Down TOP quilt, directions and pics
Today I would like to show you instructions on how to make a down TOP 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. We will use a 1” border sewn down all edges so you end up with the final dimensions of 46x34x72. This quilt fits me nicely at 5’ 6” – it comes up to my forehead even with the footbox closed. The footbox is made for a men’s size 9 - your quilt will depend on your body size, shoulders and height etc…
* if you wear a shoe size 9 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. AYCE at Thru-Hiker told me to put the calendared sides toward the inside. 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) you may want to use colored tape, like blue painters tape, clear is very hard to see – but its all I had
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 might 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 liner side is then attached to the shell via baffle mesh one piece at a time. This is a time consuming step so be patient, take care and make sure everything lines up.
The Ninth pic shows the finished shells sewn together and laid out flat. This step lets you form the drawcord channel and then sew the 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. You can also see that the foot area of the quilt has a folded edge.
Pic Ten shows the folded edge that will add strength to the channel for your drawcord. If you folded it correctly, ½ inch, then over ½ inch again, 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 sewn on three sides and 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. * I ended up placing the bag of Speer’s down into a standard 12-pack soda box. Using the trash can was hard to see the scale’s display. *
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-a lot!) Tape a piece of no see um mesh to the end of your vacuum hose so that when you insert the extension wand over the hose you don’t suck up any down. The bonus about this step is you dont 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. * I didn’t take a pic of the wand, inserted into the vacuum hose - and your vacuum might vary in design – but I think you have the idea *
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 with it, it will be easy to rush this step since you are so close to completion. After that you can sew a few inches of flat cord just above the Velcro on both sides to tie the quilt shut. A simple bar tack works fine.
Pic Seventeen shows us how much loft 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. (w/ wife’s permission)
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
The last 2 pics show the bottom side open, then closed.
Fantastic addition! Thanks for sharing.
That's awesome mikeinfhaz. The Momentum90 is some really nice stuff to work with, isn't it?
Super job Mike. I think you have convinced me I need one of these! How much does this weigh???
agghhh! how could a gram counting weight weenie like me leave out such a thing!
Its 12.7 ounces.
This quilt was loosley based on the Nunatak Arc Edge but I tweaked a few things like baffle height, top end width, and most importantly, price! The arc edge is a 40° quilt (.75" baffles) and is upwards of $300.
Ok, Im cheap. I was also reluctant to screw up on a project like this. I took my time, thought out each step and used tips that other quilt makers have given. This was my most impressive MYOG item and I had very little prior sewing experience. So if anyone is intimidated by a project of this scale, dont be... if you can sew a straight 4mm stitch, youre already halfway there!
This looks great and thanks for your effort.
I have added this to this summer's DIY list :)
Some nice straight sewing lines there, Mike, and a beautiful quilt too! I'm jealous! Well, enjoy it and use in good health.
Truly fine piece.:cool:
Terrific looking quilt, Mike !!
I'm planning on eventually making some down quilts. Your photos and instructions will be very helpful. :)
You've made some really super stuff. Congratulations!!
Very well done.
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