Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Learning QAL - October Sum Up

Welcome to Learning QAL's October Sum Up.
One of the views from Banff
Life is good here! I'm writing this post from the beautiful town of Banff, within the Banff National Park in Alberta.

As you can imagine, last weekend was a frenzy of activity at my sewing machine, getting my samples ready for this post and getting ready to leaving for Banff. 

Quilt blocks lounging in the grass in Banff!
Quilt Tops

First things first - to test the batting, I had to create some quilt tops. I wanted this to be as painless as possible - so I chose to make some scrappy improvisational pieces. These are, for me, the easiest things to piece since matching points and such is not my strength. 

I looked through "Quilt Improv" by Lucie Summers for some ideas on new improv blocks to make. 

It was really fun putting together a half-square triangle block. Since I had many half-square triangles left over from other projects, this was the perfect way to use them. I must admit that it's my favourite of the blocks. I also tried a variation of her X block.

I already had a log cabin block that I just added strips to, as well as a block that Lucie calls pieced squares. These are the improv blocks that I usually make.

X Block with
silk-poly batting
Here they are, sandwiched and pinned, before quilting.

Half-square Triangle block with
cotton-wool batting

Pieced Squares block with
bamboo-cotton batting

Log Cabin block with
cotton batting


Here are the four different batting I used.
  • Tender Touch bamboo-cotton (50%-50%) with scrim
  • Warm 100 Cotton  with 100% cotton scrim
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection cotton-wool (80%-20%) batting with resin bonded
  • Hobbs Tuscany Collection silk and fine polyester (90%-10%) with resin bonded
Taking these different batting out of their bag, I was surprised by the stiffness and stickiness of both Hobbs products, although in the end, this didn't affect the quilting.

Something else that I noticed when I made my quilt sandwiches, is that the silk batting didn't stick to the fabric at all, even after being ironed. Again, I don't think that this affected the quilting, but it was unusual.

The bamboo batting was the softest and most supple while the all-cotton also felt great and was a little thicker than the bamboo-cotton.

Quilt blocks lounging in the gazebo
The Quilting Process

For consistency, I used the same backing fabric for all of the pieces, a Kona solid in pink. I put a new Superior Topstitch 90\14 needle into the machine. I also used Superior Threads, King Tut thread (40) for both the bobbin and the top. The bobbin was a grey thread while the top was a light variegated. I ended up running out of both of these on my last block! 

I started by quilting-in-the-ditch each block. The cotton and bamboo-cotton batting were great. The cotton-wool batting adds loft (puffiness) and did feel a little thicker. It was also great to quilt. I was surprised with the silk batting. It is the thinnest, was a little stiff and it almost felt as if there was no batting.

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

After doing some in-the-ditch quilting, I then went back to complete the FMQ of each block. I started with the cotton-wool batting. Wow! It was really great to quilt and I definitely saw the added loft while quilting. I did have to be more careful about puckers, just because of the added loft. 

FMQ on the cotton-wool batting (block size 16" x 16"½)
After quilting the cotton-wool batting, the silk batting felt really thin. I did have to adjust the tension on my machine since it was so different from the cotton-wool. It did quilt well.

FMQ on the silk batting  (block size 14" x 14"½)
I didn't really see or feel much difference when quilting the cotton and bamboo-cotton pieces. They were both great - but this is what I'm used to quilting. 

FMQ on the cotton batting  (block size 16" x 16")

FMQ on the bamboo-cotton batting  (block size 15" x 15"½)
I didn't get to finish the FMQ on the bamboo-cotton piece. I ran out of both bobbin and top threads. It is about 80% quilted.
Back of the X block
(silk batting)
Back of the Half-Square Triangle block
(cotton-wool batting)

Back of the Log Cabin block
(cotton batting)
Back of the Pieced Squares block
(bamboo-cotton batting)
The experiment is not over...

Overall, I was really impressed with the cotton-wool, bamboo-cotton and cotton batting. I was a little disappointed with the silk batting, just because it was a little stiffer and so thin. But the experiment is not over!

I still have to finish quilting the bamboo-cotton piece (after I buy more thread), and then bind each of them so they can be washed. That could make a difference in the end result.

I will also do some more experimenting with these batting - so if you're interested, follow my learning adventure next month. I'll be posting the details of Batting - Part 2 in my goal setting for the November Learning QAL on November 1st. I also hope that you'll be learning along with me!

Quilt block enjoying the view
What I learned
  • I was working hard to not be biased in regards to the silk batting because I was sooo looking forward to using it. It was difficult to not be disappointed.
  • In defense to the silk batting, it is known to be very lightweight but warm. I will reserve judgement (on all of them) once they have been washed.
  • In reality, the experiment can only be over once a whole quilt has been made and used to really get a feel for their properties as quilts. This experiment may last a long time :-)
  • I was impressed by the cotton-wool batting. Only 20% wool made a big difference in the loft. I'm also glad that there is only a little bit of wool since I do react to wool - even the softest makes me itchy. I had no problem working with this batting.
If you've had success, or not, with a particular batting, feel free to share with readers and me in the comments section!

Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking up to these great parties. Please check them out! Let's Bee SocialLinky TuesdayMidweek Makers, Design Wall Monday, Main Crush Monday, Quilter's Monday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Oh Scrap! Finished or Not Friday, MOP Monday, Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Friday,

Great news! My half-square triangle block was featured on Free Motion Mavericks. Check it out!
Update: I linked to Sarah Goer's fun linky, Show Me Something Improv.


  1. Not only did you have fun with improv block design, but also free motion quilting - nice!

  2. Beautiful pieces and very interesting experiment! I look forward to hear your comments as the experiments go on. I always use the same batting just because there are too many options and when I am at the quilting stage I just want to get the quilt done! :) thanks for sharing!!

  3. I want to thank you for this learning experience. It is awesome to be accountable to others to accomplish things I should just do. LOL
    I love all you are doing and learning.

  4. Hello Andrée,

    This is interesting. I have tried various different types of wadding, but have never tested them by washing. Wonderful juxtaposition with the mountain peak beyond the triangles quilt!

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks - your test pieces are this weeks featured project!

    Love, Muv

  5. merci pour les essais et commentaires sur les ouatines et qu'est ce que je vous envie d’être dans ce parc si beau de Banff ,un de mes rêves!


Hi! I would love to hear from you and I will try to answer you. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a message. :-)