Batting – for Quilt Nerds

I did a trial batting wash and shrink test with some wool batting that I’d bought a while ago, which got me thinking that I’d never done the same on the batting that I normally use.  I mean of course I’ve washed quilts….But I’d never done a before and after measurement and done the math.

I finished the quilting and binding on the Improv quilt (I haven’t forgotten about Kaleidoscope Quilt) And I measured  and took pictures of a before and after wash/dry cycle.

Here’s before:

I used:

  • Kona Cotton solids from Robert Kaufman on the top.  I did not pre-wash this fabric.
  • 100% cotton Warm and White Cotton Batting.
  • 100% cotton pre-shrunk and pieced flannel for the back. (In my experience flannel shrinks a whole lot after wash.  I highly recommend  prewashing any flannel before cutting and sewing)
  • Binding is Kona Cotton.
  • I used a cotton wrapped poly for quilting and channel quilted about 1″ apart on the straight grain of the batting.
  • I washed with a little Ecos detergent in a warm water wash and rinse.
  • And I dried the quilt on normal setting.

Here’s after:

My 70″x70″ before wash quilt became 68″x68″.  Shrinkage on the quilt was 2.9% both vertically and horizontally. This is a relatively good thing because if you’re like me and piece batting scraps together to make other bigger batting pieces, you don’t have to worry about straight grain and cross grain shrinkage differences with Warm and White.

If there’s a significant difference and if you’re not aware of grain, you could end up with parts of the quilt bunching up unevenly after wash. Incidentally,  the wool batting did shrink differently lengthwise vs. widthwise, so in that case,  that batting should not be patched together in different directions in a quilt you plan on washing.

Some of the Warm and White shrinkage may be attributable to the top fabric shrinking as well, but based on the pucker, my guess is that the shrink on the batting is higher.  The batting may well also continue to shrink more with successive washes, though usually shrinkage on things like this are highest on the first wash and dry.  This was one wash and dry cycle. 


I am not a fabric scientist.  I’m a fabric fan that maybe knows a little more about fabric than average.  My goal is to make things are not too delicate to drag around and then wash.  I’m not testing in a lab or controlled environment.  I’m using a tape measure and home laundry machines.  My assistant is a dog.

This blog/website cannot be held liable for quilts, fabric or batting that shrink more or less than stated here.

About piecedgoods

I like making things, creativity, creative people, food, fabric, glass, painting, reading, my community, my family, my friends and my dogs.
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6 Responses to Batting – for Quilt Nerds

  1. quiltfever says:

    Your disclaimer is so funny! Your quilt would be at home in a Modern Art gallery! Very interesting how you did the border.

    • piecedgoods says:

      Thanks! I used every little bit of fabric cut in strips. Since this is a quilt paying homage to Gee’s Bend, my personal goal was to have NO wastage. So apart from basically three small rectangles I didn’t fit in anywhere, every little bit is there! I blame the blurry eyeball for mixing up ivory and white Kona Cotton on the quilt.

  2. Lynda says:

    Glad you took the time to figure all that out for us. I often piece leftover batts and have wondered how the shrinkage might affect the quilt but never taken the time to measure. Good to know I don’t have to worrya bout how the pieces go together.

  3. Sheila Brady says:

    Disclaimer is so funny! And how did you get the picture of your quilt floating in the great emptiness of space? Were rocket ships involved? Or photo shops? I like the “Flying carpet” view, instead of the usual “Honey, could you hold this up?” view. 🙂

  4. piecedgoods says:

    Magical forces of levitation were involved. Because despite cajoling with treats and play time, Co-Q was not being helpful about holding up the quilt. She just wanted to sit on it.

    Actually, it was overcast outside and I threw the quilt on the lawn to take the picture which was taken quickly after chasing Co-Q off of it (see wrinkles) who then wanted full credit for the quilt.

    Because the lighting situation was sort of weird, the quilt looks like it’s floating. I kinda like it.

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