Thread Journey: Batting & Thread


Today’s installment of Wendy Sheppard’s Thread Journey Quilt Along is all about batting & thread, two often unsung heroes of a finished quilt. We’ve seen some of your quilts and are so impressed with your progress! If you’re sewing along and want to share your images on Instagram, please consider tagging Wendy (@ivory_spring), Aurifil (@aurifilthread)and #threadjourneyquiltalong so that we might share in your process! Have fun and happy stitching!

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Hello Friends, I hope you have been well. It’s good to be back to share a few quilting thoughts with you. Now that I have completed my Thread Journey quilt top, I am starting to think about how to quilt my quilt.

Wendy Sheppard - Thread Journey, Thread & Batting1

Just like everything else, over the years, I have come to like working with certain quilty essentials that give me very good results. Today, I am going to share with you my preferred choices of batting for domestic machine quilting. I do want to stress that I am in no way dogmatic about things. It’s perfectly fine to have your own preferred choices. Remember, Lady Catherine will never know!

If you have known me for any length of time, you will probably have known of my personal “perfect quilting combination” of thread and batting that works for me everytime — Aurifil’s 50 wt thread (HAS to be Aurifil) quilted over Hobbs Tuscany silk batting.

You may read more about the technical aspects of the silk batting here.


From a practical point of view, I love to quilt with silk batting because of the light weight of the silk. I experience less drag when I am trying to scrunch and move my quilt sandwich under the little throat area of my sewing machine. The silk batting has a slight airy loft that gives my regular quilting just the right amount of poof on the quilt. And when the light hits the quilt just right, the effect is a pleasing one!



I also like that when I do dense quilting on a quilt over silk batting, the quilt doesn’t take on an added stiffness.



The quilt hangs nicely, and remainly softs and cuddly.



And here is one of my ALL-TIME favorite quilts quilted with silk batting on my Bernina, Coxcomb & Berries!

Conversely, silk batting also works well with quilting that is not as dense. My quilts turn out just as pretty, without the looking like it still need “being quilted down”. Here is an example of a quilt quilted with a simple all-over motif that I don’t consider as “dense” quilting.

I like to tell quilters that I actually use silk batting as I would regular cotton batting, only I like the handling and effect of the silk batting better! That’s in a nutshell!

If you like to do dense quilting with silk, you will absolutely adore doing dense quilting with wool! When I want to get fancy with my quilting, I like to use wool. Wool batting is everything I described for the silk batting, EXCEPT the loft is much higher! So, to get the full effect, one does need to spend some time quilting the quilt down when sandwiched with wool batting.


You can read about the technical aspect of Hobbs’ Tuscany wool batting here.

I absolutely love to use wool batting for wholecloth and applique projects. When outline quilted, the wool gives my applique shape a very distinctive poof! Here are some examples. You can see that the applique shapes take on a three-dimensional look… many have called this trick the faux trapunto technique (i.e., trapunto without the added work).

Wool is also great when I want to “create” designs around applique shapes with only quilting. The high loft of the batting gives definition to “created” designs. The boundary designs you see surrounding the applique are created entirely by quilting.

I don’t have a recent wholecloth project so show you. I actually have one that is work-in-“way too long”-progress that I can’t quite show. But here is one that I did years ago.


You really get a sense of dense quilting here… haha!


When I want an even more defined poof to my quilting, I actually mix wool and cotton or wool and silk. This following quilt is quilted over silk and wool used together. You can see the poof!


This one almost gets the feeling that the batting is busting out the “quilting”! That’s because with the silk being on the bottom layer, the loft of the wool is forced to bust out on the front of the quilt.

The answer is, I do! I use the Tuscany Bleached Cotton because it is thinner and lighter than the regular cotton batting. I generally use cotton when I do straight line quilting on quilts, or borderless quilts. I find that the cotton batting keeps the squareness of quilt better after being handled in the quilting process.

The following example is a runner I quilted with Hobbs Tuscany Bleached Cotton. I think you can tell that even though you can see the quilting, the quilting effect isn’t as “jumping out at you” as my previously shown projects.

I thought I would show you really quickly the three aforementioned batting types, all from Hobbs Tuscany Collection. From left to right: bleached cotton, wool and silk.


I am hoping you are able to see how thin the bleached cotton batting is — the very reason I like it when I use cotton batting.  Next up is the VERY airy wool, and then we have the silk batting.  You can see that comparatively, the silk batting looks a bit more “compacted” compared to the wool.

I actually already have a general idea on how I would quilt it. For one thing, I will be using threads from my Subtle Strings collection. See you in two weeks, and you will get to see how I have quilted the quilt center! Click here if are interested in my thoughts on threads.

Subtle1 (1)

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June 2: Thread Journey: Quilt Along with Wendy Sheppard
June 16: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 1
June 30: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 2
July 14: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 3
July 28: Batting & Thread (Today)
August 11: Process of Quilting, Part 1
August 18: Process of Quilting, Part 2
August 25: Process of Quilting, Part 3

QBV03_PieceBlock_12_crop_smallWebsite — Instagram
Originally from Southeast Asia, Wendy came to the US for her tertiary education.  After her degrees in Chemical Engineering, she worked in research in a wind tunnel for a spell.  Nowadays, she is a stay/work-at-home Mom to a 7 year old.  Wendy’s designs have been featured in major quilting publications, both home and abroad.  She is also an author for Landauer Publishing, as well as an online quilting instructor.  She is passionate about encouraging quilters to enjoy their quilting journey.  During her free time, she loves to read history, and indulges in hand needlework.

ABOUT SUBTLE STRINGS: (Wendy’s 2015 Aurifil Thread Collection)

12 Large Spools of 100% Aurifil Cotton, 50wt
Colors included:
2310 – 2847 – 4060 – 2130 – 2715 – 5021
2210 – 2510 – 2886 – 2326 – 2423 – 5014


  1. Super informative talk on the different types of batting. Thanks for the specifics of “why” and the many pictorial examples. I have used wool and cotton battings, I’m anxious to try silk. Thanks for a beautiful “quilt-along” project, Wendy.

  2. Thanks for the great info-I didn’t know about the silk batting. I will be using 100 % cotton batting, as I prefer that to the synthetics! Next time I will have to try the silk, Susan

  3. I really enjoyed seeing the differences with the different battings. I love that the silk will remain soft and cuddly even with dense quilting. That is my objection to dense quilting. Looking forward to more info.

  4. How do each of the battings compare when they are washed? My quilts are used by family and friends and need to be laundered. How do they compare for warmth? Which would you use in a warm climate? And which for a colder one?

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