I’m kind of excited to share today’s post. Don’t be anticipating anything life changing here; small things make me happy 🙂
I’ve been hearing about wool batting, reading things about how to use it, how to wash it, whether or not to let it dry flat or use the dryer etc. I’ve also been hearing and reading things about what makes a finished quilt soft or not so soft; there are people who think it’s about the density of quilting, others who think it’s more about batting.
So I decided to do a little test for myself to see how the wool batting behaves for me. I want to be able to use my thread and my quilting style and then launder it the way I would expect to launder a quilt that is being lovingly used (which means no hand washing or laying flat to dry because I just can’t be bothered! Even clothing that requires me to forego the typical laundry day routine isn’t allowed in my house…)
I made this small quilted piece with some open feather plumes and some dense quilting so I would have different spots to compare. A friend suggested to me that using wool batting can give the quilting a trapunto effect without actually doing any extra work of adding another layer, so I wanted to try that out as well.
Here is a close-up sort of cross section view of the batt I used:
You can see in these first three pictures the lovely loft that the batting has and the texture you can create just by doing your regular stitching. Open spaces will really pop (like uber pop – even more than with my usual batting) when the surrounding areas are densely quilted.
I tossed this sample into the washer with a load of towels (ie. no special temperature, no special treatment, no gentle cycle) and when it came out I was glad, but not surprised, to see that it was still in tact and there were no obvious issues. So, into the dryer it went, with the towels, and again with no special settings.
Here is how it came out when it was dry:
It came out of the dryer just fine, no clumping or anything. It’s softer than my other quilts, made with either 100% cotton or cotton/bamboo blend battings, and I love the “trapunto” effect. Win.
Shrinkage? No more than my other battings, as far as I can tell. The piece went into the wash at 9.75″ X 25″ and came out at 9.5″ X 24″. Another win.
Now the practical reality of all this is that wool batting does cost more and the difference in cost for wool for the size of quilts I usually make amounts to approx. 1.5 times the cost of the others.
For example, my typical batting cost works out to around $14.50 for a 60″ X 60″ size batt (I do purchase in bulk). For this brand of wool, the cost would be approx. $23 for the same size batt. It sounds like a lot more – and in some cases it won’t be worth the extra money – but for special quilts, it would be very nice, especially if the trapunto effect is desired.
**I do think it’s a bit lighter in weight overall than the other battings I use, so if you are a person who prefers the heavier weight quilts, you might find that it’s better to stick with the others. I haven’t tried any other brand of wool yet though, so will update this post if I have additional info to share when I do 🙂
4 thoughts on “Wool Batting -#Winning”
I’ve done about 5 quilts with wool and had varying impressions. The first one had a very thick, spongy wool batt. It was a little hard to manage, as the wool wanted to retract. I longarm and float the tops and batting, so it was a thing to learn. For the second one, the batt was about the same and I managed it better by pinning it along the loose (floated) side. I like that quilt a lot. But the battings I’ve bought since then are about half the thickness of those first two — same brand — and I’m not crazy about that. They are very lightweight, even the thick ones. And I love the loft that the thick ones give, but there is not much loft for the thinner ones.
There is less variability with the polyester batting I usually buy. It’s the Warm Co. Soft & Bright. It is lightweight and has nice loft, and it’s not as expensive as either cotton (or cotton blend) or wool. In general I’ll plan to stick with it.
I’ve been using Hobb’s washable wool batting for about 10 years now & love it…..the loft giving it the light trapunto look, it’s light weight and warm and washes like a dream. Once I started using it I don’t use any other kind unless I’m doing a Community quilt and frugality clicks in then. I’m a machine quilter; a long arm is only in my dreams :). Love your work Ann; great blog!
Thanks for the info about Hobbs wool batting. I am going to try it soon 🙂 Do you put yours into the dryer as well?
Sure do; gentle cycle. It has always performed well.