I’ve never used a backpacking quilt before, let alone made one. I was frustrated with how hard it was to get information on how to make my own quilt (or rather, I had too much information and needed to sift through a lot to figure out how to actually do it, especially one with a sewn footbox and for people without sewing machines) which is why I include detailed instructions. I’m pleased with how it turned out – it fits me just right (my height is 5’5″), it weighs 19 oz. (lighter than any of my sleeping bags), it it warm into the mid-30s (and can go lower with appropriate accessories), and the loose fabric works OK as a draft-stopper (I know I would have been much less comfortable if I had not had loose fabric to tuck). I prefer using HyperD diamond ripstop over the Membrane fabrics because it’s cheaper and I am willing to take a small weight penalty in exchange for greater durability (especially since I’m pulling loose fabric to stop drafts). The inner shell is black so that the quilt will dry faster.
If I were to make another quilt, I would probably want to add draft stoppers to see if they work better than mere loose fabric, but otherwise I am satisfied with this design.
2 yards 1.0 oz HyperD diamond ripstop nylon (calendered)
2 yards 1.0 oz HyperD diamond ripstop nylon (uncalendered)
2 yards Climashield Apex, 5 oz/sq yd
Gutermann MARA 70 thread
3/8 inch nylon webbing
1.5 mm MINI cord
cordlock salvaged from worn-out gear (unsure of size)
PART 1: LOTS OF CUTTING
1. Cut out the outer shell (from the calendered nylon). At the top it is 53″ wide, at the bottom 42″ wide. From the top, the fabric extends down 29″ perpendicular to the top, then for a 24″ perpendicular to the top it is cut at an angle (though really more than 24″ due to the angle), and the final 19″ are cut perpendicular to the bottom edge. In total, the length is 72″.
2. Cut out the inner shell (from the uncalendered nylon). At the top it is 51″ wide and at the bottom it is 40″ wide. From the top, the fabric extends down 28″ perpendicular to the top, then for a 24″ perpendicular to the top it is cut at an angle (though really more than 24″ due to the angle), and the final 18″ are cut perpendicular to the bottom edge. In total, the length is 70″.
3. Cut a 50″ long, 3″ wide strip of calendered nylon fabric. This will be the drawcord channel.
4. Cut out an 11″ x 11″ square of calendered nylon fabric, and snip at the corners (no more than 2″) to make a fat octogon. This will be part of the footbox.
5. Cut out a 10″ x 10″ square of uncalendered nylon fabric, and snip at the corners (no more than 2″) to make a fat octogon. This will be part of the footbox.
6. Cut out a piece of Climashield APEX which is the exact same shape as the inner shell cut out in step #2.
7. Cut out a piece of Climashield APEX which is the exact same shape as the uncalendered nylon in step #5.
8. Cut out four 5″ pieces of webbing and sear the edges with a flame.
PART 2: LOTS OF PINNING
1. Lay the calendered nylon (outer shell) under the uncalendered nylon (inner shell), and then lay the Climashield APEX on the inner shell.
2. Pin the three layers together to make a sandwich, with the inner shell as the middle layer. Pin it so that the edges match, even though the outer shell is a little bigger than the other layers (the outer shell is a little bigger so that the insulation will have lots of space to loft).
3. Roll up the 3″ length edges of the drawcord channel and sew them so there is no raw edge. Then fold the drawcord channel in half (lengthwise, so it will 1.5″ long and a little less than 50″ wide).
4. Put the drawcord channel into the top of the sandwich in step #2, making sure that the fold is INSIDE the sandwich, between the inner and outer shells. Align the top and bottom edges of the drawcord channel with the top edge of the sandwich.
5. Fold the pieces of webbing in half.
6. 8″ inches down from the top of the sandwich on BOTH sides, put a piece of folded webbing inside the sandwich between the inner and outer shells. Then pull a little bit of the webbing out, and wrap one bit around the inner shell, and one bit around the outer shell. It should have a ‘W’ shape, with the bits of webbing on the outside looking like a lower-case ‘w’ and the bit in the center looking like an uppercase ‘W’. Pin the webbing in place.
7. Repeat step #6 with the other two pieces of webbing, except put them 20″ below the top on each side of the sandwich.
PART 3: LOTS OF SEWING
1. Sew the nylon webbing pieces in the strongest way you can imagine.
2. Sew the long sides of the sandwich with a 1/2″ seam allowance, including all layers (outer shell, inner shell, insulation, and where applicable, the webbing). I did not have access to a sewing machine, so I did all sewing by hand. I used a backstich for everything since that is the strongest and most durable of the hand-stiches – if sewing by hand, sew everything with a backstich. Remember to get the edges to align, even though the inner and outer shells are not the same size.
3. Sew the top side, including the drawcord channel, with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Again, if sewing by hand, use the backstich for everything.
4. Sew 12″ on the left and 12″ on the right of the bottom part of the sandwich, with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Leave the 16″ in the center unsewn.
PART 4: FLIPPING IS SO MUCH FUN
1. Reach inside between the inner and outer shells, and grab the top corners. Pull them inside out.
2. Then take the bottom corners, and pull them inside out.
3. After pulling everything inside out, you should see the outer shell, inner shell, webbing hooks, and drawcord channel all on the outside, and the insulation in the middle.
4. Sew closed the 16″ gap at the bottom. Now you basically have a tapered blanket.
PART 5: FOOTBOX
1. Sew the bottom 18″ of the left and right sides together, with the inner shell facing outward, and the outer shell facing inward (this is so the seams will be visible only on the inside, not the outside).
2. Pin the three layers of the footbox – insulation + inner shell + outer shell – in that order. Try to align the edges together even though the outer shell is bigger than the inner shell.
3. Sew three sides of the footbox together.
4. Flip the footbox inside out, so that the outer and inner shells are on the outside, and the insulation is inside.
5. Sew closed the open edge of the footbox.
6. With the inner shell facing outward and the outer shell facing inward, sew the footbox onto the bottom edge of the quilt.
7. Flip the quilt so that the outer shell is on the outside and the inner shell is on the inside.
PART 6: DRAWCORD
1. Figure out how long you want the drawcord to be, and cut it (err on the side of too long – you can always cut it shorter later).
2. Sear the ends of the cord with a flame.
3. Thread the drawcord through the drawcord channel.
4. Thread drawcord through the cordlock.
5. Close off the two pieces of cord with an overhand-on-a-bight knot.
PART 7: USE THE QUILT
1. Congratulate yourself.
2. Use the drawcord to cinch the top around your neck.
3. Optional: use straps around the pieces of nylon webbing to close the quilt tighter.
4. Loose shell fabric can be used to help tuck in the quilt without compressing the insulation, stopping drafts.
5. Get some sleep.