Jun 30 12

Batting Experiment and a Sale

For me, the quilting on a quilt really adds something special, so it’s a huge disappointment to me when I feel like my quilting doesn’t lend the textural interest a quilt deserves.  For the last 4-5 years, my favorite batting for quilted wall hangings has been Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting, but it has disappointed me enough times over the last 3 years that I no longer consider it a reliable batting for me.  Every time I open a new package, it’s always a surprise what I’ll get.  Sometimes it’s thick, sometimes it’s thin, sometimes there seem to be wide differences in the ratio of polyester to silk.  Maybe it’s differences in whatever the stuff is that makes up the scrim…I don’t know what it is, but I do know that one package is never the same as the next!  I raised my concerns to a rep in the Hobbs booth at Fall Quilt Market 2010 and he really did not take my concerns seriously.  He just kept repeating that they had strict quality assurance controls in place to ensure that one batch of batting was the same as the next batch of batting, so what I was observing could not possibly be correct.  I decided to keep giving their silk batting more chances, but I’ve finally thrown in the towel on it.  I say this with a heavy heart, but I’ve stuck with this product longer than I should have.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Start experimenting, that’s what!

This wall hanging is my first experiment.  I used 1 layer of Hobbs Tuscany silk (bottom layer) and then 1 layer of Thermore 100% polyester batting.  I was surprised by how much loft that thin layer of Thermore batting added and I can really see a huge improvement in the definition of the quilting.  There is no trapunto in this quilt, yet if you look at the tail feathers below…

…you can see that they appear to have a trapunto layer behind them.    The birds do as well, as you can see here:

In real life, the stem at the base of the block really poofs out, but this photo doesn’t show it as much:

When I’m quilting an applique scene like this, the first thing I do is to outline all applique pieces with invisible thread (Monopoly by Superior Threads).  Next up, I quilt any designs that I want to be dominant.  If feathers or vines are part of my plan, they would always be done at this stage.  Because they create lines that the viewer’s eye will follow, you want to give your feathers and vines “preferential treatment” as far as choosing how much valuable real estate (i.e. open quilting space) they will claim.  Here’s an early shot where the feathers had just been stitched:

I stitched those feathers in a solid light green trilobal polyester thread (Ricky Tims Art Studio colors by Superior Threads) that was just a bit darker than the background fabric; this helps them show up but in a very subtle way.  After that, I started doing some background fill quilting with a thread that matched the background fabric more closely, but then decided the feathers were too subtle.  To draw a bit of attention to them, I went back in and hyperquilted them with 24 Karat Gold rayon thread by Robison Anton.  You can see the difference here where one side is hyperquilted and the other is not:

Of course, the minute I finished hyperquilting that first feather, I regretted it!  Being too lazy to rip it out, I went ahead and hyperquilted the opposite side.  I’ve now had 3 days to live with it and I’m glad I did the hyperquilting!  I didn’t want my four corner triangles to be stitched quite as densely, so I just went with a simple loop-d-loop stitched in Variations by YLI:

I’m very happy with the textures on this quilt, but the next one I try will be a new experiment in another brand of batting.  And I almost forgot, we’re in the last 6 days of a sale on all Appli-K-Kutz fabric dies.  All retail purchases of the Appli-K-Kutz dies are 20% off if you enter Bird in the discount code box, and the sale discount is good through 9 am eastern DST on 7/6/12.

Now it’s your turn to chime in with your 2 cents!  What are your favorite battings (or layers of batting types) for wall hangings?

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  1. philthomas Says:

    Your work is beautiful, Patsy,and I can only sigh when I look at these photos. I only wish you could visit Perth, Australia and give some classes. Meanwhile I am enjoying your tutorials. Thanks..

  2. Leeanne Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have been keen to try two layers of batting with my quilting as I keep reading about it & seeing the results in blog land.

  3. Anya Says:

    Thermore’s my favorite for all of my quilts!

  4. Patsy Thompson Says:

    I have to say that I was very surprised by the profound effect that the thin layer of Thermore batting had. I’ve never tried to quilt with just a layer of Thermore and I’m now wondering what it looks like when used alone.

  5. Martha Says:

    You’re quilting is lovely. A friend of mine from my quilt guild who longarms recently suggested to me to use two layers as she does, 100 % cotton on top. My favorite batting is Quilters Dream Wool, so I used that on the bottom of my most recent wall quilt and the results were great!!

  6. Mary Stori Says:

    Patsy…..The person who developed all the great batting for Hobb’s was dumped by them (not a industry secret)…..He’s moved over to Pellon for some time now and you can be assured of finding the kind of consistency in their products that you expect. **No affiliation…..just a sastisfied customer.

