Christa’s Soapbox – I am not a fan of polyster batting.

I recently tried using a high quality polyester batting for one of my quilts because a few professional quilters I admire recommended it. However, this is one of those instances where quilting on a domestic machine versus a long arm is quite different.

On a long arm, the 3 layers of the quilt are held in place separately and evenly while the quilter rotates the machine over the surface of the quilt. However, on a domestic machine, there is a lot of shifting and bunching of the quilt, to scrunch it underneath the arm of the machine. Here’s the backside of a polyester batting disaster in progress:

Polyester Batting - Too Slippery!

Before with 100% polyester batting – it’s too slippery!

Unfortunately, the polyester batting is so “slippery” that it migrated and bunched while quilting. I originally pin basted the quilt but decided to rip all of it out and start over with new batting and basting spray instead.

While I am definitely not a perfectionist, this amount of wrinkling was just too much for me to handle, especially for a quilt that is going to be shared in public. I actually quilted it a lot more than what the photo shows above, but in order to keep my sanity, I couldn’t bear to take any more pictures!

So after a few tears, an evening of Downton Abbey, and a healthy dose of tenacity, here’s the newly quilted back. I ended up going with a blend of 70/30 cotton/poly and I utilized Ann Petersen’s tip of ironing the quilt after spray basting with a natural fiber batting.

Still a few wrinkles, but  much much better!

After with a cotton/poly blend – still a few wrinkles, but much much better!

There is still a small amount of wrinkling but I”m adding a lot more quilting in between each “anchored” section and it’s quilting out nicely. However, I think I’ll stick with zero % poly in my quilts from now on. (The Quilter’s Dream Orient batting I used in my last quilt had no puckering at all!)

This sneak peek shows a much happier quilting session after I fixed most of the puckering!

Machine Quilting Bliss

Machine Quilting Bliss

A word to the wise on batting – the only way to truly know how a batting will perform is to test it on a real quilt. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I just have to finish the binding and wait for the big reveal!

64 thoughts on “Christa’s Soapbox – I am not a fan of polyster batting.

  1. Lenora Shoemaker says:

    I love the look of the high loft poly batting on certain projects. However, after a marathon quilting session, I realized that the reason I was itching and burning all over was an allergy to the poly.. so no more poly for me! I used warm and natural on my last 4, and I liked it ok, but I do wish I could find a higher loft in cotton.

      • Lenora Shoemaker says:

        Thank you so much! I am going to look into that. I’ve been on a hiatus for a while, but the ideas are starting to circle for my next quilt. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lynne says:

    I am a true believer in all natural. I don’t even like to touch the poly batting. More power to those that do. For me, though, it’s cotton all the way.

  3. Lea says:

    I prefer cotton batting. I like Quilters Dream Batting and Warm & Natural. I like how Quilters Dream Batting drapes, so softly. I’ve used 80/20 and liked how it quilted but for future quilts prefer 100% cotton.

  4. Susan Watt says:

    I only use cotton batting (Warm & Natural). I have used the Dream cotton but do not like the way it stretches and it is easy to put your finger through it. I do a lot of long arm quilting for customers and some just love the polyester which is fine but most use what I have in stock and love the outcome. I have also found that the polyester does not hold up with washing it but the cotton does. Ever had a comforter that after you washed it the batting was bunched up? Cotton does not bunch up and I’ve washed my quilts over and over.

  5. farmquilter says:

    I adore all of the battings from Quilter’s Dream, but I quilt on a longarm, so there is no slipping. For wall hangings, I do like a double batting of poly with wool on top for great definition. If you really had to use poly in a quilt you were quilting, I would suggest you hand baste the sandwich together just like you would for hand quilting – you might have more success that way.

  6. Josefina says:

    Personally I use cotton batting because of its weight and ease of hand quilting. But when I make quilts for the family pets, my siblings and I like the loft of poly batt and I machine quilt grid lines that are spaced 3 to 4″. It’s so sad to see what happened to your quilt. When quilting grid lines on the pet quilts I did notice that if I don’t sew down the same direction, the quilt will have wrinkles due to shifting just like the photo of the back of your quilt.

  7. ThreadTime says:

    Hi Christa, The first poly batting I used was Quilter’s Dream Poly Select. And I loved it. It gave the quilt a soft squishy feel that I liked. I quilted a prayer quilt for a friend and was out of the good stuff. I bought poly at our local Hancock Fabrics…don’t remember the brand… Can we spell D I S A S T E R!!! I just wanted to cry.

