The Truth About Black Batting: When & Why to Use It

The truth about when and why to use black batting in a quilt. It's not always necessary, but it sure can make your dark fabrics look more vibrant.

Black batting is like the black sheep of the batting world, quite literally – it’s a little edgy, a bit rebellious, and a lot less popular than its white batting counterpart. It may not become your go-to batting, but just like your misfit cousin, it’s welcome in your sewing room….as long as it behaves.

I first heard about black batting a few years ago when I posted a question to Instagram, “Is there any way to prevent black threads from showing up underneath my white fabric after my quilt has been quilted?” You see, I had just finished quilting a throw quilt that used a lot of black and white solid fabric. (My first Fly Away quilt, to be precise.)

No matter how vigilant I was with my scissors cutting back the black frays, I couldn’t get them all. Then, to my horror, after the quilt was finished, those little deviant threads showed up even more!

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The truth about when and why to use black batting in a quilt.

Many quilty friends on social media told me about tools to pick the threads out one by one. I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to cut it for all of them, so when one quilter piped in to say that black batting was the solution, I was intrigued. You mean to say that batting comes in different colors? Not just white and cream??

I did some research and purchased a bit of black batting to give it a whirl myself.

The truth about when and why to use black batting in a quilt.

What is Black Batting?

Black batting can be purchased in many different blends, just like white batting. Most popularly, this batting comes in Cotton/Poly blends or 100% Poly. For the sake of my experiment, I purchased Quilters Dream Black Poly. It has the very mysterious moniker “Midnight Dreams.” You totally want to buy it now, right?

When to use Black Batting?

According to my new best friend on Instagram, you can use black batting when sewing high contrast quilts, such as black and white. This way those black threads don’t show up like unwanted veins underneath your light colored fabric. Even though I trusted her, I needed to run some tests. My test questions...

​Question 1: Does the black batting hide stray threads that can show up after quilting?

Holy moly it sure does! No more picking and poking with tiny little hooks to get those out.

Question 2: Does the black batting make the light fabric look shadowed or “dingy?” 

That is not something I noticed, however, I did not densely quilt over the light fabrics. I opted to quilt mostly on the dark fabrics so that if there was any bearding* or migration of batting, it wouldn’t be a problem on the light fabric. This brings me to the thing I probably should have started with…


*You heard me right. But not the kind of beard you’re thinking of. Bearding, in the batting world, is when fibers from the batting travel from the middle through the top of the quilt. 

The best way to avoid bearding from your batting is to use a sharp needle (probably fresh from the package) when quilting and piece your quilt top with tightly woven fabric. If your fabric is a loose weave or a low thread count, the batting fibers can easily travel through it once the quilt has been washed.  – this is also much less obvious if you use black batting when your quilt incorporates a lot of dark fabric.

The truth about when and why to use black batting in a quilt.

When Does Black Batting Say to Use Black Batting?

Just like our dark, rebellious batting, I’m not one to always follow the rules. However, in this case, the manufacturer’s instructions have a few helpful things to say about when they think you should use black batting.

Cotton and Steel campfire quilt

According to the Quilters Midnight Dream Poly Batting packaging instructions (I just had to say Midnight Dream at least once more...no, two more times. It’s so juicy rolling off the tongue!) black batting should be used when...wait for it...your quilt top is black.

More specifically, when your quilt top includes lots of dark or bright fabrics such as vivid reds, greens, blues and purples. The deep black batting actually enhances the warmth and richness of the quilt top’s intense dark hues.

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I found this to be true with the baby quilt I made using Cotton + Steel Spectacle fabric. The sashing is Add It Up Indigo and on top of black batting, it’s striking!

The truth about when and why to use black batting in a quilt.

Does This Mean I Have to Buy Black Batting?

Nope! My quilty friend, you should keep doing what makes you happy and feeling good. (My life philosophy right there!) White batting underneath a dark quilt top is not going to ruin your quilt. People have been doing that for millions of years (You haven’t heard of cavemen quilting?)

However, if you’re like me and enjoy experimenting with all things quilt related, I think you should give it a try and decide for yourself. Maybe it will solve your phantom thread problems too. And who knows, maybe you and your misfit cousin have more in common than you think. Best case scenario you have an ally at the next family reunion. 


Have you tried black batting? Or maybe a different shade other than white? (Does purple batting exist?) I'd love to hear about it. I'd also love to know if there are other scenarios when black batting should be the batting of choice. I could always use another excuse to buy more batting. 🙂

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11 thoughts on “The Truth About Black Batting: When & Why to Use It

  1. Sharon Lamey says:

    My long-armer was having problems with lots of white speckles showing through the black backing of my quilt. Could the white batting be part of the problem? We switched the back to purple but she hasn’t been back to my quilt yet.

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      White speckles showing through the black batting? I’ve only heard of the reverse problem happening with natural cotton batting. The reason I don’t use natural cotton batting is because I hate when dark specks from the cotton show through my light fabric. What brand of black batting are you using?

        • Suzy Quilts says:

          ahhhh! Yes, thanks, Dilly for catching that. Sharon, this sounds like your batting is bearding – which means that when the needle punches through the quilt sandwich it carries a bit of the batting up with it. Dark batting will majorly help this issue because even if bearding does occur, you won’t see it on the black backing. Changing the backing from black to purple probably won’t resolve the bearding issue. If it’s too late to change to a black batting, just ask your longarmer to use a brand new needle. A sharper needle will prevent some bearding.

  2. Bambi Pearson says:

    Love the article on black batting. I have a couple of projects on my list of to-do’s that will be mainly darker fabrics and may try using black batting for a change.

  3. Britiney says:

    This is so interesting. I had some black batting and I think I gave it away because I thought, “I”m never going to make a BLACK quilt!” But I love that it keeps those pesky threads from showing. Thanks for this investigative gem!

  4. patricia harris says:

    I don’t have a comment on blk batting but found ur info more than interesting & I’m going to try some blk sometime soon to see what I think. I ran into a prob recently & wondered if u have any advice. I’ve been quilting for a few yrs but have only ever bought 1 quilt kit which took me about 5 or 6 yrs to cut into as it was & still is the most expensive project I’ve done. However, I had occasion recently to wash it. It’s cream, brown, deep kind of burgandy red. It’s a beautiful quilt however, it ran, now it’s a mess. Is there anything I can try to get the red out of the cream???? Any suggestions appreciated..

  5. Pingback: 6 Tips for Straight Line Machine Quilting (a.k.a. Matchstick Quilting) - Suzy Quilts

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