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Gear Workshop The Gear Workshop forum is for the discussion of homemade backpacking gear, gear modifications, and repairs.


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  #1  
Old 03-01-2008, 05:08 PM
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Mike_in_FHAZ Mike_in_FHAZ is offline
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35° Down Quilt (Full Tutorial w/Photos)

Today I would like to show you with detailed instructions how to make an ultralight down quilt. For this quilt I chose Momentum90 in Aegean blue for the shell and black for the liner. Momentum has a very soft hand and drapes well but you can use regular 1.1 ripstop if you want to spend less on the shell. My supply of fabric came from Thru-Hiker and I ordered 2 yards of each along with some ¾” hook and loop, a yard of ¼” flat cord, two mini cord locks, and finally 1 yard of nano-see-um mesh.

The First pic shows the shell material marked out with 1” painters tape, as you can see it has an even taper from the head to foot. I decided to make this pattern 48” wide at the head, evenly tapering to 36” at the feet. Pattern size is 74” long. The reason is that we will use a 1” border sewn down all edges so you end up with the final dimensions of 34x46x72. This fits up to 6 feet and has a footbox made for a men’s size 9 I would suggest however that if you intend on using down booties or something like them that you make the footbox a bit larger, or if you wear a shoe size 10 or above, size your quilt accordingly.



In the Second pic we see that the shell has been cut and placed on the liner to use as a pattern. NOTE: please pay close attention to the orientation of the calendared (or shiny) side and place these calendared sides back-to-back which is how the finished quilt will look. You can simply use bits of tape to hold each piece together while you carefully cut out the liner (black) fabric.



The Third pic shows you the shell material, inside out so that you can trace out your baffle lines. I used a spacing of 6” to come out with 12 evenly spaced baffles. (72”/12=6)
I used a black sharpie for the marks, but if you chose a lighter material such as white or yellow, use a grease pen as it will not bleed through like black sharpie does.



The Fourth pic is interesting… I came up with the idea to use tape to make my baffles… I had some 2” packing tape handy so I used a straight edge to form the first line- then taped each of the other 10 baffles following the first. This made them all straight, and protected the mesh from damage. You can see numbers written on the tape, this is the length of each baffle. Interestingly, because the baffles on the quilt fabric were evenly spaced at 6” apart, and the quilt had an even taper, each of the taped mesh baffles came out to perfect 1” increments. Pretty nifty eh? (and to think my high school geometry memory still serves me J)



The Fifth pic shows a close up of the fabric while stitching the baffle material to the shell. Pay close attention at this step- you must keep tension on the shell but without stretching the mesh… it will take a bit of practice on scrap pieces before you go for the real deal. This step requires that you sew no more than a few inches at a time. Your prior skill and sewing machine’s features may play a role in this procedure.



The Sixth pic shows all of the mesh baffles in place and sewn to the shell. You will want to stitch the baffles all the way to within an inch of the edge, so that your rolled seam will barely overlap the mesh and keep the down from shifting. The slight shrinkage in the shell caused by the mesh retracting is of little concern. Just make sure to keep an eye out while completing step 5.



The Seventh and Eighth pics simply show the mesh up close for a detail of the baffle size. Mine came out to 1 ½” after sewing the seam allowance. The shells are then attached to each other via baffle mesh one piece at a time. You must keep the edges of both shells even and straight before sewing each baffle.





The Ninth pic shows the finished shells sewn together and laid out flat. The next step will be to sew along the top, side and bottom of the shells with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Any stray threads can be snipped (very carefully) from the edge to avoid fraying. Some use a lit candle to seal the edge of the Momentum but at this price Im not getting anywhere near a fire! You can also see that the foot area of the quilt has a folded edge, this will later be the sleeve for the drawcord. See step ten.



Step Ten, as seen in the pic, shows the folded edge that will add strength to the channel for your drawcord. If you fold it correctly, the 1” edges sewn down the sides will match the drawcord channel evenly for a nice, clean finish. The cordlock is installed temporarily to give you perspective on the design. Looks great, doesn’t it?



In pic Eleven, you see the quilt is taped to the edge of my sewing table to allow each baffle to be filled with a vacuum cleaner extension (wand). For 12 baffles, I used exactly 6.1 ounces of 900 fill power down- on each piece of tape you can write the amount per chamber as a quick reference. Because the quilt was tapered, each chamber had a fill of greater or lesser value, such as 12.1g, 12.4g, 12.7g, etc..



You can see in pic Twelve that I used a small bathroom type trash can and placed a bag of down directly into it and on the scale. A high quality GRAM scale is of upmost importance here- Mine reads in tenths of grams and it was still a little less accurate than Id hoped for.



GET READY for the fun part! This step as seen in pic Thirteen will greatly help you avoid getting down clusters in your ears, in your fish tank, and under your eyelids. (in other words, down likes to travel-and how!) Tape a piece of no see um mesh to the end of your vacuum wand so that when you insert it into the hose you don’t suck up all of your high $$ down. The bonus about this step is you DON’T have to hide out in a bathroom, a tent or a closet. Pick a work area as large as you want. Sure, you will have to chase a few down clusters around the room but this step greatly reduced the amount as compared to stuffing down with your hands.



