I didn’t intend to add my opinion into the mix this month as there has been so many wonderful postings about needles and batting in particular. Then Caron wrote something in an e-mail a couple weeks ago that got me to thinking about how we are all at different levels of ability in our quilting and at various places in our lives. Yes! That’s exactly right. For me, hand quilting is all about that calming influence I get at the end of the day while at the same time, stitch by stitch, I am making something beautiful that links me back to my grandmother and likeminded women throughout the years. I primarily quilt to relax and unwind (not to make quilts for shows etc.) so my reasons for choosing batting may not be the same as yours.
Lets face it, quilting is not a cheap hobby! I realize that the batting I’m in love with has somewhat of a bad rap with serious minded hand quilters, but here’s where I openly admit that Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 premium cotton blend is still my fave choice. This is why. I can buy an entire roll and have it shipped to my house for under $5 a yard. That means I can get up to five or six quilts completed a year (or more) instead of maybe two or three because unfortunately money is still a factor with me at this time in my life. Cutting directly off the roll means I can cut exactly what I need for each quilt efficiently and never have to worry about changing my mind midstream and perhaps using a pre-packaged batting unwisely--no unnecessary waste ever. The rolled batting also means I only have one wrinkle to smooth out and contend with. Hobbs 80/20 has a very good look and feel compared to some other bats (I will never use an all poly bat ever again) and my hand stitching has not been small enough to discourage me from using this particular blend up to this point. This batting washes and holds up well under the ’well used’ conditions some of my quilts have to endure, plus when I wash my quilt after it‘s finished, I have just enough of a crumpled look to make me very happy. BTW, my mom wouldn't take a roll of this batting if she was offered it for free! I’m so glad we live in a day and an age where we can have such plentiful choices!
My favorite hand quilting needles are the Piecemaker brand in size 8 or 9. I’ve tried out several other brands through the years, some with really great reviews, only to return to Piecemakers. I tend to bend and bow or literally snap my needles in half periodically . Another problem I tend to have with premium needles is difficulty in threading the eye. Either way, I get the most mileage and the least frustration out of Piecemakers as they seem to fit my particular style of hand quilting the best.