Hey guys, I bought a top quilt shell from underquilts.com. When the package came in the mail last week, I was pretty excited about it---I ripped open the box, and carefully inspected the stitching and baffles. I found the quality to be very good---nice close stitching, very precise, very nicely done. (much better than if I had made it!) Then came the down part of the project. I had trouble stuffing the down, but it was a problem on my end, not the quilt itself. Last summer I experimented with putting pockets under a hammock, and using down stuffed pillows for insulation. It worked ok, but I've since decided to go with the traditional UQ as bottom insulation. So, I had some down stuffed pillows just laying around the house for no particular reason ! When I made the pillows, I used wilderness logics as my down source, and it was a piece of cake to stuff them. The anti static plastic pouches of down were very easy to use, especially when fronkys down method was used. (definitely the way to go as far as Im concerned) So, I didnt think it was going to be a big deal to take the down out of the pillows and place it in the top quilt shell. (I was totally wrong about that--it was awful---down every where---next time I do down , it will be with the little plastic pouches from wilderness logics---so much easier!)
The other problem I had was with sewing up the side of the quilt--again my issue, not the top quilts fault! Not having ever done this before, I just started at one end and sewed it all shut---and then noticed that the baffles didnt line up! So, I took out that row of stitching, carefully lined up the baffles, and sewed it again.
Over all, I am very pleased with the end product--its warm, pretty light, looks great, and after taking the senic route and making a few mistakes, it was pretty easy to finish. I'd do it again, with out all the mistakes on my end! When all is said and done, it probably cost me about a hundred dollers less than a comprable top quilt from another cottage industry. ( it made sense for me, especially since I already had the down from another project) The only down side I can see is, if youre into selling your gear every year or so, the resale value on a "name brand" TQ would probably be higher---but I never sell my gear, and have more time than money right now, so it was a good choice for me!
A couple of other neat things about doing it your self--you can customize it a bit, by overstuffing the baffles in the areas where you need it. (my torso gets cold, so I added more down in that area)
I use a ridge runner bridge hammock, and I noticed that with that narrow of a hammock, and the width of my new TQ, the quilt didn't drape as much as it should---it kind of bunched up instead of laying flat. So.........what I did was take the quilt by one edge, shake all the down to the other end, and sewed a line of stitching about 4 inches from the edge. (closing the baffle 4 inches from the edge) Then I did the same thing on the other edge. This puts more down in the center part of the baffle , and gives me a 4 inch cloth flap on the edges (kind of like a "draft stopper" flap on a Ray Jardine quilt) ---This made a huge difference in how the quilt lays in the ridge runner. (might not be the best idea for everyone, but workd out well for me, as a tall thin person who primarily sleeps on his back in a bridge hammock!)
In summery, I really like this topquilt---it works great, and I would do it again!
(forgot to mention, my TQ was a custom job--extra long--84 inches long! I'm 6'4" tall and wanted some extra length---fits me perfectly--I like the way its not pulled tight when I stretch out in it!)