My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Batting the old-fashioned way.

I thought I'd write a bit about using woollen blankets as batting for my quilts.  I've had a few comments on it and a couple of questions so I guess there is interest, right?

I love old woollen blankets for so many reasons.  Natural fibres have something going for them, very warm, breathable, they break down easily - the worms in your worm farm will love your wool scraps!  Then there is the history aspect (I mean who hasn't heard a New Zealand orientated sheep joke, right?).  The label on the top blanket is a very well-known historical brand name, lots of people grew up with Kaiapoi blankets on their beds. 

And of course; reduce, reuse, recycle.  To buy new batting isn't cheap, especially if you make big quilts.  I've picked up most of my blankets for between $5 and $12 NZ dollars.  And most of them are in great nick.  Even ones with a few thin spots and holes can be sliced up and used in bassinet quilts and cot quilts.

This is all that is left of this blanket.  It had some holes in it when I bought it, but it's given me a big patch for a friends woollen blanket quilt I repaired, batting for a cot sized quilt, a thin and holey section for the cat's basket ;) and I've still got enough to make a couple of bassinet quilts.

Second hand or preloved blankets have usually been washed so many times that all their shrinking and felting is done, but I recommend to quilt recipients that they gentle machine wash on cold, or hand wash - but I'd recommend that for any quilt anyway.

This is one of the first quilts I made using  a woollen blanket for batting.  These photos are to give you an idea of the loft of a blanket as batting.  (The black is the back).  You can see that there is scarcely any bearding, which can be an issue with polyesters and I think it gives a slightly flatter look, but still shows up the quilting just fine.  It's a queen size topper and, if I remember correctly, I had to join two blankets together. 

For joining, cut off any edge binding to reduce bulk, then layer your blankets so there is an overlap of an inch or two.  Large zigzag stitch down each overlapped edge and you're done.  This gives a flatter finish, much less noticeable than a traditional seam.

If you have a really nice blanket you can use that as a batting and backing - just don't cover it up with a backing fabric! 

So, go ahead and try it.  And then when you are finished - enjoy snuggling under your quilt knowing how much good you've done the world, and how much history you are snuggling under.

This is the first ever quilt I made with my  boy, now five years old, rolled up asleep in it.  It took me years to finish it, it's half hand-pieced as I didn't own a sewing machine when I began and it started me on my woollen blanket journey.  I batted it with one because I had nothing else!


  1. Now who woulda thought? Great post! I think the idea of using a woolen blanket as a backing and batting is just about the smartest thing I have seen in ages...ok, fine, EVER seen! Thank you Ms.Lottie for making my day brighter, wahoo...

  2. I have started using blankets too...much more resourceful and warmer in my opinion!

  3. Morning, Lottie! I, too, use, old blankets,etc. You can buy them for a song at yard sales here.I have even used huge pieces of knit for batting in summer guilts. Knit is not used much anymore for clothing, that I know of, but there is still lots of it around,usually at estate sales, boxed up in lot boxes.You can buy a huge box of linens and fabric for $3 and get some great items for quilting.

  4. Hey girly, if it wasn't so ridiculously expensive to post from Aus to NZ, I'd send you a couple of oldies, one of them a cot blanket from when we were babes! Wow, now that's old lol...

  5. Have you heard about
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  6. For a newcomer to quilting I'm really pleased to read this. I've only made a couple of quilts so far but thought about this when I first started so will definitely try on my next one (although saying that all the woollen blankets in our house at the moment are on the beds!!!) x

  7. I had a brainwave last night to use an old wool blanket as batting for a winter weight baby sleeping bag. Thought I'd look around to see if anyone else is using them. Such a great idea!!

  8. Love the bright colored baby quilt. I love color. I never buy batting. I use whatever I have on hand to make it work.Depending on the season and how it will be used.

  9. Excellent idea; it just makes sense.

    I am new to quilting; working on my very first one as a matter of fact right now. My interest lies in quilting like back-in-the-day as we live off the grid. Yes, on purpose! Therefore, I have a 1925 hand crank machine for sewing and I have finally gotten up the gumption to use my 1899-1920's or so treadle machine for quilting. The original owner states that what she used it for. The shuttle (bobbin) is so old in this thing I have been intimidated to use it for well over a year. Well, the time has come.

    Thanks for sharing your insight on using wool blankets. For me it is a matter of economics. Repurposing is my middle name.



  10. My older half brother wants me to make him a quilt that would be heavy like the "old quilts". I wasn't raised with quilts so this is something I did not experience. I will be looking for old wool blankets to use, thanks for the information,


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