By BARBARA GASH
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
In quilting, the hidden essential ingredient is the batting, but selecting the right one is often puzzling. Quilters are likely to look at several attributes -- loft, washability, shrinkage, type of material, durability and price.
Most seem to prefer 80-20 cotton-poly blends or 100 percent cotton batting for both hand and machine quilting projects. For machine work, the low-loft type moves more easily under the needle. For hand quilting, the most important consideration is fiber type. Batts that are cotton are usually favored, but wool is sometimes used, too.
Fusible batting is relatively new, but it seems better for smaller projects. It is quick, and it eliminates the need for safety pins or basting, but it is more expensive. The fusing agent dissolves in washing.
For dark quilts you can buy batting in black instead of white. It's by Hobbs Bonded Fibers. Ask for it at your local quilt shop.
Winter is a great time to try your hand at quilting. Classes are available at all the quilt shops, and books are abundant, but you might want to try a pre-cut kit to help get started.
All-inclusive quilt kits are available from a mail-order enterprise in Dearborn Heights, Mich., called the Quilt Chick. Prices range from about $20 to $60 per kit. For a catalog; call (313) 378-1479 , or click on www.readysetsew.com.