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  1. #1
    krugd's Avatar
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    Down Bag Modification

    Just before becoming a hanger, I bought a North Face Beeline sleeping bag. This is a nice, light, three season down sleeping bag. However the zipper was only about two feet long, and the bag very tight. Needless to say, it was not the most comfortable bag to use in a hammock. so what to do?

    Time for the zipper-ectomy!

    I took a few picts as I went - but with the down explosion and all, my mind was more on the job than on taking pictures. I hope that doesn't disqualify me as a HF member!

    After much measuring and scratching of head, I got out the vacuum cleaner, inserted some bug screening and went to work. My plan was to

    1.remove the zipper
    2. lengthen the opening down to the foot box, and
    3. transfer as much extra down to from the cut off portions into the remaining quilt as possible.

    I accomplished all three goals. I also managed to hide all the escaped down among the dust bunnies already occupying floor space, hoping the wife would not notice. (Note to self: Don't try to hide things from wife!)

    Before making a cut, I did my best to shake all the down away from the part of the sleeping bag that I was about to cut off. This seemed to work well -until I made that first cut. Here is where I have cut away the zipper.



    I next used the vacuum to transfer the extra down to an empty container. As I continued to cut I had to continually stop and vacuum up more down. Later most of this down was stuck back into the baffles before sewing them shut.

    In this next picture the orange piece in the center is the part I cut away. My next step was to remove the down (the vacuum again), then place the extra down into the baffles and pin the edge shut as I went.



    This completes the destructive phase of the project. I will show how things went together in the next post. (After I calm down - how will I get it to go back together?)
    --Don---

    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Ed Abbey

  2. #2
    krugd's Avatar
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    The constructive part of the operation

    This next picture shows where I have pinned up the edges around the opening. As I said before, I would add extra down to the baffles before pinning them. I didn't measure the down, just added it where is looked like I wanted the warmest part of the quilt. In my usual sewing I am lazy and use only a few pins. Not here - lots of pins were used to keep the unruly down where it belonged.



    I don't have any pictures of the sewing process. I bought my thread injector out to the large table where I was working on the bag so that the bag could sit as flat as possible. I sewed a rolled hem all around. It took a while, but the material was very light and handled well. Only the tight curve at the foot box end caused trouble.

    The finished product:


    Here is that tough curve at the bottom:



    Its not perfect, but none of my sewing is. I've tested the quilt several times and it has kept me warm to just below 30 degrees - the rating of the original bag. I felt a little cool at those temps, so wouldn't want to push it much lower. Overall, I'm quite happy - I have a light quilt that packs away in a small amount of volume.
    --Don---

    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Ed Abbey

  3. #3
    WV's Avatar
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    Congratulations. That's a real accomplishment.

  4. #4
    krugd's Avatar
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    Thanks - I read some of your stuff in doing my research for the bag. I thought about your idea (I think it was yours) of using the hood by putting a slit in the top of the quilt (as I understand it.) Maybe I'll try it yet, but the quilt seems to work fine as it is.
    --Don---

    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Ed Abbey

  5. #5
    WV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krugd View Post
    Thanks - I read some of your stuff in doing my research for the bag. I thought about your idea (I think it was yours) of using the hood by putting a slit in the top of the quilt (as I understand it.) Maybe I'll try it yet, but the quilt seems to work fine as it is.
    I think you're right to go ahead and use it as for a while. You may not want to change it at all. I actually cut the hood off so I could move it over to what is now the center of my quilt. I attached it only at the edges of the hood, thus leaving a slit in the center. Since then I've decided to change the spacing of the attachment points, but haven't got around to it yet. I'd like to rip out the stitching without releasing more down. When I do, I'll use a couple of safety pins to attach it so I can try different spacings.

  6. #6
    slowhike's Avatar
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    That should work out just fine! You'll love it!
    One thing I did when I removed the zipper from a couple sleeping bags, turning them into TQs, was to not only shake (& beat) as much as I could of the down away from the area to be cut, but I also sewed a line of stitching near the edge that was to be cut.

    I still had some down left behind like you did. It seams almost impossible to get all of it were you want it, but the new sewn line minimized the escaping down.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  7. #7
    krugd's Avatar
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    Slowhike,
    Yes, I saw that idea. But I wanted to be able to add the extra down back into the baffles. If I were to do it again (god forbid!) I would stitch the seams first, as you suggest, and find something else to do with the extra down.

    The real irony is that I originally bought this bag when I saw it a good price rather than buy down and make a quilt. At least now I know I could handle the down if I want to make my own.
    --Don---

    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Ed Abbey

  8. #8
    Senior Member Newzy's Avatar
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    Nice job, hope you get many years of use out of your project. Hard to beat the good feeling of accomplishment you get from D.I.Y.

  9. #9
    gargoyle's Avatar
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    Nice mod, down is warm but it is unfriendly to work with.
    I was going to say the same thing slowhike said, sew first, then cut.

    Or soak it in water and let it freeze. little feather popsicles don't fly very far.
    Ambulo tua ambulo.

  10. #10
    slowhike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gargoyle View Post
    Or soak it in water and let it freeze. little feather popsicles don't fly very far.
    Now that's a first!
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

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