Let me tell you why wool batting makes the warmest quilts. Once upon a time, we were talking about why bamboo batting makes the best summer quilts… but a neighbor just told me I should rake my leaves, so summer feels like a fond, distant memory.
My winter hat has made an appearance, and I have wool batting on my mind. Enough about raking those leaves! I have more important things to do!
One of the great things about being a quilter is that you get to surround yourself in warm cozy things all winter, and the colder weather doesn’t seem so bad. One of the warmest and comfiest of those things is a good stack of 100% wool batting.
You May Also Like...
Wool Batting: A Warm Sustainable Fiber
Quick review: batting is that thick sheet of material you put in your quilt sandwich to add insulation and loft to your quilt. Wool batting is a warm, breathable, super-soft type of batting that I happen to love, especially this time of year.
Since wool is made from the coats of sheep, which subsequently will grow forever, it’s actually a really sustainable fiber, and naturally renewable! Way to go wool. You’re the best. Fun fact, in Australia a sheep was found roaming about and after being sheared, was 89-pounds lighter! Since just ONE pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn, that means 890 miles (or 1,430 kilometers) of yarn came from our fuzzy friend!
Wool batting is made by bonding wool fibers together, usually by heating it up and interlocking those fibers. When the wool is cooled, you have a strong layer of fibers that won’t shrink, bunch, or shift. PERRRfect for quilting. (Some batting uses resin to create bonds instead, but the effect is pretty much the same.)
Above is the Fishing Net quilt pattern and can be purchased here!
Wool Batting Keeps It 100%
Once in a while, another batting fiber, like cotton, will invite wool to join up to add some insulation. But normally, when you’re looking at wool batting, it’s going to be 100% wool. Why? Wool is happily single because it has so many great traits, all on its own.
So Wool Batting… What Makes You So Special?
On top of the warmth and sustainability points, wool batting is great for both hand and machine quilting. It’s always good to check your packaging, but for most manufacturers, you can quilt between 4" and 8", which gives you some flexibility when picking out your quilting motif.
Wool is also known for its great stitch definition, so if you’re a pro stitcher and want to show em’ off, team up with some wool.
Wool batting has a medium loft (between ¼" and ½") and it’s incredibly strong. The fibers resist creases and folds (yay!) and tend to spring right back instead. Keep in mind, though, that nobody’s perfect. You may want to watch out for wool if you have a lot of animal allergies (it really does come from sheep!) and since it’s completely natural, it’s also not perfectly white, which shouldn't be a problem inside your quilt, but now you know why.
Tips and Tricks for Quilting with Wool Batting
Wool is pretty agreeable overall, but there are two tips I can give you to make sure that the two of you get along swimmingly:
- If you open up a new package of wool batting and find that it has managed to hold a crease, try steaming it or tumble drying on low heat to get those folds out.
- Lengthen your stitch length. Typically when piecing a quilt my stitch length is 2.5. When I quilt, I bump that up to 3. However, when I quilt with wool I like to bring it up to 3.5 or 4. Wool is very puffy and I think the longer stitch length looks nicer. Shorter stitches can tend to look really tight.
Above is the Bohemian Garden quilt pattern and can be purchased here! Instructions on this binding technique are included in the pattern.
The Best Wool Batting to Buy
Now that I’ve spent this whole post hyping it up, let me tell you about my very favorite wool batting! Quilters Dream Wool Batting is my top pick because it’s so soft and quilts SO well! If you have never tried it, you really should to at least once!
What I love most about the Quilters Dream brand is the consistency. After sewing with package after package of this batting, I have never unfolded a piece and found a thin spot, hole or blemish. It's always beautiful quality.
If you're like me, wool batting may become your new standard just in time for this winter's first snow! So send me more wool and lots and lots of piping hot tea! And if you've got them, a few good movie recommendations, too 😉 It's time to hunker down and get cozy.
Do you love quilting with wool? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments!
