Quilting on a budget is something we all think about. How can we stretch our money so that we still have enough to stock up on fabric and patterns? One way is to get sneaky and spend a little less on the part of the quilt that no one sees – the batting. Today on the blog we're talking about pinching a penny by using poly-blend batting.
When I first started my quilting journey I thought there were only two good batting options: 100% cotton or whatever batting my longarm quilter chose to use. (She didn't tell me and I didn't ask.) But since then I've discovered the fluffy warmth of wool, the easy breezines of bamboo and silk, and the subtle luxury of poly-blend batting.
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Poly-Blend Batting in an Affordable Nutshell
In case you’re new here: batting is that thick sheet of material you put in your quilt sandwich to add insulation and loft to your quilt. It’s the layer that really amps up the coziness factor to any quilt, which means that even though once a quilt is finished it's completely hidden, it’s still very important.
Poly-blend batting combines polyester fibers with another fabric. Why would we want to do that? Well. Polyester is considerably less expensive than other batting fibers, so that can be a huge plus if you’re quilting on a budget! You can also get the advantages of two different fibers in your quilt, and depending on what you’re going for, two can be better than one! (We’ll get into the super-strengths of polyester a little further down!)
What Is Blended in a Poly-Blend?
When we’re talking about poly-blend batting, we’re usually talking about a blend of polyester and cotton. This combo is pretty magical because it’s loftier but lighter than 100% cotton, and it’s REALLY versatile (eg. people like it for utility quilts, children’s quilts, charity quilts, small quilty gifts, table runners, placemats, wall hangings and… almost anything!)
The ratio of polyester to cotton is commonly 80/20… 80% cotton so you get all those cotton-y benefits, and 20% polyester for the LOFT, BABY! You can also find 60/40 and 70/30 blends out there, too, which are really pretty similar in feel, they just have some extra poly-lofty-lightness.
Above is a Perennial wall hanging that uses an 80/20 poly-blend batting. Get the Perennial quilt pattern and make your own!
Remind Me What Batting Loft Is Again...
When I first heard the word “loft,” I imagined a trendy apartment in Manhattan. But when we’re talking about batting, loft is something a little different. Loft refers to the height of the quilt batting (I think the technical word for that is “puffiness,” but I digress…) The higher the loft is, the fluffier and puffier your quilt will be.
Loft is often a matter of personal preference. If you want a fluffy quilt that really shows off your quilting lines, go for high-loft batting. If you want people to get a good look at your patchwork and desire a flatter finish, low-loft is the way to go.
So Poly-Blend Batting… What Makes You So Special?
I’m so glad you asked! Poly-blend batting is lighter than it’s cotton alternative, and it’s also more mold and mildew resistant. Because of these two properties, people really love to use it for baby quilts. Poly-blends give you a lot of choices when it comes to thickness, which is awesome when you’re very particular about your loft.
But, to be honest, one of my very favorite poly-blend properties is the price point. Poly-blend battings range in price based on their density (different than loft) and the amount of polyester in the blend.
It's no secret that the SQ favorite batting brand is Quilters Dream. This company is constantly thinking of ways to give back AND creates a beautiful and consistently high quality product too. From Quilters Dream alone there are 10 different polyester and poly-blend battings to choose.
My Favorite Poly-Blend Batting Includes:
- Dream 80/20 (This comes in white or natural. Natural batting has flecks of dark cotton in it, which I try to avoid because sometimes it can show through light fabric. In my opinion, choose white batting over natural.)
- Dream Pink (This is also an 80/20 blend, but PINK AND 10% of sales go to metastatic breast cancer research.)
- Dream Blend (70/30 blend designed specifically for longarm quilters)
- Dream Poly Deluxe Loft (This is a dense, weighty batting that provides extra warmth and volume.)
- Dream Black (100% Polyester - read more about black batting here!)
- Dream Green (Soft and cozy denier polyester microfibers made from recycled bottles - one pound of this batting = 10 plastic bottles.)
Tips and Tricks
Quilting with poly-blend batting is similar to a high-loft cotton. It has a soft, fluffy feel to it when machine quilting, and responds well to movement. One thing about this batting is that its density does make your machine work a little harder, and you may sense vibration. This is ok! Just be patient with yourself and go slow and easy on your machine.
Synthetic fibers like polyester have great longevity, so it can be washed a number of times and still hold its shape and loft. This is another reason people like to use it for baby quilts! Babies tend to be… er… dirty.
