One of my readers, Pat, asked an excellent question regarding piecing batting scraps for quilting:
Hi Jacquelynne. I am new to your site and really like your designs. I have only been quilting for a year or so. My question is about batting. When using smaller, leftover pieces of batting for a quilt, are 1/4″ seams used? Thank you. Pat
So today, I will be talking about how to piece your leftover pieces of batting together. Because batting is expensive, and no one wants to throw it out, right?? And sometimes, you are in the middle of the project, and don’t have a piece of batting that is big enough, and you just don’t have time to run out to the store to buy more.
First you need to get your batting pieces ready. When piecing your scraps together, you don’t want a seam allowance at all- batting is bulky and you don’t want any extra bulk or bumps in the areas where you sew your pieces of batting together. What you want to do is have your batting edges line up and abut to each other, so you get one nice, continuous piece of batting with no lumps or ridges. You need your edges to line up fairly well before you sew them together.
You start by placing 2 pieces of batting together, with an overlap of 1/2 to 3″ (depending on the cutting method you use below.)
Once you have your batting edges lined up and overlapped, you need to cut them. I personally like to use a rotary cutter- it gives you a super-straight and smooth edge. (You may want to dedicate a special mat and rotary cutter for just cutting batting, if you don’t like having little bits of fuzz. I just clean my mat and blade really well after I cut batting.) Place a ruler over the overlapped area, and cut down the center. When you remove those little scraps, you will have 2 edges which will abut to each other perfectly.
If you have a large piece of batting which doesn’t fit on your cutting mat, or you don’t want to use your rotary cutter, you can use the same method, but cut with your scissors. The edges won’t be as perfect- but you will get 2 complementary edges which will fit together well enough for our purposes.
Finally, some people like to do a curvy cut with their rotary cutter (I suppose you could also use your scissors for this as well.) Personally, I find this more difficult and a little more “fussy,” I think the straight edge works just as well and is much easier. I piece my batting all the time with straight edges, and in not one of my quilts can you tell where the batting was pieced together!
Now that your batting edges are prepped, you have a few options for piecing your batting scraps together. You can either sew them together by machine or hand, or you can use a fusible product to hold them together.
When you sew the pieces of batting together, you don’t need it to be super-secure. Basically, you are just basting it together until the actual quilting gets done- your quilting is what will hold it all together. (If your quilting stitches will be very far apart, then you may need to make your batting seam more secure.)
Use a neutral/matching thread to sew your batting pieces together- I’m using dark thread just so you can see it better in the photos.
Here is how you can hand stitch the pieces together. Place the batting pieces on a hard surface such as a table or the floor. Notice that I gave it a nice secure “tacking” or “bar” stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Then I make big stitches down the seam- keep the stitches fairly loose, you don’t want to pull so tight that the batting puckers or bunches up. You can leave it like this, if you feel that it’s secure enough.
Or, when you get to the end of the seam, you can come back to make big “X” stitches.
I will admit that I find this method (hand stitching) to be pretty back breaking!
The next option is to machine zig zag stitch the layers together. Use a big stitch (like, the biggest stitch your machine will make!), and make sure that the batting isn’t puckering or bunching. If it is puckering a lot, try adjusting the tension or using a larger stitch. These are the pieces that I cut with scissors, and notice that there are no gaps once I’ve sewn them together. I usually piece my batting with a machine zig zag stitch.
Finally, I’ve seen some fusible tapes on the market, but I have not tried them. Here is another method I’ve seen- but I haven’t actually made a project with it. So, if you want to try it I suggest doing a test project first. Or, if you HAVE tried this- please let us know in the comments how it works! It involves ironing a thin strip of fusible web to the seam. (To be honest, my iron didn’t “like” ironing right on the batting, it kept sticking to the batting, so I suggest using a pressing cloth if you are going to do this.)
Place a strip of lightweight fusible web (I love Heat n Bond Lite) about 1/2″ wide, over the seam. Iron in place, using a pressing cloth if necessary.
Then peel off the paper backing, and fuse a piece of thin muslin (which you have cut slightly wider than the fusible web) over the fusible web area. No sewing required.
You can sew LOTS of batting scraps together to get a piece as large as you need it to be! It just depends on how much patience you have! You can also keep batting scraps on hand for smaller projects such as mug rugs, coasters, and place mats. Next week, I will be sharing a cute Christmas ornament that you can make from some of your smaller batting scraps!