Tuesday, September 22, 2020

LAL#8: Fast & Frugal Method for Joining Batting Scraps by Machine

After loading the backing of my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt on my frame a few days ago, I discovered that the package of crib sized batting I was planning to use was going to be too small for my 42" x 42" baby quilt.  Why do the batting manufacturers assume that everyone is making rectangular baby quilts, anyway?

With no nearby quilt shops open on a Sunday evening, I was determined to come up with a solution that didn't require shopping.  I briefly considered hacking a piece out of one of the batts I'm saving for larger projects, but then I started noticing all of the nooks, corners and cubbies throughout my studio where I had odd-shaped batting scraps squirreled away.

What you see pictured above is only what was left after I tossed the really skinny strips, the bits of batting that I couldn't identify, as well as remnants from battings that I tried but didn't enjoy using.  This left me with the remnants of Quilter's Dream Wool, Quilter's Dream Cotton Select in Natural and in White, Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 blend in natural, Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 in Black, and Hobbs Tuscany Wool.

I've been hoarding saving these batting scraps for about 20 years.  The smallest batting scraps are useful for cleaning the rails of my long arm machine, and I do use the bigger pieces sometimes for samples or for checking and fine-tuning tension, but I have not been using them up at a rate that keeps up with new batting scraps being trimmed away from finished quilts!  Desperate times (no batting for the baby quilt + batting scraps taking up WAY too much space in the studio) called for desperate measures.

How to Join Leftover Batting Scraps by Machine

First things first, I had to do my best to identify and sort the batting scraps.  If I cobbled together a Frankenstein batting that was part wool, part 100% cotton, part polyester, and part 80/20 blend, then the loft and feel of the quilt would be totally different from one section to another.  Even worse, those battings would shrink at different rates the first time the quilt was washed -- disaster!  So do as I say, not as I did, and try to get into the habit of bagging and LABELING your batting scraps as soon as possible after trimming them from a finished quilt, while you still remember what kind of batting they are!

Pictured below are two fairly large remnants of Quilter's Dream Cotton Select batting in Natural, perfect for my baby quilt once they're joined together.  I laid both pieces on my cutting table, side by side, both with the right side up (dimples up, pimples down for needle punched batting) and overlapped the two rough-cut edges slightly in the center.  Then, I used my longest acrylic ruler and my rotary cutter to cut a clean, straight line through both layers of batting to create edges that abut perfectly.

The bits I'd just trimmed from each batting remnant were perfect for testing stitch settings, to see which stitch would hold the batting edges together securely without puckering or creating a ridge along the join.

I tried a few different stitches, but I was happiest with the 3-step zigzag (stitch #16 on my Bernina 750QE), once I'd maxed out the width at 9 mm and stretched out the length to a bit beyond 3 mm.  I'm using 50/2 Aurifil thread in a creamy Ivory to match the batting.

This is one of those tasks where I really appreciate the extra throat space in a 7 Series Bernina. You can't join batting with right sides together because you don't want any seam allowance at all, just raw edges butted together with a light stitch holding them together.  Once the batting is quilted into a quilt, the quilt stitches will be what keeps the batting where it belongs inside the qult.

I started out using my Open Toe foot #20D for this with my Dual Feed engaged, and that did work, but I quickly realized that the walking foot would be better because the walking foot helps feed the fabric from either side of the needle, whereas Dual Feed rides along in dead center position behind my needle -- right on top of the gap between the two batting pieces that I'm trying to make disappear!

It was a lot easier to keep the two batting edges right up against one another with the walking foot, so that was worth the minute it took me to dig it out of the drawer and pop it on my machine!

Ta-da!  Can YOU see the vertical seam going down the middle of that batting?  I'm not necessarily going to do this on a show quilt, but this is going to be just perfect for my baby quilt!

There it is on the frame, ready for the quilt top to go on next.  I'll spritz the batting with some water first and let those wrinkles hang out overnight.

But Rebecca, Aren't There Other Ways to Join Batting Scraps?

OF COURSE there are other ways to do this!  I'm writing this post so I can remember how I did it the next time I need to do it again, not because this is the only right way to do it.  Some quilters like to whipstitch the edges together by hand.  Some quilters prefer to use a regular zigzag or some other utility stitch built into their sewing machines.  There is a fusible batting tape that some quilters love using -- BUT -- you must be 100% certain that you have correctly identified your batting fiber before you go anywhere near it with an iron!  Wool batting should not be ironed, and neither should any of the polyester fibers, as they would melt.  If you know it's 100% cotton because that's the only kind of batting you have ever used, then go ahead and try the fusible tape method.

Speaking of wool, I haven't tried my machine stitched joining method on a lofty wool batting.  I am definitely going to have to join batting for my monster-sized 120" x 120" pineapple log cabin quilt when I get around to quilting that one, because I need at least 128" x 128" of batting and backing and batting doesn't come that wide.  I think I'll whipstitch the extra length I need by hand to ensure my stitching doesn't flatten the loft along the join.

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  My turnaround for edge-to-edge quilting is currently running about 2 weeks, and you can click here to find out how to book your quilt with me.

What do YOU do with Your Batting Scraps?

