Sewing Better with Frankenbatting

This tip is pretty specific to quilting rather than general sewing, but feel free to take inspiration from my thrifty side!

I’m usually pretty good about cutting my batting and backing big enough to leave the exact 2″ overage all the way around; since I baste my own quilts and quilt them on a sit down, I can get away with that. If longarming a quilt, you need to leave 4″ of backing on each side so the machine has room to work. With that overage, you end up with trimmed up scraps of batting and backing. Today’s tip is dealing with those batting scraps.

I amass a drawer full of batting scraps, seen below with assistance from my Helper Cats. Nina, the orange cat, has helpfully opened the drawer in her role as the Cabinet Bandito.

Helper Cats investigate the batting drawer

When the drawer is full, it’s time to make Frankenbatting! This is when I join together all those scraps to make one big piece that I can use in a quilt, or frequently a set of placemats.  I posted a tutorial on my personal blog several years ago about making a piece to a particular size, but the essential steps are:

  1. Sort you batting by type; for example, all cotton vs 80/20 blends should be separate since they will shrink at different rates. You only want to join like types together.
  2. Stack all the batting pieces by length, so the short pieces are in one grouping, and the long ones in another, etc. My pieces tend to range from 40″ on up to 120″.
  3. Using the widest and longest zig-zag stitch you can, start attaching the pieces together!  I start with the two shortest pieces, then attach the next shortest piece, etc. Here’s a short video of what that looks like; you’ll note I use hash marks on the abutted pieces to help line them up I don’t get a wavy part.

Eventually, I end up with a stitched together piece of batting that looks like a trapezoid. At that point, I think about what I’m using that piece for; sometimes I need to trim and/or join in other pieces to make it more rectangular to use in a quilt, but I frequently chop it up into placemat-sized pieces I can use for donation projects.

Linty bobbin caseOne thing to note: after making frankenbatting, clean out your bobbin case!  Without the benefit of a quilt top and back to contain the lint from the batting, your machine will accumulate more lint than usual.  Here’s mine after the latest batch of frankenbatting was made. Not too bad, but definitely cathartic to grab big wads of lint out of there.


Author: Pam

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1 Comment

  1. You have reminded me that I have to piece my backing strips. I keep thinking I’ll make one of those Auntie purse patterns that use strips..I have made one. One thing I have noticed about piecing batting strips. Some batting has grain so I test first with a pull in both directions to discover grain and sort same grain strips together. I’ve had a bad experience piecing with opposite grains. I only use 80/20 and that other cotton one of which I can’t remember the name this second. My brain will be 80 years old tomorrow. So I’m not sure which batting I’ve had issues with grain. It came to me: Warm and Natural.
    Have a great day! Kitty

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