Getting your quilt top finished and ready for machine quilting is an exciting day when you’ve been stitching together little pieces of fabric for weeks on end.
It’s time to put that quilt sandwich together, pin it, and then either prepare to stitch it by hand or mount it on a longarm setup like the Grace Q'nique 21 Continuum 8' quilting frame and turn those layers into a beautifully finished quilt.
As you lay out your layers to make the sandwich, is your batting facing the right way?
Uh-oh, you didn’t know there was a right and a wrong side to batting or that it even mattered?
Read on for a few simple tips that will have your projects coming out perfectly while reducing the challenges you may face stitching your project on a longarm like the Q'nique Quilting machine by Grace!
There’s A Right Side to Quilt Batting?
Just when you thought batting was the easiest part of your quilting project so you can just unroll and size it then away you go, now there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it?
Actually, yes, but it’s a pretty easy detail to remember as long as you understand the two types of batting to which this applies, each made using a different process:
- Bonded Batting - Bonded batting is made with fibers that are bonded together with heat or resin to form a fabric that’s the same on both sides; no right or wrong side to this one.
- Fusible Batting - This has a fusible web on both sides that let's you iron the quilt backing, batting, and top together by ironing, which means there is no need to baste your sandwich together.
- Needle-Punched Batting - Needle-punched batting is made using a process that bonds the fibers together by compressing them, then punching them through with fine needles to cause the fibers to hold together and the right side is the side that the batting was punched from.
Why Does It Even Matter?
I understand; if the idea of batting having a right and wrong side is completely new to you, you may be wondering why it even matters for your machine quilting projects!
It doesn't using bonded batting as the batting behaves the same regardless of which side is up or down.
If you're using needle-punched batting, the right side allows the needle on the quilting machine to go through more smoothly and reduces thread breakage from fibers in the batting catching and affecting the tension of the stitching thread.
Having the right side up also causes the batting to remain smoother and fray less with use, something that can affect the feel and look of your completed quilt over time.
The wrong side of the batting can pill and fray a little bit, which isn’t that noticeable from the back side of the quilt but can make the quilt look a little less perfect if it’s facing up.
So How Do I Find the Right Side?
First determine from the package what type of batting you’re using; if it’s bonded batting, you don’t need to determine up or down.
Just unroll it, make your sandwich, and get your project loaded up on your frame and start quilting with your Grace Q'nique Longarm machine.
If you’re working with needle-punched batting, unroll it, grab a straight needle, and lightly push the needle through from one direction and then the other direction.
You should notice a very slight difference with the needle sliding almost effortlessly going one way and tugging just a bit when passing through the other way.
If your needle passed through effortlessly the first time, that is the right side of the batting that you want to lay face-up on the quilt sandwich so it is facing the wrong side of your pieced top.
Details - Details
It seems there’s always something new to learn about machine quilting, even if you’re an advanced quilter that’s been doing it for a while.
Just when you thought your process couldn’t improve any more, now you can add even greater perfection to your projects by identifying the batting you’re using and having the smoothest finish by laying it in the right direction.
When you start stitching on your Q'nique quilting machine, your stitches will come out just right each time with no thread breakage, pilling, or fraying after the fact, just a gorgeous quilt to use and be proud of!