Check Out These Fun Tutorials!
- Make a Quilted Zipper Pillow
- How to Make an Outdoor Quilt: Your Guide to Canvas
- How to Tie a Quilt…with a Modern Twist!
- A Simple and Elegant Quilted Table Runner Tutorial
- 4 Creative Ways to Label a Quilt
- Raw Edge Appliqué Tutorial
- Needle-Turn Appliqué Tutorial
- How to Hang a Quilt
- How to Make a Minky Baby Blanket
69 thoughts on “Why Wool Batting Makes the Warmest Quilts”
This has been the year of wool batting for me, having never tried it, I took my first foray. 4 wool batting quilts later, I’m still enjoying it. I’ve used Hobbs Heirloom and Tuscany wool batting so far, but I now want to try out the Quilters Dream wool batting to compare. I don’t think wool batting is for every quilt, but I’m slowly exploring so that I can learn to match my quilt tops up with their perfect companion.
I live in California – wool batting = too hot for me!! But one of my favorite movies is About a Boy. It’s definitely a feel good flick but makes you think along the way and it’s easy to empathize with the characters. My favorite California movie is Bowfinger. It is so good. May be best to watch in summertime or maybe some wool batting will make you feel so warm you’ll think you’re on an LA beach. I just finished your Stars Hollow baby quilt for a friend and it looks beautiful! Great pattern.
The soundtrack to About A Boy is so good!
would you hand wash in cold water a quilt made with wool batting?
I throw all of my quilts in the washing machine using cold water. I then use the air fluff setting or low heat setting to dry the quilts until they are damp. At that point I pull them out and let them air dry the rest of the way.
I pieced a pretty difficult quilt and used wool batting. It was fun to quilt and I was pretty darn proud. Put it in the washer on cold. Waited excitedly and then pulled out a BEARDED mess. Quilt is now in trunk of car. So bummed.
That is so sad!! May I ask what brand of wool you used? I haven’t had a bearding problem with Quilters Dream.
I got it from joanns. Last purchase I made from them sadly.
Me too. I was so sad. My daughter’s graduation quilt was furry. I wonder if you have a brand you suggest for wool?
Sally, did you wotk at Magarro Farms? Just reading about wool quilt batting and saw this…wondering if its the Sally King I know???
Hi Suzy! I love wool batting but sometimes miss the stickiness of cotton batting when I am smoothing out my quilt top for basting. I find that the wool batting doesn’t stick as much to the backing and top so I’ve had some sad puckering in my backing. Do you have any special tricks you use for making your quilt sandwich with wool batting? (I’m strictly a pin basting girl.)
Hmmmm…you may already be doing all of this, but just to double check:
1. Your backing fabric is pulled taut and secured to the floor with masking tape.
2. Steam or tumble dry the wool batting to get out all wrinkles.
3. Start on one end and roll out the batting while smoothing it out to cover the backing.
4. Start on one end and roll out your quilt top, smoothing it while you roll.
5. Pin from the center of the quilt out.
6. Pin really close together (maybe your pins weren’t close enough?)
7. Lift the pressure on your walking foot. Sometimes even walking feet can drag over fabric and pull it in weird ways. This is even more possible because wool is so puffy.
What about those of us who are extremely allergic to wool? What’s the warmest option then? I have felt so left out in the quilting world lately because everything has been all about wool and I can’t go anywhere near the stuff. Often times I end up disappointed because when a new project/kit comes out and it’s in wool, I always ask if there is an alternative. Most of the time, the answer is no.
My BFF has a wool allergy, so I’m very aware what a bummer it can be. There are some other great options, though. If you want to stick with a natural fiber, Quilters Dream Deluxe or Supreme Cotton are both incredibly warm and thick. It doesn’t have the same puffiness as wool, however. It’s quite dense. If you’re open to a synthetic batting, Quilters Dream Puff is a great option. It’s very similar to the Dream Wool, but a little bit puffier.
