Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Batting Sample Update

I've finished both Matilda's Own batting samples and washed them.  Here's the results.

This one is covered in pre-washed fabric - it has free-motion, hand quilting, grid and applique, same as the unwashed sample

I had some interesting results with these.  I should point out though, that the covering fabrics are not the same (silly mistake on my part). The unwashed sample fabric is a rather heavy and stiff calico, while the washed sample is covered in a thinner, softer calico.  This will have a large effect on the results, and in fact I'll have to do it again to get a proper comparison.  But for now, this is what I ended up with.

On the right is the one covered in pre-washed fabric.

You can see instantly that the pre-washed sample is a lot less wrinkled and puckered and the stitches are clearer.

After washing the unwashed sample shrunk 1/2 inch

The pre-washed sample shrunk 1/4 inch

Of most concern is the effect on the hand quilting.  The unwashed sample wrinkled and puckered so much, that the design for the handquilting is completely gone - it just looks like a mess.
That is supposed to be 4 heart shapes!??
Here's what it looked like before washing

The pre-washed hand quilting fared better.............

This was quilted with grey thread

Another thing to point out - the Clover blue water soluable pencil didn't wash out!  Doing batting samples is also a good way to test out marking techniques.  I suspect another wash or two will get rid of the blue, but I'm not really happy with this - it's supposed to disappear when washed!

The samples were hand-washed in hand hot water, then line dried.  Harriet suggests washing the samples up to 15 times, re-measuring and comparing after each wash.  I would expect more shrinkage with each wash, which means more wrinkling and puckering.

I've started a folder, in which I'll keep the 3rd sample batting, along with my notes.

Ok, I have about 40 more samples to do - it's a lovely distraction and although I'd be happy to spend the next month making samples, I still have quite a few projects to finish!  I'll be busy with other things for a few days, but then it's back to borders!


  1. I really enjoyed this, very informative. Did you use the same batting? I pre-wash sometimes, depends on which way the wind is blowing:-) If I'm hand-quilting I don't pre-wash due to liking the "old" look.

    Thanks for the information.


  2. Hi Jilly

    Yes both have the same battings - one is sandwiched in pre-washed fabric and the other is sandwiched in un-washed fabric. The difference is quite noticeable isn't it? The batting I used is a local one called Matilda's Own 100% premium cotton.

  3. You are truly on an adventure in quiltmaking when you start to study batting. After all, batting is the only thing that makes a top a quilt! I must advise though that the samples are not valid unless everything is exactly the same - the same batting, the same fabrics top and bottom and the same threads on both samples. If one fabric is really heavy and one is really soft, the results are uncomparable. Also, keep the water at 85 degrees F when washing. If you have From Fiber to Fabric, read Chapter 8 about testing. Hot water is hard on everything, especially dyes in the fabrics of quilts. Control is the word when testing anything. This is a good time to correct these things since you just started. I would suggest that you buy really good quality calico from the quilt store for these samples. I know it is an expense, but your samples are going to be a reference library from here on in and should represent what you are making your real quilts out of. Think like a scientist.
    Hang in there, you will be amazed at how all this affects your quilting choices and finished product once you have all this information under your belt.

  4. One reason the blue marker may not have come out is that the samples were washed in HOT water. I think the heat would have set the dye - better to sponge the blue lines with cold water until they are gone, and then wash. Sue

  5. I too am a firm beliver of always prewashing my fabric before using it in a quilt. Prewashing the batting depends on the use of the quilt after it's finished (charity, children, utility) or show quilt, wall hanging. I sometimes pre-shrink my batting to keep my quilting looking better. Nice pictures and reference though. I will send some of my beginner friends to your site. Dar S

  6. Hello Lesley!
    Harriet was recently here in our town giving wonderful classes- I was lucky enough to get into the Town Square class which is from the Quilter's Academy-Freshman Year. She gave us a link to your site and I have been looking over your progress. Very impressive work indeed!

    I am very interested in this particular part you are doing now, as I too, am testing out various battings that Harriet sent me and am glad Harriet clarified the way to go about it. It is very inspiring to see all the work you are doing and it's great that Harriet is stopping in to give you, and basically all of us extra pointers.

    I look forward to watching your continuing progress!
    Keep up the incredible work! It is great fun-isn't it?
    Rita from Ohio

  7. thanks for posting and experimenting! i am new to sewing and hear from everyone NOT to prewash when making a quilt, for the desired crinkly effect. but i'm very glad to see just exactly what the less crinkly prewashed effect looks like; i may prefer it, actually!

  8. Lesley, I came upon your blog quite by accident while searching for samples and was thrilled to see someone else doing this study of battings. I too am doing a batting study I currently have 62 batt samples I have tested. I also noticed we are the same age. Come check out my blog http://quiltersbattinguniversity.blogspot.com/
    I am taking my samples around to quilt guilds for quilters to get hands on "look" at the results!
    Good luck w/ your endeavors

  9. Soak your samples in cold water for a few minutes then wash with hot H20 & detergent that way your blue marks will all dissapear!