Reusing Down....

Posted by: billstephenson

Reusing Down.... - 01/16/13 09:54 PM

While looking in the basement for junk to toss out I found two old mattress pads and was just about to toss them when I read the tag on one which said "100% Goose Down". That made me stop and set it aside. Then I found the heavy plastic bag that it originally came in, and it said it was filled with 600 fill weight down.

This thing is huge, it's "King Size" and stuffed with down. It has enough down to fill at least three or four 20 sleeping bags like mine.

I'd like to make a top quilt to use with my sleeping bag, and maybe a vest, but I have no idea about what materials to use, or how to handle or measure fill, or really any clue at all as to how to best put this to use.

Any pointers and suggestions would be really welcome...

Posted by: mike

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 07:57 AM

Thru Hiker has a good how-to for making a down top quilt.

http://thru-hiker.com/projects/down_quilt.php

They also sell material that you can use for your shell (M90 and M50) which are 15 and 10 denier nylon (respectively). It is a bit pricey though. I made a quilt using the M90 and it has held up well for several years. You can buy heavier (and cheaper) material elsewhere, but make sure it is downproof.

The fill weight on the down corresponds to how much space it can fill up. 600 fill weight means that 1oz of 600 fill weight down will expand to fill 600 cubic inches of space. Say you are building a top quilt that needs to be 55" x 85" x 3". This would equal 14025 cubic inches of volume. 14025 cu in / 600 = 23.375 oz of down to fill the space of the quilt.

Higher fill weights of down (800 or 900) means that it takes less down weight to fill up the capacity. If we used the same quilt dimensions above, but instead used 800 fill weight down, 14025 cu in / 800 = 17.531 oz.

Working with down is pretty messy. After making one down quilt, I am more than happy to pay somebody to do it for me in the future.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 02:41 PM

Thanks Mike.

I looked at a couple youtube videos. This one is pretty good. In it, he takes an old sleeping bag and replaces synthetic insulation with down. That's not a bad option, and I have a bag that might benefit nicely from that.

Using a shop-vac to remove/install down might be a good option. There are some videos showing "Duvet" makers using something similar.

I have to make something with it. A simple top quilt can't be that hard. Messy? Well, yeah, I can see how down could get out of control in a hurry cry
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 02:53 PM

I suspect that down may be like my dog Hysson's hair--you'll be chasing it around the house for years! Last I heard, phat was still finding dog hair in the tent I sold him back in 2009, and which I cleaned and vacuumed thoroughly before sending it to him.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 04:11 PM

Yeah, I might want to make a temporary "Down Room" to do that work.

I think I'll pull out that old sleeping bag I have this evening and examine it for re-stuffing.
Posted by: Spock

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 04:14 PM

Down recovered from a mattress pad is like l to have a lot of quills which will punch through lightweight "down proof" fabric. If you invest in lightweight shell fabric, be sure to sift the worst of the quills out.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/17/13 08:30 PM

Originally Posted By Spock
Down recovered from a mattress pad is like l to have a lot of quills which will punch through lightweight "down proof" fabric. If you invest in lightweight shell fabric, be sure to sift the worst of the quills out.


How do you do that?

I've wondered about that because if there's a feasible method for sifting only the best down from what I have, that'd be great.

Posted by: mike

Re: Reusing Down.... - 01/18/13 06:57 AM

When I made my quilt, I followed Jeremy's advice from the thru-hiker link I gave above. He suggested to set up a free standing tent in your house and take everything you need into the tent. So in I went with:

1. my quilt shell
2. scale for weighing the down to determine how much went into each baffle
3. plastic bags for holding the premeasured amount of down for each baffle after weighing
4. clothespins for holding each baffle closed after filling the baffles
5. sewing machine for finishing up the job
6. vacuum cleaner

Down gets everywhere!

I agree with spock on the quills. Generally, 600 fill is a lower quality and may have more quills in it. If I were making a new shell for it, I wouldn't use any of the ultralight fabrics. A good 1.1 or 1.9 oz shell will be cheaper and keep the down from leaking better.