I'd love to know what you all do with YOUR batting scraps.  Do you save them at all or throw them out?  Do you use them in small projects or join them together?  Do you have a good system for keeping your batting scraps organized so you know what kind they are, what sizes they are, and so you can find the right piece when you need it?  Let me know in the comments!  Meanwhile, it's Tuesday again...  And that means it's time for the Long Arm Learning linky party!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Vicki in MN said...

I zig zag my batting all the time. Well I should do more as I have mounds of it also. And I do use the small ones for cleaning around my long arm too:)

Rebecca said...

When I (and others) join more then one batting together we call it
"Franken Batting"

JustGail said...

I've seen where some cut the seam between the 2 bats with a curved seam, apparently the thought is that there's less chance of the entire seam being between quilting lines? That's probably not much of a worry if an all-over edge-to-edge quilting pattern is used though.

I do save small bits of batting to use for pincushions, thread picker-uppers and catchers, coasters, place mats, whatever I need a bit of batting for. Yesterday I used scraps to make leaders for my Q-Zone hoop frame, as filling for the roll on one of them. Not sure I really needed it, but the "official" leaders have one.

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

I save the scraps. . .even small pieces. After I finish a quilt, I piece the batting scraps together using my number 20 foot and a zig zag stitch. I use the "Franken" batting for placemats, bags, small quilts. . .well, you get the idea! I also use some pieces to dust and clean with too! I store the "chunks" in bags that contain like scraps so that those pieces of batting are at the ready.

Kathleen said...

There was zig zag batting in my finish this week, but I like the bigger stitch you used! I am keeping this on in mind for the new machine settings.

Kris Jacobson said...

I cut the smaller pieces for dusting and cleaning and I use a square by my machine to collect thread tails as I cut them. I have tried a few different ways to join batting but I think you way is the easiest

chrisknits said...

Save and make Frankenbatting. But with little projects I don't worry about what type of batting it is. LOL! But I don't tend to deviate from 80/20 blend.

Kathleen said...

Great tips/tutes again! Thanks for linking up to the party #TTot22

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, that was a useful post - thanks! I tend to keep any strips that are a few inches wide to make cup sleeves although I can foresee the day when I will get fed up and chuck those out! Since I generally use cotton batting or other natural fibers (but not wool), I use a tape that I iron on. It takes very low heat to set, so I haven't had a problem. I do want to try sewing them together with a walking foot as you suggested. I really hadn't thought of that! I don't sort them well but I can usually tell what looks similar and since smaller pieces are used for either art pieces and wall hangings, there will be minimal washing involved. Again, thanks for the lesson :-) take care.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Of course, I save them! (I'm too cheap to just toss them.) I use them for smaller projects and I put them together for larger projects using a feather stitch on my machine.

Julie said...

Great post on ingenuity and frugality, Rebecca! Here's to reuse and recycling.

I often get batting scrap donations for Gnadenhutten Quilt Project, and almost all the battings for my charity quilts are pieced. I have everything sorted by huge bins. How do I Frankenstein the pieces? It depends on the machine AND the batting. Polys in many thickness seem to do well butted up against each other and not overlapped. It forms a ridge like a scar otherwise. I like to use my Pfaff with built in dual feed, and a long, narrow zig zag for poly. Adjust your tension to slightly looser than regular stitching if possible, and thicker thread helps you find it if you need to adjust it. Sometimes it does ruch up. (Yes, that's a word.)

Cotton and blends do better on my Janome with walking foot. I still try not to overlap, but get things very close if not butted. I've done the gentle curve process, but don't think most warrant it. Just keep the stitch tension loose so you can adjust any puckers at the end.

FYI, if you have a lot of batting scraps in cotton, find someone making reusuable menstrual pads. Little Dresses for Africa and many other organizations deliver these to young girls to help keep them in school! Your narrow pieces are generally good for this use, but ask for sure. Most will appreciate the donation.

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! I see you've updated your linky button so I've added it to my website. I sure do enjoy reading your weekly posts and well as the linkers. I have matched up/sewn batting pieces together once but don't do it often. I think the stitch you selected is a perfect choice! Take care and enjoy the weekend. ~smile~ Roseanne

dlarvin@windstream.net said...

Just got a Lenni, so very new to quilting other than using my DM for straight line quilting & sending to a longarm quilter. I have seamed batting up by zig zagging. I use scrap batting for small projects & craft gifts. Anything too small goes into pincushions, I made these as gifts for my sewing group Using the caps of Tide that I had saved pretty fabric on top & a ribbon glued around the top side.

SJSM said...

Well, I’ll be! I’ve only joined batting a couple of times and used the exact method you describe except no use of walking foot. I looked on the Bernina We All Sew website (I think, yesra ago) for suggestions That technique was there. I figured with all the feet and stitcgphes I had Bernina would have some sort of recommendation. My bigger scraps are saved and small ones put int "Cubies" for schools etc. Cubies are cubes made of upholstry fabrics and stuffed with scraps. One member of our Chapter has a long list of teachers, counseling centers, libraries etc that need Cubies for younger students tyrough teens to have reading corners and sessions. At the end of the year the children can take a Cubie home. Ergo, a never.Ending demand and a way to recycle even threads, elastics, batting as well as fabric scraps. No hard items such as buttons or zippers and definitely not left over pins!

Finally I have something to contribute to your LAL list.