Which Wadding to use for your Quilting Project?

Wadding is the unsung hero of a successful quilt. Get it right and the quilting will be a dream, the end product will look stunning and it will last for ages; get it wrong and, well . . . by then it is too late!
With all the wadding that is now available to UK quilters the choice can be bewildering but understanding their different properties can help you choose the best wadding for your quilt.

Wadding Material


Cotton Wadding 

Naturally soft and breathable – cotton is an ideal choice for creating comfortable finshed quilts. With cotton being the most popular choice for quilting fabric – cotton wadding is naturally compatible, sharing the characteristics of the surrounding material.  Being a natural fibre, cotton is also more flame resistant than synthetic material.

The main drawback is that cotton has a tendency to “drag” on the needle; not a problem when machine quilting but when stitching by hand, it does make it harder work than, say, polyester.

Polyester Wadding

A cheaper alternative to cotton that is much easier to wash than any natural fibre.  This makes it the preferred choice if the quilt is likely to find itself in a washing machine or sink on a regular basis, such as play mats.  It is also easier to needle by hand.  There is a great variety of qualities of polyester out there so be sure to buy a reputable brand!

Wool Wadding

A naturally warm material that lends itself to bed covers, lap quilts and so on.  Like cotton, it is naturally fire retardant and so, along with its thermal qualities, may be ideal for cot quilts. 
However, it won’t stand up to such frequent washing so if it is likely to become soiled on a regular basis, better think of a different wadding!

Bamboo Wadding

With its soft silky feel and beautiful drape, bamboo can provide a luxurious finish to a quilting project although it is typically more expensive than other natural materials.
The one great attraction about bamboo is that it is very environmentally friendly. Growing naturally as a weed, bamboo requires no special cultivation, pesticides or fertilisers and no harsh chemicals are used in the production process.

Wadding Blends

Blends are designed to bring together the best properties of the different materials. 
The cotton/polyester blend for example combines the durability and ease of stitching of polyester with the softness and breathability of cotton. These characteristics have made the 80/20 Cotton/Polyester blend is one of the most popular among UK quilters.
Bamboo and cotton is another popular combination with the cotton adding extra body to the silky texture of the polyester.

Cotton and polyester 80/20 wadding blend

Black vs White Wadding – Which Colour?

Perhaps the easiest decision to make is one of colour.  Essentially, it depends on the predominant colour of the quilt top and the weight of the fabric.  The lighter or looser the weave of the fabric, the more important it is to select a compatible colour for the wadding.  That is when black comes into its own: dark fabrics work better with dark waddings.  At the same time, light fabrics will become discoloured by having a black wadding underneath.  The choice of white or natural will again be driven by the main colour on top.