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Colin Kelley
(ckelley) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara
lightweight comforter made with small sewn-through down cells? on 08/30/2009 00:25:58 MDT Print View

Hi everyone,

I'm interested in having a lightweight down comforter made. This would be for home use--most home comforters are way too warm for me. I'd like my comforter to have a similar pattern to the Montbell UL down jacket. That was the first jacket I'd seen with a tight grid pattern but now I'm seeing more and more of them with small sewn-through cells.

Does anyone know how this is done? Do they stuff a large area with down and then simply sew through it to create the cells? Or do they stuff each tiny cell in turn and then sew it in place? I can't imagine how they'd measure such tiny amounts of down.

Most recently I saw the Mountain Hardwear Nitrous jacket. The women's version has a swirly sewn-through pattern around the collar bone. It kind of seems like they would have to have sewn this in place. Yet I didn't see down pulling through the needle holes like I'd expect.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. And any volunteers to take on a commission like this would be great too!

Edited by ckelley on 08/30/2009 09:16:20 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F
lightweight comforter made with small sewn-through down cells on 08/30/2009 08:52:52 MDT Print View

Way back in the stone age, 1973, I bought my first mummy down sleeping bag. I cost me a fortune. Well the baffle ends were not closed so a year later when I washed it you can guess what happened. I emptied it and made several items, one of which was a down quilt, which later was stolen.

At any rate with a quilt you have to stuff each compartment indiviually, else the down will shift all over the place when moving it around to sew. You might be able to sew and fill tubes first, then sew the boxes, but it would be difficult with so little down in each pocket, and if you have a problem it will be impossible to repair.

If you want to save yourself some $ and aggravation, just go to joanns and get a pre packaged sheet of 3/8 bonded polyfill (got mine on sale for $5) make the cover, lay it out, pin it, sew the edges, flip it inside out, close the foot, sew the boxes.

Its a lot easier. Mine is made with 1.4 oz nylon from walmart. Entire thing cost me less than $20 but its not full size.

I sleep under mine all the time and 3/8" thick is about right for me with nylon.

If you can find a couple of flat sheets to use for the outer cover, you dont even have to seam the center.

Edited by tammons on 08/30/2009 08:54:07 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: lightweight comforter made with small sewn-through down cells? on 08/30/2009 19:33:14 MDT Print View

Colin, Many years ago I made a down sleeping bag liner from a Frostline kit (if anyone remembers frostline). It actually made a fantastic sleeping bag that I used for years and still have today (25 years ago).

The way the down went in would work fine for a comforter. First the top and bottom pieces need to be sewn on three sides. If the quilt is 60 x 48, sew two 48" and one of the 60's. Then you evenly sew chambers horizontally across the blanket. If your quilt is 60" long and you want 6" squares you will sew 9 lines resulting in 10 tubes in the 48" inch direction. Each tube is still open on the one open 60" side. You can now stuff each tube with 1/10th your down. Now sew up the 4th side of the quilt.

Next work with the down so that half the down is on each side of the tube and sew a single 60" vertical line right down the center across all the chambers. Now take the remaining quilted halfs, distribute the down and sew the remaining vertical lines.

Again I did this many moons ago, but it did turn out extremely well.

Jamie

James D Buch
(rocketman) - F

Locale: Midwest
Down Comforter on 08/30/2009 19:41:53 MDT Print View

I have had a down comforter at home like you describe. The quilting is 12 inch squares with a 2 inch loft.

In looking at it, there isn't much clue as to how it was fabricated.

Here is a web page which gives instruction for making a baby crib sized down blanket.
http://www.ehow.com/how_5049769_make-baby-down-comforter.html

The technique is to fill up the quilt bag with down, Sew it shut, distribute the down evenly, then sew the squares through the comforter.

For a full sized comforter, the standard home sewing machine is probably inadequate to handle all the material. Quilting machines are a better bet to do it.

For custom decorating, look up "duvet" which is a (decorative) bag that covers the quilt. Have a duvet custom made, and stick a commercial down blanket/comforter into it.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Down Comforter on 08/30/2009 20:01:56 MDT Print View

"For custom decorating, look up "duvet" which is a (decorative) bag that covers the quilt. Have a duvet custom made, and stick a commercial down blanket/comforter into it."

A *duvet* is just a comforter. A *duvet cover* is the cover that keeps the the duvet/comforter (or quilt) clean when used without a top sheet (also keeps your bedding clean when the cat jumps up on your bed with muddy paws...). A *duvet cover* also adds warmth to your duvet, so if you sleep warm, try to get the lightest duvet cover you can find.

Colin Kelley
(ckelley) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara
Re: Down Comforter on 08/31/2009 08:39:20 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone!

Jamie, the divide-and-conquer approach you describe makes perfect sense.

James> Have a duvet custom made, and stick a commercial down blanket/comforter into it.

This is where I started, but I haven't been able to find comforters that are light enough in weight. Troy suggests 3/8" synthetic and although I much prefer down, I agree that 3/8" is a good target thickness. Maybe 1/2" at the highest point which would put the average around 3/8".

(If I did go with synthetic, I'd buy Primaloft from Thru-Hiker. Primaloft is "short staple" so it drapes more like down than other synthetics. Apparently it's a litte finicky to work with... but probably less finicky than down!)

Lynn> A *duvet cover* also adds warmth to your duvet, so if you sleep warm, try to get the lightest duvet cover you can find.

Good point. I'm thinking of trying the European approach where the duvet is simply sandwiched between flat sheets. They can be sewn together but don't need to be; leaving them separate is more flexible for washing. Flat sheets tend to be much lighter than duvet cover fabric, and this way you cut out one unnecessary layer of fabric: the duvet cover bottom.