When I first started quilting, many of the more experienced quilters I met advised me to just chuck the skinny, left-over bits of batting I trimmed from my quilts when I finished them. I watched many, many chunks of batting go into the trash, some of them from my own projects and some from those of my friends and mentors. It got to me. Not only is that wasteful, but it’s uneconomical and truly flies in the face of an art form that’s all about piecing together tiny bits of fabric to make something extraordinary. Then, I discovered the Butt-joint.
The Butt-joint is a simple technique for seaming together two pieces of fabric or, in this case, batting. It’s akin to the Butt-joint in woodworking that’s used to join planks of wood to make a larger piece, such as for a table top. With quilting, the joint is less precise–you don’t have to have perfectly cut pieces to be successful.
With the Butt-joint Seaming technique at my side, I’ve learned to turn almost all my left-over bits of batting into the sandwich material of new quilts. I have a box in my stash devoted to batting bits, and it’s rare I need to come up with projects just to use them up. It’s my first go-to spot when I’m ready to layer. Even a chunk as skinny and seemingly unusable as 4 inches by 40 inches (10 cm by 102 cm) can fill an 11 by 13 inch (28 cm by 33 cm) wall hanging. With this technique, you can start making your batting left-overs a valuable part of your stash, too.
Butt-Joint Seam: How to Reuse Batting Bits in Style
Choose pieces of batting that, when joined, will measure the size you need. In this example, we’ll use a 3.5 inch by 40 inch (9 cm by 102 cm) batting scrap.
Cut the batting pieces if necessary. In this example, we’ll cut this into three pieces that are at least 13 inches (33 cm) long.
- Lay the batting pieces in the order you’ll want to sew them. It’s easier to keep track of where you are when you lay them out, much like when you’re piecing.
- Use a zig-zag stitch to seam the batting pieces together. In our example, we’ll sew two seams. When you sew the seam, keep the edges of each batting piece tightly next to one another as you sew. If they overlap each other in a spot or two, it probably won’t be noticeable in the finished piece. You don’t, however, want to let them separate, thus leaving a hole. If that happens, go back and sew over that spot again. Don’t bother to remove the original stitching unless you must do so to get the batting edges to abut one another.
When you finish sewing your seams, you can cut off any extra bits that don’t fit neatly as you desire. In this example, we’ll cut off a chunk of approximately 4 inches (10 cm) from the end of the last piece of batting to leave us with a nice, neat rectangle.
Note: For some projects, you may need to plan for seams that aren’t parallel, like I did here. When that’s the case, you may need to trim as you go to get the size and shape needed for your finished batting. Keep the trimmed bits for future projects and trim as squarely as you reasonably can but don’t sweat it, either.
Sewing Butt-joint seams doesn’t require the same level of precision as piecing for success, but in my mind it’s every bit as satisfying.