Wadding can be made from various materials from natural fibres like, cotton, wool, silk, bamboo and soy. Or synthetic fibres such as polyester or recycled plastic bottles. And of course, there are blends that are mixtures of any of the above.
Wadding can be formed in different ways, it can be:
Bonded: fibres are held together with starch or resin/glue.
Needlepunched: compressed together by tiny needles. This type of wadding is very stable, dense and is low loft. Generally, not recommended for hand quilting. Best for non/less wash projects such as wall hangings.
Scrim: a polyester grid used to anchor cotton fibres. That helps keep fibres from separating and/or distorting when washed. When using 100% cotton with no scrim you must quilt more closely to keep it from separating.
There is no shrinkage with polyester wadding.
When polyester is mixed with a natural fibre there is very little shrinkage.
Silk will shrink by about 5% while cottons and bamboo have a shrinkage of about 2-3%
Polyester wadding should not be used for heat insulating projects such as pot holders as it can melt and catch fire.
There are fusible waddings. This is where the outer layers have a heat sensitive web that gently adheres to fabric.
Loft: refers to the thickness of the wadding. High loft is very thick and fluffy, with many layers. Low loft is thin, lighter weight, less layers.
Wool gives most warmth.
For medium heat retention use polyester, silk or bamboo.
For low cotton, poly/cotton and soy.
Stitching intervals: distance between the lines of quilting stitches or ties. This varies depending on the fibre content and method of construction of the wadding.
Always refer to the manufacturers recommendations but generally the following applies.
Bamboo: upto 8” apart
Cotton Bonded: 8” to 10” apart
Cotton Needled: 3” – 4” apart
Polyester: 2”- 4” apart
Silk: 3” apart
Soy: upto 8”
Wool: 2” – 4”