All About Stuffing
Stuffing is the stuff that goes inside quilts, pillows, cushions, soft toys, even lavender wardrobe fresheners. On the face of it its all fairly simple, leave a hole in your project to access the inside, stuff the stuffing in, then close the hole! For some projects there is a little more to it however. Here is some useful information on batting and fillers.
There are 4 main types of batting, cotton, wool, polyester and blends.
Bonded batting has a light resin coating on both sides. This is to add strength and prevent the fibres escaping, heat-sealed fibres can also prevent this. Bonded batting can also appear fluffier and airier than other types such as needle punched batting and doesn’t require too much quilting to look good and stay in place. This all makes it easiest to use for quilting for both hand and machine sewn quilts.
Needle punched Batting
The fibres in ‘Needle-Punched Batting are tangled up so they all hold together. To make this stuff a blanket of the fibres is passed through a needling machine called a ‘fibre locker’. This machine has grids of barbed needles and hooks which vibrate up and down. The blanket is passed through these which go through the blanket entangling the fibres as they go. This can also be used to create unwoven blankets. This method is used to create thinner layers of soft batting which is better for quilted clothing and intricate quilts.
Cotton batting tends to be best for quilters. Besides the ‘all natural’ label, cotton batting is thin and soft but heavier in weight than polyester. Cotton also absorbs moisture well allowing for a cooling effect in summer and warmth in winter. The thin layers also help quilters achieve intricate stitching. On the negative side the cotton fibres may separate from each other and push through the fabric. Also washing can cause the fibres bunch together.
Polyester batting is generally cheaper than cotton. It can be classified as non-allergenic and also resists mould and mildew. Also polyester fibres are stronger than cotton so they can hold their shape much better.
To make the filling the polyester fibres are carded to make them into layers, then pressed into a blanket, in this form it is called ‘unbonded batting’ and comes in many weights or thickness’. Unfortunately the fibres can migrate, bunching in some areas and come through the fabric (called ‘bearding’ I believe). A solution to this can be to cover the batting with cheesecloth/muslin before use in quilting.
Cotton Blends Batting
Cotton fibres are blended with polyester giving the best of both worlds. The fibres are bonded for stability to prevent migration yet retains the natural benefits of cotton, giving lightweight warmth in a batting that is easy to handle and suitable for beginner quilters.
Wool batting is soft, drapes well and works very well with intricate quilts. It has the natural fibre qualities of cotton although fibre migration can occur. Like with polyester bating it can help to cover it with cheesecloth before use. The raw wool is washed to remove the natural oils and dirt, mothproofed with chemicals, and then carded to form blanket layers.
This is the fluffy polyester stuff that toys are filled with. This is the best choice of stuffing for children’s toys as it is non allergenic, and there is no chance of mould and mildew. Most products available are non-flammable and it can be washed without bunching up in areas.
It is produced in a similar way to the polyester batting, the fibres are combed into a blanket (batt) but this is then cut up into smaller pieces and packaged together.
Some tips for stuffing:
- Don’t squash the fiberfill before inserting, try to place many fluffy layers inside to avoid a lumpy look.
- Before turning your work right side out, snip and notch the seam edge on corners and remove any excess fabric.
- When trying to close the opening leave a small amount of fiberfill where you are stitching the seam and try to work it back into the gap afterwards. (It can be a bit tricky to stitch over it.)
- Use the manufactured pellets to add weight to toys, bird seed, rice and the like can go mouldy and cause other problems, it really is worth using the manufactured for purpose products.