What Is Scrim In Batting? (With or Without Scrim How To)

When you need stability you make sure you use proper chairs, ladders, and other devices that won’t wobble or wiggle on you. Scrim is that solid foundation that helps batting remain where you want it to be. But not everyone likes scrim as it may compromise the quilt.

What is scrim in batting? This is a little polyester grid that helps anchor the cotton fibers used to make batting. If the package says 97% cotton, it means that 3% of the material is scrim and made from polyester materials. If you fuse the quilt to the scrim you may end up with a rippled quilt.

To learn more about scrim and its purpose, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to use cotton batting with scrim more effectively. Take a few moments to see what scrim is all about. Using it right produces great results.

What is Scrim in Batting?


When you hear the word scrim, it is not always easy to determine what it actually is. Scrim is a lightweight binder made from polyester and added to batting to make the batting more stable and keep it from stretching out of shape.

It is a favorite additive of long arm quilters as the scrim keeps the batting from stretching during the rolling part of the quilting process. Also, the fibers are non-woven and can be made of lightweight glue as well.

The good news is that if you are an old-fashioned quilter, not all batting has scrim and you can still find this needed material in 100% cotton. When the package does say 100% cotton then no scrim is added and any lower percentage means that scrim is part of the batting.

The trick is not to fuse the quilt material with the scrim side or you may end up with a rippled quilt or if you apply any heat, the fabric can pucker on you. It is important to make sure you handle scrim correctly if you want great results with your quilt.

Scrim On Batting

While there is no scrim on some cotton batting, you will find it on many packages that have cotton batting inside. Scrim is also added to polyester batting and other versions of this material.

One of the fabrics that don't come with any scrim is wool batting. At least in most cases unless that practice has changed recently. When adding scrim to cotton or other fibers, the fibers are usually needle punched through the polyester or glue scrim.

This is a method that forces the cotton fibers through the scrim and creates a tight hold on the fibers. While scrim does perform some needed services like keeping the batting stable and prevents stretching, it can also produce some bad results.

As we said, if you are doing a fusible quilt, scrim is not something you want to have as a part of your quilt. One side will look good while the other side will look ad feel rough.

Using scrim on your batting will take some getting used to and many sewers have mastered it and do not want to return to using batting without scrim. They prefer the challenge as well as the stability they get as they sew.

Batting With Scrim vs Batting Without Scrim


When you are machine quilting, batting with scrim is preferred. The reason for that preference is that the batting with scrim can be pulled, tug, or maneuvered without creating a hole. That hole is often the result of pulling the scrimless batting.

Then if you prefer hand quilting, it is best not to use any batting with scrim. It is not the best material to use for that style of quilting. before you go and buy any batting make sure you know how you want to quilt.

If you are going to be basting and using a machine, then you will want batting with scrim. All this is saying is that each style of batting has its own unique purpose and one is not generally better than the other unless you go into the other batting’s territory.

You are getting a nice fill for your quilt no matter which version you use so you are not missing out on any comfort. The different styles make different types of quilting a little easier to do.

The other aspect you need to worry about and make a choice is the type of batting you will use. batting comes with different fibers than cotton and will either have or not have scrim.

How to Use Batting With Scrim

There actually is a right way and a wrong way to use scrim-backed batting. You want the scrim side of the batting to be facing the back of the quilt. That will keep the front looking like you want it even when issues arise on the back side of the quilt.

Then one sewer came up with the idea of placing 2 layers of batting inside her quilt. When she was doing that, she faced the two scrim sides together so that she had nothing but cotton against the fabric. She had a very soft quilt in the end.

If you do not use that method, the scrim should be facing the backing fabric and what this does is open up those fusible quilters to some heat issues. When they apply the heat to the fusible material, the scrim will pucker or ripple on you.

The non-scrim side to the fusible quilt will appear nice and smooth. The rough side may be too much for some quilters to handle so you need to use scrim-backed batting with care and a lot of planning.

The strengths of scrim-backed batting should outweigh any negatives that come with this quilting option.

Batting Scrim Up or Down


The rule of thumb is to have the scrim side facing the backing fabric. Due to the negatives that can happen when you use batting with scrim, this is the best way to go. However, we liked that sewer’s idea of using two layers of scrim-backed batting.

