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educo | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I’m dying to design a down filled coat for the winter. Is this pre-made or is this something I have to make myself? If so, how? How do I get the feathers and is the process similar to quilting?

I’d appreciate any information! Thanks!


  1. starzoe | | #1

    Sewing anything with down is not for the faint of heart, or for the inexperienced. I suppose it can be done, and no doubt you could find the down and maybe find the downproof fabric you will need for the lining and outer fabric.

    I have known people who buy old down coats from thrift stores and use the down for duvets and pillows, but never for sewing a coat. Just removing the down is a feat in itself.....you need an outdoor venue but still will end up with down all over yourself and everything else. And you don't know how clean the down is or just what might be hiding in the stuff. Down also deteriorates in time, and you need a LOT to put into a coat.

    The process is nothing like quilting. The down would escape between the seam lines. Does this sound like I am discouraging you? You are right, I have worked with down pillows (removing down from a pillow and putting it into a cushion form) a number of times but don't plan ever to do it again.

    1. MaryinColorado | | #2

      Oh, I hate to be discouraging but.....the worst job I ever had was stuffing down coats!  I was in a glass enclosed room, with a face mask, a scale as there are specific weights for each part of a coat, a reverse vacuum device to insert down.....what a mess! 

      Starzoe, you are so right "not for the faint of heart"!!!  Mary

    2. educo | | #7

      WHOA!! I wasn't expecting this response! I knew it was going to be difficult but the opposition is incredible! I want the down look (that fluffy look). Is there something I can use? Batting? I am open to other options without having to and use down fabric. Thanks for the info, I'm glad I came here first!

      1. meg | | #8

        Yes, you could use batting to get that puffy look. There are many weights of batting; I would recommend looking at all your options. I'd stay away from cotton batting because it will shrink and give you a look you're probably not aiming for. Check out the polyester battings, maybe the high-loft variety is what you want for this project.

      2. NH | | #9

        The Rain Shed (http://www.therainshed.com) has top quality batting in all weights. On their site, click on "fabrics" then "insulation." I ordered from them several years ago, & they have an excellent reputation.
        ....and I too, am very very glad I read this thread! I will now donate my old down comforter to the Salvation Army & BUY new down sofa cushions!!
        Good luck!

        1. solosmocker | | #10

          My project was taking down pillows from a sofa that was custom made in the wrong fabric and using them to make myself a comforter. The upholsterer warned me.

      3. Gloriasews | | #11

        The high-loft polyester batting is a very good idea.  If you use washable outer fabric & lining, you can then wash your coat.  I presently have a nylon winter coat with polyester batting inner lining - it's light, warm & washable.

        Another idea (but not as puffy) is to use Thinsulate in your coat between the outer & lining layers.  This, too, is washable (if your outer layer isn't wool) & VERY warm.  I made a winter coat a few years ago (as I was tired of freezing in -30C weather).  I made the bog coat out of a Velux blanket (do NOT use Velux plush, as it doesn't wear well around the edges).  This coat was so warm that I couldn't wear it indoors in the mall in winter - I was sweltering)! I was able to applique & quilt the yoke & pockets, though. This was the warmest coat I've ever had.  I'll make it again, but will use an acrylic or fleece blanket instead for better wear.  It all depends on how warm you want this coat to be.  Good luck!


        1. starzoe | | #12

          You made the bog coat? Nice to find someone else who loves this coat. I've made it in many fabrics and it takes such a little time I often give away as gifts to (appreciative) friends.

          1. Gloriasews | | #17

            Not many people mention having made the bog coat - glad you like yours, too.  I never thought of making them as gifts, though - that's an idea (but then you have to measure the recipients, so it won't be a surprise).  They are easy to make, though. I will soon make one for my son out of a panel printed fleece (white bare trees & moon on a black background), with a cotton lining.  I haven't yet decided on what kind of collar treatment (my own coats have always had turtleneck-type collars, as I hate when the cold breeze blows down my neck).


          2. rodezzy | | #21

            What is a blog coat and what does it look like.  What pattern company sells it and I could goggle it.

          3. meg | | #22

            The Threads magazine from March 2000, issue #87, page 36 has an article by Susan B. Allen describing the Bog Coat. It is a very unconstructed and easy garment to make in just about any sort of fabric.

          4. rodezzy | | #23

            Thanks meg, I quickly decided to go online by typing in "bog coat" and I clicked a site called "the quilters community" that had a bog coat challenge.  On this site I was able to get a pattern with instructions on how to make a bog coat and pictures of the resulting coats from the challenge.  That was very interesting and the coat is easy to make.

            Thanks, it will be part of my wardrobe this winter.  I wanted to purchase some wool sweaters from resale shops and make a patch wool coat and this will be a great foundation for that coat.  I love the cabling and other aran designs in sweaters, but even though I can knit, I'm not proficient enough to do all of that, nor do I have that kind of time and patience.  This idea came to me last year.  Now I have the missing part to my idea.  You guys are great.  I've learned so much from this discussion group.  I don't have many people that I can talk to about my creative juices that don't look through me when I'm talking to them.  Thank you for being here.