After years of using 100% cotton wadding, I now only use wool. It is amazing for hand quilting!
The quilts end up being light as a feather and are very usable in summer as well as winter.
I won’t go back to anything else now.
I agree that the light weight of wool is very appealing!
Have you tried white fleece to take the place of wool batting?
I’ve used it in several simple quilts for children.
Easy to work with & doesn’t shift.
I haven’t, but am intrigued. Thanks for the suggestion!
Absolutely agree about the fleece. It is light and warm.
I’m with you–QD’s wool is lovely. I’m always amazed by how much water a quilt holds after washing. I do a 2nd spin cycle (it’s a front loader so no rough agitation) before drying and they’re still pretty heavy with water. And yes, SHEEP are amazing. Check out the Herdwick breed (Beatrix Potter’s favorite) online–the pics & history will get you on a plane to England’s Lake district (I just went last month). For movies, check out the Italian movie called The Great Beauty–great soundtrack too: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2358891/ Thanks for being an inspiration of art, joy, & sharing.
This is concerning your request for good movies. The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn. Sidney Poitier and Mary Louise Parker. I’m very warm and repeatable movie rated PG. My husband and I both loved it. it’s included with Amazon prime.
I adore wool wadding for hand quilting. I find that if you team it with a Liberty lawn, linen or a double gauze it makes a great summer quilt. They feel light as a feather.
The only thing I would say is that it needs to be well basted.
Also, my cats go crazy for the smell of the wool and try to steal the cutoffs 😺😺
suzy – i love your posts – the writing and the photography and succinct details in your instructions are top notch.
so glad i stumbled on this one. i made a pretty sizable Liberty Of London (lol) lawn quilt – big churn dashes in lol lusciousness – and i am more freaked out about committing to the sandwich than i was about cutting into my lol fabric. i went to a quality quilt shop and bought Quilter’s Dream wool batting and was just checking to see if there were any tips or caveats for using wool…. breathing a huge sigh of relief now. thank you all for your comments, too, which support the decision to stick with QDwool.
Hi Suzy! I am new to quilting and I have a question about something you mentioned above. You said that you can quilt between 4″ and 8″ with wool batting. What does that mean? I recently finished my first quilt and I used cotton batting but now I’m curious about wool! I’d like to stick with hand-quilting for now.
That just means that the space between quilted sections needs to be less than 8″ for your quilt sandwich to remain stable.
I’ve started my first big quilt, yea for me. I’ve only done small project. I’m making an Irish chain for our RV queen bed, which are shorter than a regular queen, so I get to make it to fit. We live in Colorado and I have wool clothing and love it. My husband is always cold and I sleep hot. I don’t like heavy weight on me. I love the sound of wool, warm for him. Will it be heavy laying under it?
Wool batting is neither dense nor heavy, but insultes really well. It has a similar look to polyester puff batting, but is a natural fiber and will keep you warmer.
Hello! Thanks for the great primer on wool batting. I’m wondering if you can use cotton fabric when making a quilt with wool batting, or should the fabric be wool as well? Thanks 🙂
Cotton fabric works great with wool batting!
Hi Suzy, I’ve got 2 questions please!
1) in the photographs above, are those the 3.5″ machine quilting stitches? and
2)I am considering using for the 1st time double gauze backing and the wool batting, and machine quilting straight lines about 1.5″ apart…. Is this crazy idea? Thanks! you’re awesome!
To answer your first question, I quilted in the ditch in my Fishing Net baby quilt, so the quilting is about 3-4″ apart and the stitch length is about 3.5. Nothing about your idea is crazy. Go for it! And if you want to quilt even further apart, that would look nice too!
Hi Suzy! I have two questions for you. First, I’m not technically allergic to wool, but the smallest bit of it in clothing makes me itchy. Is it itchy/scratchy when quilted between two layers of cotton? Also, how is free motion quilting with wool batting? Does it look funny/tight because the batting is so puffy? Does that increase drag on the quilt?