Do you love poly-blend batting? Tell us your favorite brands and tips in the comments!
34 thoughts on “Quilting on a Budget with Poly-Blend Batting”
Thanks for this article. Now I feel better about using a poly cotton blend for a gift quilt I just finished! It is “puffier” which I prefer. And saving $$ is definitely an advantage, since I seem to be addicted to buying fabric!! As long as the batting doesn’t beard, I’m all for a blend.
I’ve never had a poly-blend beard, so why not save some cash? 😉
I’m a Hobbs girl. Mostly I use 80/20 but love their Heirloom Wool!
I appreciated this post very much! I have been wanting something a little loftier and poly blend seems like a win-win.
Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 cotton poly blend is what I used exclusively as I began my quilting journey my first 50 quilts are made with it and have held up wonderful and are very cozy and loved. Only recently have I began branching out now that my quilting budget is larger and I kind of know what I am doing. I still default to Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 for many projects though. It’s a workhorse!
Great to know!
The reality is, “Babies do unspeakable things to textiles!” As told to me by a quilt shop owner many, many years ago.
My first quilts I made were baby quilts – or what I would say more like a floor mat to keep baby off the cold, hard (dirty) floor. I wanted loft and knew it would be washed often. The cushier the better! I used only poly-blend. When I started sewing larger quilts I changed to 100%cotton, and plan to use bamboo and wool soon. Love your articles describing the differences.
From a enviromental perspective and according to a NPR radio show I caught yesterday (Journalist Adam Minter Tracks the Afterlife of Our Unwanted Stuff in ‘Secondhand’), I don’t think we should use it. Journalist Adam Minter explained that the least problematic fibers to decompose are natural fibers. We quilters take great care to only using 100% cotton for the top and backing. I think we should take the extra step and have our life and the product of our hands be reflective of our mindset of creating something unique, individual and local and avoid using artificial fibers in our craft as they are harmful for the enviroment. I happily spend a little more today to not burden my children or gandchildren of cleaning up my mess more than what they already have to.
Keep in mind the environmental costs of cotton production though. I’ve read it’s a huge water hog. We’re still not there yet with our ideal fabric/fibers, so I feel we should keep our minds open and try to make each piece count.
I agree with you. I have tried wool which I love but it is for special quilts, I am going to try silk and bamboo for these too, otherwise I use polyester or a blend. I do not quit to sell mainly for the pleasure of doing it. I hand quilt sometimes too.
This post came at the perfect time as I’m about to buy batting for my baby’s first quilt! We live in a basement walkout apartment so moisture can be an issue.
I like the puffiest poly batting I can find….one thing I dislike so very much is the lint from the cotton batting…it is either poly or wool for me. My sewing rooom has a hardwood floor…the dust bunnies from the cotton/cotton blend battings are unbelievable….!
I am wondering about the Dream Green batting. Has anyone used it? Personally, I think if they are going to produce something useful out of the gazillion plastic bottles that blanket our universe it couldn’t be that bad, right? The majority of the time I use only 100% cotton batting but I am willing to try others.
I’ve used the Dream Green batting before and it is wonderful! It has a nice drape to it and isn’t a super high loft. It does have a very soft green color to it, but not enough that it interferes with anything on the front of the quilt. It is very soft, and feels a lot like cotton. To be honest, I prefer it over the 100% cotton batting I’ve used in the past.
For almost all of my quilts, I use quilters dream 70/30 on the 93” wide, 30 yard roll, my go-to batting for almost 20 years. It’s amazingly stable for my home machine or on my long-arm and wears like iron after hundreds of washes. The investment in a roll means lower overall cost, and less waste because I cut only the exact amount of batting I need. (I still piece together every scrap for small projects and pillows and such!). For miniature quilts I use Tuscany 100% washable wool, split into two (extra thin) layers, to maintain drape, and I buy it folded in the package. When I occasionally buy silk or other fibers, I buy those in a package as well. While I’ve never had a problem with seeing natural batting through whites, all of Suzys recommendations pretty much line up with my experiences. Great article! – Emily Jackson @lemonyquilts
Greetings from the UK. You were asking about Dream Green batting 2 years ago – I’ve just found Suzy Quilts! Just to say I’ve been using it for general purpose household quilts with different colour quilt tops and backs. It is great to work with and washes well keeping it’s loft. Although slightly green in the “raw” I haven’t had the colour show through. Also feels good to be using recycled bottles.
