I, too, prefer Warm and Natural and also Quilter's Dream. I tried a sample of the wool and loved it, but my budget only covers the 100% cotton (for hand quilting) or the 70/30 cotton-poly blend (usually for machine work). If money were not an issue I would buy the wool every time. With the quilt top that I'm getting ready to work on now, I am going to try the Quilter's Dream 70/30 for hand quilting for the first time, so we'll see.
My favourite is Quilters Dream Cotton - 100% pure Cotton Batting. It is the 'Request" type. ""Thinnest Loft, exceptional for hand quilting"" to quote the package!
What is the wool batt like for washing and drying?
I like to use a good quality polyester batt for baby quilts just to get the puffiness and cuddly softness. I don't have a bag right now,,,to get the name.
I have not personally used the wool bat, but a friend of mine who used it said you need to be careful when washing it (only in cold water) because she discovered the hard way it does shrink it warm water. But she loved the way it needled.
I love the look of a very low loft cotton quilt after it has been washed, it really makes it look antique. I guess I need to watch which kind of cotton I buy, since the needle punch I have used was very hard to quilt thru. Cornwomen I am with you about the wool, a little rough on my budget, but I do want to make at least one with wool batt for me to stay nice and cozy under. I wear wool mittens that I knit, in the winter to walk the dog so my hands stay toasty. My family thinks I am a little crazy since we live in southern Arkansas but it does get cold here. Thanks for all the input!
I guess one would have to ask oneself "How many quilts can I handquilt in a year?" That should determine how much you will be willing to spend on batting. I know that in a good year, I only handquilt two quilts. So because of this, I choose to use the batting that does the job I want it to do. I've found that the new "Tuscany" line of batting from Hobbs is lovely. It's about 1/4" thick, the wool batt is absolutely beautiful to handquilt and the polyester batt is lovely to sleep under. Now, I live in Alberta, so our winters are cool...okay, okay, COLD. But we use microfibre sheets and one quilt. No blankets at all and we're perfectly comfortable. If you look at the 30's quilt below, you'll see what the polyester batt looks like on a quilt that's been machine quilted. If you go to my webpage http://www.naturescolours.ca, you can see a quilt called Baltimore Friends. It has Hobbs wool batt and was handquilted. I think the batt you choose is the one that's best for the results you want. Research is the key.
As I was quilting my every half-inch yesterday, I was thinking about the issue of batting. When I am asked what kind of batting to use, I often ask how closely you plan on quilting the quilt. Each type of batting has a preferred amount of quilting it will need to make sure it does not shift.
If you are not wanting to put a large amount of quilting in, then one of the cotton/poly blend batts will be good, as some of them can be quilted up to 10" apart. (Of course you can quilt them much closer!)
I have seem quilts that used poly batts that were quilted or tied every six inches. Most poly batts list 2-4-inch maximum spacing. If you launder one of these quilts, you will discover that after awhile the batting has migrated to other areas. I have seen lightly quilted baby quilts that have become just two pieces of fabric sewn together, with little lumps of wadded up batting in between the stitch/tie sections.
Off the top of my head I do not recall how far apart the quilting is for wool batt. I do know that 100% cotton requires the quilting to be very close together. And I have not read the bamboo labels.
So I would advise you remember how much quilting you are going to be doing, and make sure that the batt you choose will be able to hold up. Most labels will give you that information.
I've seen a decrease in the amount of quilting since poly has become so popular. Personally, I like more than less quilting, just making sure that the amount is even so the whole piece will lie flat. The general rule I use and taught in my classes is that if you put your fist down on the quilt and don't touch any quilting you don't have enough. I know that the reason "old" quilts were quilted so heavily is that they just took carded cotton and placed it on the backing so they had to stitch closely, the cotton would puddle in the crossing of quilted lines - sort of like the quilts you described.
I use Mountain Mist batting as I like the way it needles and also it makes a nice soft, old-timey looking quilt. I have to admit that I haven't used wool or Warm'n'Natural, so I can't comment on them.
I have also seen the amount of hand quilting per area decrease. But I also know most of the poly batts I am familiar with, require a minimum of quilting spaced every four inches, if not less, for durability. My favorite poly is Hobb's Poly Down, which recommends a minimum distance of four inches. The Fairfield brand I sometimes use has a recommendation of a minimum of two to four inches. I also prefer a 1/4" loft.
When I first started hand quilting I did not pay attention to the recommendation for spacing and have had batting "lump" through repeated washings, even the "bonded" ones.
Many of the cotton/poly blends allow for larger areas (six to ten inches). Although two of the different brands I just looked at (Hobb's and Fairfield's cotton-poly blends) also say maximum of four inches. I believe the rolled needle punched cotton batt's (such as Warm and Natural and Warm and White) suggest a minimum of ten.
Yes, quilting needs to be even throughout the whole top. My point continues to be that we need to know what the maximum distance recommendation is on the batts we use when we quilt our quilts either by hand or machine.
I love Quilter's Dream "Request" loft. It makes a flat, heavy quilt with good definition of your quilting. It washes well (I'm guilty of not always following rules about quilt care--sometimes my quilts in use in my family just have to be washed and dried, so far without disaster). It is so soft and even out of the package. I've quilted a wool batt that was just wonderful--beautifully soft and warm with great contrast in your quilting--it's just too hot for south Georgia. I had trouble with Warm & Natural--developed tendinitis while quilting because it was harder to needle. I read a book called That Perfect Stitch (by Roxanne?) which compares batts, needles, thimbles, frames, etc. I learned so much from reading it since I haven't known many other hand quilters. I really recommend it. Oh, I also use Thermore a lot--very thin, not as much definition. I use it in quilts I'm giving away because it's easy to care for. It's also great for wall quilts--and for bed quilts where I live.