You won’t experience any of the wool itchiness with wool batting because, if quilted correctly, the batting is completely covered. I can’t speak to the success of free motion quilting with wool batting since I’ve personally never done it. I would assume that it works, but you’d definitely want to do some testing on a small sample.
I have a number of very old wool quilts made by my now-deceased mother. They are becoming quite lumpy and stiff, and some of the covering material is ripping. Do you know where I can take them in the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada area to have the wool washed and remade into new batts for new quilts?
You could reach out to one of the Canadian longarm quilters on this list to see if they would do that – https://suzyquilts.com/ultimate-guide-to-longarm-quilters-in-the-usa-and-canada/
There is a wool mill in Alberta called Custom Woolen Mills that mentions something about carding old wool. You could contact them and see if they can help you.
I’m making my first quilt and it’s for my daughter. I’m actually making a puff quilt. Can you suggest an all natural batting that I can use inside the puff, that won’t ball up, bunch up, get hard, turn into little hard balls, etc.
I’m supposed to stuff each little square with a nice ball of filling. Can I stuff it with wool batting? Should I tear off pieces? How do you think it will wash?
I do not want to use polyester or any sort of scrim.
Thank you so much!
This sort of project typically calls for polyester filly because of its puffiness, but I think you could use wool. You will just need lots of it and it will be more expensive.
Hi Suzy, I have read and learned a lot from your blog posts. I want to start hand quilting and gathered from various posts that wool and bamboo batting are great for hand quilters. Are there any others you recommend?
Most battings work well with hand quilting, it just depends on the look, feel and “features” you want from the quilt.
Hi im new to quilting as well. What is a good heavy weight batting that is also kind of fluffy/thick?
Wool will be your best bet. You may also like a high loft poly or cotton/poly blend.
Hi Suzy. What do you think of a combo of linen fabric with wool batting? Would there be more bearding with linen?
Hmmmm…that is an interesting question. I think bearding happens the most under these two circumstances: 1. low quality wool batting or 2. dark fabric that makes slight bearding very visible.
Do the quilts in the photos use one layer of QD wool batting or two layers?
Just one layer.
I purchased QD wool batting with the intention of putting under a white/low volume quilt top…but I’m concerned if the batting color will show through since it’s not pure white?
I’ve never had a problem with it showing through. It’s still very light.
Does the wool batting have that wooly smell?
It’s been processed more than a wool pressing mat so in my experience there’s no smell.
Both Quilters Dream and Hobbs wool battings are very popular on Quiltingboard Forums, but I read in one post that Dream Wool is a wool/poly blend, and Hobbs is 100% wool. The benefits I can see are that quilting can be done up to 8″ apart on QD and up to 4″ apart on Hobbs, and shrinkage is less with QD. Even tho I live in southern California, wool is my new favorite batting: warm and cozy but breathable. This is what their website says:
“Our Dream Wool and Dream Puff battings are thermally bonded. This means the fibers are blended with a low melt poly fiber that is used as the bonding agent. The fibers are carded and sent through an oven where the low melt poly fibers melt and bond the main fibers securely in place, which prevents bearding, shifting, and shrinking…Should not be ironed or used in a hot dryer.”
They also address bearding (with tips) here: http://quiltersdreambatting.blogspot.com/2012/04/bearding-and-pokies-bane-of-quilting_20.html
Wool rules!!! For so many reasons. BUT… you haven’t even discovered the tip of the iceberg until you have quilted with REAL, authentic wool batting. I source this miracle batting from your neighbors in Michigan over at Frankenmuth Woolen Mill. This historical, family-owned operation produces batting on-site from local sheep that is comparable to ummm…. HEAVEN. (Awesome pics of the process on their website). AND, although thoroughly washed, it doesn’t get more inspiring than finding a bit of clover (I’m assuming it’s of the four leaf kind) in your batting! You might even, just a little bit, find satisfaction in secretly petting this batting as it’s so lofty and spongy you will swear it’s still wearing an awesome sheep underneath.
