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Filling my Down Quilt
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Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Filling my Down Quilt on 06/05/2010 23:28:15 MDT Print View

Ok, the sewing is almost to completion and I am going to fill my homemade down quilt tomorrow. Any last minute tips or advice for filling? Plan is to use my shop vac and do each baffle section and tape shut until all are filled to what I want.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Filling my Down Quilt on 06/05/2010 23:33:43 MDT Print View

My tip, do it in the bathroom, close the windows and doors, buy yourself a disposable face mask and go have fun!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Filling my Down Quilt on 06/05/2010 23:44:40 MDT Print View

Admittedly I have no experience with sewing and filling a quilt, but....what is the purpose of a shop vac? How does that fit into the equation?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Filling my Down Quilt on 06/06/2010 04:11:15 MDT Print View

See our MYOG Quilt article for some ideas.


Jarrod Handwerk
(PA_Hiker) - F

Locale: Orwigsburg PA
......... on 06/06/2010 07:55:13 MDT Print View

i never usd the shopvac to fill mine...please let us know how well it worked....

i always order mine from stormcrow he packs it anyway you all you need to do is put the bag in the baffle
and turn it inside out....very fast and clean

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
controlling the down... on 06/08/2010 06:13:53 MDT Print View

Another way of keeping the down from getting everywhere is to do the filling in a tent... Put the tent up in the house, take the hoover into the tent, take off your clothes*, and take everything into the tent.

Once you've done the stuffing, seal the item, and then hoover up the mess.

* so the down won't stick to your clothes...

Oh, you can control the down when transferring it from source bag to filled item by stuffing it into a tube, inserting the tube into the item, and then pushing the down out of the tube. Also helps to control the amount you put in.

Edited by captain_paranoia on 06/08/2010 06:15:59 MDT.

Lee Johnson

Locale: Central Oregon
Out of control down on 06/08/2010 09:25:33 MDT Print View

My wife and I just stuffed two down hammock underquilts last night. We've found that working in a two person team works best. We put the down , still in it's plastic bag, in a small garbage can. We then put this on a scale and tare (or zero) it out. This way we can fill each baffle with exactly as much down as we want.

As far as controlling the down--my wife would carefully grab handfulls of down and I would suck up any fly away chunks. I was using a small vacuum with nanoseeum around the end of the tube that enters the vac body. After we have removed the appropriate amount of down from the bag it came in, I would empty the small amount of down in the vac tube. Some folks say to expect a loss of 10%. I'll bet we lost a fraction of that. We didn't have down flying around, because I'd suck up any piece that floated out of my wife's hands.

We tried the shop vac method by itself and it was a total pain. The down kept getting stuck in the hose, and it took forever to get enough to fill each baffle.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Transferring Down on 06/08/2010 10:29:15 MDT Print View

I've had great results with a 'down eductor'. Fast, no mess and accurate.
Diagram of Down Eductor - revised
Diagram revised 11/6/10. Extension tube on outlet eliminated as shown in photos and video.

These are the pieces as they would be used to plumb a double kitchen sink. Piece at left goes from disposal unit to baffled drain tee. Upper piece would connect sink drain to baffled drain tee. Lower right piece is the baffled drain tee.
Components of Down Eductor

These are the pieces put together and turned so that the baffled drain tee is horizontal. This is the working position of the eductor.
Down eductor assembled

This is a close up of the baffled drain tee. The dashed line traces the internal baffle. Air blowing from right to left has to speed up as it goes through the restriction of the baffle, creating a low pressure zone in the area below the baffle which in turn ‘draws’ down up through the lower tube.
Down Eductor Close-up

Put your source of down on your scale. Make a note of the weight. Calculate what the weight will be after the desired amount of down has been transferred.
Goose down source on scale

Here is a mock up of filling a quilt baffle section. The opposite edge of the quilt is finished. The outlet tube is inserted into an open baffle section of the quilt and the quilt material is sealed around the tube (held tightly by hand). I sew the section partially shut (in the seam allowance) so it fits tightly around the tube. You can see blower from vacuum at right and source of down at bottom.
Down eductor and source

With the blower turned on, use your fingers to ‘fluff’ and coax the down toward the end of the intake tube. Don’t put the end of the tube into the down. It will block air flow and/or plug the tube with down. Any loose down should be sucked up the tube rather than escape into the room.
Down eductor at source

Watch your scale. Stop when enough down has been transferred. Sew that baffle shut (in the seam allowance) and continue sewing to partially close the next baffle for a tight fit around the tube. Repeat for each quilt baffle section.

