Bamboo batting is gaining popularity among quilters. Many claim it to be a good batting material because of its sustainability. This can be true because the bamboo plant grows faster than other plants.
The bamboo can thrive in almost any place and it does not need much maintenance and care. There is no need for fertilizers or pesticides to propagate this plant. These characteristics of bamboo became its selling point to the textile industry.
Despite its sustainability, seldom you find pure bamboo batting materials on the market. Most of the ones available are blends of cotton. You can buy batting with 50 percent bamboo fiber and 50 percent organic cotton.
Like most natural fiber, bamboo fiber offers a lot of advantages.
- Producing bamboo batting does not use a lot of toxic chemicals. This fiber is non-allergenic compared to cotton, polyester, and other fibers.
- Batting made from bamboo fibers is often needle-punched so there is no or binder in it.
- Bamboo fibers are natural. This is why it is breathable, cooler, and lighter than other synthetic battings.
- Batting materials from bamboo fibers have natural antibacterial properties.
- Bamboo batting is great for hand and machine quilting.
- Batting materials made of 100 percent bamboo fibers are soft and they drape like silk.
- Bamboo batting is lightweight that makes it a great for bed and wall hanging quilts.
- The bamboo fiber is advisable for those with sensitive skin. It does not use binding agents or chemicals, so it is non-toxic and non-irritating.
- Bamboo is more durable than wool and cotton.
- This fiber is machine-washable but it has a 2 to 3 percent shrinkage.
- It is difficult to find pure bamboo batting material on the market. Most that you can find are blends of bamboo with cotton, rayon, or silk.
- Pure bamboo batting materials are more expensive than other materials.
Here are some disadvantages of bamboo batting.
List of Contents:
What Is Bamboo Batting?
Bamboo is one of the newest natural fiber batting materials on the market. Most often, you can buy it blended with cotton at 50/50 mix. You seldom see 100 percent of bamboo batting materials because it will be more expensive.
Bamboo batting is the choice for many machine quilters. Bamboo is available in needle-punched, bonded, fusible, or with scrim batting. It is lightweight and has minimal shrinkage making it one of the most favored quilt fillers.
There is a debate about whether you need to pre-wash or not your bamboo batting. Pre-washing bamboo or any batting material is advisable to pre-shrink the fiber. It is also a good idea to pre-wash batting materials. This is to make sure that it is clean before filling it inside your quilt.
Here are some simple steps to pre-wash bamboo batting or any other batting materials.
Pre-washing 50/50 Bamboo-Cotton Batting
- Fill a bathtub with enough lukewarm water. Allow the water to cover the entire bamboo batting.
- You may add light detergent in the water if you desire.
- Soak the batting for about ten minutes. Then, empty the tub. Apply gentle pressing movement onto the batting to remove excess water. Do not squeeze or wring the batting.
- If you mix detergent, you need to rinse the bamboo batting before drying it.
- After you have rinsed and removed the excess water from the batting, lay it out on a sheet to dry.
Why Use Bamboo Batting?
For years quilters have worked with different natural and synthetic battings. The first batting materials included woven cotton, wool, and feathers. They stitched these materials together and then sewn into the quilt. This part of the quilts adds warmth to the bedding.
But as years passed, cotton and wool became more difficult to source and process. The production was expensive, and so they were less sustainable materials. This paved the way for polyester and other synthetic fibers in the quilting industry. They gain popularity as batting materials.
Blends of natural fibers and polyester became in-demand with quilters. Although these fiber blends offer warmth, skilled quilters struggled with their quality. Synthetic fibers are not breathable and so they tend to give too much heat to the body.
In the search for more sustainable batting material came the emergence of bamboo. This fiber was only introduced about a decade ago. This plant is easy to grow and propagate because it grows in any climate without needing strict care.
The textile industry had discovered that bamboo can be a great fabric material. It is natural, lightweight, and sustainable. For these properties, quilters have shifted their interest in using bamboo batting.
Aside from these properties, bamboo features an innate antibacterial property. It also blends well with other fibers whether natural or synthetic. Bamboo batting has become one of the favorite fillers for hand and machine quilting.
- Is Bamboo Batting Flammable?
All natural fibers will burn, but some fibers are more combustible than others. Untreated natural fibers like bamboo, cotton, and silk will burn faster than wool. The former is more difficult to ignite and has a low flame velocity.
When exposed to heat or fire, natural fibers including bamboo will burn. Meanwhile, synthetic fibers like polyester will melt.
- Is Bamboo Batting Warmer Than Cotton?
Cotton retains more heat than bamboo. This means that cotton is warmer than bamboo. But what makes bamboo better is its ability to provide regulated body temperature.
Bamboo fiber gives comfortable warmth during cold weather. It also absorbs more moisture than cotton. Bamboo fiber is 40 percent more absorbent than cotton. But it also dries up its moisture faster.
How Do You Pick A Quilt Batting?
Picking the best batting material depends on your personal choice. Every quilter has a preference for batting materials. Some prefer thick and warm batting materials, while others want thin and lightweight.
To help you pick the right batting for your quilts, here are some factors to consider.
- Quality and Fiber Content
- Grain Line
- Loft or Thickness
- Shrinkage and Washability
Make it a habit to check the label of your batting material. Know the quality and fiber content of what you are buying. You have to keep in mind that not all batting materials are the same.
