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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Guest Speaker: Heather Stewart

Heather gave us the low down on batting. She is surprised how little discussion there is of batting. She believes that batting can make or break a quilt in terms of durability, aesthetics, and practicality. An ill-chosen batting can turn an award winning quilt into an amateur presentation; she showed us a photo of a quilt where the seams on the back show through to the front of quilt because the batting was not dense enough, judges would notice if this example had been in a competition.

That is not to say there is only one "right" type of batting, it depends on various factors: the purpose of the quilt, wallhanging vs bed quilt, heirloom quilt or even competition quilt; how often it will be washed; machine quilting vs handquilting; how much warmth you want from the quilt; adult vs baby quilt; and so on.

Researching the different types of batting, she found that although the manufacturers do a lot of research and testing of their battings, the consumer cannot access this information readily and that there are no government regulated standards. Heather took matters into her own hands by doing her own testing of battings. She made 12 inch sandwiches with various brands of battings and added some machine quilting, washed and dried them testing them for shrinkage.

She also took pieces of batting and a stop watch to her backyard and held a flame to them to see how quickly they burned! She found to her surprise many of the so-called green products, many of which contain bamboo, have a high flammability or high melt factor. Not surprisingly, Polyester batting has a high melt factor and also a high bearding factor. This is useful information when choosing a batting for a child's quilt or for the quilt you want to snuggle under near the fireplace.

Heather stayed during break to answer any questions and she previewed her 2 workshop quilts.

Thank you Heather, for a very informative lecture!

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