If you go too fast and the down intake tube plugs, withdraw it from the source and blow into it. The down in these pictures isn't the best quality so it took some 'fluffing and coaxing' to help it into the intake tube. Finer quality down doesn't need much help.

As you withdraw your hand and the tube, you can use the tube to vacuum up any down clinging to you hand.

The outlet end MUST NOT be restricted or the blower air will blow out the intake tube and blow down everywhere. This can happen when the weight of your quilt pulls the fabric tight against the end of the outlet tube. Make sure your quilt is supported and the outlet tube is unrestricted.

The outlet end must be short or back-pressure will reduce suction in the intake tube. Tape the vacuum hose securly to the air inlet tube.


Edited by Lancem on 11/06/2010 18:46:07 MDT.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Filling my Down Quilt - Video on 06/24/2010 00:14:33 MDT Print View

I filled a new quilt today using the 'Down Eductor' described above.

For those interested, a short video of the process can be seen here:
Windows Media Video

Finished differential cut quilt:


Edited by Lancem on 06/24/2010 00:15:11 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Transferring Down on 06/24/2010 00:47:56 MDT Print View

Hi Lance

My compliments!


Marco A. Sánchez
(marcoasn) - M

Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees
Re: Filling my Down Quilt - Video on 06/24/2010 01:23:41 MDT Print View


Seems pretty precise and clean!

Thank you for sharing this technique and the video!


Jared Dilg
(Village) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Filling my Down Quilt - Video on 06/24/2010 21:41:54 MDT Print View

Brilliant! Such a clean process! Now I don't have an excuse for delaying my quilt project. Thanks for sharing!

Jared Dilg
(Village) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Transferring Down on 10/13/2010 09:51:09 MDT Print View


Have you had any issues filling the last baffle with this method? I filled an underquilt with the "down eductor" last night and found the vacuum only worked as long as there was an open baffle to exhaust air from. Even as I worked my way through the empty baffles the vacuum would decrease as the options for venting decreased. As the last baffle would all but seal the airflow, how did you handle this?


Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
sticky down on 10/13/2010 11:16:04 MDT Print View

Nice job, Lance.

I just hung the open tubes on a bathroom rack and stuffed by hand. I kept chalk dust (found among climbing gear) on my hands to prevent the down from sticking to them.

I kept the down on a scale and just kept an eye on the weight used.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Filling my Down Quilt on 10/13/2010 12:36:40 MDT Print View

Wow, I thought I was being tricky by putting down in a cardboard tube and weighing it. The down eductor blows that away.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Transferring Down on 10/13/2010 16:00:15 MDT Print View


"Have you had any issues filling the last baffle with this method?"

I haven't noticed any difference between the first and last baffles filled.

I temporarily sew each baffle shut after filling and before moving on to fill the next baffle. Even at the last baffle, plenty of air enters the baffle being filled, spreads to many adjoining, closed baffles and dissipates through the fabric.

I've filled two quilts and later added more down to one of them using this method. The first quilt used breathable down proof ripstop nylon and no-see-um netting from The Rain Shed. The second quilt used ripstop Momentum and Nanoseeum Netting from Thru-Hiker.

The first prototype 'eductor' had a rather long 'discharge' tube and didn't work very well. A shorter tube worked much better. I would guess that a shorter 'eductor' tube would help too.

Perhaps we're using different materials or different size vacuum/blowers?

Glad to see you had some success.


Note - revised diagram of eductor to show outlet without extension tube.

Edited by Lancem on 11/06/2010 18:37:25 MDT.

Jared Dilg
(Village) - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: Re: Transferring Down on 10/13/2010 16:05:19 MDT Print View

"The first prototype 'eductor' had a rather long 'discharge' tube and didn't work very well. A shorter tube worked much better. I would guess that a shorter 'eductor' tube would help too."

Ah, I only caught it this morning that you had used a shorter output tube in your photo - I used a longer extension like what's in your illustration and not photos. Glad to hear it worked for you on Momentum. This project was with DWR rip-stop 1.1 but my next quilt will be with Momentum. I'll chop down the eductor end and give it another go. Thanks for all the info!