  7. Leslie Myers Says:

    I am a fan of Quilters Dream Angel for wall hangings. It is soft but doesn’t stretch. I also like their wool but it is kind of frightening to see it puff up when you first start quilting.

  8. Valerie Says:

    Hmmm – I have in the past used Hobbs 80/20 with good results but I haven’t tried the silk so I can’t speak for it’s consistency. I do commend you however for being someone who is influential in the quilting community who speaks their mind! I find it incredibly frustrating when quilt designers and teachers are afraid of offending companies so they don’t give their honest opinion. I think it’s important that these companies choose wisely who they send out into the community to represent them – customer service really counts! I think a lot of people really want to give Hobbs the business so I hope that they will take note of the dissatisfaction with the product and look into it more. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and experiences, and as always your work is so inspiring!

  9. Betty Jo Says:

    Patsy, This is very interesting about Hobbs. I have noticed lately that even their 80/20 is not as reliably the same from one to the other anymore. I think I must find another brand. sigh. I will say though that this is one beautiful quilt with exquisite quilting! Did you design and digitize the applique embroidery? Do you know if the dies you used would work in an AppliQuilt Go! cutter? They are beautiful die cuts. And finally, what lovely fabric! This is a winner of a quilt in all levels.

  10. Lynn Says:

    I’ve heard a number of other people remarking that Hobbs no longer has consistency in their product. I like the Quilters Dream 80/20, cotton and wool. When doing a two layer batt 80/20 on the bottom and wool on the top.

  11. SewCalGal Says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I have such limited experience with Hobbs Silk batting, but I do so respect your opinion. A shame, as that batting has such promise. Sadly, I’ve heard feedback from others about the inconsistent quality of this batting. I look forward to hearing what you come up with as a favorite. I have had good luck with quilters Dream cotton, but your talent certainly exceeds mine.

    These batting manufacturers should be knocking at your door begging you to use their battings.


  12. Darlene Says:

    Patsy, I am so glad to see something about batting on your site. I do like the Tuscany wool for stitch definition on quilts and recently tried Hobb’s wool batt. It smelled badly and I tried to get that out in the dryer, as well as airing it, but it still remains, so I am not using the batt for a quilt. I have been hearing that Bamboo is good for stitch definition and drapability. What do you think??

  13. Patsy Thompson Says:

    Hi Darlene,

    That is so interesting to hear your saga with Hobb’s wool. Is this the Hobb’s wool that is now sold by the yard at Joann’s? I just recently saw that and was going to try it, but I had assumed it was the same as their packaged Tuscany wool. I guess I’ll be holding off on that now!

    I’ve had mixed results with bamboo. It is very, very soft and it quilts like a dream. It’s a real pleasure to handle, drapes nicely, and it dyes beautifully if you dye batting. I was somewhat disappointed in the appearance of the quilting, though. I only used it in single layers and I felt the pieces appeared too “flat.” It was one of those situations where I felt the quilting didn’t get the “showcasing” it deserved. I used it on a few smallish wall hangings and these were all so small that they have never been folded. I am a little worried that if I were to fold them, they might well develop permanent creases the way cotton batting does. I say that because bamboo fabric wrinkles big time. I only tried this batting when it first came out, so I may give it another shot now. I think there are more options on the market and the percentages in the blends may be different as well.

    I’ve received a number of emails from folks who have noticed all kinds of problems in may different lines of Hobb’s batting. Really bums me out, as they used to make some good products. I hope they turn things around.


  14. Laurie Marks Says:

    Dear Patsy,

    Has anyone tried the 80/20 cotton poly batting sold by JoAnns online. I think its from Airlite?


  15. Dorothy Minett Says:

    I purchased the Hobbs 80/20 cotton for the quilts that I made years ago; however folded quilts do not store well. Since freemotion quilting becamne my passion it was not ‘puffy’ enough.
    For adding trapunto effect I find the polyester gives the look I like for raised areas, which is then then trimmed back.
    Most of my freemotion is done before adding the backing fabric,I feel it makes a softer bed quilt.
    I have now changed to Quilters Dream 100%cotton batting Deluxe so far it suits me well.

  16. Theresia Brouns Says:

    Just today I started handquilting an applique quilt using silk batting for the first time. I like the definition I’m seeing after outlining a few motifs. I have one more package waiting in the wings which I want to use in my civil war bride quilt. I wouldn’t pay the extra cost again, because it doesn’t seem worth it. I absolutely love quilters dream cotton. I usually use the request or select. I used hobbs 80/20 last year for a quilt, but didn’t care for it. I understand Harriet Hargrave worked with the hobbs company to develop the silk batting. I met her last year in Colorado. Nice lady, but the batting doesn’t work for me. I will stick with cotton and quilters dream.