Choosing batting is one of the most challenging tasks for new quilters. Not only are there a myriad of options, but there also several other considerations like loft and fiber.
In addition, there is the batting size to think about, and this is where things get very confusing. There is no fixed batting size, and even the measurements for pre-cut batting in stores vary by brand.
As a result, quilters often raise numerous questions surrounding the correct batting size needed for throws, twin quilts, queen batting, etc.
So then, what size should quilt batting be? Quilt batting should be a few inches larger than the top quilt across and lengthwise but a bit smaller than the backing. The actual size of batting, however, depends on the type and size of the project.
We understand that not everyone is familiar with standard bed sizes or their corresponding quilt sizes, let alone batting types and sizes. That is why we’ve put together this comprehensive post to give you a clear picture of what size of batting you need.
What Is Batting, And How Much Do You Need?
Batting is the middle layer of a quilt that gives it some insulation properties, loft, and structure. Quilts can be comforters, bedspreads, or throws. Even non-bedding items like placemats and wall hangings use batting.
The distinct feature is that they are triple-layered. The quilt top is the fabric with a fancy colorful pattern. Then there’s batting at the center and backing at the bottom or back.
It is basic knowledge that batting should be bigger than the top quilt. How extensive it should be in comparison to the top quilt or backing is the pertinent question.
Normally the batting is expected to be at least two inches larger than the top quilt on all four sides if hand quilting. Therefore, when determining the size of your batting, you’ll want to add at least four inches to the dimensions (W and L) of the top quilt or two inches all around.
In the case of enormous quilts that require the assistance of longarm quilters, you want to have an even wider border around. It is recommended that the batting be at least four inches bigger than the top quilt all around.
Should the batting be the same size as the backing? Batting should be larger than the top quilt but somewhat smaller than the backing. The backing is the biggest in size of the three layers, followed closely by the batting, and lastly the top quilt.
So why do you need the excess margin all round? Making the batting larger than the top quilt is to have some leeway when sewing the three layers together.
You could use some wiggle room because the sewing machine tends to draw in the batting and backing as you go making them shorter and shorter. The three layers are also shifty as you sew.
Without an allowance, the batting may end up getting smaller than the top quilt leaving you in real trouble if you do not have additional batting anywhere for back up. The extra material around the edges, therefore, cushions you from such a predicament, so you don’t have to size down your top quilt if the batting is pulled in too much.
Do not worry about bulk batting left around the border after you are done sewing and how to handle it. It is better safe than sorry; be liberal with the allowance.
Before hemming or binding, the extra is trimmed to size and all three layers evenly for a hassle-free time. You can then repurpose the batting scraps so that there’s no wastage.
How Thick Should Your Quilt Be?
When talking about batting sizes, many individuals think about the width and length. But there’s also the thickness to consider.
The type of quilt you are making often determines the thickness of batting you need; for example, a winter quilt needs to be thicker than a light summer blanket. Batting is available in various thicknesses depending on the fibers it is made up of.
Some are high loft, thus fluffier, and others are low loft, or flatter. Let’s look at the common types of batting by fiber, the available sizes, and what type of project they are best for.
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100% cotton batting is preferred for baby and children’s quilts due to its naturalness and breathability, which is critical for little ones. It is also popular in garment projects.
The natural fiber is also soft in texture giving a comfy feeling. Furthermore, it is readily available. Though relatively warm, cotton is not the warmest batting out there. Wool and polyester are much warmer choices.
Cotton may shrink a little and crinkle after being washed, which some people love, and others don’t. It is also a bit stiff at first but loosens up and improves with every wash.
100% cotton batting is available in 1/8″ thickness and is generally low-medium loft and suitable for hand quilting.
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Polyester is a synthetic fiber, and hence this type of batting can be manipulated to acquire desired features. It is super versatile as batting due to the widest variety of weights and thicknesses.
Despite being artificially made, it is loved precisely for its ability to maintain its shape and loft. It has a nice drape and remains thick longer than its natural counterparts that flatten with time due to compression.
Another great thing about polyester batting is that it is very warm, perhaps because of its low breathability. In addition, it is manufactured into various weights and thicknesses without necessarily getting bulky or heavy.
Because of its high loft, ability to keep the body very warm without added weight, resistance to mildew/mold, hypoallergenic properties, and ease of laundering, it is a go-to for warm quilts for beds.
Thinner batting is very light and may be used where puff and warmth are unnecessary. Polyester batting is the most affordable option and is available in 4 sizes:
- 10 oz is 1″ thick
- 8 oz is 3/4″ thick
- 6 oz is 1/2″ thick
- 4 oz is 3/8″ thick
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Wool is an animal-based fiber from the fur of sheep and, therefore, natural. It is loved for its warmth, spring, and very light weight.
It offers better loft than cotton and is warmer, puffier, and fluffier. It is also excellent at staying in shape and is crease-resistant. It is the perfect natural alternative to polyester and is preferred by most hand quilters.
Wool batting is a fantastic option for very warm quits, and is available in ½” thickness.
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Poly-Cotton blended batting is made from cotton and polyester and offers the best of both worlds. It is typically 80% cotton and 20% polyester though others use 60/40 ratio.
It is softer and more breathable than 100% polyester and warmer and drapes better than 100% cotton.
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Working with a bamboo batting or bamboo-cotton blend batting is the exact definition of a dreamy experience. Bamboo batting is lightweight, has excellent drape, and is super soft and cozy.
Bamboo is also very airy and highly breathable. Couple those features with its lightness, and you have the ideal batting for summer throws, cribs, and high-end clothing.