Manufacturers use different fibers and techniques to make their products. This means that the same type of materials can have different qualities. The fiber content also affects the quality of your batting material.
To ensure that you are buying the right batting material, read the label.
Bearding happens when your batting shifts and gets noticeable on your top layer. To avoid this, choose batting materials that are not treated. It is also best to go for a tightly woven material.
This is the density or sparseness of the quilt. The loft and weight of your batting materials affect the drapability of your quilt.
If your batting material is soft, your quilt will drape well. But, if your material is stiff then your quilt will not drape well. You need to keep in mind that thin and dense batting will give your quilt a softer drape.
Thicker and heavier batting materials can result in less drapability to your quilt.
Same as the fabric, batting materials have a grain line, too. The lengthwise grain is stable, while the crosswise grain is more stretchy. When you put your batting material, always check the grain line.
You need to match the lengthwise grain of the batting and backing of the quilt to avoid distortion.
This is the thickness of your batting material. Different loft levels will create different appearances and drapability to your quilts. When you choose a higher loft, your quilt will not drape well.
This is the ability of the batting material to return to its original shape. Bamboo is a good example of resilient natural batting material. This is not as stretchy as cotton, so it tends to keep its form despite washing.
Polyester batting also has good resiliency but is a synthetic fiber. This material can return to its original shape when stretched or folded. Polyester is also crease and wrinkle resistant.
Using resilient batting is suitable for puffy quilts. Meanwhile, cotton is an example of a non-resilient material.
Warmth is important to quilts. This will help you pick the right batting for your quilt. If you want a quilt that offers comfortable warmth, then use bamboo, cotton, or wool battings. Bamboo and cotton absorb moisture. They give a better cooling effect in the summer and warmth during winter.
Wool battings also provide warmth but it is loftier. Synthetic fibers like polyester offer a warmer feel, but it lacks breathability. Synthetic battings tend to give unregulated warmth compared to natural battings.
Polyester and wool battings do not shrink when washed. Meanwhile, some natural fibers need pre-washing and pre-shrinkage like bamboo and cotton. Bamboo has 2 to 3 percent shrinkage, while cotton has 3 to 5 percent.
If you are going to use bamboo or cotton, check the label to know whether you need to pre-shrink the material.
Pre-washing your batting is advisable to make sure that the material is clean. This will also prevent your batting from bleeding in future washes.
Is Bamboo Fiber Better Than Cotton?
Bamboo and cotton are both natural fibers, so you cannot refrain from comparing them. The following are some points of comparison. These will help you decide which fiber is better.
- Absorbency and Breathability
- Production Cost
There is no doubt that bamboo fibers are softer than cotton. But you cannot disregard those high-end cotton brands that also offer optimum softness. Of course, this comes with a hefty price.
Comfort is subjective. There are cheap cotton brands that do not give that pleasant feel onto the fiber. But there are higher-end brands that give a luxurious feel to the fiber.
Bamboo, albeit, offers a sustained level of comfort. Most brands are very soft, comfortable, and durable. Even if bamboo fabrics or batting are not 100 percent bamboo, they remain softer than cotton.
Bamboo fibers are more durable. The fiber makeup of bamboo is different from cotton. Bamboo has long tube-like fibers while cotton has short piled fibers. In essence, long strands of fiber make more durable fabric than short fibers.
This is where bamboo gets the edge over cotton and other materials. Bamboo has an innate antibacterial property. It does not need toxic chemicals to grow and even process it.
Bamboo does not irritate skin compared to cotton and other natural fibers.
Both cotton and bamboo are breathable and absorbent to moisture. However, bamboo provides 40 percent more absorbency than cotton. It can hold three times more moisture.
This implies that bamboo has better moisture-wicking than cotton. It helps keep the body cool or maintain regulated temperature. It also proves that bamboo is more breathable than cotton.
Cotton, albeit, offers more heat than bamboo. This makes it a better choice for colder weather.
Bamboo is easy to grow and propagate. This plant grows in any kind of soil and weather. Unlike other natural fiber sources, bamboo does not need too much attention or maintenance.
Bamboo grows up to 60 feet (18.3 m.) every 90 days. This means that bamboo can regenerate and replenish every after harvest. Farmers need not spend so much on fertilizers to ensure the continuous supply of this plant.
Propagating and processing cotton needs a lot of chemicals and agents. This means that the production of cotton is costly and has potential health hazards.
Bamboo, on the other hand, grows and propagates without needing pesticides or chemicals. Extracting bamboo fiber does not need any binding agent or chemicals. Thus, it is less expensive.
Bamboo batting may be new, but it sure gives a huge impact. It gives you more options to choose a safer and more sustainable material for your projects.
Quilters who are keen on the materials they use will love using bamboo. Whether as a batting material or a fabric, this material gives the most benefits. You can expect durable, comfortable, and warm fillers for your quilts.
Using bamboo batting materials is a smart choice. It is sustainable and it does not cause damage to the environment. Aside from these, you get better quality batting for your quilts.
Next time you make your quilt, use a bamboo batting. See and feel its difference from your previous projects. Then, you can decide if it is worth the hype.