Quilt Batting: Is There a Right or Wrong Side?


Curious which side of the batting should be up when you quilt? I was too, and I will share what I learned!

I am the first to confess that I do dabble in quilting but that is not my forte. I have been using my batting any which way. Now, after some research, I pay better attention.

Lo and behold, there is not, truly, what they call a right side and a wrong side to batting. I like to refer to it more as there is a top and a bottom or a front and back to batting. Many times, one side will quilt better than the other side.

What is Scrim?

Most batting has scrim on the back. Scrim is a very thin layer of stabilizer that is needle-punched into the batting during manufacturing. It provides extra strength and durability and allows the quilting lines to be placed at greater distances.

If you look at both sides of your batting, you will notice that one has a little pattern to it and the other side looks kind of nubby. It is similar to a sweater that you have worn so many times that it has those little balls all over the surface. Some actually look dirty with little brown specks in the batting.

The Needle Test

I was, quite frankly, having trouble seeing which side had a pattern and which did not. Even when I was looking up close. One article that I read said to use the needle test. Apparently I wasn't the only one out there having trouble seeing a difference.

The needle test is where you push a needle into the batting. It should go through the front very easily and it might hang up or drag when pushed through the back. Where you get some resistance on the needle or you can see a pattern, that is the back or scrim side.

Making the Quilt Sandwich

Place your backing fabric right side down. Put your batting with the scrim or the mesh (back) against the back of the backing fabric. Lay your quilt top right side up on top of the sandwich. The front side, or the top of the batting, will be against your quilt top's wrong side. That is why I say top versus back. It helps me keep how I want to lay the batting straight in my head.

Some say that quilting with the scrim on the front will keep a lower loft while having the non-scrim side of the batting face up allows more puffy quilting. Bottom line, there is no right or wrong way to place the scrim side when quilting. It is a matter of personal preference. Try both ways to see which you prefer. See the full video here.

Have a day blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!

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  • Susan Smedley - January 20, 2022

    How do I get rid of bearing once it happened?

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 18, 2021

    Kaye—-The scrim, or patterned side, is the top (right side). The needle punching goes through that and leaves nubs on the back (wrong side) as it pushes through the batting. So the nubs would be on the back side. There really is no right or wrong way. But if you want the needle to glide through more easily you would have scrim side facing up. Some say having the scrim right side up will leave a lower loft and having the scrim right side down will have a higher loft appearance.

  • Kaye - August 18, 2021

    Pimples up or pimples down – batting

  • Kaye - August 18, 2021

    I’m confused about the batting there seems to be different view. When you have pinned backing to machine is it pimples up or down. I believe it’s pimples up. Cheers

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 04, 2020

    Susan—I’ve heard that too but I believe it’s not true with all battings. But couldn’t hurt to see right? Thanks! =)

  • Susan Secore - June 02, 2020

    I had been told there was a smooth side and a rough/nubby side to the batting. The smooth side should be face up.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 01, 2020

    Mary—You’re most welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 01, 2020

    Karole—That makes total sense. Glad this tip might serve you well. =)

  • Mary Moore - June 01, 2020

    Thank you. This is great information!!

  • Karole - June 01, 2020

    Thank yiou. I hand quilt as well as quilt with both sewing and embroidery machines. I often wondered why my hand quilting seemed more difficult at times. Apparently I had the scrim side facing my quilt top, making the needle a little more difficult to pierce. I appreciate your insight!

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