The organic fiber batting is made using renewable tree species hence is eco-friendly. Furthermore, the manufacturing process does not produce toxic emissions and makes very little waste.
It is ideal for machine quilting and also very friendly for hand quilting and is highly recommended for newbie hand quilters. However, the price of bamboo batting will seriously bite into your wallet.
How Do You Choose The Right Batting?
To choose the right batting, you’ll have to consider the pros and cons of each different type of batting and determine which suits your project based on this. For more information, here’s a helpful video on the different types of quilt batting from National Quilter’s Circle below.
What Sizes Does Batting Come In?
Batting is available in two forms. The first one is in a roll/bolt, which you can buy in bulk if you are quilting professionally and cut into different sizes as per your needs. Alternatively, you can have the seller cut just the size you need, usually sold by the yard.
There are a few great advantages of buying batting off the bolt, or one that is cut to your specification. First is being able to extend the overhang as much as you want. Second, it allows you to give the batting ample wiggle room.
Besides, just because a traditional crib quilt is 39” x 54” inches doesn’t mean yours has to follow suit. You can tweak the measurements and shape of your crib quilt to your liking and cut the appropriate batting size for it.
Another benefit of bulk and custom cut sizes is cutting batting for irregular-shaped projects without wastage, like pentagon coasters, mittens etc.
The other alternative is to buy batting in pre-packaged sizes. This type of batting is pre-cut into predetermined sizes according to the standard quilt dimensions for the regular US bed sizes.
There are pre-cut sizes for a crib, twin size bed, queen size bed, etc. This means you don’t have to stress over the measurements of batting, as long as you know the standard bed size for what you are making.
Unfortunately though, unlike commercial quilt manufacturers, many DIY and home sewists are led by their creativity rather than set sizing standards. Consequently, it becomes harder finding the perfect pre-cut batting for such quilts that deviate from traditional bed sizes or shapes.
Most times, the recommended pre-cut batting size will have margins that are not big enough, especially for longarm quilting. As a result, you may have to go up to two sizes up just to be sure.
That is a load of information we have unpacked. And we know how confusing it can be trying to recall all these numbers for different mattress sizes without an all-in-one reference point.
To save you the guesswork or constantly having to search for it, here is a helpful comprehensive chart. It can be your batting size guide for a bedspread blanket, comforter, or quilt for standard mattresses.
|Standard Mattresses in US||Mattress Size in Inches W x L||Quilt Measurements in Inches W x L||Estimated Batting Size in Inches|
|Crib||28″ x 52″||35-39″ x 45-54″||45″ x 60″|
|Twin/Single||39″ x 75″||54-65″ x 84-90″||72″ x 90″|
|Double/Full||54″ x 75″||72-80″ x 80-90″||81″ x 96″|
|Queen||60″ x 80″||84-90″ x 93-108″||90″ x 108″|
|King||76″ x 80″||102-108″ x 93-108″||120″ x 120″|
|California King||72″ x 84″||100-114″ x 97-114″||120″ x 120″|
What Batting Size Is Needed For A Throw Quilt?
To determine what batting size is needed for a lap throw, you must determine the size of the quilt. So, how big is a throw?
A throw can be as small as 40″ wide and 60″ long and as big as 60″ wide with 70″ of drop. The average size is normally 36″ x 48″ and 46″ x 60″ is also a popular size.
The usual batting size for throws is 60″ x 60″. This figure is very approximate because throw sizes are quite personal and there’s no standard pre-cut batting size.
What About A Baby Quilt?
Baby quilts measure approximately 30″ x 40″ for newborns and 30″ x 30″ for preemies. Therefore, ensure your batting size is not less than 36″ x 36″.
The batting sizes indicated in the chart are only an estimate of what you need based on what works for regular quilt sizes. You can always make changes to suit your particular needs or preferences.
If in doubt of the batting size you need, add 4-6” to both the length and width of the quilt top and 6-8” for longarm quilting. The latter need the extra batting around the edges.
Excess batting can always be trimmed afterward, but don’t dispose of the wide scraps yet. You can turn this “trash” into treasure by simply joining the pieces using whip stitches, zigzag stitch, or batting seam tape and reusing it on other projects.
Alternatively, if you are a beginner, you can turn the scraps into quilt sandwiches as practice tools for perfecting your machine quilting.
How To Fix Batting That Is too Small
So you are basting your quilt or even already started sewing, and oops, you realize the batting is too small. Perhaps you miscalculated how much you needed or just weren’t paying attention.
What do you do? How do you fix that? First, don’t panic. This is a common mistake that happens to many quilters.
But you don’t have to undo everything and start over with a bigger batting size. Or trim the top quilt to reduce it to match the batting size. There’s a better way around it that is not wasteful of time, batting, or top quilt.
Increase the batting size by adding a strip of new batting alongside the initial one and then joining the edges together to extend it. There are multiple ways of joining the two edges.
- Attaching the new strip of batting to the initial one using whip stitches or zigzag stitches.
- Binding the two edges using batting seam tape.
- Ironing on a piece of fusible batting.
Fusible batting contains a fusible web that works like interfacing, and bonding is activated by heat pressing. All you need to do is align and iron it on both sides, that is the quilt back and top.
Fusible batting is generally not recommended for big bed area quilts as the primary batting. Contrarily, it is amazing for small things like oven mitts and coasters where pin basting would be impractical. Still, it doesn’t hurt to use just a strip to add to where the main batting is deficient.
Do not worry though about getting busted. Your secret is safe in between the quilt layers once you’re done. Such flaws always go unnoticed.
And that’s a wrap for batting sizes. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a clearer picture of the different batting sizes, what is required for your needs and how to measure or estimate as correctly as possible. Happy quilting.
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