Who here has tried bamboo batting? I have a friend who has a quilt on her frame and is trying bamboo out. I asked her how she liked it so far. She said it’s very soft and has a nice drape. Since these are things that are important to me when I make a quilt, I decided to pick up a package. I thought I’d do some research about bamboo batting before I loaded it onto the frame. What I found was startling.
What kind of batting to use is a decision that a lot of quilters have difficulty with. There are so many variables to consider, so many different products to choose from. Poly, cotton and wool are well known, tested, and documented. It’s looking as if that’s not the case with bamboo.
Lots of quilters got excited when the new bamboo battings came on the market. They were reported to be a sustainable, environmentally friendly and rapidly growing crop with antimicrobial properties, grown without harmful pesticides and fertilizers. For quilters looking to minimize their impact on the environment, their exposure to chemicals, and be “green”, this seemed like a dream come true.
However, the Federal Trade Commission has quite a different story. They want consumers to know that while bamboo does grow quickly with little or no need for pesticides and has found excellent uses in hard products like flooring and furniture, the soft bamboo textiles such as sheets, shirts, and batting are actually rayon, which is not an environmentally friendly product.
Going green is appealing to many people. But it’s difficult to go green if we don’t know the truth about the products we’re using. In fact, it can be detrimental to the life of our quilts.
Until further analysis and verification can be documented about bamboo (and labeling changed), it might be wise to stick with standards like wool and organic cotton battings (which are grown without pesticides) that have been tested, confirmed and are widely available. Cotton is a renewable, sustainable resource, proven a thousand times over in generations of quilts. If cotton was good enough for my grandmother’s grandmother, it’s good enough for me!
I found another article on the web that discusses good vs. bad bamboo and how to tell the difference. In summary, bamboo is either processed mechanically, which makes it organic and “green”, or it’s processed chemically, which is harmful to the environment and the people processing it. Scroll halfway down the page for a short list of things to check when you’re considering purchasing bamboo batting.