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Sewing a Quilt Questions
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Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/22/2011 10:31:08 MDT Print View

I'm just getting into MYOG and have done some simple pot and stove things and I got a setup I love. Now I'm looking to see what MYOG can do for my sleep system.

1. My biggest question is about sewing the slick fabrics together. I've made some stuff sacks and what not out of some cheap nylon and had serious issues with getting a straight, un-bunched up seam to the point that I've had to throw a lot of stuff away. I even tried a practice summer quilt out of cheap nylon and syn insulation from JoAnn's, but it got all messed up and doesn't lay flat at all. I'm also having issues with the needle getting all tangled up and stuck so that I have to cut my project out of the machine. Could that be my stitch length and thread tension settings? What are the best settings for nylon-like material? The other idea I had was that it was the quality of my fabrics and once I get the good stuff from a place like Thru-Hiker or Quest, I'll have an easier time of it.

I'm a little concerned it's the quality of my machine since I've been sewing all my life and I've never had this kind of trouble. My current sewing machine was a gift and the cheapest one Singer makes. I'd love a mid line Brother instead but for now what I've got will have to do so I'm really hoping there's something I can do to make up for my machine. What am I doing wrong?

2. I am planning on making either a family quilt and a solo quilt or two solo quilts that will be used in either bug tent/tarp, tarptent, or bivy setups and I can't decide on which fabric to use for the shell. What are some good suggestions and why?

3. What I'm looking to make is similar to MLD's Spirit 30 quilt, especially in weight. MLD's website says they used 4.4oz/yd Climashild Apex and I'd really love to stick with that since it seems to be the favorite synthetic insulation around, but the only place I've found selling it is Thru-hiker and they have 2.5oz and 5oz. The first is too thin, the second too thick. Is there a place I can buy it in between?

4. I need to be able to know how much it will weight within a few oz of it's final weight. Is there a formula I can use to calculate the average final weight from the size and weight of the materials?

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re on 07/22/2011 10:45:53 MDT Print View

I run a "5" setting on tension and the length depends on the type of material. For the real thin nylons on things like quilts I run a little longer stitch than normal since they're not under a lot of stress. I'm betting a change in materials will not solve your problem. You said you had a lot of sewing experience so I'm assuming you know how to help feed the material through so it doesn't bunch up. Maybe your machine doesn't like the slick material. Is there a friend whose machine you could borrow just to test?

The fabric you use will most likely depend on budget. You can get 30d nylon for $3-$5 per yard and will still be very light. Probably ~18-19 oz depending on how large you want to make them. Higher priced fabrics will of course be lighter.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 07/22/2011 10:54:40 MDT.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/22/2011 12:05:03 MDT Print View

A few tips:
-use the smallest needle you can (microtex sharp 60/8 is what I prefer) and good thread (gutterman is fine). The right needle and thread combo can make a huge difference.
-M90 is easier to work with than some other fabrics. It tends to hold a lot of static so the pieces stay together pretty good.
-for quilts I usually use around 10 stitches/inch. Tension varies by machine. If you're getting a lot of puckering between stitches, loosen the tension. If it's bad you might need to loosen then bobbin tension a little bit. If you think it really might be your machine, keep your eyes out at thrift stores or yard sales for an old one. I've had horrible luck with newer machines and have used several old singers (401, 500, 600) that are a joy to use.
-Thru hiker and owfinc are the only ones I know of selling Apex and owfinc only has 6oz so I think the 2.5 or 5oz are your options.

Tyler H
(ctwnwood) - F

Locale: The Palouse
re: quilt sewing, bunching of fabric on 07/22/2011 12:19:28 MDT Print View

I came across an MYOG thread a while back that discusses issues of bunching caused by the presser plate (I think it's called?).
The poster was saying that plates with large holes, meant to accommodate a zig-zag, tend to suck light fabrics in whereas plates with a small, straight stitch-only hole work better.

Maybe this is part of the issue.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Good Stuff on 07/22/2011 14:11:38 MDT Print View

Thanks everybody! I think I'll order an extra yard and practice a little before risking my whole project worth of materials, but this gives me a good starting place.

I wish I had an old machine, but I never thought to look at thrift stores. I'll have to give that a try. I grew up using my mom's Singer from the 70's and that was an amazing machine. Too bad it's too far away for me to borrow.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/22/2011 15:01:15 MDT Print View

>> use the smallest needle you can (microtex sharp 60/8 is what I prefer) and good thread (gutterman is fine). The right needle and thread combo can make a huge difference.


I have the cheapest Singer machine purchased at Target. Works fine on silnylon once I paid attention to the needle size. I've always used the all-purpose Gutterman polyester thread (sold at JoAnn Fabrics).

The first tarptent I made, I was paranoid about using any pins to keep the fabric together and struggled a lot as silnylon is really slippery. USE THE PINS! I bought some extra fine ones.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/22/2011 16:46:48 MDT Print View

I would just use the 5 oz Apex. Slightly more weight but warmer.

