Anna Hergert, Art & Design

An Ode to Wool Batting!

Anna Hergert_Invitational_Wabi Sabi Modern_detailIt’s done, the quilt I talked about in my blog post from March 9th. Things were going well, in fact I had fun designing intuitively and making decisions along the way. I started quilting (my Bernina 820 did well with the cotton in the bobbin and rayon as the top thread). I wanted to support the modern theme with  dense (almost matchstick quilting) and was well aware of the possible implications: the dreaded distortion.

I used cotton fabrics and 100 % wool batting in anticipation of possible distortion. When the quilt was fully quilted (I worked from both directions) the distortion was so great that I was ready to use the quilt as a floor mat! I used light misting, steam from the iron but the reduction in distortion was marginal, and not really noticeable. Several times I wrapped the dampened quilt around a tube, pinning it in regular intervals. Every time I unrolled it the distortion remained.

To provide you with a mental picture (I didn’t make photos as I was so frustrated), the distortion was about 3″ on the diagonal! (A definite hair-pulling-out moment!)

Last Saturday afternoon I decided to give it one more try. All my energy went into the straightening of the quilt. I thoroughly dampened it front and back using a water mister. I used long T-pins every 2 ” constantly measuring, stretching, remeasuring, re-pinning the quilt. It took 3 hours, a lot of gentle coaxing and about all the patience I could muster. The quilt was straight. Sore fingers crossed, I left for the weekend.

On Wednesday afternoon I removed the pins and checked for square… Success: The quilt only needed a very small amount of trimming. The empty floor space in front of my design walls was well utilized for the victory dance!

I proceeded by attaching the binding (the diagonally lined primary background fabric) and the hanging sleeve. I am now ready too introduce to you “Wabi Sabi Modern: The Grid Conquered”. It will be exhibited at the Quilt Canada 2016 Invitational in Mississauga this June.

Anna Hergert_Invitational_Wabi Sabi Modern_full view copyWhy did I choose to blog about my experience? I wanted to share with you the attributes of 100 % wool batting. I have known about wool batting for the last 15 years. I have even used wool batting in one of my large assessment pieces for City & Guilds, but I suffered sticker shock every time I looked at it in the quilt store. No more! I am a complete convert and will be using wool batting exclusively from now on.

Wool batting is light weight, can be doubled for extra loft if so desired.

Wool batting aids in the prevention of wrinkles when storing and/or shipping your quilts to competitions. (Note: As a quilt judge, I often suggest to the entrant to either roll the quilt for shipping or switching to wool batting when unsightly folding creases distract from the overall presentation.)

Wool has “memory”. Have you noticed how wool sweaters maintain their shape during prolonged wear and when washed? When using wool batting in quilts this memory function is priceless as I demonstrated in my story above.

Had I not used wool batting I would not have been able to block the quilt into the 53″ x 40″ rectangle you see in the image above. Have you considered switching to wool batting? I hope this personal story will help you get closer to an educated decision.
Thank you for stopping by today! Feel free to weigh in with your personal stories about using or not using wool batting, and how you rescued a quilt after many hours of work on a quilt.

This entry was published on March 25, 2016 at 7:40 am. It’s filed under Art, Creativity Update, Design, Journaling, Networking, Quilt Judging, Quilt Show, Sharing Resources, staying in touch, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

26 thoughts on “An Ode to Wool Batting!

  1. Laurie on said:

    Wow, Anna! How funky! I love it! The beekeeper in me sees lots of bee skep shapes. I plan to try wool batting in the near future for hand-quilting because I’ve heard that it needles like butter. What a great way to use precious Oakshotts. I’ve purchased them a couple of times from Maria Tamaoko and, given that they’re pricey, am carefully considering how to use them.

    (Writing from Seattle while the grandkids nap.)


    • Thanks, Laurie! Hmmmm, I have been pondering your input about bee-esque shapes and I can see your point. It was a lot of fun to compose the top. I have another four small quilt backgrounds with the grey striated fabric pieced in case I find extra time to “play”. The Oakshots did come from Maria! It’s a small world!


  2. Elinor Burwash Designs on said:

    Hi Anna, I can see that you had fun with the top. Your patience with the squaring paid off. Hooray for wool batting. Looking forward to seeing ‘Wabi Sabi Modern” in person


  3. So amazing. Wonderful work, and discussing the process and practical observations regarding the material sheds light on an otherwise(to a painter) opaque process. Fascinating read.


    • Matthew, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Yes, I realize thanks to your feedback how little insights we often provide when it comes to creating with fabric. I will keep this in mind when I post future work.


  4. Marilyn on said:

    Beautiful quilt Anna, actually quite stunning and effective, but as you said a bit of a departure for you. Hopefully we will see more in this genre. I am certainly looking forward to seeing it at CQA. It will make a great postcard. I use wool batting more now because it is more expensive, so I keep it for special use. I did discover it can be separated into layers for finer work and doubled for trap unto. If I get too much distortion after quilting I just dump it in the washing machine get it totally soaked , spin it on delicate, then block it on the floor and leave it to dry . I always have success with this, learned it from Ricky Tims. A very Happy Easter to you and Colin.


