Fair warning, this will be a big wall o' text, I'm sure. Feel free to laugh, I've decided it's the best path to take at this point
I had a makeshift down underquilt. It was an old down throw, the fabric was some sort of high denier, rather fragile polyester looking stuff. It was in rough shape, had a lot of very small holes I patched/stitched/glued, but I figured it would make it through the winter at least.
Not so much.
I put some iron on patches over the medium holes, stitched around the one or two really big tears, and on the little tiny pin pricks, I just dabbed a little Fray Block. It was musty and had been in a closet in my family's estate for probably a couple decades, so I decided to give it a gentle bath with down detergent in the tub.
It was a tragedy. It looked like a bomb went off inside a dozen fluffy white goslings, in my bath tub.
All of the iron on patches came off. Seriously. What good are iron on patches that can never be washed once on? Must have been the material. Well that sucks. I recover the ounce or two of down that made it into the bath water, stuff it back into the torn baffles, and figure on stitching things up the next day when it had dried a little.
Next morning, it's dry. As I inspect it and find holes to stitch, I notice that everywhere I put Fray Block, there is now a hole. It ate the *&^%^@#! fabric!
OK so this thing is a loss. But there's a lot of down in it! I just need to recover the down and I'll make my own quilt! But how to recover it. Well, long tubular baffles, I'll cut little slits and suck the down out with our dyson (after cleaning the vacuum thoroughly)!
Well, good in theory. I had figured on having to empty it numerous times, but I got half of one baffle emptied before it clogged the filters hopelessly. This requires a total tear-down of the vacuum to fix, which takes 15 minutes each time. Screw this.
How about the shop vac? I've gotten smarter now. The air filter is just going to clog, so instead, I'll just take the filter off and put a stocking over the air exhaust. It will fill up with down that's being ejected from the vacuum, but it will be quick and easy to empty!
About 30 seconds into that endeavor, the stocking BLOWS off the vacuum, and it is suddenly a winter wonder land in my work shop.
Now it's personal.
So finally, I take the quilt up to the bathtub, I submerge it in luke warm water and massage it thoroughly to completely drench the down. I cut open the baffles, and scoop the stuff out, one handful at a time. This takes 3 hours, but you know what? I recovered 90% of that *&^!@$*(@#$ down.
When completely waterlogged, the stuff is the consistency of really sticky bread dough. It sticks to EVERYTHING, except when you want it to. When you want it to stay somewhere, it dries out instantly, just enough to become airborne and go for a walk.
So now I've got approximately 40lbs of really wet down in a nylon pillow case I made specifically for this purpose. Three spin cycles in the washing machine to get the water out, 3 hours in the dryer with a couple tennis shoes, and it looks like a success. My prospective UQ fabric isn't exactly down proof, but after the entire time in the dryer, I lost a tiny fraction of an ounce total, so it might work well enough.
I WILL make a down UQ out of this stuff. And it WILL be the greatest down UQ ever to grace this planet, because now there is hours of effort and frustration, and my entire ego riding on it. It will work, and it will be awesome, or I will burn the house down with the quilt inside, and no one will EVER utter the word 'down' in my presence again.
I'm buying stock in Primaloft.