Quilting (v.): cutting things apart to stitch them back together. The very act of our hobby makes a lot of waste. Most of us collect all but the tiniest of fabric scraps for a scrappy quilt we’ll make one day. The odd bits of thread tend to collect all over my clothes or make a second layer of carpeting. The batting, however, is something I don’t see discussed much. I, myself, have a folded pile of scraps that are too small for another quilt but feels too wasteful to toss. I’ve gone to lengths to find useful projects to make use of it, such as my quilted tote or quilted duffel. Now I’m experimented with something more important: piecing batting together for another quilt.
Why you would want to piece batting together?
You can buy batting in one of two ways: as a precut or on a ream. Precut batting comes in standard sizes: craft, baby, twin, full, queen, and king with few variations. Even if you buy batting on a ream, there will still be a fixed width, typically queen- or king-width.
However, there is no such thing as a standard a standard quilt size. Take a look at three quilt patterns. They’ll all have different dimensions. In order to get batting that fits, you’ll need to buy a slightly large batting and trim it to size. This leads to large chunks of perfectly good batting being trimmed off. In a world where quilters save the tiniest scraps of fabric, why waste what goes unseen on the inside of the quilt? In fact, I’ve started to capitalize on it.
Much like when ordering pizza, buying the largest precut is cheaper per square inch than buying several of the smaller precuts. For example, I often buy Warm and Natural. Let’s take a look at the sizes available and their prices as of February 2022 from Joann online:
To make things more realistic, I calculated my price per square inch using the 50% price. You should always be able to get a 50% off coupon from Joann. Therefor, looking at the last column in the table above, the price per square inch typically goes down with the larger piece of batting you buy. The best bang for your buck is buying king-width by the bolt (which for some reason is cheaper than smaller queen width). However, it’s not that much cheaper than buying a king-sized precut.
But what does this really mean? It means, if you make more quilts, you save more money by buying the larger sizes. Let’s see:
If you bought 1 king-sized precut, you could make 5 baby sized quilts (with a little left over). King costs: $30. Baby costs (5 x $10): $50. Savings: $20.
If you bought 1 king-sized precut, you make 2 twin-sized quilts (with a little left over). King costs: $30. Full costs (2 x $20): $40. Savings: $10.
If you bought 2 king-sized precuts, you could make 3 queen-sized quilts (with a little left over). King costs (2*30): $60. Queen costs (3 x $25): $75. Savings: $15.
If you you make a lot of quilts, this can add up to a nice chunk of savings over time. It leaves a little room to splurge on visible items of your quilt like new patterns or fancy fabrics. It can also help make the hobby more accessible for frugal quilters who will have to save up less to make each quilt. More importantly, are you not only saving saving money, but you’re also saving that perfectly usable batting from being thrown away.
How to piece batting together
Piecing batting together is so stupidly simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it all alone. All you need is your batting scraps, a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch, and thread that’s a similar color to your batting (typically, some sort of white or cream).
First, you need to trim your batting so the sides you want to piece together are straight. Most of your batting pieces should already have one straight edge from the precut, but if not, take the time to square things up on your cutting mat.
Then, align the straight edges of the batting so they are touching, but not over lapping. Sew them together with a wide zigzag stitch ( I set my width at 6). I used a colorful thread to sew my batting together so you could see it in the pictures below. Using a similar color thread to the batting will help it better blend in so you don’t see the line though light colored fabrics.
Boom! You’re done. Literally. That’s all there is to it. It’s so quick and easy to piece batting together. But how does the final product hold up?
The look of pieced batting in a finished quilt
Believe it or not, I used the pieced batting in the pictures above for my Whale Shark Love quilt. Even using a thread color that didn’t blend in with the batting, I couldn’t see anything off in the finished quilt. In fact, I couldn’t even feel the line of stitching. I was so impressed with the pieced batting that I decided the quilt was high enough quality to gift to my friend to be used as a baby blanket.
Piecing batting together for a quilt has proven to be a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and structurally sound way quilt, and I’ll definitely be doing it again in the future. I have even started to only buy king-sized precuts that I can use and piece together for other projects.