            Edited 9/27/2007 11:50 am ET by rodezzy

          5. educo | | #24

            So, let me get this straight, i make 1 layer of muslin-batting-lining quilted together and cut the fashion fabric as the shell layer. Am i getting this right? Then treat the sandwiched fabric as one layer (the lining, because the lining is in this sandwich) and attach it to the fashion fabric as you would attach a regular lining to a coat?

          6. meg | | #25

            Yes! You've got the picture.

          7. educo | | #26

            YES! Thanks I'm going to get started!!

      4. Teaf5 | | #13

        Years ago, I bought nylon 2-sided quilted fabric with poly inside to make a coat and more recently, a vest.  The coat ended up being huge (think Ugly Betty's blue cocoon) but was easy to sew.  The vest worked up easily, and I love it for winter.  Both sides of the fabric was beautiful; if I had done overlap seams, it could have been reversible.

        I got both lengths of pre-quilted nylon fabric at either Hancock's or Joann's, so take a look there when they get their fall/winter stock in.

        1. educo | | #14

          Thanks so much for the information. How do I attach batting without stiches on the outside? I don't want a quilted look, the jacket would have a few seams. I have never used batting other than taking it out of my pillows when I wash them. I'm so glad I came here first before I decided to take on this challenge!You guys are great!

          1. meg | | #15

            If you don't want any quilting on the outside, then you're going to have to make the coat's lining-&-batting separately from the outside 'shell', and then stitch it all together (perhaps at the side seams, hems, sleeves, neckline). The outer, fashion fabric will be sort of a pillow case covering over the quilted part.

          2. educo | | #18

            So are you saying is to sew the batting to the wrong side of the self fabric and treat it as one layer, then line it? How should I treat this?

          3. meg | | #19

            Batting is tricky to stitch unless it's sandwiched between two fabrics. Make a sandwich of lining - batting - another fabric (this could be muslin or another layer of lining). Quilt that as you wish. Then cut your fashion fabric and follow the directions for making your coat, treating the sandwiched fabric as one layer.

          4. wlric | | #20

            Batting will shift if it isn't stitched to fabric to stabilize it. Read the directions of the batting to find out how far apart the stitching needs to be. It is different for each type of batting. You may want to stitch the batting to a lining fabric and then cut out the pattern pieces. You can use this as one for lining the fashion fabric of your coat. There are some battings that are thinner and more stable that can be used without quilting them first. (Therma....something?). Remember to allow for the bulk of the batting when choosing which size you cut from your pattern. You may need to cut out a larger size than you would normally cut.

          5. educo | | #27

            Wait, I'm drafting my own pattern so i how will I adjust to accomodate the thickness of the batting? Let's say the batting is 1 inch thick, should i add 1 inch all around to account for this? How would I do that?

          6. wlric | | #28

            I think I'm in over my head at this point, but here goes. Make the quilted lining pattern to fit you with appropriate ease for a regular coat. The shell pattern will need to be larger to cover the quilted layer. If the batting is 1" thick, then you need to accommodate the space it takes up. How you actually draft your pattern to get to that point is a challenge beyond me. Do any of the others here have suggestions?

          7. Tangent | | #29

            How about cutting and basting together the sandwiched lining-fabric, then making a muslin of the larger shell-pattern, and try it on over top of the lining to see if it fits? Mark what adjustments are needed on the muslin, transfer the adjustments to your shell pattern, and go for it.  You could use an old sheet to make the muslin.

            BTW, the others were right about the horrors of working with down, it will not stay put and can wriggle thru a pinhole. You have to shake the garment or blanket often to redistribute the feathers, because they pack into the far corners if they can. It is hard to clean, and does deteriorate with age.  There are some wonderful polyester alternatives.

          8. educo | | #30

            This is incredible! Thanks for the input!

          9. solosmocker | | #16

            Meg is so right. Battings, need to be stitched every few inches to prevent them from balling up or coming apart. How far apart you stitch depends on the batting. Its sometimes on the bag so check that out. I think a highloft batting would pull of the look you want. solo

  2. meg | | #3

    Several years ago there was a company called Frostline Kits which sold pre-cut kits of down coats & jackets. I made several down jackets from this company, but I believe they've gone out of business. (And I think that the name, if you google it, may be a pornographic site.) The other two messages say this project is not for the faint of heart, they're absolutely correct. That said, I do wonder if there is a company which manufactures similar kits.

    OR, if you are 'possessed' by this project, perhaps you could purchase (from Lands' End or LL Bean) thin down sheets/blankets. With the pattern of your choice, you could trace the pattern onto the blanket, stitch around the pattern to contain the down, and construct your coat in that manner. I'd suggest cutting the pieces away from each other OUTSIDE!

    1. GailAnn | | #4

      Sometimes stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls. or Tuesday Morning will have down blankets, too.  Might be worth a look before you drown your family in feathers. Gail

    2. MaryinColorado | | #6

      Yes, Frostline is no longer in business. 

  3. solosmocker | | #5

    I also have worked with down. I was inspired, like you. Partly into the nightmare of it all I put what down I could gather in a huge bag for the dump. I am a v. experienced sewist as are the other respondents so far. This is nasty stuff and I have no desire to ever do it again. I was warned but had to try it myself, thinkig I can handle this. Fugetaboutit. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

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