I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.
"Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn
We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series
Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies
Bobbin Tension - A Personal Viewpoint
Yes I did it and I removed a zipper, sewn in a foot box, after shaking it (the down) down I added additional down 4ozs. It worked well had a minimum of flyaway down and a total of $56.00 invested 26.00 for new down and 30.00 for a ebay down bag. Would I do it again? Yes, but I would not cut up a new bag to do it. For me DIY in this case had to mean on the cheap.
Whether trail or paddle don't you know
My hammock is the way to go
There peace and solitude I find
To ease all troubles from my mind
Both body and soul revel in delight
As day surrenders to inky night
Thats more like it, thanks Ramblinrev & DemostiX. Based on your overwhelming opinions that not only can this be done, but it should be done without any further hesitation , (Well at least thats what I'm going to tell Mrs Roe Ring when she finds down all over the house .), I'm going to give it a go. I've also decided to try to make a nice pillow out of the hood.
I'll try to post some pictures of the work in progress.
Thanks Busky2 - I'm not keen on destroying a good bag either, so I'll think long and hard before cutting to make sure its right first time. It'll get alot more use as a dedicated TQ. I'm pleased to hear yours worked out well.
Last edited by Roe Ring; 06-24-2011 at 16:53. Reason: added info
Well after thinking about it for a while I decided to take the scissors to the bag and give it a go. After all, a nice down bag is no use if it isn’t getting used.
I started by taking the down out of the hood with the intention of topping up a few of the baffles that looked a bit low. I was amazed at how much down came out and how difficult it is to control the stuff!! I blatantly ignored Ramblin Revs advice on using an old tent and set about the job in the dining room. Well after the first few handfuls it became obvious that things were going to get messy even the airflow caused by slowly moving my hand was enough to send down skywards. Reaching into the now opened hood baffle was like an air piston, pumping fluffy goodness everywhere. I had intended to take step by step photographs but even after only a few minutes, I was panicking. This was going to have to be a damage limitation exercise
By the time I had emptied the hood, I had perfected (or so I thought) the transfer method and was managing to keep the stuff under some control, with frequent vacuuming of any stray bits. I used the leg of Mrs Roe's tights to filter the down and make sure I wasn’t wasting any. It is safe to say that I felt quite pleased with myself at this point, having mastered the fluffy stuff that everyone warned me about, I was doing good.
My complacency and smugness was my downfall, when while trying to vacume up the last few stray bits there was the almighty noise of my vacume cleaner choking as it proceeded to devour the plastic bag holding all of my prized down. The bag erupted all over the floor and the cleaner while I quickly turned it off. The result was like a sea of down; the dining room floor rippled with every slight air movement whilst I stared in disbelief at the mess I had made; horrified at the prospect of losing all the down.
It took me an age to salvage the majority of the spilt down, the stuff has a habit of clinging to everything. I decided that I would have to use the tights and vacume method to gather the rest, but, still in shock at how badly my luck had turned, I didn’t consider the fact that in order for a vacume to suck air in, it must also blow air out well it dawned on me the instant I pressed the power-on button, but it was too late and the remaining spilt down became airborne, turning my dining room into a life-size snowstorm. This job couldn’t get much worse. All I could think about was Rev's words of wisdom... next time I will take heed.
Anyway, after cleaning up (again!!) I started with the thread injector. This was my first time behind the pedal so I practiced on a few scraps before moving onto the nylon bag. The results were functional if not pretty; it would have been easier working with empty baffles but I was committed now and needed to finish the mod before bed. I found the rolled hem a bit tricky as the fabric layers slipped on top of each other, making the hem look a bit rippled.
I used the down I'd salvaged to top up some of the baffles. It seemed like each baffle had the same quantity of down regardless of its volume, so the longer upper baffles were a bit light compared to those at the foot end. A bit of guess work was needed when dividing it up, but it seems to have worked.