Use gutterman 100% poly thread and sew some samples to get the tension set right
and use lots of pins if any type of folded seam.

Silnylon is the one that is the hardest for me to sew. Really slippery stuff.

Any slick nylon I have found you really have to pin it to death.

My biggest issue is getting the slippery stuff doubled up underneath, so every time I stop to gather and line up the material I straighten out the underside.

That said make triple sure you have your pattern correct. I made my last one a tad too small, but it was meant to be a SUL summer quilt which it is and its for a hammock so it will work.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
ok... on 07/23/2011 09:33:50 MDT Print View

Sumi- Where did you find those needles, and are they the singer brand or third party?

Troy- I hate to go with more than I need, but I think you're right. I'll have to just suck it up and get the 5oz.

I've got some Gutterman's and I guess I'll be buy a few more boxes of pins! :)

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/23/2011 10:29:47 MDT Print View

I will say it again.
Check your pattern.

I was after a 12 oz 2.5 Apex quilt so I cut it very slim. Ended up at 12.8 oz, but its too narrow for the ground. It was intended to be a summer quilt for a hammock so it will work for that, but the next one will be wider.

I even blew it after building a test quilt a year or so ago. I still missed it as I was mostly driven by my weight goal which was a mistake.

Originally for my test quilt I made a year or so ago, I got some $1.50 per yard ripstop from walmart and some bonded batting from joanns on sale for $9 and built a test quilt. Just a straight taper, but now I think the shape below would work much better than a straight taper, but heavier.

The joanns quilt cost me about $18 to build.
A lot of work but recommended to work out the bugs and it will go to the grandkids.

I would suggest using anchored line locks and a snap, button and loop or something at the top of the zipper. Maybe at the bottom too. If you use velcro it does not matter, but I like the zipper.

This is my latest pattern that I think will work for me, but I am 6'-3"
It is based somewhat off a golite ultra 20 only the sides are straight for 30" then taper.

IMO 3'-6" is about minimal for the top and 3'-0" is about minimal for the foot area for a drawstring bottom. If you sleep on your back like in a coffin it can be narrower in the middle area.

I think the new pattern below will work better for me than a straight taper since I am a side sleeper. It should cover my knees and but better.

If you are unsure about the width like I was just start out with it wider and tack the last opening and try it out. Just put in the side loops later.

After I finished mine and realized it was too narrow, I thought what a dumb#$%^ I am since if you want to make it more narrow, all you have to do is rip the closing seam turn it inside out, Sew and trim off the excess and redo the loops.

Here are some pics of the last one I put together if you are interested.

Here is my last pattern. Have not built this one yet.


Here is roughly a factory Golite ultra 20 tall.
It has a footbox so its 5" shorter. I slept in the golite ultra 20 in a hammock at 14dF so I know that size will work pretty well for me in a hammock.


Edited by tammons on 07/23/2011 11:30:53 MDT.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/23/2011 15:05:15 MDT Print View

Wow! That's some awesome info, thanks! I will probably snag this pattern and make mine similarly since I want a quilt specifically because I'm a side sleeper and I love being able to spread my knees out more than a mummy bag will allow. I will take about a ft off the length though, since I'm 5'3" (:P) and I may go with buttons and loops instead of a zipper since I'm not partial to zippers and it will save some weight.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Sewing a Quilt Questions on 07/23/2011 15:35:35 MDT Print View

Actually I would use velcro for the foot closure if you are not going to use a zipper.
I made my first one like that and it works. A V at the top of the closure helps take pressure off the end of the closure. I think I am going to add a V to mine.

Being 5'3 you can probably get away with one that is less wide, but like I said, you can always trim it down later.

What I did was make the top and bottom pieces cord sleeves first. Thats the part for the draw cord and I just cut those 2" wide. The one at the head is 10-12" from the right side.

The one at the foot is in the center so 2 pieces for each. I inserted the cord, locks and anchors and locked in the cord ends at this staged and sewed them together, then I put the entire works together. If you are going to use velco and lap the bottom you will have to figure that out ahead of time and stitch those on first to just the fabric. With the zipper you just make sure you have it faced right and sew it in with everything else.

Here is a closeup of the anchored line lock. I scavenged these off some old Eq, but they sell something similar at thru hiker.


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: ok... on 07/23/2011 22:19:17 MDT Print View

>> Sumi- Where did you find those needles, and are they the singer brand or third party?

I bought Singer needles at JoAnn Fabrics. They're style 2020, size 80/11 "for lightweight woven fabrics". Singer does make a size 70/9 which is probably even better but the JoAnn near me didn't carry them.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Re: ok... on 07/24/2011 11:18:17 MDT Print View

Jo-Ann normally carries Schmetz Microtex needles in size 70 or 65. I recommend them highly for 20d and lighter fabrics.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Thanks, guys! on 07/24/2011 12:30:33 MDT Print View

I can't tell you how grateful I am for everyone's advice and tips. Hopefully I'll have the cash to order my material in a month. I've got a much better idea of what I want my quilts to look like now!