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?