Her idea of placing the two scrim sides facing each other helps solve a lot of issues that will come when you use only one layer and the scrim side is exposed to other elements. It seems to keep the quilt smooth on both sides and adds another layer of comfort.

The key to using scrim-backed batting though is found in determining which side is which. Here are some tips to help you determine which side has the scrim on it:

  • The scrim side feels rough to the touch
  • It will feel a little bit coarse when you touch it
  • You should be able to see any pills or pimples on the scrim side
  • The scrim side will be flatter than the non-scrim side

Then the non-scrim side will have features like the following:

  • The material will be soft and puffy, a lot like a cloud would be if you could touch it
  • You should see dimples, the reverse of pimples, on the non-scrim side of the batting
  • The non-scrim side should have the presence of seeds and hulls on it. Cotton seeds are a good thing

Does Warm and Natural Batting Have Scrim?

Yes, it does and it seems that this is the only version of batting they sell. The company says that it buys over 4 million pounds of American cotton to make its batting with scrim. When you go to their website, you need to click the ‘shop’ button to find all of the products they produce.

Also, their website says you can quilt up to 10 inches apart with their batting. Then you should expect up to 3 inches of shrinkage with the first wash in cold water. if you want a puckered look, which the company calls antique, then use warm water in the first wash for a 5% shrinkage.

If you are going to pre-wash the batting, the company’s directions state:

  • Use a mild detergent and hand wash only
  • Do not agitate or spin the batting
  • Soak for about 20 minutes but rinse often
  • Do not wring the excess moisture out but squeeze softly or use a towel
  • You can dry in a warm dryer heat or lay flat to air dry

The benefits that you get from using their batting products are as follows:

  • Should not separate or bunch up on you
  • There are no resins or glues used to create the scrim
  • Should not shift, migrate or beard on you as you work
  • Have up to 10 inches of quilting space
  • Can be machined washed and dried once you have finished the quilt
  • These instructions and benefits seem to be under every product on their shop web page.

Types of Batting


There are several types of batting you can buy for your quilt. Whether they have scrim or not will not be the prime focus here. You should find both options with most of these types.

  • 1. Cotton - usually 1/8 of an inch thick and is very soft and made from natural fibers. Those ingredients make it ideal and very popular batting to use. You will fin dit in both scrim and non-scrim variations.
  • 2. Polyester - is said to be the favorite type of batting for cribs and bedding. it is also said to hold its shape and thickness when compared to other fibers. Also, it may not be very thick but it does keep you nice and warm while resisting mold and mildew.
  • 3. Wool - lightweight like polyester and keeps you very warm. This is another natural batting but it does seem to have a lot of loft to it. Usually, it is 1/2” thick and resists creasing, while holding its shape. The wool will spring back on you and can be good for hand, machine quilting, and tying.
  • 4. Cotton-poly blend - usually this is an 80 20 split with the larger amount favoring cotton fibers. It has all the benefits of cotton batting but with more loft. The poly portion should contribute a resistance to shrinking and help maintain the shape.
  • 5. Bamboo batting - this is actually a blend as well with a 50 50 split between bamboo fibers and organic cotton fibers. It is very breathable, machine washable, hypoallergenic, and more. There should only be a 2 to 3% shrink rate.
  • 6. Bonded - this version comes with a light adhesive layer on both sides of the fibers and that adhesive holds those fibers together. This version should not shift on you or beard (pushing through the fabric).
  • 7. Fusible - there is a fusible web that works great when you are basting layers together. You should use the wool setting on your iron when fusing all the layers together and you should go from the center out, holding the iron in place for only 3 to 4 seconds. You can only do one side at a time and let the first side cool before doing the other side.
  • 8. Needle punch - mechanically felted batting using a lot of needles to make sure all the fibers are securely in place. It is a firmer and more dense version of all the batting options.

Some Final Words

Whether you use scrim-backed batting or non-scrim style of the material is going to be up to you and your quilting project. But it is a decision you make before you start making the quilt. The style in which you make your quilt will help you decide which version you use.

The key when using scrim-based batting is to know which side is which and place the scrim side to the back.

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