I sewed the foot box in a bit too long and had to un-pick 6" or so. Dimensions are 78" x 52" with 3.5" - 4" loft. It’s lighter than the original bag, but still weighs in at 34oz, which is heavier than I thought it would be. The down, whilst fluffy and uncontrollable isn’t comparable to the 800+ stuff used by Stormcrow or Warbonnet. But for my current level of hammocking, its just fine. Here are a few pics of the finished quilt.
Would I do it again? I'm not sure. I'm glad I gave it a go and am happy that I now have a top quilt to see me through some seriously cold nights, but I could have probably made a lighter quilt if I'd started from scratch. It was the cost and availability problems that made me look at the bag mod in the first place, so it was the best option at this time.
Thanks for looking
Last edited by Roe Ring; 07-05-2011 at 12:57. Reason: spelling
I just went through the labor of carefully washing bag stuffed with about 16oz of down.
There is lots of good advice on laundering from down professionals.
But, rare and worth mentioning is something I found only from Jacks R Better: A wet bag is very, heavy. So heavy, care needs be taken in handling it, because inner baffles can be torn by grabbing hands or the weight of suspended portions. So, the risk is not just from agitators of clothes washers. That kind of damage is not a manufacturing defect. It is owners responsibility.
That said: I wonder whether, given the challenges of handling down in its natural state, and in spite of the difficulty of drying a down bag, one might come out ahead, working with just a hood, to soak it, remove the down, wash it, mostly dry the stuff, and only when it is damp and tamed, move it to a destination..
Yes, I understand, you would then have to carefully and completely dry the garment completely and immediately to keep mold from growing.
And thank you for the time and care in writing this up and in posting very good pics. The end product looks good, better than just-serviceable. On down quality: It just weighs a few ounces more than it would have with the latest primo fill.
Thanks to Ramblinrev for his own patient, early, and hilarious guidance on this, which I also would have thought too cautious.
Ah, the getting of wisdom. I'll probably forget your pain, say it can't happen to me, and have the same learning experience in six months, if courage and imagined skill come up to the challenge.
I washed and dried the bag a few weeks ago and noticed that the tumble drying process clumps all the down together. The fabric dries more readily and there was a point about halfway through the drying process where the bag was dry but all the down was clumped into tennis ball sized lumps. In hindsight, this would have been the ideal time to have cut it open and made the modifications.
Western Mountaineering (?) humorously advises expecting to change a $20 bill to coins to feed a laundry drier for several hours. Yes, at an expensively low setting to keep fabric from burning. That's probably a greater risk at a commercial laundry or with any other natural-gas fueled machines.
I sped up drying, a bit, by pulling out the quilt / bag and breaking up clumps.
It is a wonderment to me that the gram-weeniness keeps all manufacturers from making bags (or quilts) with at least a partial launderable slip cover. And non-detachable down-filled hoods and collars? What part could get more greasy and packed and dense, and benefit more from detachment for more-frequent and easy laundering. But, this goes OT.
Nice job. I look forward to reading how you re-purposed the removed zipper to a weather-shield or similar.
Nice looking conversion!
If I had to do it again, I'd wash and *mostly* dry the bag. The big issue is you then have to finish it all at once... leaving that bag wet for several days would be a bad idea...
Thanks for all the kind words, I'm pleased with the result. When drying the laundered bag, I carried on drying for an hour or so after I thought it was dry and this helped regain alot of loft. I also hung it outside in a warm breeze for the day, giving it good shake each time I passed, this really helped too. I found the warm damp down had a strange aroma, not too pleasant, which dissapeared once fully dry. I used the Nickwax Down Wash in the bath tub and it worked well.
I have to admit to having abused this bag since new by storing it in its compression sack, oblivious to the damage this would cause. However, after washing and drying, I would say it's loftier than ever and the modification has improved on this again.
DemostiX - Like me, you may feel that you can get to grips with loose down without too much problem. The realisation that this wasnt going to be the case dawned on me as soon as I took hold of the first handfull. For every handfull I transferred, half a handfull scattered in all directions!! This is all part of the fun of the process, but next time I will have pre-weighed bags from Stormcrow