    So I’m going to say, I understand your frustration, but I’m convinced it’s the quality of the batting. Quilter’s Dream for me every time!
    Have fun,
    Ramona

  8. Susan says:

    Christa, have you tried using a bamboo batt? I have one to use but haven’t tried it yet, wondering about its wearability and quiltability.

  9. Amy says:

    Ok, I have to chime in: I like a little poly in my quilt batts. I like the loft it provides to my quilting designs and I don’t have problems with the backs wrinkling. I do not use 100% poly though. My preference would be wool batting, but it can be spendy. I typically use Hobb’s 80/20. I’m not a big fan of Quilter’s Dream batting as their battings are very dense and thin. Almost like felt, except for their Dream Puff (a higher loft poly) and their wool (love the wool!) I’m not questioning their quality at all, seems like a well made, consistent product, but not what I want to use unless I’m doing more of a utility quilt that’s going to get a lot of use. (I did however have a show quilt where I used wool and QD poly under the wool and it bearded badly on the back, limiting the quilt’s show opportunities.)

    It all comes down to preferrence and how well the quilt is basted too. Definitely we who use domestic machines put our quilt sandwiches through a big workout while quilting and the batting and basting has got to be up to the task!

  10. Susan P says:

    Christa, I’ve just recently started to try FMQ on a few baby quilts I’ve made as a way to save some money and to practice so that one day I might attempt a large quilt. Do you have a stitch regulator on your machine? I’m struggling with the size of my stitches and wondering if a new machine with a stitch regulator might be the way to go. Your work is amazing.

    • Christa says:

      No I don’t use a stitch regulator because I’m used to quilting in a certain way. However, I have friends that use them and they really like them, so it’s worth a shot!

  11. Carole Hill says:

    Christa, do you wash your quilts after you do them? and if you do it to a modern quilt will it change the look of the modernism? I like to wash all of my quilts before I sell them, but I like that old look, but an not sure if it would take away the sleekness of the quilt, what do you think? Thanks!

  12. Carole Hill says:

    I used it all the time, and had a special way of placing the batting on the fabric, and the fabric on the batting. I have not had any major problems with it, but only used it for baby and lap quilts, and only in low loft, with the spray. But I used some quilters dream request,and have found it to be a really good batting. I buy my quilters dream at fabric.com, as they have good prices and some sizes that I’ve not seen anywhere else. I like it better than any other batting. Thanks for the info, and after reading all the replys, I left some messages on some of the replys with my experiences, hoping that it may help someone else.

  13. KatieQ says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry that a great lesson for the rest of us, was due to a problem that you had to deal with.

  14. Linda H. says:

    Glad to know you’ve affirmed what I’ve always thought… not to use poly batting in a domestic machine-quilted quilt. Thank you for that! I still want to try Orient batting. Hope you’ll stop by my blog and enter my giveaway. It’s for quilter’s rulers that I bet you’d like to use.

  15. Kristy Daum says:

    Hahaha…I despise poly batting too. All of the quilts that I made; which will be featured in my “Starting Somewhere” series use poly batting; but obviously I didn’t know what I was doing back then and wasn’t actually quilting them, just tie-ing. Once I started making “real quilts” that is when I turned my back on poly and have been using cotton every since.

    Sorry about the mis-steps; but glad to see that it worked out in the long run.

  16. Elisabeth Ostiguy says:

    I agree with you about the polyester batting. Even when it is used in longarm quilting I doesn’t always work. I prefer the natural fibre battings- I have had great success with them. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Lindsey says:

    Oh my goodness–I can’t imagine unpicking all of that! You are one determined woman! haha! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad you posted this–I have found the same thing to be true! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to see the front!!

    • Carole Hill says:

      I have used a plastic tablecloth with a backing like cotton for a design wall, I put up a curtain rod that you can roll, and taped the table cloth to the rod, I attached the brackets of the curtain rod over the sliding closet doors, as I have limited room, it worked, but was hard to get to, so I just use by bed to see if I like what I’m doing.

    • Carole Hill says:

      sorry, I forgot to say that when it wasn’t in use, I rolled the tablecloth up onto the rod, until it was out of the way, and only pulled it down when I needed it.

  18. Jacklynn Grimm says:

    Christa – I have a question about the picture of you sitting at your machine: do you sit lower so your arms don’t hurt as much doing a big quilt? If that works – I’d certainly try it, I’m kinda tall! Thanks!

    • Christa says:

      Ha ha! And I’m very short! I raise my chair so that it’s at a comfortable height for my table. However, because I’m so short, my left foot dangles while my right foot is controlling the petal. So then I put a thick book underneath my foot to rest it! It’s sort of funny looking but it works for me!

