By definition, batting is layers or 'sheets' of raw cotton, wool, bamboo, polyester or a mix thereof that is used for lining quilts.
If you are going to buy batting online or in a fabric or craft store here is what you need to know.
Types of batting:
Cotton batting - 100% cotton batting is usually 1/8" or 1/4" thick.
Polyester batting - is thicker than cotton batting but lighter so it keeps you warm without the weight (although I find it a little harder to hand quilt, one of my daughters loves the 'fluffy factor' this kind of batting gives to quilts). It comes in a thickness of 4 oz which is 3/8" thick, 8 oz is 3/4" thick, 6 oz is 1/2" thick or 10 oz is 1" thick.
Wool batting - is lightweight and warm. It usually comes ½" thick and holds it's shape without creases but shrinks greatly if washed.
Cotton/Poly blend batting - typically are 80% cotton/20% polyester. It has the benefits of cotton, but with more loft or 'fluffiness'.
Bamboo batting - is made from 50% bamboo/50% organic cotton blend batting. Usually used for machine quilting.
Bonded batting - has a light adhesive that has been applied to both sides to hold fibers together.
Sizes of batting:
When you buy batting it either comes prepackaged in numerous sizes or off a roll usually 90" wide.
Craft 36" x 45"
Crib 45" x 60"
Twin 72" x 90"
Full 81" x 96"
Queen 90" x 108"
King 120" x 120"
The kind of batting I am using for this project is 1/8" cotton batting. I feel it is the easiest to handle when first learning how to quilt.
Now we will start the layering or 'sandwiching' by cutting a backing material about 2" larger than the quilt block. As we discussed in the blog post Before You Start Sewing or Quilting, the backing material can be made from many things. I would recommend using the same fiber content for the back as for the front so if you are making quilt blocks from flannel, choose flannel for your backing.
In this case, I have scraps of white 100% cotton fabric. If you are purchasing fabric, muslin is usually an inexpensive alternative to quilting solids or print material. Old 100% cotton bed sheets also work well, just avoid cutting across any worn spots.
Be sure to iron your fabric before cutting into 14 1/2" squares (2" larger than the 12 1/2" unfinished quilt block you have made). You will also need to cut a square of batting roughly the same size.
Lay the backing WRONG side up if you are using one with a print.
Lay your square of batting centered over the top of this.
Although I didn't originally remember to take a picture this next step, I find it helps. Grasping both 'tails' at the end of this thread, gently tighten just a little. This will do two things. Show you if your sandwich has become askew and compress your sandwich slightly. I have rarely had to redo a line but there have been times where I was glad I did this as I hadn't gotten the needle to go through all three layers. Again, gently smooth from the center out to the edges.
Once again, starting from the center, stitch a line to the OPPOSITE Corner. Gently tug 'tails'. Gently smooth quilt block from center.
Continue this same pattern of actions for the other two corners.
Now you will start from the center and sew another basting line straight up, then straight down. Then center to left and center to right. Gently pulling 'tails' and smoothing from center outward.
Remember about the 4 inch rule of quilting that applies to both basting and quilting stitches? There is still too much area that can shift. Since this block will be quilted without a quilting hoop it is very important to keep these layers in place.
Starting at the center of the bottom row of squares, sew a basting line out to edge. Then another from the center to the opposite edge. Don't forget the gentle 'tail' tugging and smoothing.
Turn block 180° and repeat this process.
We are almost finished. We now want to make sure the edges don't pull apart and undo all the work we just finished, so between the edge of the block side and the NO-QUILT zone line we are now going to baste a line in the same opposite sides pattern. (First one side then it's opposite.) Gently smooth outward from center of this basting line to smooth any little waves in the block edge.
Once you have finished the basting line in the NO-QUILT zone your quilt block should look something like this on the front:
And like this on the back:
You have now finished sandwiching your quilt block. Next week we will start quilting your block!