Pic Fourteen shows that the quilt is taped and filled with down- to do this you simply place your down in its container on your scale, tare or zero the scale, and then hand feed the down into the vacuum wand until the scale reads in negative (-) the amount you have removed from the container. Then you remove the wand from the hose and tap the down out. It helps if you have a stick handy to push the down out of the wand. Keep your vacuum running at this point as some down will want to escape and you can quickly suck it from the air. After each chamber is filled, place a piece of tape over it to keep the down from sneaking out and to remind you that the chamber is finished.



Pic Fifteen shows the edge being sewn shut. I used like mentioned earlier a 1” seam- so you fold the raw edge over ½” and then over again. Make sure to gently shake all of the down out of your way so you’re not sewing over it. Your goal is to keep the edge even, straight, and tight so it looks professional. You’re almost done!!



In pic number Sixteen we see the quilt laid out flat. This is to determine that all of the baffles are stitched nicely, there are no loose threads anywhere and the baffles are consistently and evenly filled. Your only steps now are to add the omni tape, and a small bit of ¼” flat cord to tie the footbox closed. Please Note: omni tape was the hardest thing to sew as it tries to buckle and you only have a very small (1/16”) edge to work with. Take your time here, it will be easy to rush this step since you are so close to completion. DON’T!



Pic Seventeen shows us how much warm goodness we can achieve by a mere 6 ounces of premium down. An even TWO inches! This is easily rated as a 35 degree quilt.



Pic Eighteen the final step: Get in your quilt to fully appreciate the 16 hours of work you just spent on something that will give you years of service. She’s a beauty, isn’t she?



NOTES: my machine was less than $100- you don’t need to spend hundreds on one.
I used Gutermann thread in black.
I taped my fabric pattern to Berber carpet-regular high pile carpet will not work and just cause headaches. Tile or wood floors work best. In fact, if you have a large dining room table, use it.
This quilt took about 16 hours from planning stage to completion. It cost $109 in raw materials. Easily compared to much more expensive items that you will see in upwards of $280
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  #2  
Old 03-01-2008, 07:51 PM
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tahoemike tahoemike is offline
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Way cool, Mike!! I'll look forward to seeing it on the trail. I'm guessing about 10-11 oz for a bag with a wide range of use. Can you rig this as a bottom quilt for your hammock?

What's next?
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  #3  
Old 03-01-2008, 08:21 PM
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Trailtoa Trailtoa is offline
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The quilt looks real good, have you tested it out yet?
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  #4  
Old 03-01-2008, 08:32 PM
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Reality Reality is online now
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Nice quilt/tutorial, Mike. Thank you very much for sharing it with us all.

By the way, did you go with a differential cut?

Reality
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  #5  
Old 03-01-2008, 09:07 PM
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Mike_in_FHAZ Mike_in_FHAZ is offline
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thanks for the compliments. Mike: the quilt was primarily designed as a top quilt for hammocking- its lack of width wont matter since it will be overlapped on the sides by an underquilt, it was also designed for my small frame.
Ken: it was not tested in the field this weekend due to Honey-do lists. I'll get it out asap and let ya'll know.
Reality: it has a straight baffle layout and 1 1/2 inch baffle height. Overstuffed to acheive 2 inch loft. There is no drawstring or snaps at the hood, I was hoping to make a 40° "rating" but the 2 inch loft may be useful to the mid thirties. I will be using this under a tarp, inside a bivy in the rare chance I go to ground. At any rate, Im looking at the next several months as a great time to use this because the weather is very pleasant as you know.
I hope this tutorial will prove beneficial to those with questions about quilt sewing. Im no expert on a machine, but if you can sew a straight edge you have it made. Mike
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  #6  
Old 03-01-2008, 11:06 PM
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Reality Reality is online now
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Do you have a photo of your quilt like the last one above but from the other side? In other words a photo of the back/bottom with the footbox formed.

Thanks.

Reality
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  #7  
Old 03-01-2008, 11:30 PM
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Mike_in_FHAZ Mike_in_FHAZ is offline
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here ya go Reality, thanks for asking.



the quilt does not look very tapered, this is an illusory effect from taking the pic at the top of stairs... at an angle. It tapers from 46" to 34".

backside open:


Last edited by Mike_in_FHAZ : 03-01-2008 at 11:36 PM.
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  #8  
Old 03-01-2008, 11:44 PM
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Reality Reality is online now
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Thanks. Love the colors. You'll inspire many.

Reality
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2008, 12:55 AM
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WildlifeNate WildlifeNate is offline
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Backpack: Osprey Atmos 50
Sleeping Gear: DIY down quilt
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Location: Nacogdoches, TX
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Nice quilt. Your corner seams look better than mine.

Most of my headaches can be traced to laying everything out on plush carpeting. I have tile floors, but they're in VERY small spaces. My dining room table is also too small, so I had to make do.

How much does the whole package weigh?
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  #10  
Old 03-02-2008, 02:10 AM
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Mike_in_FHAZ Mike_in_FHAZ is offline
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Backpack: jam2
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what!?
how could I forget the weight? lol
it is 12.68 oz.
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