Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quilting 101: Franken-batting

Quilting 101: I'm starting my own series of quilting tips here on the blog. I learned so much about sewing and quilting online and hope to catalog and organize my methods for others to learn as well. I considered hosting a full QAL series for new quilters, but found that a bit daunting for me at this moment. Instead, as I find the time, I will post various tips I wish I had known before I started quilting. Some I learned the hard way, and some of my techniques have evolved after learning from others then developing my own method. These posts will not be in a specific order, but will be logically ordered when I organize them into a page and link list in the near future. 


Franken-batting:

I buy my batting on 40 yd rolls when possible. I use Warm and White, Warm and Natural, and Pellon cotton batting. I buy each in a 90" width which means I usually have at least a 10" - 20" scrap strip after basting a quilt. I finally sorted all of these the other day. This pictures shows one of my two scrap piles. I first measured each piece and pinned a post-it with the size to each. Then I sorted and paired pieces to match up. Most of my Franken-bats were made by sewing at least 3-4 scrap strips together.



After selecting the strips to sew together, I trimmed both edges straight, even if one edge was the selvage of the batting. The using my edge joining foot, I place the pieces side-by-side and use a zig-zag stitch to join them. They do not overlap at all and are only held together by the zig-zag. I use a stitch width of 7 (the full width on my machine) and a length of 2.




After completing each bat, I pinned a tag to it with the completed measurements. Note how the completed zig-zag looks. It should lay flat with no puckering or ripples on either side. 

After sorting through two large bins and additional bags of scraps, I have 10 ready-to-use bats rather than the useless scraps. Plus, they take up much less space now that they are folded nicely. Each bat is a random size based on the scraps I had, but each is a usable size. Most are around 60" x 75" or baby quilt size as well as a few 22" squares for pieced pillows.

Just a couple more tips:

  • Handling this much batting bothered my eyes and made my nose itch like crazy. Keep that in mind and even consider wearing a dust mask to minimize the lint you breathe if this is a problem for you.
  • Remember to clean your machine after the fact. 
  • I used Sew Fine polyester thread.
  • The edge joining foot I used for this method is my second favorite sewing foot after my 1/4" foot with a guide. I use it for edge-stitching and sewing my binding to the back of my quilt (tutorial coming on my binding technique). The link provided is for the Brother foot as that is the machine I have, but I'm assuming there is a similar foot for all machine models. 
  • Sew pieces together such that the grain is going the same direction. 
  • Feed pieces slowly as to not stretch them.
  • In the future I intend to measure and mark my batting scraps before putting them away to make this process easier in the future. 
  • Because I quilt my quilts fairly densely I haven't had any problems using Franken-bats in the past, although I'm not sure I would recommend it for hand quilting. I would be afraid of shifting and wear on the zig-zag seam without the added reinforcement of dense machine quilting.

As I'm considering topics for this tips series, I'm curious if there are specific posts you'd like to see. If so, leave me a comment. Thanks!

20 comments:

  1. It's both helpful information and a helpful reminder that all those pieces can be used for something useful. Thanks.

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  2. This is a great post - thank you! The term Franken-batting is hilarious and this was the first time I have heard it, so thanks also for the chuckles!

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  3. I've made Frankenbatting before, although it always makes me cringe. But EDGE-JOINING FOOT?! I have no idea if I have one of those! I have a lot of feet (foots?) so I might! Thanks!

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  4. Clever! and very organized of you! I'm totally lazy and use the batting tape to join my scraps together. I haven't run into a problem with it yet, but I also tend to quilt fairly densely.

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  5. Franken-batting! Too cute! I really need to do this. Thanks for the tips, I have learned so much from everyone's blogs. Of course, I have bought lots of fabric too from browsing blog posts too. Lol

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  6. Great tip! I have only done one of these and it turned out good. It was a baby quilt for my grand daughter and you would never know it had pieced batting :)

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  7. Franken-batting! I love it! That is exactly what it looks like! Thanks for the tips. I'm off to research edge joining feet.

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  8. Thanks for doing g this series. I always like to see how others do things! (Usually quicker and easier!)

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  9. This is exactly what I do with my batting scraps and yes, labeling the size as you go makes it go even quicker! Great post!

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  10. I love making frankin batting, it's a great use for scraps. I usually use it for my charity quilts but here lately I have even started using it for some of my larger items -- I guess that's a good perk of using quality goods. I tried doing this with the poly batting that I was donated and it does not work as well. For larger quilts or hand quilting you might try the batting tape -- it's great

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  11. Thanks so much for this tip! I've used batting tape before but it wasn't the easiest thing to use and it gunked up my iron. And I like not having to buy another supply! I would love a tip on how to square up a quilt after it has been quilted. Thx!!!

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  12. I think my biggest problem in the past was that I tried the batting tape, but didn't trim, and it went kind of kinky. That seems so obvious now - duh!

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  13. Great post. Love the term Franken-battingy! I'd love like some hints on how to stop the fabric from puckering when quilting on my trusty Brother. Even with a walking foot. Thanks :)

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  14. Have you done this with wool batting? I have tried. It stretches. . . and does not come out the same size when I know the length started the same (like WAY off). Any ideas on what I might do to have a better result?

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    1. I drop my feed dogs and keep the feed at zero and move the batting thru the machine by hand rather th machine feed it...just like when you FMQ

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  15. If you cut a gently wavy line where you join the batts (by overlapping a bit and then cutting through both layers), it increases the stability a bit because the join line isn't flat and so won't be stressed as much if you happen to fold the finished quilt right where the join is. But getting the finished batt to not be wavy is definitely harder when you do that. I'll have to try using the edge stitch foot next time, great idea!

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  16. Thanks for the great post! I've been quilting for about a year and a half now, and I have learned everything about it from peeps like you. Thanks for sharing your tips and wisdom. I look forward to more. :)

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  17. Great post. I look forward to your other tips, and as someone mentioned, squaring up tips would be great. I even have a 20.5" sq. ruler... but it's hard to get my quilts truly square...

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    1. Thanks for the topic suggestion! I'm adding it to my list.

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    2. I have an aluminum 62" "yard stick" I got from Harbor Freight Tools for $6. I applied silicon dots to the back for grip. I use this to square my quilts up...in combination with my 24" acrylic ruler (lay them out in a t shape so the acrylic is lined up at the top and then the extra long yard stick is laid out along the other edge. I do this all the way around the quilt. Works great for me.

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