I do a lot of charity type projects and I will say what I have easy access to is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. It has done a great job. Often on sale. Comes 96 wide so it is great for big and small projects. I have used Dream when I can get it and I love it too but not available locally.
Thanks for the article. There were more choices than I realized.
Great post! When I started longarming, I used Hobb’s 80/20. It was okay, not consistent in the density and the quality was questionable sometimes, I wasn’t impressed. I switched to Quilter’s Dream and WOW…huge step up! I offer my clients 100% cotton, 80/20 blend, and wool. It’s funny, very rarely does anyone request 100% cotton. A few years ago I saw that Hobb’s was offering an 80/20 (cotton/wool) blend, so I tried it…and honestly, it’s great stuff! You get a little loft and a little weight without having to use two different battings together. It costs a little more, but for “special” quilts it’s worth it.
A cotton/wool blend, you say? I’ve never tried it, but I sure will now! Thanks for the tip!
Thank you very much for all this useful information Suzy
I was a faithful 100% cotton batting user for years, but recently switched to Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. I have been very happy with the Hobbs – it’s also a little lighter-weight and since we’re living in a warmer climate now, it’s perfect! The price is also excellent, (some JoAnn fabrics now carry it and when it’s on sale, I’ve gotten it for less than $6/yd! longarm). My longarmer also uses it and has for decades. She recently did a batting lecture at our guild and had collected batting samples from multiple companies. She took the time to quilt, bind and wash each of the 30+ samples – it was very interesting to see the differences in the loft and how the quilting showed. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Hobbs Heirloom was still one of my top choices and looked as good, if not better in my opinion (and my longarmer’s), than many of the more expensive battings that are sold in quilt shops. Definitely worth giving it a try if you haven’t
Do you quilt with Dream Wool. I just tried it, it seems to be very lofty. I am trying to decide if I want to use it in my tail feathers quilt.
I do! I love the stuff! You can read more about that here – https://suzyquilts.com/why-wool-batting-makes-the-warmest-quilts/
To Suzy Quilts: (Or anyone else that can answer my questions) I have neuropathy in my feet and legs and am unable to sleep under heavy quilts which is a real bummer since I love quilts. Do you have any suggestions on the lightest batting that I could use to help with the weight of the quilt being lighter? I have also been reading up on different fabrics that might also be lighter in weight. What is your opinion on fabrics such as: Double/Triple Gauge, Shot Cotton, Voile Cotton & Cotton Lawn? I have been quilting for a few years now and make lots of quilts for charity for kids. I make quilts for an organization that requires the batting to be cotton or 80/20. I love the Dream Cotton brand but have mostly used Hobbs 80/20 because of the sales I usually find for that brand online. I have really learned a lot from this article and will definitely try the poly for my next personal quilt.
Wool is very light weight. I recently finished hand quilting with it and was surprised how lively it was to sleep under it. I ditched my cotton filled quilt for this one. I really cannot sleep well under a heavy quilt. Poly is also lightweight.
I see your comment is over a year old so I don’t know if you’ll see this. My grandmother used a heavy flannel as batting in her hundreds of quilts. It keeps the quilt very light and wears unbelievably. The quilts I have from her have been used (and sometimes abused) for years. All are over 50 years old. The exterior fabric is worn in many places but the batting is still all intact.
I personally have not used it in a large quilt but in smaller items and find it’s so easy to machine quilt on my little machine. In my opinion for lightweight and longevity it can’t be beat.
What kind of poly blend batting would you suggest for hand quilting? Trying my hand at hand quilting (and quilting in general) for the first time.
Honestly, most poly blends work great! The only thing to think about is if you get a really puffy one you’ll need to make sure your needle gets through all three layers with every stitch.
Can you share where you got your samples of all the batting types?
I emailed the manufacturer and requested them.
Hello, I’m not sure where to post my question but here it goes…I’ve been making memory quilts (mostly out of t-shirts that I’ve secured with pellon) for friends who have lost loved ones. Most of these quilts tend to be displayed on their walls instead of being used. I always use Quilters Dream but since reading this post and seeing alternative batting materials I’m curious if I could save some money and use a batting material that isn’t so expensive. If they are going to be displayed on a wall maybe a different material could be used? Does anyone have any ideas?
Hi there! It’s been a while since your comment but maybe you’ll see the answer still. I’ve used fleece blankets before, especially for baby quilts. You can get them very cheap and depending on the size you’re making maybe it would work for you.