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How to work with loose down

almost | Posted in General Discussion on

My husband’s wonderful down coat was ripped beyond repair – the down is a very good quality.  Much is still in the horizontal baffles that was sewn into the interior lining. 

I was thinking about giving this down a second life in some sort of quilt but how would you transfer the down in the coat into the quilt without it flying everywhere?  I’ve never worked with down before, but observed how easily the down floated around when it came out of the rip. 

Also, what would be the best fabric to use for a down quilt so that it doesn’t work through the fabric?

Thank you everyone!



  1. rekha | | #1

    This is probably a very silly idea but maybe you could wet the down, weigh it  and then divide it into as many portions you want. When dry you could proceed with the next step

  2. starzoe | | #2

    Working with down is very messy, no matter what you do it flies all over the place. I have tried all sorts of techniques with the same result. However, if you do the transferring outdoors, in a windless environment and open each of the pockets individually you would have enough for maybe two cushions but not enough by far for a quilt.

    Down cushions are luxurious additions to decor and are outragiously priced. Use featherticking for the inner cover to prevent the down from escaping. It is a tightly woven fabric specifically for this purpose.

  3. Palady | | #3

    Know from the get-go your project will take much time and care to complete.  Reason is as you noted, the feathers flutter everywhere

    To control this happening would mean working in small sections at a time.  This is why down whatevers are made accordingly.

    It would mean removing the down from one part of the coat lining and immediately placing it into a section of your quilt.  The squares could be 12" X 12".

    For fabric, I'd suggest ticking.


    My mother resewed the covers (circa 1959) for her "pierzynas" (Polish for comforter) because the originals were wearing.   She was given 2 as a wedding present from her mother in 1926.  It took her dedicated time to complete.

    After deciding on the length and the width, Mother joined the pieces on three sides.  She then sewed vertical seams.   Starting at the bottom of the large piece, she took the feathers from one section of the worn comforter, immediately putting it into one of the vertical spaces of the new cover.  Repeating this along the entire bottom. 

    When one row was filled, she stitched a horizontal seam to enclose the transferred feathers.  Then came the next row.  She continued in this fashion until her hew cover was filled.

    With your project, I'd expect one of the unknowns is how to distribute the feathers so you'd have enough to complete your quilt.

    In the early part of the 20th century, geese, ducks, and chickens were part of a family's resources.  Eggs from the chickens.  Later as food along with the geese and ducks.  The feathers were collected and comforters were sewn.

    I would guess the manufacturing world has blowers of some sort to control how the "down" is put into the whatevers.


    ETA - I'm remembering Mother using a broom handle to get the down into the lower pockets.  As she worked up the "lines", she eventually used a shorter piece of a handle.  Once closer to the top, she was able to use her hand/arm.

    Mother sewed in the basement of her home.  This helped to contain the down.


    Edited 3/6/2008 11:52 am ET by Palady

  4. MaryinColorado | | #4

    The worst job I ever had in my life was working in a down garment factory!  You might do a search here under "down" as we had a little discussion about it here at Gatherings. 

    I wore a surgical type face mask and went home looking as if I'd been plucking chickens!  Entertaining for everyone who caught a glimpse of me.  My little glassed in "room" was within the large factory where the others were sewing different parts of the garments.  I suggest you do this in the smallest room possible and keep the door closed!  Or maybe work outside if there's no breeze at all. 

    I'd weigh the down and put the specified amount into each section of the coats.  I used a reverse vacuum type contraption. 

    The fabric was always very tightly woven so the down wouldn't poke through, the seams have to be extremely well enclosed or the down will seep out.  I'd use titanium needles and a very heavy duty machine with a short stitch length. 

    Best wishes if you pursue this adventure!  I don't want to discourage you, just trying to be informative here.  It's a great project and recycling is always important and fullfilling. 

     I had some wonderful Levi 501's that were more patch than denim, lots of hand embroidery, everyone loved them.  I had added to them through several years.  When visiting my mother in the 70's, she was apalled, and threw them away without my knowledge.  I discovered they were missing when I unpacked my suitcase.  Glad to hear that someone was able to hold onto thier "heirloom" jeans! 

    I also made some hand embroidered shirts for a band in those days...great memories.  Mary

    If you have a small vaccuum without a bag, you might be able to set it to "blow" the down into your item.  I would put the hose into an opening in the item, and maybe wrap it closed with a rubberband.  I don't know, this might be too much preassure for the fabric and cause it to explode!  Hmmm, will be interested to hear what others say here about your project. 


    Edited 3/6/2008 11:59 am by MaryinColorado

  5. rekha | | #5

    You might want to create starzoe's still atmosphere with this method - a tent was pitched outdoors and the filling performed within


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