I not only love quilts and quilting------I also love studying the history of quilts and quilting.
We often think only about the fabric used in quilting. We all know that quilts used to be made out of the "good parts" of worn out clothing. Now we buy fabric for our quilts and work out a color scheme to suite our taste and decor. We can even buy reproduction fabrics to make our new quilts look like they are old quilts!
I hardly ever hear anyone talk about the filling ( aka batting ) in quilts and how that aspect of the quilt has evolved. As my mother-in-law and I would work on a quilt, I remember my father-in-law talking about the quilts he had as a child. He told how he and his brothers would carefully cover themselves with a quilt and try to lay very still. By morning, all of the "filling" had shifted down the sides and they were covered with the thin layers of fabric!!!
In those days their quilts were often stuffed with straw, dried leaves, torn newspaper, fabric scraps ( the pieces not good enough to cut a quilt patch out of ), feathers collected from their chickens and geese, horsehair, raw wool or a combination of these things. It was because these materials shifted ( which made the quilts not so warm ) that quilting was done. We work hard to quilt pretty designs ---- they stitched to make little "pockets" to hold the filling so it would stay in place and keep them warm at night.
Batting is a much more convenient way to fill our quilts. Batting stays in place, is a consistant thickness, is easy to find and is usually washable (which certainly beats the straw and torn newspapers). We have so many choices in batting ---- I think we are spoiled!!!!
My mother-in-law could never get used to using the term batting. She always referred to it as filling for her quilts. I may get brave one day and make a small quilt that I will fill with straw just for the experience.