|My first DIY top quilt.|
Top quilts provide a lighter-weight alternative to sleeping bags and are especially great for hammockers. This top quilt design is called a karo step because it has many short baffles arranged in open squares, and they have several advantages over traditional quilts with many closed baffles. I choose the karo quilt for my first project because I want a summer quilt that I can shift the down to regulate temperature, and I thought it'd be easier to stuff the down into the single chamber.
|The quilt packs down into a 2 L dry sack- much smaller than my sleeping bag|
Weight: 11.4 oz (5 oz 850 fill down)
Quilt size: 75" x 36" x 40"
Baffle height: 1" (but ended up being about 1.5")
Box size: 12" square, with 6" baffles and 6" gaps
Fabric: 1.1 oz ripstop nylon 2nds- DIY Gear Supply - $16
Down: $33.75 + $6 shipping from Wilderness Logics
Baffles: white tulle, $1.25 from Joann's fabrics
Total cost of materials: $51 (plus $16 shipping)
-Since it's a summer quilt, I used fabric that isn't treated with DWR so it will breath and dry out faster when I sweat. I used 1.1 ripstop that was down-proof, and Scott at DIY Gear Supply quickly answered by question about this fabric-- both sides are calendared so there is no "shiny" side. I was tempted by lighterweight fabrics, but since this was my first project, I opted to use inexpensive (and easier) material. Plus I could just cut it with regular sewing scissors and give the edges a rolled hem and didn't have to bother with the various methods to heat seal the edges which many use on thinner fabrics. It just took me a few tries with scrap material to get the tension adjusted on my sewing machine (i.e. longer stiches) so the fabric wouldn't pucker. It was nice material to work with.
-The design is based on karo quilts made by MAD777, teedee, animalcontrol, and chickenwing. The wealth of information on HF contributed by these guys and others was incredibly helpful.
-I custom sized the quilt based on my measurements, following this discussion. I calculated a length of 75 inches by taking my height of 5'9" and adding 6 inches. For the bottom width, my size 11 shoe size (men's) yielded a circumference of 34.5 inches which I rounded up to 36 inches. Determining the width at the top was more tricky. Standard quilts are 45-50 inches, but I wanted to try narrower since I don't intend to use it to go to ground. My shoulder width (measured from the floor across the top of my shoulders) was 28 inches so theoretically I could get away with 33 inches (width plus 3-5 inches). But I went a little wider so I'd have plenty to tuck under me. Guess I'll find out how it works, and make adjustments in the next quilt accordingly.
-6 inch baffles with 6 inch gaps left enough room to make the sewing easy, but hopefully will be close enough together to prevent excess down shift.
|Finished size is shown by solid lines, dotted lines include 1.5 or 2 inch seam allowances. Most baffles were 6 inches except for the side baffles which were 2 or 3 inches (caution: not to scale).|
-I generally followed chickenwing's detailed instructions for the construction of the quilt, cross-referencing te-wa's instructions as well.
|Triple checking the measurements and laying out the baffles with a cardboard template.|
-All baffles and baffle locations on the shell were numbered with masking tape to prevent mistakes sewing the baffle to the outer shell. Then I sewed the baffles on following this video as well as this video. One thing I'd do different next time is to make the baffles a little shorter- they turned out to be closer to 1.5 inches, since I was so focused on sewing the baffles to the correct place that I wasn't as careful getting them the proper height.
|Sewing the baffles to the outer shell. Clothes pins keep the extra material out of the way.|
-Fronkey's method for stuffing the down was fast and efficient, and I used a vacuum with a net over the hose to pick up the few stray feathers that escaped onto the floor of the bathtub.
|Stuffing the down in my bathtub. Hardly any mess at all.|
I was delighted by how smoothly the entire construction process went. The actual sewing went so well after reading the helpful tips on HF that I didn't even have to get out my seam ripper-- which is another first for me since I'm always messing up and making adjustments as I sew. The step that took the longest was sorting through and deciphering all the posts on HF (I have a lifetime of experience following clothing patterns, but the terminology for "gear construction" using a "thread-injector" took some getting used to). Next time that will go faster.
The best thing is that now I've caught the DIY gear bug. Now, on to researching the next project...