Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Batting Battles

Over the last week, I have had the complete displeasure of working with battings that are outside my comfort zone. I typically use exclusively Warm & Natural or Hobbs Heierloom, which is very similar to the other one. I know as a longarm quilter, I will have to adjust to whatever the customer wants to use, but I don't have to like it! And, FYI...the photos that are in this post have nothing to do with it. They are just some of the quilts I have worked on recently.
It is a wonder to me how or why stores still sell mid-loft polyester batting anymore. I can see it's use in reappholstering furniture, but it is awful for quilts. I don't really think I like it for lofty quilts either. My tastes have been altered by actually doing the process of quilting the quilt. I greatly love sleeping under the loft of a down comforter, but when it comes to longarm quilting polyester, "No Thank You!". It is hard to keep the edges of the top pulled out where they belong. Fabrics slip around on the poly. And I have to readjust where I have come to know my tensions belong when I switch to this unnatural batting. I won't fault anyone that uses this batting. Afterall, poly batts are less expensive. They are just a pain to quilt.
above...Adrienne's 1st quilt "Batik Knots on Whites". It's not a "fluffy" as this picture indicates. Maybe it is just the swirly, cloud-like quilting that makes it look that way!
I also got to play with another batting. I am pretty sure it is a poly-cotton blend that Joann's sells in bags. I have most definitely used this batting, and in addition to that, I really like the batting in the finished piece. It is soft, thin and very pliable. BUT, this product is not carded. And by that, I mean, in it's construction process, it has not had "carding" which is done either with hot water or hot air jets, and is done to give a product strength. It forces crossing of top and middle and bottom fibers. This batting was a total pill to pull under the rollers of the longarm with out causing stretching and/or holes (and consequently much cursing too). As a general rule, I'd prefer to tell those wanting to longarm a quilt that a packaged batting is not ideal unless they want to press the batting, but this batting just adds further dimension to that thought.
Above...Adrienne's 2nd quilt - bright & Black Sampler. I just love the color & variety of this quilt. It was a total joy to quilt. Though much of it is just a colorful stipple in variagated thread, some of the individual blocks are pretty interesting too.

My 3rd batting experience was very likely from a customer that brought her own Warm & Natural. It had been folded in a bag rather than on a bolt, as I keep them. I had to constantly massage that quilt to rid the batting of it's wrinkles. It was a pain, but at least the batting held together!
I am anxiously awaiting quilting a couple more pretties sent to me from Patty in Florida this weekend (and using my own batting too). I have about 6 quilts waiting in my queue before I have to go looking for more business or tackle one of my own.
above...red & white bearpaws. This is such a fun quilt. And I really hemmed & hawed over how to quilt it until the owner told me that she likes feathers and curves. Then it was clear. The back has the most awesome lobster fabric on it too!
And I have awesome news!...Last night I sold my first quilt from my Etsy store. I swear I was about to abandon that store and the notion that anything was ever going to sell (resign myself to resorting to the holiday fair circuit to rid myself of half a dozen nice quilts). Now there is hope, I think that maybe more could sell before Christmas.


Leah said...

Your quilting is looking so good.

On the batting front, have you thought about buying your own roll and 'encouraging' customers to use yours (thus eliminating the wrinkle problem). Just a thought :)

luv2quilt2 said...

Beautiful quilts. I struggled witht he last bagged batting I bought, and could not get it completely flat. (and I used a lot of words that I don't usually use!) I don't think I'll be using another bagged batting.

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

I think that as you progress with your longarm business that you should offer two types of batting: a cotton one, and a poly or poly-blend one. Then just tell the customers how much it will cost and YOU provide the batting. You'll be happier in the end. Plus customers will have a very inexpensive initial mailing to you. :-)

Congrats on your first etsy quilt sale! Whoo-hoo!

Arnden said...

Yeah! My quilts look awesome! It is funny that you used them as a trial for new battings (I have only ever used Warm and Natural). I hope they did not give you too much trouble. Thanks again!

Kathy said...

Very pretty quilts in your last post! If it's easier on you, I'd like to suggest that your customers just go with your batting on a roll. I bet you could encourage them to do this if they knew it had fewer wrinkles. I had set aside bamboo batting and I had it out of the package this week to breathe, but I'd rather have the Hobb's cotton, if I know it's easier for you! I would have no problem having you charge me for the batting that works best.

mariebars "art " said...

hallo gerade bin ich auf deinen Blog gestoßen ,sehr schöne Sachen machst du ,werde sicher öfter hier vorbei schauen.LG Marita

Ruthie said...

When I use a customers batting from a bag, I always open it up and drape it over the frame, then I spritz it with a little water and pop it into the dryer on cool for about 5 minutes. Nice quilting!

bingo~bonnie said...

I've only had a few quilts quilted with a longarmer - and each time have bought my batting directly from them & you on the last one ;)

I figure it's a win/win - I don't have to travel to the town next door to buy it and they get to use something that they know they like using. ;)

I love all the photos that you share of your work....and I so need to post some new photos on my blog soon of my Christmas Lights quilt ;)

Love from Texas! ~bonnie