Pamela wrote: “I made one quilt (a simple Ray-Way design one), and if I count my hours, it is way cheaper for me to work and pay someone else to make my quilt, especially the down ones like my Nunatak.”
“Seldom is anyone making their own gear satisfied with the first attempt. They usually go on to several revisions.” [ . . . ] So, I guess in the long run it could actually be more expensive in materials to make your own before the desired level of satisfaction is reached”
All good observations, but I think that some kinds of experience simply have intrinsic value for some people; a friend of mine does his own auto repairs although it would be cheaper for him to work and pay someone else to do it—he just wants to know more about how the machine functions.
Also, there may be other forms of recompense as well, for example, dissatisfaction with self-made gear may be very instructive—it can help define what you really want/need in a particular item—information that can then be used to either “try again” or make a more completely informed decision about what you should look for in a subsequent ready-made purchase—which, in this case, may ultimately lead to a tangible savings in $.
Further, I think experience in making something (like a sleeping-quilt) can foster an increased appreciation of the quality and effort invested by some manufacturers—which may, in turn, lead to increased consciousness and respect for ingenious and high-quality craftsmanship (at least these are things I’ve learned from my own misbegotten creations and butcheries).
Please, don’t get me wrong, I think all of the responses so far help answer Joe’s initial question—about the premium price charged for many commercial quilts—but, if a person isn’t sure whether a sleeping-quilt is a good backpacking choice then I think there is little to be lost and much to be learned in trying to put one together oneself. In its most basic form it is a simple and inexpensive project, and as Art points out, “a mis-sewn quilt, unlike a backpack, is not less functional.”