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Adding down to a comforter

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by precaud, Jan 10, 2009.

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  1. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    I have this old (1985) Canadian goose down comforter that I bought new and love. I like it's "baffled channel" construction much better than the "baffled box" type that prevails these days. Problem is, some of the down has leaked out over the years, so I'd like to replace it. I bought a big goose down pillow to cannibalize for just that purpose.

    Opening up the end stitching and stuffing is no big deal. But how to sew it back up? Having never sewn anything more than a simple rip or two, I searched Google and found nothing. Then, Craigs List and the local Yellow Pages, and not a single person offering sewing services. Amazing, really. Have they become an extinct species?

    It looks to me like a heavy-duty sewing machine might be required. Am I right? Or is this job doable by me by hand? Maybe someone here (or a wife) has experience end-stitching a comforter and can advise.

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  2. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    ha! good one! or that junk they're peddling on tv incessantly.
  3. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    A local dry cleaners that does hemming, alterations, & stuff would probably work.

    Are the end seams slip stitched (hidden, folded inside), or can you see the seam?
  4. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Ah, good idea, I'll call them on Monday.

    They're outside, I believe it's called a double-stitched or double-needled corded edge, here's pic of one:

    http://www.hungariangoosedown.com/cord.jpg
  5. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Most here are closed on Mondays :smirk: The cleaners can clean that thing, too ;-)

    Also a shoe maker, or a canvas place.

    That's a pretty stitch, I'd want it to look as close as possible to the original.
  6. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    I don't let mine go 15 years, that's for sure!
    Actually, there's no need for dry clean chemicals to clean it, they clean up quite well washed by hand in the bathtub, slow-dried in the sun, ending with a cycle at low heat in a dryer with a (clean) tennis shoe thrown in to break up the clumping. I do it every other year whether it needs it or not :)

    More endangered species...

    Agreed, but mine lives in a duvet cover, so the nobody will see the stitch.

    Called a friend who has a sewing machine, she basically said don't do it. Says down is impossible to handle (light as a feather and all that) and I'll make little more than a huge mess. Something to consider, I suppose.

    I just get attached to things that keep me warm.
  7. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    Find any place that sells suits (e.g. Men's Warehouse) or a Big&Tall;store. They might be amused enough by the request to do it on the cheap.
  8. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    You can get double sided basting/seam tape, then stuff the down, tape the seam, and whom ever can just do the stitch over the tape.

    Sorry, right now I have a vision of some guy wandering around aimlessly in Wally World looking for basting/seam tape :)
  9. jadm

    jadm New Member

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    You don't need a special sewing machine. Material on a comforter is light weight and a regular machine will handle it just fine.

    We have comforters here too and the best one is the oldest when they knew how to really make a good comforter. It still never leaks down. It is probably 30 years old. I have tried to find that kind of quality for years and can't so I suggest you do try to fix what you have.

    Worst that can happen is that you end up making a mess but a vacuum cleaner will take care of that in no time. I can't imagine that it will be too difficult to handle the down in small amounts. I mean, what is the worst thing that can happen. :roll: An attack by a mad goose.... :bug: I doubt it.

    If you don't have a sewing machine - stitch by hand. Find a quilting group and you will be home free on how to hand stitch anything.

    Leave the hot glue gun at home. The quilting ladies might turn it on you. THey are a proud breed of women. >:-(
  10. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    My wife's a spinner, weaver, knitter, quilter (she's got more sewing machines than I have chain saws)...and I'm here to tell ya that the kinds of women she's regularly associated with in those pursuits would be all over helping you with something as simple as that. If you can locate a local group, your problem will be solved in short order, once they all decide the best way to do it (could take a while, best not to interfere). Any shop that caters to quilters/spinners/weavers/knitters will undoubtedly be able to help hook you up. Yarn shops, quilting supply shops, fabric shops...that's where they hang out. My wife could have that thing fixed better than new for you in less time than it's taken me to post this. (Well, OK, that's probably a bit of an exagerration. :red: ). Good luck! Rick
  11. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    fossil, I like your idea, I'll stop by the local fabric shop and ask.

    perplexed, yes, the materials are thin (essentially two sheets), but I thought maybe the cording would require something more than a normal machine could handle. But I defer to your expertise :)

    About your 30 yr old comforter, that's fantastic. Did you know the companies who make these things estimate their useful life at 10-15 years?

    About the best being the oldest, I didn't tell the whole story about mine. Just before xmas, I learned that several department stores were blowing out tons of excess bedding inventory on eBay (still are.) I got a Charter Club down comforter they sold for $460 for $64 brand new. Nice fabric, 40 oz. of 600 FP goose down, well made, with 14" baffle box construction. My 25 yr old Duvaire is 30 oz. of 700 FP goose down in 5.5" baffled channels. With 33% more down, you'd think the CC would be warmer. But it's not.