One thing I learned the hard way is that you need to overstuff your baffles by 10 or 20%. I put in exactly how much down I calculated would fill the space of the baffle. It works great the first couple of nights of a trip, but after that the down starts to loose loft from perspiration and such and it starts to thin out. At some point I am going to open the top 4 or 5 baffles on my quilt and stuff in some more down.... but I dread working with that stuff again.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Reusing Down.... - 03/25/13 05:51 PM

Bill,
I'm just sayin that in my experience, the down won't be of a quality that will really merit the work that you will put into new items, especially those made of very thin modern materials. I'd but new down, go to a thrift store to buy used, or better yet - let one of my homeless buddies pick up a new sleeping bag or down jacket for me or free. cool

I understand people take perfectly good sleeping bags and then cut the bottom off, then lay on a ultralight pad - not for me. I've used same bag design 35 years ago and I prefer to be completely wrapped in my feathers AND to sleep on a down filled airmattress.
Jim grin
Posted by: wool carder

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/05/13 02:41 AM

I work in Western Feather and Down in Port Moody BC. All we do is wash down and process it.
One thing to remember is that down last about 5 years once taken off the goose. Then it start to decay.
So it loses it thermal qualities.
I was wondering if anyone has experience with alpaca sleeping bags or musk ox.
they are hollow fibers and a lot warmer than down.
Posted by: Heather-ak

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/05/13 11:48 AM

I can't even imagine what it would cost to get enough musk ox hair to fill a sleeping bag.

I won't even cough up the money for a made scarf - the fiber is EXPENSIVE. Alpaca might be more cost effective.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/05/13 02:25 PM

[quote]I prefer to be completely wrapped in my feathers AND to sleep on a down filled airmattress./quote]

Me too! happy
Posted by: lori

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/05/13 04:35 PM

Right, so people with ten year old down bags keep using them because they have really good imaginations?
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/06/13 07:35 PM

My down bags are a lot older than ten years, say 25, and still in (perfect?) condition, BUT I never ever stuff them ever - they just go into my 6500 inch pack and they are stored carefully and I have only washed one - my old blue kazoo, and it ruined the bag. I think maybe these bags are just carefully used. grin

The only reference I could find says that a down comforter will last 1-2 years if carefully handled.

As far as I know feathers are pretty much vacant from the archeological record and even feather items from Native Americans are pretty rare. I've seen Feathers on 100 plus year old arrows that are in pretty good shape though.
Jim
Posted by: dkramalc

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/10/13 06:17 PM

Jim-

Native American feathered baskets seem to age pretty well - scroll down on this page to see a couple from the '20s and '30s.

Pomo feathered baskets

Then there's Captain Cook's ceremonial feathered cape, from 1779 - Captain Cook's cape

Of course, these items have been in museums, at least recently.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/15/13 02:42 PM

Originally Posted By wool carder
I work in Western Feather and Down in Port Moody BC. All we do is wash down and process it.
One thing to remember is that down last about 5 years once taken off the goose. Then it start to decay.
So it loses it thermal qualities.
I was wondering if anyone has experience with alpaca sleeping bags or musk ox.
they are hollow fibers and a lot warmer than down.


This has stuck with me because I'm curious about how the processing is done.

They way everyone here is talking is that it's stupid to try and repurpose hundreds of dollars of down and that's a problem that just bugs me. It's one that's just begging for a solution.

I've watched a few videos online and it seems to me that a machine like those used to fill those down comforters where they manufacture them could be rigged at home with a small Shop-Vac.

No doubt it wouldn't be as slick as what those comforter manufacturers are using, but it should work.

Same with sorting down. Again, it seems to me that there should be some easy way to rig a contraption at home to do this, and again, a Shop-Vac comes to mind to power it.

Here are some good videos:

This one shows samples of several types and quality down.


This one show a machine used to fill down "Duvets".


This is not as informative, but it shows manufacturing process, so it's worth looking at too:


But I still haven't found one that shows sorting down from feathers...
Posted by: finallyME

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/15/13 04:10 PM

Originally Posted By billstephenson

But I still haven't found one that shows sorting down from feathers...


Not too long ago I was looking at down manufacturers. I read from one of their websites that they sort down by blowing it into bins. I wonder if I can remember where I found it.

Here is something. down sorting
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/16/13 09:59 AM

Quote:
Here is something. down sorting


Thank you!!

That pretty much confirms how I thought it must be done. Sort of like distilling alcohol wink

Posted by: JPete

Re: Reusing Down.... - 04/16/13 02:34 PM

Bill,

I made my first sleeping bag using two Army surplus sleeping bag covers (once ubiquitous and cheap) filled with feathers from a couple of pillows. The warmth to weight ratio was not high, but the warmth to cost ratio was. I put the covers one inside the other and sewed them together in tubes. I then opened a couple of old pillows and transferred the feathers using my mother's vacuum cleaner. For me it worked fine. For my mom not so much. The shop vac idea should work fine, but as others have suggested, I think the tent idea is a good one as well.

best, jcp