Batts for Wearable Quilts

By Addy Harkavy

Quilters often ask me which batt to use in vests, jackets, and other garments, and though the choice is certainly a highly individual one, knowing the differences among batts should make the selection at least somewhat easier.

Hobbs has positioned its Thermore needlepunched poly batt for use in clothing (though it is great in quilts). Hobbs claims that this batt absolutely will not beard, and this claim appears to hold up. The batt is very easy to hand needle, makes a supple garment with good drape, and machine washes and dries well. For those who like poly batts, it can't be beat for the purpose.

Hobbs' Heirloom wool is not quite as flat as the other batts I'll discuss, but if machine washed and dried (first baste into muslin or old sheet) on warm settings, it flattens out some and is wonderfully stable in garments. It is also supple, drapes nicely, and a dream to hand-needle for a natural fiber batt.

Fairfield's Soft Touch 100% bleached cotton is more easily hand needled than Warm & Natural, needs no prewash, and can be machine washed and dried. It is quite flat, and there is just enough pucker; it should be quilted at intervals no greater than 2".

Morning Glory's 100% bleached cotton batt is very unpleasant to hand quilt, can be quilted at intervals of about 4", and otherwise shares the characteristics of the Fairfield above, though it doesn't seem as supple when quilted.

Last but not least ... my new favorite cotton. Hobbs' 100% Cotton organic. Needs no prewash. and can be machine washed and dried with minimal shrinkage. I find that this batt is the easiest of the 100% cotton to hand quilt, just having finished a baby quilt with Fairfield's Soft Touch, and having started one with Hobbs 100% cotton organic. To me, the difference in hand needling (with a #10 between) is dramatic. This batt shrinks minimally, may be slightly loftier than the Fairfield, but is still very flat, and gives a supple finish with good drape.

Finally: If top fabrics are white, white batts such as Hobbs Thermore poly, Fairfield 100% Cotton, and Morning Glory Bleached Cotton (machine quilt only) are great choices. If top fabrics are anything other than white, then anything goes! The 100% organic batt, though not white, is sufficiently pale that many would not object to it in garments with white fabrics.

I'm really interested in hearing -- and in reporting back to this page -- about other batts quilters like for wearable quilts, so if you have a favorite, don't hesitate to e-mail me at I'd like to know what brand you like; what you like about it; and what you think of its loft; wash/dry characteristics, and ease of hand/machine quilting. I'll include a summary of responses in another article that covers anything I missed!

(c) Copyright 1996 by Addy Harkavy. All rights reserved.


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