Decided to complete my quilt set for colder weather. I ordered TQ and UQ shells from Dave at Underquilts.com. He said they would be along in a couple of weeks - right on time. Just beautiful! Exactly what I wanted and great workmanship. Thanks Dave.
When I got the notice that the shells were on their way I ordered 1 lb. plus 8 oz. of down from Wilderness Logics. It came in a few days later. Thanks again for speedy service.
I moved everything I could out of my garage workshop then ran a piece of line along the front of my shelving units to hang the shells from while filling. I used about 15 metal binder clips to hang the quilt by it's back fabric edge. The shop does not have heat or air conditioning so there is no moving air.
I placed some no seeum mesh around the end of a 2" diameter 24" long shop vac extension tube and then taped a 2" - 1" reducer over it to match my shop vac. This meant that the mesh was always on the tube. The shop vac was 5 feet away with the exhaust pointed behind a cabinet.
I had a small (18" x 12" x 8") clear plastic tub. Placed that on top of my digital scale to use as a down reservoir. I cut off about a third of the 1 lb bag of down and placed it in the tub. I cut this by pressing down on the bag with a piece of 2 x 4 and then cutting the bag in one pass with a box cutter. Once you do this, all motions must be slow motion after the bag is cut. I left the 2 x 4 laying on the rest of the bag - it held the cut end shut.
I did the UQ first. I needed 1.33 oz of down per chamber(9). One 1 oz bag into each of the first 8 tubes. Cut the end off, slowly slide the bag into the chamber then cut the top off and push the down into the chamber with your hand. The down in these bags is somewhat compressed and tends to stay together in a lump if you are gentle with it. Wearing rubber gloves is helpful to keep down off your hands.
Then zero the scale and turn on the vac. Start to vacuum the down - you have to push down into the tube as the suction reduces quickly when the down packs against the mesh in the tube. The vac will only pull up about a tenth of an ounce before this happens. Continue to push down into the tube and back away every so often and look at the display on the scale. It will go negative as you remove down. My scale only reads every 0.05 oz. So I had to keep removing down until the scale just tipped over from -0.30 to -0.35. I figured the change-over point was halfway between. Must be right because everything came out right.
Once I had the down I needed in the tube, I shut off the vac, carefully inserted the tube's full length into one of the chambers with the 1 oz already in it, gathered the fabric around the tube and then blew in the end of the tube. Presto! 1.33 oz in the chamber. I sealed the top of the chamber with a couple of pins. I repeated this 7 more times. For the 9th quilt chamber I drew up the entire 1.33 oz into the tube. Took a little coaxing but the tube held it all. It took a couple of puffs to blow all the down out of the tube that time. Once all the down was in, I added some extra pins to ensure the down would stay put until I got the quilt sewed.
The process for the top quilt was essentially the same, just 16 chambers instead of 9. Each chamber to get 0.685 oz of down - once again I kept drawing down from the bag until the display just tipped over from -0.65 to -0.70 oz. Close enough!
The vacuum method I used has been described at length by several forum members in the past. My only variation is to use the 2" shop vac tube so as to be able to draw up 1.33 oz (or a little more) down all at once.
I have included some pics of the finished quilts. Sorry about the glare on a couple of them.
The full length (Lewis) winter UQ was filled with 12 oz of down. 0.5 oz less than Dave recommends - I have no intentions of trying for 0 deg. anyway. With it's suspension it weighs 21.5 oz.
The 3 season TQ (Barnaby) was 10% overfilled with 11 oz of down. The gathered foot area got a little more down than the rest of the TQ - I don't like cold feet! It weighs 22.3 oz.
It'll be January before we see temps cold enough to test these quilts but I feel confident they will do the job.
If someone wants pics of the scale and the tub or the 2" vacuum tube or ?? let me know.
When it is all over and done, I have a little under $300 in the two quilts. I figure I paid myself around $175 for finishing them myself. More than enough to buy a Packa