News and Trends from International Quilt Market



A Matter of the Middle


By Bob Ruggiero


When explaining exactly what a quilt is to a non-sewist, the go-to analogy conjures up that of a sandwich: There’s a top, a center, and a bottom, and they’re all put together. But it’s that center “meat” that usually gets overlooked, and is unsung and least-discussed component of the whole thing: the batting.


So it’s something of an evangelical project that Stephanie Hackney, Director of Sales and Marketing for Craft and Retail Products at Hobbs Bonded Fibers, has taken on to spread the gospel about what’s really inside all the beautiful quilts made for both art and everyday usage.



“Look, I get it! We’re excited about the colorful fabric and patterns, the stuff that’s always new and changing,” she says. “But you also need to focus on the batting, thread, and needle, because they’re all components as well. The batting can really make or break the quilt. But it’s rarely mentioned.”


To that end and to educate consumers, Hackney has developed a 90-minute lecture/Q&A titled “Batting: What’s Inside Matters.” She’s presented it scores of times both in-person and online to quilt guilds, organizations, and artist gatherings in an effort to both educate and explain this mysterious middle matter.


“I found even among retailers there was a need for understanding about batting,” she says. It’s something she found out firsthand before joining Hobbs nearly six years ago. That’s when she visited stores, talked to quilters, and read everything online that she could about batting. And she realized they had a lot to learn about all the different fiber types and battings that are available to them.


“People usually have one or two battings they use that they were taught in class or that their mom or sister used. And they can get stuck, even though it’s not always the best choice,” she says. “Most people feel overwhelmed just standing in the store and looking at all the packages. And people often don’t understand the terminology like ‘scrim’ and ‘needle punching.’”


The Waco, Texas-based Hobbs was founded in 1953, creating fibers for the automotive, aerospace, military, and health care industries. They began manufacturing batting (also called “wadding”) for the quilting and crafting market in 1978.


Hobbs 80/20 Blend


Today, they offer more than a dozen different types of batting under the Heirloom and Tuscany lines (the latter developed specifically for independent quilt shops). She says that their all-purpose 80/20 Cotton/Poly Blend is their best seller.


And batting isn’t just for quilts. Hackney says that it’s used by customers for their clothing, home décor, wall hangings, and other art projects. Though—to extend that sandwich analogy—quilting remains their bread and butter. And there are more variables to types and composition of batting than most people realize.


“It is getting more known that the batting effects the outcome [of the quilt]. And that it also has to do with longevity and how it can be cared for,” she continues. “There’s specific batting for specific usage for specific projects. And today, people are more open to trying specialty battings at a higher price point like wool and silk.”


Hobbs Premium Wool Batting


Other modern developments in the batting industry include use of recycled fibers and more blending of materials, according to Hackney.


Of course, during the nearly two-year stretch of the pandemic, the quilting and sewing industry has experienced some impressive growth. Sales of fabric and sewing machines are extra healthy as more people have found themselves at home, wanting to explore a new craft or hobby, or even just making cloth masks.


“People have had the time to focus on making. People were home more, so that’s probably been good for our industry as a whole,” Hackney says. “And creating with your hands is great therapy when you’re stressed. You can check out from everyday life into something you make and you have this beautiful result at the end.”


Hobbs Tuscany Supreme 100% Unbleached Cotton Batting


Finally, while it may seem that this crucial element of the quilt can either sell itself because of its necessity or is just purchased as an afterthought, Hackney cautions that batting—like any other product relating to quilting and the needle arts—must evolve.


“It’s important to have new offerings, but it’s also very important to get out there and connect with people as much as possible,” she says. Whether that’s online or [in-person]. And that’s with all segments of the creative world, including art and fashion.”



To contact Hackney for info about the lecture, email

For more information on Hobbs and their products, visit




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News and Trends from International Quilt Market