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Making your own down top quilt - Part 2

Posted on 08 December 2014DIY Top quilt Once the baffles of your quilt are sewn to the top and bottom shell fabrics, you simply sew up three side, leaving one long side open so that you stuff the down in. For the side hem I simply folded the fabric in on itself (so the folded fabric goes inside the quilt), up to the edge of the baffles and double stitched the hem.

Side hem

Now you are ready to stuff the down. There are many online sources for calculating the amount of down to insert in each baffle, but I was a bit less scientific and simply measured the length of each baffle and worked out the approximate percentage difference as compared to the larger top baffles.

After consulting the wisdom of people on the Bushwalk Australia Forum I went with the vacuum cleaner and tube method of down insertion. Initially though I trialed the simple method of hand stuffing the down by grabbing clumps and stuffing it in - don't do this unless you like down going everywhere.

For the vacuum method I had some 40mm PVC pipe laying around, which I then taped some mesh over one end. I then held the vacuum cleaner end to the end of the mesh sucked up the down, and then measured the amount of down in the pipe on my scales. At times I would also reach in and stuff down into the pipe with my other hand, with the vacuum cleaner still sucking, and this worked quite well in getting more down into the tube faster, with hardly and down flying out of the bag. The pipe was then inserted into a baffle and a didgeridoo impersonation followed and I blew it into the baffle.

A simpler method involves having the bag of down on the scales and then sucking it up and taking note of the difference in weight as down is removed. My bag of down, scales and available equipment didn't agree with this method.

Each time I inserted the down into the baffle I documented this and continued to fill all the baffles to the pre-calculated weight of down required for each individual baffle. Once a baffle had down blown into it, a peg was placed on the end to keep the down from coming out. This takes some time, but is a simple process. Once this is done , you simply sew close that last side.

Top quilt prior to sewing footbox


All that is left to do now is complete the footbox and work out what you want to do at the head end.

For the head end - like most people I wanted to be able to cinch the top quilt up around my neck to keep in some warmth, so I created an end channel by folding over 60mm of fabric, and then folding that in half so I had a 30mm channel of double layer fabric. I inserted some 3mm shock cord through the end channel which I then attached two cord locks to.

A short length of 13mm wide grosgrain, forming a loop, was then sewn to the bottom of the end channel on each side of the quilt. I do intend to put a snap on here but for the trip I just attached a mitten hook which attaches to the other grosgrain loop. I leave this permanently attached when camping and the shock cord cinched up, as with the shock cord it stretches over your head so you don't need to adjust it each time you get in.

I was a bit worried about having the mitten hook and grosgrain attached under me but I didn't notice it whilst using the quilt last week. If you are concerned though you could have the cord coming out on the top side of the channel but you will need to make a button hole or similar in the channel.

I was a bit lazy with this, and used what I had on hand but it works. I may make some changes but it works as is.

End channel



I was a bit pressed for time towards the end of the build so for the footbox I decided I would simply sew it shut as is. The quilt was turned inside out and the edges of the quilt sewn together from about above where my knees would be down towards the bottom of the quilt. The bottom was then sewn shut.

Flat sewn footbox






A reinforcement triangle was then cut out, sewn with rolled hems and then sewn in where the top of the footbox opens out. If you don't do this you risk having your stitches ripped out as you slide your feet into the footbox, and move around.

Reinforcement traingle


All done. Time to lay down and enjoy your handywork.

Finished quilt



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