Today has been a somewhat cold and frosty day – for here in middle England anyway. It’s a day when I leave the toddler at home with his home-working dad while older son and I do the 1 mile school walk. Have you ever noticed how it is your middle thigh that feels the cold first? I’d have thought they were so, erm, ‘padded’ that they would keep warm far longer than the rest of my legs.
Anyways, this morning the temperature was -4 degrees celsius by 8am, whereas tomorrow it’s supposed to be +8 degrees celsius all night. I don’t know about you, but planning the correct bed clothes, thickness of blankets and heating is a trial when the temperature changes so much. You almost need a quilt for all occasions.
Speaking of quilts, there are many different materials available these days that you can use to stuff your quilt.
It’s a long time since quilts were stuffed with duck feathers – thank goodness. My Grandma’s spare bed had one of these horrid eider-down things. I can still see it now. It was an unevenly faded, insipid lime green colour. Every morning all the feathers ended up at the bottom end of the quilt, so every day you had to give it a really good shake to get any filling back up to the top. Some of the feathers would invariably escape and fill the room with floating bits of down. And it was so itchy and scratchy where the feather stems stuck through and poked you in the chin, that in the morning you had what looked like a shaving rash. Happy memories!
Thankfully, things have progressed a long way since then. Nowadays, for your home-made patchwork quilt you can purchase a whole multitude of different types of wadding or batting (the correct terms for the stuffing).
Here follows my incredibly simple and potentially non-helpful guide to the stuffing in your quilt…
1 – Go and chat with your local salesperson at your local quilt / fabric shop. They know all and everything about what they stock and are the best to help you. This isn’t a cop-out, it’s a fact. I still ask them every quilt I do – because I just can’t grasp it all.
That’s it really! But if you want to know more, here’s some extra information to confuse and baffle…
2 – ‘Loft‘ is the term used to describe the thickness of your wadding. The bigger the loft the fatter the quilt.
3 – ‘Weight’ is, surprisingly(!), the weight of the quilt. The heavier the hotter.
4 – ‘Scrim’ is a technical term for the fabric that binds your wadding together into a fabric. This turns your ‘bits of filling’ into a fabric rather than it being loose and annoying like the previously mentioned eiderdown. HIgher the scrim levels, the further apart you can quilt your wadding. If, like me, you aren’t really into the quilting so much then you want lots of scrim.
5 – Synthetic wadding is made of synthetics. Usually polyester or sometimes recycled plastic bottles. It is not breathable so DO NOT / NEVER EVER use for a baby / young child or physically infirm person’s quilt. Never!
6 – Natural – Usually cotton, but sometimes wool, bamboo or silk.
As an aside, my family are all allergic to wool so any quilt with that in it would not result in a peaceful night’s sleep! If you are sewing a quilt for someone else, ask them first – or just to be safe use a hypo-allergenic filling.
7 – 80/20 or similar ratios refer to the mix of synthetic and natural fibres.
8 – Some waddings need pre-washing, some don’t. Check the label when you buy.
9 – Some stores (online and proper shops) have sample packs with lots of different waddings so you can try them, feel them, squish them, etc.
10 – Just ask the man / woman in your local shop. It really is the best thing to do.
If this subject matter really interests you, there are whole day seminars on the topic and probably books too. Extra things you can learn are, for example, that the various fillings do make a difference to the drape (how it hangs) of a quilt.
Anyway, that’s my fairly unhelpful introduction to batting or wadding. Have fun stuffing your quilt!
Bye for now