      So you would probably do the opposite – lower to a comfortable position.

  19. Lori Smanski says:

    Oh wow, what a difference. Thanks for sharing this. I have been using Warm and Natural and been very happy with the results.

  20. Dolores says:

    I agree totally, the only time to use polyester batt is hand quilting. If they want the pouf of poly use Hobbs Wool batt. It quilts beautifully and has loft. Dolores Good

  21. treadlemusic says:

    My experience has not been a broad one. I’ve primarily used the Hobb’s 80/20 and love the final results (whether on my DSM or SS). I do use a 100% poly (low loft) for the QOV that my quilt group makes but have only stitched on my SS. I pin very well…….very close together…..when I use this batt, though. I don’t spray (don’t like the idea of maybe breathing in some of that) but, with the cottons, the layers are so stable with pins. I’m doing the ‘carnation quilt’ with a wool batt. The layers are holding beautifully and I’m noticing the additional ‘poof’ that wool gives w/o giving me any problems (wrinkles, etc). I haven’t tried silk but that’s on my list to do soon. Your finish is going to be grand, I’m sure!!!!!! Hugs……………….

  22. HR Walker, aka Nanasneedles says:

    Boy, I do agree. Folks, think about those elastic pants, shorts that are put away for a while and then worn again — ever have that poly elastic not return back. It is a by product itself — long term usage takes it toll. Stick with natural fibers is my credo. Nanasneedles. Christa — so sorry about that effort and the undoing — an OMG moment as the children of today would say.

  23. Ellie says:

    Sorry you had to undo all that quilting christa. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. I’ve not had good experiences with polyester batting either.

  24. Judy says:

    Quilters Dream Select Poly is great to work with. Sometimes I spray, sometimes I pin. Not a problem like you had. Wait a while and give it a try. Sorry you had to do all that ripping, but shows that you want a great finished project.

  25. elsabean says:

    ACK! You do have a lot of tenacity! I’d have given up and called it a giveaway.
    I’ve never used poly batting but I did use a cotton/poly for the back of a quilt once ~ it turned out okay but don’t think I’ll use it again. Just doesn’t feel right ~ sort of stiff and not so soft.
    Looking forward to the reveal!

  26. georgiagirlquilts says:

    I tried poly batting once and ended up starting over. It was awful. Now I only use 100% cotton, but I’m thinking about trying wool soon. I’m glad you posted this, I thought my experience was because I was a newbie. It’s nice to know it wasn’t all me.

  27. Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge says:

    You are a patient, patient woman to rip out all that stitching! I would probably have thrown it in the closet and never looked at it again! I had some similar difficulties earlier on in my quilting career, but I don’t think I knew enough to chalk it up to the batting and not my inexperience. Thanks for sharing your difficulties so others can learn!

    • Christa says:

      Because I have been quilting for so long, that’s why I didn’t mind taking it out and trying something else – just to make sure it was the batting and not me, LOL!!

  28. stitchinstein says:

    Wow! I used Dream Green on my last quilt and it worked great but I’d rather use the 100% cotton. It just feels like it ‘sticks’ better you know? Can’t wait for the big reveal!

  29. kaystephenson says:

    I’m with you on poly batting. The only time I used it was for a king sized beach quilt that I knew would be damp most of the time. It was a nightmare. I finally ended up leaving in a few stabilizing stitch in the ditch runs and then hand tied in between. Never again.

  30. Teri Lucas Terificreations says:

    Christa I have a couple of questions: 1) how did you baste the quilt: 2) did you make any changes to how you were quilting meaning: needle/thread/tension; 3) did you try quilting with the feed dogs up?; 4) was this batting meant for trapunto or regular quilting?
    Quilters Dream has a list of places that carry their batting – it may not be the entire line so check the websites.

    Teri

    • Carole Hill says:

      Terri, I bought some quilters dream request batting from fabric.com, they have odd sizes, I like to buy the 60 x 60 size as it’s just right for my baby quilts. Check it out!

  31. cloudcoucou says:

    I feel much better reading this! I have had exactly the same problem except it’s just that I can’t baste with pins!! I’ve been QAYG-ing my City Sampler with a similar design sadly my spray ran out so my last block was just horrible…so much so that I unpicked it all and started over with more spray. It’s so frustrating isn’t it?

