Friday, December 4, 2009

Quilter's Snow


My Professional Quilt Model sometimes has hard assignments, but Pixxie's always willing to accommodate!

Look what came on the freight truck today! Quilter's Snow -- more commonly known as Batting, unless you are from the UK and there it's Wadding...

Okay, okay, bad joke...but all around the Houston area there has been flurry sightings and it hasn't made it all the way south to Galveston County today so I just had to have my own snow story...

So here it is!

Last month we were able to take a tour of a batting manufacturer and up until now I haven't had time to share my story....



This is actually called Snow. It's Hollywood's version of snow, as in snow used for movies. Remember Tim Allen in The Santa Clause -- well, the snow for that movie came from this manufacturer and produced on this machine! How cool is that! Not only does Hollywood use this snow but large corporations such as malls who use indoor snow in their displays. Yep, it's simply made out of the same fibers our quilt batting is made from. And it can be made in different versions such as snow flakes falling, snow drifts or layers of snow on the ground (think thick batting!)

From the Snow Machine we made our way through the working warehouse on our quest to see how batting is made...


The fibers come in large bales such as this. Cotton, Soy, even Bamboo. I was able to hold some bamboo fibers in my hand and oh my goodness is it ever soft!!


Speaking of bamboo - did you know how renewable this stuff is! Take for example those cotton plants I shared yesterday...each year the farmer must plant the cotton seeds, pray for a good crop, harvest, and start over again the next year with new plants. Whereas bamboo keeps growing...the same plant is harvested approx. every 6 to 8 weeks by cutting off about 18 inches from the top growth. The plants remain useful for years, no waiting for it to mature like the full season needed for cotton. This particular manufacture has certified documentation that the plantation where this bamboo is grown has used no chemicals in the ground or pesticides in the growth of the product. In other words, it's good stuff!

Not only that, but I learned that bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial...seems there isn't a bacteria that feeds on this fiber. For example, if cotton gets wet and stays wet then mold and mildew can grow...not so on bamboo! Bamboo breathes and drys well. This manufacturer mixes ultra clean long stable cotton to the bamboo to make a very soft batting that is wonderful to quilt with. I used it in my Dangling Carrot quilt and its been washed several times. I love how it feels. This is my new personal favorite batting!

Okay, back to the story..

This company prides themselves in purchasing quality fibers, extra clean and chemical free. But they give it a good fluffing up and cleaning any way... This gentleman pictured below is actually mixing fibers as they enter the cleaning/fluffy machine (sorry I don't have techie terms, I'm just a former homeschool mom who loved field trips and I get so excited in what I'm seeing that sometimes my listening skills aren't the best, nor my memory!).

On one side he has a bale of bamboo fibers, on the other cotton fibers and they all get mixed up together in this particular machine.


I just loved how fluffy the fibers got as they went through this process. This machine also made sure that there wasn't any seeds or other items in the fibers. Indeed it reminded me of snow! Especially the few fibers that seemed to escape and float around the room. To me, this place was a wonderland.


Next the fibers traveled to another machine. I can't remember what this stage is called but it reminded me of 'carding' - I know my grandmother said they used to card the cotton between boards that had what looked like nails or needles on it. If I'm not mistaken the 'old timey' way was to not only clean out the seeds and any debris but also to elongate the fibers. I was blessed to take home a little wad of the bamboo fibers pictured above and a 'puff' of bamboo fibers from this machine pictured below. It is so soft, like what I imagine touching a cloud would be like. Have I mentioned that I love bamboo?!?!?!

From there the fibers travel through a maze of machinery. How I wish I'd of taken notes, it was sooooo fascinating!

Part of the process of course is to make the batting into rolls that many of us are familiar with. I didn't get a clear picture of the machine rolling it up on the tubing as it added a layer of scrim, but I did question about the ends that were cut off...what did they do with the discard? I was pleased to learn that everything is recycled. The discards are chopped up again and used as stuffing in the upholstery and mattress industry. Pretty cool, huh!


Once the battings are rolled off the presses (or whatever the machinery is called) the large rolls are then taken to quality control where every batch is hand inspected, counted (measured) and packaged, or cut into specialty sizes like crib, twin, queen, or king and packaged.


I so enjoyed the tour. Next I'd love to find a Cotton Gin that would give me a tour - wouldn't it be great to see the total process from field to finished! Come to think of it, I guess you could say I'm a part of that process as I take the batting and use my longarm to actually finish the quilt. Cool. Have to admit I always loved those from this to that (finished) books for kids or the shows on the Discovery channel about how things are made...

Oh, and all the batting that arrived by freight today? Well, that's for distribution as I am now a Longarm Distributor for Legacy by Pellon....so my fellow quilters, if you'd like more details on this fabulous line of batting please send use the contact form on my website and I'll be happy to accommodate.

Hope you enjoyed this little field trip with me...

still holding out for the real snow....which reminds me of a story....if you can indulge me for one more ramble...

When we lived in Tennessee we'd sometimes take the boys to Gatlinburg. There they had a ski slope...well Gatlinburg isn't in the Rockey's but the Smokey's so there's no guarantee of snow..to adjust for this they have machine that will make snow or "man made snow" as we explained to our young sons who were observing this process of snow blowing out of a machine.. A little later in our day nice big flakes starting falling from the sky and my son said "look mom, some God Snow not Man Snow!"

So here I wait, enjoying all the Quilter's Snow in the living room and looking out the window wondering if there's going to be any God Snow south of Houston tonight....

4 comments:

Muddling Through said...

Ah, we homeschool moms do enjoy those tours, don't we! Hope you got some snow. We did, but we're in the northern part of Houston. sure was pretty while it lasted. :)

American Made Quilting said...

Thank You for sharing!!! I love Legacy Batting!!

Vicki said...

loved your batting story. I was able to tour a batting factory in NC 2 yrs ago. It was great. and as a child I remember going to the cotton gin a distant cousin had. everyone wore bandanas to keep the fibers out of there lungs. OSHA wasnt around back then. haha

Trudi said...

Thanks for the tour! I must order some Bamboo 'wadding' from my supplier to try, I've heard such good reports about it, and I'm getting to close to tend of my normal roll :o) (so fickle us Brits *g*)