A Problem of Bearding

It’s been a frustrating few weeks in quiltland for me. I was so excited to start on the quilting for my latest boy’s charity quilt. But as soon as I started quilting, the quilt started to beard.

What is bearding? It’s when the fibers of a quilt’s batting migrate through the fabric and are visible on the top and back of your quilt.

bearding

The causes of bearding that I’ve always heard are things that I thought I had avoided.

Polyester batting: The stiffer fibers of polyester are more likely to make their way through the fabric fibers. But I had purchased cotton batting for this quilt, and cotton is thought to rarely cause bearding.

Low-quality fabrics: Fabrics with a looser weave are more susceptible to bearding because the batting can easily make its way to the top of the quilt. That’s part of why I always purchase my fabrics at quilt stores, where high-quality 100% cotton fabric is available.

Too-thick needles: Another possible cause of bearding is a sewing machine needle that is too thick and creates holes that the batting fibers can travel through. This one really got to me because I actually bought quilting needles for this quilt. I usually just use a universal needle to quilt, but I had recently read that a quilting needle is sharper and makes easier work of the quilting.

So what the heck?

I then came upon this article at Quilters Dream. In it, the writer states that the real cause of bearding is static. Static is something I have a lot of.

The writer of the article says that even high-quality cotton batting can beard if there’s enough static. And the dyeing process darker fabrics go through make them more likely to promote static. Plus it’s been a wild winter and the heat has been running non-stop in the house. So basically, the perfect storm for bearding.

Many sources will tell you there’s no way to stop bearding; you just need to let it run its course and eventually it will stop. But this writer contends you just need to stop the static. She suggests spraying the quilt with Static Guard, but I’d hate to do that to a quilt I’m giving away to charity. Her other solution is to place anti-static dryer sheets in a spray bottle with water and spray the quilt, then let it dry.

I’m going to give it a try, and I really hope it will work. I love this quilt and hope that the bearding abates enough that it can find a new home. More shots of the finished quilt in my next post.

Boy Column Quilt on couch

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13 Comments

  1. Julie Wallace

     /  March 5, 2014

    Who knew? I never heard of bearding, and I’m not a quilter, but very informational. I hope you can work it out. Your work is gorgeous!

    Reply
  2. This is an interesting issue, Christine! Like you, I’m reluctant to spray anything on my quilt. But your post got me curious, and I checked this page out, and it looks like some of these solutions could work with quilting! (I’m especially intrigued by the safety pin idea!) http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Static-Cling I hope you’ll report back on your results!

    Reply
    • The link you attached is great, Meryl Ann! Thank you! All sorts of ways to fight static cling when you know that’s what you need to be fighting!

      Reply
  3. that quilt is gorgeous! will the bearding go away after washing? never had the problem before. i usually use bamboo batting

    Reply
    • Thank you! The photo of the bearding was from before I washed it, and the photo of the quilt on the couch was after I washed it. I was hoping the dryer would take care of the fuzzies, but I ended up picking off a lot more before I took the photo (and you can still see several in the photo). Once I spray it, the test will be if they come back!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the tip on bearding. I have seen it happen in quilts even after the quilt is finished and is on the bed. Who would of thought that it was static.

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading my blog! The quilt bearding that you have seen in past still may be caused by those other factors (batting, fabric, needle size). But, yep, static could be a cause, too. It makes perfect sense…now that I know!

      Reply
  5. TWH4Gail

     /  October 26, 2016

    I just had a major bearding issue with the very first experience with wool batting. And of course, the fabrics involved were all dark blues, black, and dark teal. Talk about upsetting! I’ve spent hours picking off the white fuzz that bearded through both the top and back of the quilt!! Now I know, in the future, to pre-wash the fabric, and LINE dry the quilt!! OMG….

    Reply
    • Oh, no! I’m so sorry to hear of your bearding issues. It is heartbreaking—and time-consuming, as you point out. But that’s good to know that pre-washing and line drying make a difference. Thank you!

      Reply
  1. Boy’s Column Quilt Complete | Christine Doyle

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