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Confessions of a Batting Junkie

By Addy Harkavy

OK. I admit it. When a new batt hits the market, my first response is to try it. In the case of Quilters Cotton, the "try it" was a "try them." The stuff is available in natural (unbleached) and in white in each of four thicknesses. So I simply had to try them all!

Why, you might ask, did I try both natural and white in each weight? Since the bleaching process is reported to make the fibers somewhat tougher, it only seemed fair to test both the unbleached and the bleached.

Manufacturer's Claims:

  1. Can be quilted at up to 8" intervals
  2. 100% cotton, no scrim, glue, or binders
  3. May quilt up to 8" intervals
  4. Quilt will remain supple w/ close quilting
  5. Fine, consistent, even batt
  6. Request and Select for hand and machine quilting
  7. Deluxe and Supreme for machine quilting
  8. Finished quilt may be gently machine washed and dried
  9. Cotton grown in USA

Short version:

The "need to know" if you don't feel like reading through my test procedures and results, all manufacturer's claims were borne out by my tests, except that I have no way of knowing where the cotton was grown and have to take their word for it. :) Also, the natural batts were all easier to hand quilt than were the white (bleached) batts. The Request (lightest weight) was a pleasure to hand quilt in the natural, and the white wasn't half bad. The Select weight (slightly heavier) was somewhat more difficult to hand quilt, but not daunting in the least. All samples shrank minimally on machine wash and dry. All batts were impressively consistent in thickness, more so than other 100% cotton batts I have tested. The next-most-consistent 100% cotton batt appears to be Fairfield's Soft Touch 100% bleached cotton.

Long Version:

Materials:
Four weights of Quilter's Choice batting

1. Request -- the thinnest, stated by manufacturer to be for hand and machine quilting

2. Quilter's Select -- next -to-thinnest; slightly loftier than request, stated by mfr to be for hand and machine quilting

3. Quilter's Deluxe -- high loft natural (was glad the manufacturer didn't claim this was for hand quilting)

4. Supreme -- very bulky natural (*really* glad the manufacturer didn't expect me to hand quilt this one!)

Needles for hand testing: Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage Size 10 Between Needles for machine testing: Schmetz quilting needles
Hoop: Q-snap 11" x 17" at my usual tension

Test methods:

1. No batt was prewashed. All were used straight from the package

2. All were hand quilted using a *new* size 10 between needle, same brand each time

3. All batt samples were sandwiched in the same fabric combination; fabric was prewashed

4. All hand quilting was done in the same q-snap frame

5. The following hand quilting schemes were tested:
a.) diagonal line
b.) curved line
c.) square on straight-and-cross grain (the most difficult directions in which to quilt)

6. All were machine quilted (around the hand quilting) using a Schmetz quilting needle

7. Hobbs 100% Cotton Organic served as "control" and was quilted in between tests to reacquaint myself with my basis of comparison; Fairfield Soft Touch was also used as a control to assess ease of quilting

8. All finished samples were washed in my trusty old Maytag with hot water, cold rinse, and dried in a Sears propane dryer on hot (cotton setting).

Yes, I know the mfr says gently machine wash and dry, but I wanted to see what would happen under *worst case* conditions.

As y'all can see, I made some attempt at standardization and control, but please keep in mind that this review is subjective, subjective, subjective.

Here goes:

Quilter's Cotton, Request

This, the thinnest of the Quilter's Choice batts, was comfortable and relatively easy to hand quilt. The unbleached was slightly easier to hand quilt than the bleached. Hand and machine quilting was very pleasant.

Finished samples had excellent drape. My stitches were every bit as small and even as those I get on Hobbs 100% Cotton Organic, which I consider about the easiest to hand quilt of all cotton batts. The unbleached cotton was, in my opinion, just a tad more difficult to hand quilt than the Hobbs 100% Cotton Organic, but not enough to deter me from using Quilters Cotton. My needle seemed just a bit more difficult to pull from the sandwich, but not significantly so. The bleached seemed slightly easier to hand quilt than Fairfield Soft Touch bleached white. After machine washing and drying, samples with this batt were roughly comparable to those with Hobbs 100% Cotton Organic, though perhaps just slightly less supple.

Quilter's Cotton Select

This next-to-thinnest batt was, predictably, slightly more difficult than the Request weight to hand quilt. It was acceptable, but I preferred the Request for both ease of hand quilting and suppleness of finished product.

Machine quilting presented no problems. The unbleached was definitely more difficult to hand quilt than Hobbs 100% Cotton Organic; the bleached seemed comparable to Fairfield Soft Touch. If anything the after-washing product might have been a bit more supple than the Fairfield Soft Touch, and somewhat less so than the Hobbs 100% Organic.

Quilter's Cotton Deluxe

I couldn't resist trying to hand quilt this. I don't recommend it. Great for machine quilting. Finished product was definitely thick, but it had good drape, considering the weight of the batt. Available only in natural.

Quilter's Cotton Supreme

I should have learned my lesson when trying to hand quilt the Deluxe. Tried hand quilting the Supreme anyway and definitely don't recommend it. Again, great for machine quilting. Finished product was thick, thick, thick, but decidedly luxurious with good drape for its weight. This is the ultimate weight cotton batt. Since I tested only a relatively small piece, I have no idea what it would be like to wrestle with machine quilting a bed-size one! Available only in natural, this batt is ideal for pot holders, table runners, placemats, and anything that needs to take heat! A single layer is all it takes, and because it's 100% cotton, there is no scrim (binder) or polyester to melt!

Results common to all weights:

All machine washed and dried magnificently, even under my "rigorous washing" regimen. Slight shrinkage gave good pucker around quilting stitches so quilting patterns showed up well. All weights were supple for their thickness after washing and drying.

addy@TheExperimentalQuilter.com

(c) Copyright 1996 by Addy Harkavy. All rights reserved

 

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