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Any Tricks for Working with Down?
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Carol Corbridge
(ccorbridge) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 07/28/2005 08:27:21 MDT Print View

I'm thinking of modifying an old down rectangular sleeping bag to make it smaller and lighter. I'd like to use the down from the cut off parts in the part I'm keeping to make it warmer. I'm worried that when I cut into the thing the feathers will go everywhere and I will loose many of them. Any tricks to working with this stuff?

Any help or ideas would be appreciated.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Working with down on 07/28/2005 22:06:17 MDT Print View

Not having done this myself, I read that someone set up a tent in their living room and put a stool, the sewing machine, a vacuum cleaner, and a small table inside... zipped temselves in and went to work. Kept the down in a confined space and had a vacuum to do final cleanup before they exited.
To me it sounded like a good idea.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Duplicate entry on 07/28/2005 22:06:48 MDT Print View


Edited by mikes on 07/28/2005 22:07:25 MDT.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 07/28/2005 22:16:34 MDT Print View

Maybe you could pin down the areas before cutting them.

Additionally, if you are just making the bag narrower, and if the baffles are continuous, you might be able to shift down out of the areas you will be removing and into the areas you will keep. Then sew the final shape first, and then out the excess.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 07/28/2005 22:18:07 MDT Print View

In the previous post I meant to say to sew the final shape first and *then to cut out the excess*


Carol Corbridge
(ccorbridge) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 07/28/2005 22:49:54 MDT Print View

Good ideas all. I'm going to continue to mull this over. I think forethought is going to be important on this one. Sort of like 'who let the dogs out?', once the down is out it will be hard to control.

Any other thoughts are welcome.

When I get to this project, I'll post my experiences.

Jay Ham
(jham) - F - M

Locale: Southwest
working with down on 07/29/2005 16:36:13 MDT Print View

I made a down quilt, so these suggestions are from my experience. The down didn't get as out of hand as I thought it would. Still, you're best bet is to zip yourself inside a reasonably sized tent (2-person dome is fine). You should be able to either shift the down, or use your hand to push the down further into the baffle once the seam is opened. I found a bit of talc power useful when my nerves created sweaty hands, which stick to the feathers. After shifting the down deeper into the baffle, you should be able to pin the baffle to hold the down away from the edge before cutting off the excess material you want to remove.

We are planning to do a Make Your Own Gear article on transforming a standard lightweight mummy bag into a SUL top bag. Stay tuned and good luck.


John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: working with down on 07/29/2005 17:05:47 MDT Print View

Great idea for a MYOG article. Can't wait to see it.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 09/16/2005 19:31:56 MDT Print View

Jay Hamm is dead on. A tent is a good way to go. Remember: A little down goes a long way. And goes and goes. Any that gets loose will plague you for months. Amazing stuff.
I set up a 3-man dome and keep a canister vacuum outside with the hose, cord and extension cord running inside. Before I get out of the tent, I plug in the vac, suck up all the errant down, then exit. If you use a clean disposable vac bag, you can recover much of the loose down.
Another thing. If you stitch two parallel rows along your cutting lines, you can keep the down encapsulated. I've done this, and it works. I keep a sewing machine inside the tent. I just rip the thread on the 'waste' chambers as I need the down, and open whichever chamber I'm filling before adding down and re-stitching.

Edited by vickrhines on 09/16/2005 19:32:40 MDT.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 09/17/2005 08:25:55 MDT Print View

Funny timing. I just did this over the last couple days while home sick (was supposed to be backpacking :(

I took a Kelty Light Year 25 (31 ounces before), removed the hood, removed the zipper, and essentially turned it into a pseudo-Arc type quilt. It has a knee-high footbox. I had a "bag coupler" thing that had 4 ounces of down in it. Took the down from the hood (about 1.5 ounces) plus the "coupler" down and overstuffed the baffles.

Pretty *BEEP* pleased with the results. Loft before was barely 2" mid-baffle, now it's 2+" at the baffle valleys and 3+" mid-baffle. Whole thing is 31 ounces now, and ~22 ounces of that is down. Not bad for costing me nothing.

I'd echo whoever said that it's not as bad to work with as anticipated. I doubt I lost more than a small fraction of an ounce and I didn't climb in a tent or anything like that. Shake all the down towards center on the side you're opening up and it prevents loss.

I can give more details if you want. It went well and I'm no expert with a machine.

The bag was good to maybe 35/40 degrees before despite it's 25 rating. I'm guessing it's good to 20 now and it's very room and comfortable.


Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
Re: Any Tricks for Working with Down? on 09/28/2005 18:43:12 MDT Print View

i have friends who did pretty much the same thing. their solution was to wet the down slightly. they reported great success.