batting, stabilizers, fusible web

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Caribquilter wrote
on 11 Dec 2009 2:04 PM

Yep, here I am again and I need help again too. I've been preparing to make some of the small Xmas projects and I am now totally confused... What is the difference between batting, stabilizers and fusible web? And what do I use when? Also, is there anyone out there that is able to help me with some addresses where to buy that stuff. I've got 2 Steam a Seam 2 and the Light version of it. But now some talk about batting and indicate what thickness to get, and the project also mentions fusible web.

Is 2 Steam a Seam 2 fusible web or stabilizer? And are they many different types of batting? And who sells all that? I don't remember seeing any on the Softexpressions site.

Thanks for your help, I need it badly because I'm totally stuck at the moment. I thought I had everything I needed when I ordered my 2 Steam a Seam 2 but apparently I need batting and fusible web and I don't know the difference between all that, sorry I may appear a bit dense but I guess once I've seen it I'll know.

Top 25 Contributor
Posts 248
ckquilter wrote
on 12 Dec 2009 3:08 AM

hi caribquilter


batting, stabiizers and fusible web are all different items. and there are many different variations in each category.

batting is the layer that goes between a finished quilt top and the quilt backing fabric. when you layer the 3 together, it is often referred to as a sandwich. batting can be thick or thin. types of batting can be all polyester (thin to thick), all cotton, varying combinations of poly/cotton (often 20/80), or silk or wool or nowadays bamboo is also available.  each type has a range of uses, depending on the quilt it is going into. if you are hand quilting, you want something that needles easily (meaning the needle pierces the batt easily). if you are machine quilting, it does not much matter.

if you like a traditonal quilt look, you will want a thin batt.

if you want a thick comforter like look,with ties, instead of quilting, you will want a thick polyester batt.

your choice of batt will also be determined by how far apart your quilting stitches are planned.  each batt should tell you how far apart your stitches can be, and still hang together when washed. some cotton batts must be quilted every 1/4", or they will shift and bunch when washed, and you will end up with a wad instead of a quilt.   some can be quilted up to 10" apart.


if you are making an art quilt and plan on never washing it,then the thickness of the batt and how it looks after quilting will be yourmost important parameter in choosingyour batt.

some cottonbatts have lots of flecks(debris) in them, and youwould not want to use those with a top having light colored fabrics, as the flecks would show thru.


fusible web is a product used to help construct the quilt top. you can think of it as solid glue. it will hold 2 pieces of fabric together, until they are stitched together. there are several weights of fusibles. fusible means that you will heat the product with an iron. be aware that each product has its own heat and time requirement, and what worksfor one could destroy another. so make sure you get the directions which come with each product, usally wrapped with it on the bolt, AND FOLLOW THEM.

there are very heavy weight fusibles, designed for crafting. they are not meant to be stitched thru, and are not a good choice for most quilts. they will make a heavy, stiff quilt; very plastic feeling.

medium weight fusible, like the steam a seam, is designed for quilts. is is heavier than some of the others, and will make a stiffer quilt top - good for wall hangings or table runners, but not good for bed quilts or lap quilts. steam a seam also says it doesnot need to be stitched to be permanent - that is incorrect. if you do not stitch the edges down, the fusible WILL eventually let go. the more the quilt is handled, the quicker it will let go. it would take a few years for a wall hanging to start shedding pieces. but a used quilt will start shedding pieces sooner.


the advantage to steam a seam, is that it is tacky, before fusing. that lets you position your applique pieces and audition their placement, before committing to the fusing.


steam a seam light, is a lighter weight , and leaves the fabric a little less stiff than steam a seam.


wonder under and wonder under light are also fusible webs, both somewhat lighter in weight than steam a seam. wonder under and steam a seam have VERY different fusing requirements. 

wonder under does not have the tacky surface that steam a seam has. the instructions for wonder under specify you must stitch the edges down. wonder under does not gunk up the sewing machine needle as much as steam a seam, and it is lighter in weight.


fusible webs are fused to the wrong side of the applique fabric, the shape of the applique is then cut out. you then remove the backing paper, and place the applique right side up on your background fabric. you then press, FOLLOW MANUFACTURES DIRECTIONS, to adhere the 2 layers of fabric together. then you stitch the applique down. (even though steam a seam says it is permanent, if you don't want the edges to peel up, you need to stitch it down). the most common stitches would be a satin stitch or buttonhole stitch or zigzag.


stabilizers are a different item. they are placed underneath the fabric quilt top when adding stitching to the quilt top. this is before you sandwich the quilt. the stitching you are doing on the quilt top is not quilting; which is done thru the quilt top/batt/backing sandwich.

a stabilizer is usually under the quilt top only. it is added when you are doing heavy stitching on the quilt top which would cause it to pucker and distort if not stabilized. hence the name. there are many different types of stabilizers available. some can be fused to the fabric with an iron. some are designed to be left on. some are dsigned to be removed after stitching, either by cutting away, tearing away, heating away, or washing away.

there are all different weights, from very heavy craft weight, such as timtex, which is not meant for quilts.

