Can You Make a Quilt Without Batting? (Plus 4 Batting Alternatives)

Whether you’re trying to save some money or you’re wanting to make a lightweight quilt, there are several reasons why you may wonder if a quilt can be made without batting.

Quilt batting is not needed when making a quilt. You can make a quilt by quilting the top and back together without a middle layer. You may also choose unconventional batting like a flannel sheet or quilting cotton. These can be more cost-effective options if you’re wanting to save money on batting.

Let’s dig deeper into why quilt batting is not needed when you’re making a quilt.

Is Quilt Batting a Necessity?

As quilters, we typically think of a quilt as a quilt sandwich. A traditional quilt is made up of three layers: the quilt top, the batting, and the quilt back. You may be surprised to learn that the middle layer is not required to complete your quilt.

One reason why you may want to skip the batting is to create a lightweight quilt for warm weather. These quilts are sometimes referred to as summer quilts.

To make a quilt the most lightweight that it can be, skip the batting altogether. You can still quilt your quilt as usual, or you can choose to tie your quilt or even sew the edges together like you would a pillow.

To do the pillow sewing method, sew all around the edge of your quilt with the right sides of your top and back together. Leave an opening on one side so you can turn the quilt right side out, and then sew the opening closed.

You can do a top stitch all the way around for a nice finish, or tie your quilt to help the two layers stay together.

If you’d like a lightweight quilt but don’t want to skip the batting, keep reading to learn about the most lightweight batting and some alternative batting options.

What is the Lightest Weight Batting for Quilts?

Bamboo is considered the lightest-weight quilt batting available. Its lightweight properties make it great for keeping cool and it has a beautiful drape, too!

However, bamboo batting can get quite expensive. If you’re okay to splurge on your batting price for the perfect lightweight quilt, you should definitely consider bamboo batting.

My favorite option is Quilters Dream Bamboo batting. If you’re unable to get a quilter’s dream near you, check out the Happy Cloud Bamboo Blend batting by Fat Quarter Shop.

If bamboo batting isn’t calling your name, cotton is the next most breathable batting option. Make sure that you choose a 100% cotton batting with a very low loft in order to keep things cool and comfortable.

What Can I Use Instead of Quilt Batting?

Now that you know you don’t need a layer of batting in your quilt, you may wonder if you can replace traditional batting with another type of material. The answer is yes, you can! There are several different options you can consider when choosing an alternative batting for your quilt.

HELPFUL TIP: Quilting will show up differently on your quilt if you do not use batting. The quilting will lay more flat on the fabric and act as more of an embroidery, rather than quilting. Keep this in mind when you’re considering your choice of batting for a quilt.

Fleece Sheet or Blanket

A fleece sheet or fleece blanket are great alternatives to traditional quilt batting. Fleece is a nice lightweight fabric that is very affordable and easy to find. It also comes in a variety of colors so you can choose a color that coordinates with your quilt rather than one that may show through your quilt top.

If you choose to use fleece as your quilt batting, remember to pre-wash the fleece! Fleece tends to shrink at a higher rate than cotton, so it’s important that you pre-wash the fleece so that you don’t get any wonky shrinking when you wash your final quilt!

After some searching online, the most affordable fleece blanket I could find was at Target. The good news is that you can find fleece blankets and sheets at nearly any large department store. You may want to stock up in the fall and winter months when basic fleece sheets are a bit easier to find!

Solid Fleece Bed Blanket by Room Essentials at Target

This light grey fleece blanket is a great option for alternative batting. It’s not too thick so it’ll keep your quilt light and the drape will be so nice.

The fleece blanket is made of 100% polyester, but there are plenty of 100% cotton fleece options out there.

The neutral light grey color is a subtle hue that won’t show through your quilt top or back when you don’t want it to.

Cotton Sheet

A 100% cotton sheet is one of the most affordable and widely available alternatives to quilt batting. Whether you purchase it new or used at a second-hand store, a cotton sheet is perfect for stabilizing your quilt top and back together.

Remember to choose a sheet pattern that is not too vibrant, or else it may show through your quilt top or back depending on the color palette of your quilt. I’d recommend using a neutral solid color like white or light grey so that you don’t have any unintentional patterns showing through your quilt.

As always, be sure to prewash your sheet. Regular cotton and quilting cotton can shrink at different rates, so to be on the safe side I recommend pre-washing your sheet. If you need to trim your sheet to size for your quilt sandwich, pre-wash the sheet before trimming it so you don’t have to deal with frayed edges.

100% Cotton Ultra Soft Sheet by Threshold at Target

These sheets at Target are amazing and will make the perfect alternative batting in your quilt.

The 100% cotton fabrication will give you a lightweight and breathable quilt that is perfect for summer.

This sheet comes in several neutral colors to help your pieced top remain the star of the show!

Cotton Yardage

Cotton yardage may be something that you already have on hand and you can use up some of your stash to help you finish your lightweight quilt. If you don’t have enough yardage in your stash, shop sales and big-box craft stores to help keep your costs down.

One thing to consider when using cotton yardage as batting is the color and pattern of the fabric. If your quilt top is light, you’ll probably want a light color solid so there are no patterns that show through your quilt top. If your quilt top is dark, you may not have to consider this as much.

Remember to pre-wash your cotton yardage if you pre-washed the fabric for your quilt top and backing! If you didn’t pre-wash your quilting cotton for your project, there’s no need to pre-wash the cotton that you’re going to use as the batting because it should shrink at the same or a similar rate.