    I think the large 14" boxes may keep the down from moving, but it tends to collect in the center of each box, giving it that puffy look (marketing loves that.) But the real difference is the internal baffle fabric. It is only 1" high on the CC, resulting in less down around the edge of each box. The baffles are 2.5" high on the Duvaire, and there are no cold spots.

    I guess they'd rather make them so they look good in the photos than work best on the bed. Sigh...
  12. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Update: The prior two evenings I ironed on small patches to plug up the little holes. All the holes are right in the places where you grab the covers to pull them up snug over you. Twenty five years of that is bound to make some holes...

    Tonight I unstitched two baflles and stuffed down from the pillow in. As I expected, it's messy - the stuff's lighter than a feather and wants to fly. Best results were to compress a bunch in hand and then stuff it in. Then sew up the end by hand. It's tedious work but I'll probably get faster as it goes along. I'm thinking maybe a set of tongs would work better than shoving it in by handfuls.

    I weighed the down pillow before cutting it open - 18 oz. So maybe 16 of that is down, which will almost double what's in the comforter. Should be very toasty when finished... :)

    Thanks to perp and dixie for your encouragement. It's a good project for wintertime.
  13. pelletfan

    pelletfan Member

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    I think you are on the right track in what you are doing.
    Any time you work with down/feathers it is a messy job. You do not have much choices with limited resources.
    We use in our workroom a special tool to fill cushions or throw pillows with down/feathers and even that is many times quite some work too.

    Attached Files:

  14. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Interesting tool - I would never have thought of that. From what I see, you want to minimize air movement to keep the down from flying everywhere. But... hmmm... maybe filling the tube and then pushing the down into the channel slowly with a plunger would work. Thanks for the idea!
  15. pelletfan

    pelletfan Member

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    you could use your vacuum (in reverse - blowing) to fill up the pockets.
    You have to figure out how much down/feather you want to add, fill the pipe with that amount and blow it into the pocket.
    It will be a job for two people. Just don't release the fabric around the pipe to early, otherwise you have the down all over your place.
  16. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Nah, I think I'll stick with my low-air-velocity approach. Only one pair of hands here...
  17. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    I finished the repair and stuffing yesterday, it actually went pretty smoothly. Yes, it was a little messy, but that's never a legit reason for not doing something. I used a 3" dia. cardboard tube, filled it with down, and pushed the stuffing into the channels. Besides being less messy, it made it easy to put the same amount of down into every channel.

    I slept under it last night, and could not be happier with the results.

    A few words for those who might be buying a down comforter at some point. I have a unique opportunity now to compare the two basic different comforter designs: the "baffle channel" design (like mine,) also known as "Scandinavian" design, has 5.5" wide channels that run the full length of the comforter; and the "baffle box" design, typically 12" to 15" squares. Both channel and box types have fabric between adjacent compartments to keep down from migrating toward the edges/ends and to allow the down to "loft" to minimize cold spots. (There is another type, called "sewn-through" which is cheaper and easier to make but is clearly inferior.)

    Back in the 80's the "baffle channel" type was considered the best. Now "baffle box" is being marketed as the best. I now have one of of each type here, both about the same size, fill weight, and fill power. And there is no question, the channel type is easily the better (warmer) comforter. So the obvious question is - why?

    The box type has more cold spots - i.e. less uniform down distribution. You can see this by holding the comforter up against a light source. You can clearly see the down clustering in the center of each box. This gives the sexy "puffy" look that fools buyers into thinking they're warmer. Whereas the channel type has narrower compartments, has wider walls between each channel, giving a much more even distribution of the down. The better comforter will look less puffy but have more uniform thickness.

    So, I HIGHLY recommend the baffle channel type. Unfortunately they are becoming harder to find. A quick Google search turned up only two or three companies even making them. It's too bad really, because they're cheaper and easier to make, perform better, and are easier to maintain. So, if you have one, take good care of it.

    Stay warm!
  18. pelletfan

    pelletfan Member

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    That was a quick repair job!!!!
    I guess if I have some work coming to refill cushions or pillows, I have a person with experience and I can count on.
    By the way, thank you for your nice explanation of the different manufacturing differences of comforters.
  19. jadm

    jadm New Member

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    Precaud-Glad to read repair job went well. I will have to remember that when one of ours needs repair.

    Also thanks for the info. on the 2 types of comforters....sounds like they have gone the same way a lot of other things have gone - looks rather than function. I will be holding onto ours.
  20. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    Thanks again for your encouragement, perplexed, pelletfan and everyone else! It's always nice to have some support going into unknown territory.
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