I beg you and our quilting community to take quilting through the roof and try this made-in-the-USA, sustainable, pure, home-grown, all-natural, LOFTY, substantial, farm-to-sewing-table batting on your next projects (are you seeing “double,” as in gauze, yet?).
Be forewarned that henceforth, it will be difficult to find satisfaction and enjoyment when quilting with mass-produced, commercial products, that can hardly be called batting thereafter. And when gifting such quilts (because they’re almost finished at this point), there is a chance of wincing ever-so-slightly with a tinge of shame.
Can’t wait for feedback!
Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your business and the referral.
The Frankenmuth Woolen Mil Team
Would it okay/possible to make a quilt with a double layer of wool batting? I’m asking because I would like to make myself a winter survival quilt LOL! I need it to be as warm as humanly possible! (Was thinking of doing two layers of wool batting and some Shannan Fabrics cuddlelux for the backing) Would this be doable? I’m sewing it on a Babylock so the thickness shouldn’t be an issue… Do you have any tips for a quilt sandwich that thick? Thank you!!!
It’s definitely possible and should help you survive some very cold days. haha! Next week on the blog we are actually posting about how to quilt using Shannon cuddle fabric, so keep an eye out! As for tips, I would mostly suggest keeping your stitch length around 3-4, pin basting really well and sewing slowly so you don’t get unsightly puckers while pushing so much through your machine. Good luck and I hope you don’t get too hot! 😉
Hi Suzy. I’m trying to join two good sized leftover pieces of QD wool batting and even though I’ve done this with other types of batting, it’s not working well on the wool – wavy and distorted. Any tips?
My favorite way to join batting is with fusible batting tape. Have you tried this? Here’s a post that will help – https://suzyquilts.com/fusible-batting-tape-why-you-need-it-and-how-to-use-it/
I’m thinking of using wool batting for a quilt, but I really like the vintage, crinkly look that cotton gives after being washed. Do you still get the crinkly look with wool – or is it more like polyester that doesn’t crinkle when washed?
Hey Lucy! Wool shrinks when it’s washed, so that will help get the crinkle look.
How was the quilt shown in above article ‘Tips & Tricks for Quilting w Wool Batting’ quilted—by hand or machine?
The baby Fishing Net quilt was quilted by machine. I stitched in the ditch, which just means I quilted on top of the pieced seams. The second quilt, Bohemian Garden, was completely hand quilted. You can find videos and blog posts about this pattern, as well as the pattern itself, here – https://suzyquilts.com/shop/bohemian-garden-quilt-pattern-download/
So here’s the thing. I would LOVE to use wool batting because I STAY cold in the winter. But I need something that can be tumble-dried and I have yet to find a wool batting the explicitly says that that’s allowed. At best I get “machine washable” with no direction on drying. Has anyone thrown their wool batting quilts into the dryer with no issues?
I tumble dry my wool batting quilts! I exclusively use Quilters Dream wool. Linked above.
Yay!! I’m going to try it out. Thanks Suzy!
Yes tumbling dry a quilt is definitely the way to go
Yea the sheep was from my home town of Canberra the capital city of Australia
There is also now a children’s book written about the said sheep. The money from the sale of the book goes to our RSPCA to help all animals
Keep up the incredible work you do
Merry Christmas hope you have a fantastic time
Do NOT iron wool batting. The package says that but I didnt notice. Ironing flattened my batting and it didnt fluff back up after washing.
I’ve bought the quilters dream wool and it has bearded terribly and contacted the company, used their tips but it continues to beard. I have a whole roll and don’t even want to use it anymore.
Oh no!! I hate hearing this. What kind of fabric did you use in your quilt? I’ve never had this experience.