you can always use several layers to build up extra stability. one of my favorite ways is to use one layer of totally stable(available in black or white), which is pressed to the wrong side of the quilt top. it has a coating on it like freezer paper. this stabilizes the fabric in all directions, especially on the bias, which is the stretchiest and most easily distorted. i then place one or more thicknesses of another, non fusible underneath - either tear away

or tear easy or even just several layers of acid free paper.   when done stitching, you just tear away the excess stabilizer.

you can also use one or more layers of fusible or stitch-in interfacing as a stabilizer. i often use these in table runners, when a little stiffness is fine. and i plan on leaving the stabilizer permanently.

there is a heat away stabilizer - but the fabrics and thread you use with it must be able to withstand the high heat needed to make the stabilizer disintegrate.

there are a number of water soluble stabilizers. these are designed to be removed with water after stitching. most remove completely, but there is at least one that does not. sulky solvy is one easily found. it will remove completely with water. sulky super solvy is equivalent to 2 layers of solvy, and ultra solvy is equivalent to 4 layers. these are usually easy to find, and will rinse away completely. the drawback to sulky solvy series is that the stabilizer is somewhat opaque, and when making needle lace, a clear water soluble is preferred. my favorite is by oesd (look for it at a bernina dealer), as it is very clear. it also does not tear easily when being stitched thru, like the solvy does. all of the water solubles are a bit spendy, so i use them when nothing else will work.                            there is also a very papery water soluble available, which works better than the film ones like solvy, for some things.


this is a lot of information all at once, but i hope it helps.            ckquilter

Top 100 Contributor
Posts 54
Caribquilter wrote
on 14 Dec 2009 11:23 AM


wow, that is as complette as anyone could wish for, thank you very very much for taking the (long) time to put all this info in writing for me, I do appreciate. While reading it yesterday, I thought I was going through a quick class about batting, stabilizers and fusible web. Do you give classes about all that?

I'm absolutely delighted to get this, I now have an idea of what is what. I'm a beginner at quilting art, my 1st piece was fairly small (16" x 8.5") but my 2nd is getting bigger (32" x 17"), they're more hangings, no quilt. So I guess I need a type of batting that is not too thick but a bit stif. All I need now is an address to get what I need. I guess it will be a matter of experience knowing what thickness to choose for the pattern I want to make. Do I also need batting to make purses? I wondered because I saw that not all small projects I downloaded from QA require batting, especially the luggage tags and business cards holders.

Thank you again for all your most valuable info that I have saved so that I'm able to reread it in case of doubt.

Tropical greetings, caribquilter.

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 350
on 15 Dec 2009 2:45 AM

I wanted to add my 2 cents in because I use quite a bit of fusible interfacing. I get mine mostly from Joann's since it is a matter of convenience for me. I get the craft weight which is pretty heavy-thick because I use it mostly for book pages and postcards.  I call it Pellon usually instead of fusible interfacing.  It is pretty stiff and shiny since you can use an iron to adhere fabric/paper to the interfacing to create a sandwich. I am in the process of creating my holiday art postcards with it right now.  I love using this stuff because it is stiff enough that my book pages and postcards stand up and don't flop over. I can also use a rotary cutter or pair of scissors and cut out a shape and have it held without the middle part of my sandwich showing.  It makes sewing the edges so much easier. 

Is interfacing synonmous with stabilizer?  Don't know that.


Belinda aka crazyartgirl


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Posts 248
ckquilter wrote
on 15 Dec 2009 3:33 AM

hi belinda

pellon is the company name.they make many different stabilizers.

the craft weight (is it fusible web?? or the timtex with fusible??) fusible web  is great for the purpose you are using it for. that is what it is designed to do. but that particular one is not very good for quilts and is not really designed to be stitched if i were planning to do stiching or quilting, i would use a different type - although it might still be a pellon (they make many nice stablizers and interfacings) and finding them at joanns is nice because you can often get them at a discount. and they usually have a good selection of the different types.

if you are using the timtex with fusible, it is great to stitch thru, and is what they use for the foundation for postcards, and fabric bowls and vases.

i would consider interfacing a kind of stabilizer. a stabilizer is anything that helps preserve the shape of whatever you are working on while it is being stitched, to help prevent distortion.           interfacings are most commonly used for clothing - to line collars or under lapels of jackets for shaping, or under the buttonholes to support the heavy stitching for the buttonholes.       but us quilters have borrowed them when we need them. they can be used to help create applique shapes, or under the quilt top when doing stitching before the quilt is sandwiched. i use a medium light weight when making fantasy fabric (check out the book by the same name)  for either garments or table runners. it adds just enough stability to keep the distortion minimal, but does not add a lot of weight or stiffness.

another, maybe more traditional stabilizer category, and pellon makes some of these also, is used underneath the quilt top, but before being sandwiched for quilting.  you will often use 2 or 3 or 4 or even more layers, when doing heavy stitching or satin stitching. i use the multiple layers when doing lots of satin stitching (or any amount of satin stitching) to prevent tunneling. i then tear away all the excess stabilizer.

so interfacing is a stabilizer, but there are many types of stabilizers.

sounds like you are having fun with your postcards. and i know the lucky people receiving them will be happy.  merry christmas          ckquilter

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