    • Hi Marilyn, Thanks for your comments!
      I usually don’t have this much work to do to straighten a quilt. The issue at hand was the dense quilting all over the relatively large quilt all in diagonal lines in one direction. The quilting lines are about 1/8″ apart, not something I usually explore. Over the past several years I chose a softer approach with very little quilting.
      This quilt was more of a meditative process, while I was working more intuitively in the overall design process I used the quilting as a meditative balance.
      The blocking is not new to me as I used to knit with wool in my past life while operating a yarn shop. 😉
      Wishing you a peaceful Easter weekend!


  5. myquilts07 on said:

    HI Anna. Your piece is lovely. Can’t wait to see it at Quilt Canada in June. Thanks for the reminder of the benefits of using wool batting.


  6. Fabulous Anna! Can’t wait to see it up close as pictures never do a piece real justice


  7. Nancy on said:

    I’m looking forward to seeing your wonderful quilt in person.
    Thanks for blogging about your process. It helps us to see that there is hope for some of ours , too.


    • Nancy, this was my way to let go of the frustration I had experienced over the last week. Most of my pieces provide challenges, that is part of the fun. This quilt nearly ended up in the recycle box… 24 hours of quilting on the machine would have been in vain, so I persevered! See you at Quilt Canada.


  8. Helene on said:

    Will you make postcards of this quilt so I can put it on my


  9. Leona on said:

    Determination and struggle pay off in the end. Sure looks good on the blog but having seen it in progress I knew it would. Congrats. Lots and lots of sewing to achieve this work. Enjoyed our visit and trip to soul paper but it is a deadly expensive shop. Did go back for the lime green fountain pen and may get my penmanship as it use to be. No spring yet as it has snowed everyday this week. We are going to wearable art show on Thursday and I am quite sure Deb will want to tackle a project as it is right ‘up her ally’. (From my lost language book). Ernie loved this book but he would being a word lover. Enough. Leona


    • Thanks, Leona! Yes, we had a great time in Saskatoon earlier this week. Seems so long ago already. We didn’t get the snow Saskatoon received. It stopped snowing here Tuesday but the everything is muddy and wet. Good thing we don’t have to look for Easter eggs… Have fun visiting the wearable art show!


  10. Helene on said:

    Oh Anna! I am literally all goose-bumply (don’t know if that’s a word). Your quilt is absolutely stunning! I feel like crying. Oh-my gosh! I would so love to see it in person (at AQC?) Thank you so much for sharing. My goodness!

    I am now sold on wool batting, if only to keep visions of this quilt alive. Wow! Wow! Wow!


    • Thank you, Helene! I didn’t expect this reaction. It is so different from my usual work but I do hope the “fun factor” during the composition stage is reflected… I think that is why I persevered. I will definitely bring it to Art Quilt Campus.


  11. Dorothy on said:

    I love your new quilt. No, I am blown away by it! What was the background? A diagonally striped ombré? I can hardly wait to see it. Dorothy Boran

    Sent from my iPad



    • Thank you, Dorothy! Isn’t it different? I had fun right up to when I finished the quilting… and it was askew tot he point where I began to wonder if I could even rescue it! The background fabric is a light weight cotton I bought at the sari shop in Edmonton last June. You describe it well as a diagonally striped ombré. That is exactly what it is. I cut it into blocks and inserted a medium grey solid to add complexity.


  12. Kathy Logan de Chavez on said:

    Very effective piece, my friend! I, too, LOVE wool batting. When quilted densely around appliquéd shapes, the shapes have a trapunto look without the extra effort. And the quilt top clings to the wool fibres, so sandwiching is easy. Kathy


    • Thank you, Kathy! So good to hear from you! And thanks for adding to the list of attributes including the easy trapunto effect and the ease of sandwiching. I noticed how easy it was to keep the three layers together when sandwiching. I actually basted the quilt his time to make sure there would be no puckers front or back and to prevent distortion… well, we know that it didn’t help much in the prevention of distortion… but there are no puckers anywhere and it was easier to quilt than trying to avoid or remove pins every few inches.


  13. quiltrod on said:

    Your modern quilt is stunning Anna! I would love to see it up close. I have not used wool batting yet but I do have some in my closet. As you said it is quite dear and so I guess I have been waiting for the right quilt top to get the wool batting.


    • Hi Linda, you are welcome to come out and see the quilt in person. Once you use wool batting you will wonder why you waited so long… I decided this years that any quilt I find time to create from now on will be made from materials that I enjoy working with. Wool is one of these materials. The solid colored motifs are Oak shot solids I picked up in the US and the fat eighths were another “Investment”. Looking forward to seeing you out for a visit soon!


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