with needles and thread, batting is an opinion driven material, and one that's subject to hot debate.
Many quilters hear that I use polyester batting and thread and don't want to hear another word out of my mouth. Their response usually goes something like this:
HERETIC! How dare you suggest we use something other than COTTON!
Whenever I hear this kind of thing, I always have to ask:
"Have you personally had an issue with either poly batting or poly thread?"
...and the answer is always:
"No, but I've HEARD that..." which begs the argument:
Shouldn't your opinion should be based on what YOU have actually experienced?!
Get out there and try something NEW! Do you want to create a quilt with a super puff? Get your hands on some wool batting and play with it! A little 20 inch table topper quilt should be more than sufficient to know whether that batting is going to do the job or not.
Are you looking for a batting that will shrink a bit to hide mistakes? Try a cotton or cotton/poly blend with a small amount of shrink. Give it a go with a SMALL project to see what this batting will do before investing a ton of money and time into a bigger project.
Too often I hear quilter's complain "I'm trying out a new batting and I really hate it. It's ruining my project completely." and guess what they decided to test that batting out on? Inevitably it's always a queen to king sized quilt.
That's a really good way to ruin a quilt and hate your life for a LONG time with a batting that works in an unpredictable way.
When I say Test, I mean test and experiment with batting in a scientific way.
Make a list of all the things you want your batting to do. You might want it to:
- Shrink slightly to hide mistakes.
- Not shrink at all to keep the quilt flat.
- Shrink a LOT so the quilt gets a pretty antique look.
- Drape softly so the quilt is soft and comfy when quilted.
- Remain stiffer so the quilt looks good on a wall.
- Very thin and low loft so the quilt is easy to manage in your machine.
- Super thick with a high loft so the finished quilt is big and puffy.
- Allow quilting up to 4 or 6 or 8 or 12 inches apart.
When you shop for batting, look at the different packages, write down some names, then go home and Google the companies before buying. Learn more about different batting types from the company itself.
Hint: if the batting company doesn't even have a website, that's a good sign to go with another batting.
Of course, there's always a list of things we DON'T want batting to EVER do:
- Shift within the quilt - this creates ripples and lumps within the quilt you can feel when you run your hand over it.
- Beard - Just like guys wake up every morning with fuzz on their chin, terrible battings get out of the washer and are covered with fuzz on the back or front. The batting is literally leaking through the cotton fabric and once it starts, it usually doesn't stop.
- Smell - I know this sounds weird, but I once bought a batting that stank right out of the bag. I didn't want to risk a quilt that never lost that smell so that batting ended up in the trash.
Cut out a 20 - 24" section of the batting and either use plain fabric or piece together some orphan blocks to create a very small quilt top. Baste and quilt this mini test quilt the exact same way you will baste and quilt your regular quilts.
Finish the edges in some way quickly, then wash and dry the test quilt the same way you will treat your regular quilts.
Take note of what the batting is doing at every step of the game. Ask yourself questions:
Do you like the way the batting feels and acts in the machine? Is it too puffy / not puffy enough? Is the machine liking this material, or wanting to eat it?
Do you like the way the batting feels after washing? Is it draping nicely? Did it shrink as you desired? Is it showing any signs of bearding, shifting, or smelling?
Remember you don't have to go for a gold with each of these little test quilts. It's a test, not a masterpiece, so don't spend an excessive amount of time on each project, otherwise you'll burn out before finding a good batting.
Is it really worth going to this much trouble to find a good batting? Absolutely!
It's no fun to waste money on batting that sucks.
But the only true way to know if something works for you is for YOU to try it. If it doesn't work, tear that batting up into tiny pieces and stuff a doll with it. That way it's not totally gone to waste and make a note of the brand and thickness in a notebook so your lesson will not be forgotten.
Above all, never share an opinion about a particular material unless you've actually experienced it yourself. There seems to be a lot of talking and hearing in the quilting world, but not a lot of experiencing!
Just please don't contribute to someone else's phobia of new materials. We now have awesome bamboo, silk, soy, recycled polyester, and wool battings that all deserve a chance right next to the traditional cotton batting.
That being said, once you've found what works and produces the effects you like, STICK WITH IT!
This is basically where I'm at with batting, thread, and needles. I've had my experimental phase and found what works. For me, Quilter's Dream is the perfect batting and I have no desire to play the field to find something else that also works. What's the point?!
That said, I am keen to try the polyester created from recycled drink bottles. That just sounds cool!
Now it's time to jump off my soapbox so we can get to the next question:
Anne from Anne's Threads asked:
What do you use to mark your quilts?
I must have tried every marker available and I don't think I've ever found the right combination of visibility and remove-ability!
I use a blue Fine Line Water Soluble marking pen for any light colors. This works exceptionally well over white and lighter fabrics.
For darker fabrics lately I've been switching between the Sewline Ceramic Pencils and Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencils in white. I think these are pretty much the same and both work equally well with a thin, noticeable mark that brushes or erases off easily.
Of course, a blue pen or white pencil isn't going to show up well with fabrics like these:
Busy fabrics are really difficult to mark because so many colors and shapes are involved.
In this situation you really have to start looking at your quilts and planning ahead with your quilting. If you plan from the beginning to include marked elements in your quilt, make sure to choose plain, solid, or solid reading fabrics that you know you can make visible marks on.
If you look at a quilt design and decide you don't want to mark it, then you have full freedom of choice with any wild prints or colors you can find.
Keep in mind that marked designs aren't necessary on every quilt. This is the point of having so many filler designs - designs that can fill space on your quilt without marking!
When you bother to mark a design, you're taking an extra step in the process and you should definitely get credit for your work. Marking a design over busy fabric is really pointless because it simply won't show off or stand out as much as it could over simpler fabric.
Whatever you do, make sure to TEST YOUR MARKER before you mark an entire quilt with it!
Also whatever marking device you use, use it throughout your quilt!
I learned this the hard way with a very important quilt The Duchess. Most of the quilt was marked with the Fine Line marker which came out immediately when immersed in water.
But I happened to forget that parts of the quilt had been marked with a different pencil and I didn't erase these marks before dunking the quilt in warm water.
In the end, the chacopel pencil marks NEVER came out because the warm water heat set them into the fabric. It was a terrible lesson to learn on a quilt this big, but it's a lesson I've NEVER forgotten!
So that pretty much sums up this Question Thursday! Again, share your opinion about whether we should move on with more new designs or stick with stippling for a few more weeks.
If we stick with stippling, here's a few fun projects we'll work on together:
Time to shut up and quilt!