down quilt, lessons learned

Posted by: Bob Chiang

down quilt, lessons learned - 09/21/16 04:22 PM

Hi all,

I just finished a down quilt and you can see pictures here:
14 ounce 3" loft down quilt

I haven't made anything down-filled since the late 1970's when I made a sleeping bag and sweater from Frostline kits, and a vest. I learned a few things that hopefully others may find helpful.

1) Working with down is not necessarily a messy operation. I transferred handfuls of down from the vendor's plastic bags to the quilt with no significant loss. There was no need to vacuum after I finished. Only a very few stray plumes have shown up in the room. My lessons were:
-Work in a room with no draft.
-Move very slowly.
-If a few plumes or a clump of down falls, don't try to catch them until you're done transferring your handful. Then move in slow motion to gather them and pick them up.
-Don't compress either the source-bag or the destination fabric that would create airflow.

2) Make the baffles narrower than the desired loft. I made my baffles almost the same as the desired loft thickness. The design quantity of down provided the desired loft while the quilt was laid flat, but settled when the quilt was held vertically.

3) I think a 12" square karo baffle spacing is marginally acceptable to maintain even loft.

4) I think the baffled "pockets" on the sides of a quilt especially should be smaller. The sides of the quilt will hang vertically and the baffles should be more closely spaced to prevent settling.

I ended up adding more down than I intended by design to reduce the settling, and ended up with a considerably loftier & slightly heavier quilt than I originally wanted.

The plan is to test it out this coming weekend in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. Weather forecast is for sub-freezing temperatures at night.

Have Fun,
Posted by: BarryP

Re: down quilt, lessons learned - 09/22/16 06:02 PM

"...and ended up with a considerably loftier & slightly heavier quilt than I originally wanted. "

14oz is pretty light. What did you 'originally want'?
Nice job.
-The mountains were made for Tevas
Posted by: Bob Chiang

Re: down quilt, lessons learned - 10/04/16 04:59 PM

Hi Barry,

I don't mean to complain about the weight. I had originally intended the quilt to have about 2.2 to 2.5 inches of loft for just sub-freezing temperatures, at a calculated weight of about 12 ounces.

I'm happy about a 3+ inch loft quilt at 14 ounces, but it only seems to achieve that with careful distribution of the down. I feel like the baffle spacing I used allows too much migration especially along the sides. If I make another, I'd either use a tighter baffle pattern or tubes. And I'll be tempted to use longitudinal tubes at least for the main part of the body to prevent down from dropping down the sides of the quilt.

I did get to test it out in the Adirondacks at the end of September where temperatures dropped below freezing at night. The quilt was good, but I felt cold coming through my pad (still learning about hammocks). Adirondacks Dix Range trip

Have Fun,
Posted by: Dryer

Re: down quilt, lessons learned - 10/07/16 10:43 PM

Nice job on you quilt and thanks for the tips!
I was wondering if you gave some thought to using a 'down eductor' made from PVC pipe and a shop vac? I was going to use this method on my next down project.
Go to this link and scroll down a few posts to the Down Eductor diagram:

He also has a video of the process in his next post.
Posted by: Petro1234

Re: down quilt, lessons learned - 10/29/16 10:57 AM

Where do you begin with making your own bag ? I know there are various baffle designs, what sort of sewing machine do you use, any tips or help?