An Old Quilt or Blanket

Another great option for batting is to reuse a blanket that you already own. Did you know that in the early days of quilting, quilters would use old quilts as quilt batting for their new quilts? It was a way to reuse fabric and it’s a genius way to repurpose older quilts and blankets.

If you’re trying to go for a lightweight quilt, this may not be your best option, but if you are just looking for a batting replacement, I love this idea! It’s a great way to recycle any old blankets or quilts that you have on hand. You can even use a pieced quilt top that you’re maybe not so in love with and turn it into something new.

Pieced Batting

I know we’re looking for batting alternatives, but I’d be remiss to not mention piecing leftover batting together to create a large piece of batting. If you’re anything like me, you have a big bag of batting scraps that are patiently waiting for their time to be used.

While there are several ways to piece batting together, the easiest and most affordable way is to zigzag stitch the pieces together. To do this, slightly overlap the pieces, use a wide zigzag stitch all the way down the side where they join, and you’ll be good to go! Just be sure not to pull too much while you’re stitching or the batting may start to come apart (ask me how I know!).

There are also premade strips of fusible interfacing that you can use to help you piece together batting scraps. One brand that I’ve seen and heard great things about is Heat Press Batting Together. It’s a roll of wide tape that will help you fuse your pieces of batting together with the heat from your iron. It’s pretty nifty stuff!

Now that we’ve learned that you don’t need batting to make a quilt AND you can use alternative fabric for batting I have to ask you a question… did your quilting world just get rocked?

Because I know mine did when I first learned these tips!

It’s so fun to think about all of the different ways in which we can put together a quilt, and I love how we can use materials other than batting to help keep our quilts more affordable and environmentally friendly!

I’d love to know, have you ever made a quilt without batting? How did it go?

xo, Hailey

35 Comments

  1. I’m part of a group that makes charity quilts. We have used old blankets and the fleece. I’m currently working on one that we’ve put together with two layers of flannel. It feels great. I’ve also saved mattress pads that I’ve replaced…haven’t tried it, yet, but intend to. I love your ideas and can so identify with your crafting spirit. Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

  2. Just the exact information I was hoping for. I really want a summer bedspread, using the quilt top and backing only. Batting makes it to heavy and warm for Florida. Thanks. Answered my questions, and I got the answer I was hoping for.

  3. I’ve done two quilts without batting. The first time I used flannel as the backing fabric and I flipped & tied the quilt. I really liked the feel of that quilt but then we purchased a new trailer with a different bed size and I needed it to be bigger so I took it apart to add on to it. I couldn’t find a flannel that I liked in the amount I needed so I used a rayon fabric that I’d prewashed and again flipped & tied the quilt. I miss the flannel but this quilt is perfect for summer camping!

  4. I am loving your idea on alternative backing and batting. I am going to to a queen top to a blanket with pillow method.

  5. Im making quilted bowl cozies to put in food bags at Christmas. I have an old bedspread. Would that work as batting? The pattern calls for 2 squares of cotton batting. -Valerie

  6. If I bought a quilt from an estate sale and it has no cotton batting inside, just the top and bottom, could you open the end and put something in there? Maybe a sheet or cotton batting to make it thicker and then sew it around.

    1. Depending on how the quilt was finished! If it wasn’t stitched through and is loose or tied, you definitely can. If they stitched through both layers it may be a total hassle to take apart.

    2. You definitely could do this! I would just be careful when taking the stitches out as to not rip the fabric in the process. And then make sure to stabilize all layers together with some type of quilting or tying!

      Happy sewing!

  7. If I use a fleece blanket or cotton sheet in a queen size tshirt quilt, how far apart should I tie it?

    1. Because the inner layer is more “solid” than batting and doesn’t risk falling apart, you can get away with larger spaces between ties. I personally tend not to go more than 10 inches between ties.

  8. I always use flannel as batting when I am backing a quilt with minky. I think the minky makes a warm quilt.

      1. Hi Hailey, can I quilt my pieced cotton top with fireside for backing and no batting? I’m afraid using a batting will be too warm.

        1. Hi, Lori – Yes you can do that! I haven’t done it personally but I’ve heard from many quilters that they skip the batting when using minky/cuddle or fireside as backing.

  9. Wow!! Thanks so much for the information. I do use the fleece blankets however, I never thought about no using batting at all.

      1. Just to be clear are you saying I can either have a cotton quilt top, flannel for batting and a cotton quilt back or a cotton quilt top and cotton quilt back with no flannel in between? That either method would work?

  10. Thank you so much for all this information Hailey. I can’t wait to start on my king size quilt for my bed. Carol

  11. I’ve tied lots of quilts, but always used batting, either high or low loft. I now have a quilt I want to make using flannel for both the top and the bottom. Should I use a cotton sheet between or just do it with no batting at all???

    1. Either way would work! It’s just up to personal preference. I don’t think I would use batting if both the front and back were flannel, but you certainly could use a cotton sheet.

    1. I used quilt quality flannel for a back with conventional pieced top and batting. My long arm quilter had no problem and had done it before mine.

  12. HOW ABOUT USING TOWELS THAT ARE EITHER THIN OR ALITTLE BIT THICK AS BATTING? IF YOU HAVE NEW OR CLEAN, OLD TOWELS THAT YOU NO LONGER WANT OR NEED, IT CAN BE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY GOOD WAY TO REUSE, RECYCLE? I HAVEN’T TRIED IT YET BUT I WOULD LIKE TO EXPERIMENT WITH THAT.

  13. I would think that would make for a heavy quilt, but yes, that would certainly be a good way to recycle the towels.

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