    • Carole Hill says:

      Hi, I saw your post, and wanted to let you know that I started with low loft polyester batting the I use spray with. When I tape the backing to the table, I cut the size of batting I need, and fold it in half, bottom to top, I put it on the top half of the backing, and spray the backing, bottom half, then I spray the batting and unfold it slowly onto the backing, straightening as I go, until it is secured. I then go to the top part of the quilt and do the same thing. As for the top, I again fold the top, and lay it on the top part of the batting, then I spray the batting bottom side, and also spray the bottom side of the top, I then bring the top to the bottom slowly, straightening as I go. then do the same thing to the top of the quilt. When you are done with that take a look at it and see if there are any wrinkles, If so, you can always pull the fabric back and reposition it, on both sides. I also pin the edges just to secure it. I’ve done this on baby and lap size quilts, and have not had a problem yet.

  32. Ana Maria says:

    I totally agree with you. I’ve had hard times quilting on my Elna domestic machine. Here in Spain only recently have we had cotton batting, and all my quilting used to be no more than straight, in the ditch, lines. And even that would get puckered, no matter how much 505 I sprayed, how many pins I put, or how much thread basting I did. I tried them all. I also did Ann Petersen’s course on quilting big projects on a domestic machine. After a lot of trying and asking, I finally got to the conclusion that I was not doing anything wrong. Only the batting. And I chamged to 80/20 cotton/ poly. And my quilting life changed… And I have never looked back… I can now do some decent quilting, with fairly good results.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  33. julie says:

    That was some serious determination to pick all that out! I don’t care for polyester batting either…I tend to gravitate to the warm and natural and have tried some organic cotton. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  34. ipatchandquilt says:

    You unpicked it? Amazing!!! Thank you for letting us know about the trouble you had with this batting on the DSM. I always use the hobbs 80/20 batting. It was the only one i could get a hold of that was on a big roll. All the others are in “precut” packages for king or queen size beds. I prefer the roll, so I can cut off what I need without much “Frankensteining” the leftover pieces.
    I hope your Monday starts with a wonderful Sun up like over here. The sky is all pretty in pink!
    Esther
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

  35. Christine says:

    Oh no! I would be in tears too! I haven’t tried anything except for Warm & Natural. I haven’t tried the Quilters Dream Orient batting yet. I saw it recommended on The MQG forum, but wasn’t having much luck finding where to buy it online. I am only now realizing I didn’t even try looking on Amazon yet… And Amazon has just about everything! LOL Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry you had the experience, but thankful that you shared it so we could learn from it.

    • Carole Hill says:

      Hi Christine, take a look at the quilters dream batting on fabric.com, they have a few odd sizes, that I can’t find anywhere else, in addition to the regular sizes, and the prices are really good. Hope this helps. I love quilters dream batting.

      • Christine says:

        Oh, thank you Carole! I have had no issues with Warm & Natural, but would actually love to try something different… Just to experiment. I’ll look at fabric.com tonight!

  36. Tabitha Keener says:

    I’m glad you posted this, I’ve been having huge problems quilting and I thought it was my extreme inexperience. Well, I know part of it is, but now I know, it’s that inexpensive polyester batting I got. I will try later with cotton. I haven’t been brave enough to pick it out, and I’ve been telling anyone who gets that my quilting stinks and I’m learning. Thanks for this.

    tdkcarpenoctem@hotmail.com

    • Carole Hill says:

      Hi Tabitha, don’t give up, I went through all of this stuff, and found that If I have squares in the quilt, start a meander on one corner, and quilt to the opposite end of the square, ending in the corner. If you do that you can go from one corner to the other, and it let’s you do a little at a time. If you don’t do squares, just start at one point and go out to the sides, then you can come back from that point to the middle and go out to the sides again, and continue until you end up in the middle. Turn your quilt around and you can start from the top and work your way down to the bottom by going back and forth, left to right in sections, until you get to the bottom again. It took me awhile to learn this but it is an easier way to learn how to make good stitches. You will be surprised how at the end you will want to try new stitches. Take a class at Craftsy.com and they have a class by Angela Walters, called dot to dot quilting. I really like this method also. It’s been helpful.

  37. Christine Sherman says:

    Oh dear, now you have me worried. I bought some of the polyester batting from the Warm company for a vintage sheet quilt. I wanted the comfy fluff but have not tried polyester yet. Oh well, its for me, so it will be a good time for testing ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Debi Bielawski says:

    Strong determined and skilled Christa you Rock! I would not have been brave enough to take out all of that work but results speak for themselves ..Go Girl.

  39. Liz F. says:

    Thanks for the information about polyester batting. I want to start quilting some of my smaller quilts on my machine and wasn’t sure what to use. I now know what not to use. Thanks!

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