Almost Pucker-free Seams on Down Quilts

I’ve seen some pretty puckered seams on down quilt instructions for the DIY-ers out there.  Being a quilter, I know how to minimize this, so I thought I’d tell you how:

It’s done with light weight tear-away fabric stabilizer.   You probably find this stuff at Jo-Ann Fabrics, but you would find it at any quilting store.   The stuff I used for the quilt came on a roll, although I do keep several kinds around for quilting.   I honestly don’t remember where I got it.  I have an extensive quilting stash of both fabric and JUNK, so it’s been around my sewing room for years.

Without further ado, a couple of pics so you can see how it’s done:

I cut the stabilizer 1 1/4″ for the record – wide enough that I wasn’t concerned about keeping it perfectly straight as I sewed the seam.   It was all pinned in place before sewing.  Replace pins with tape if you’re working with waterproof material.  I did do a bit of re-pinning of the no-see-um as I was stitching the seams, even with a roller ball presser foot shown in the first pic, it puckers a bit between pins.  I carefully unpinned one at a time, straightened it out, and re-pinned along my chalk marking lines to stitch.  Pretty sure you can’t see the chalk marking lines in the photo.   They’ll wash away first time I wash the quilt.  Skinny quilter’s marking chalk was also in my stash of junk.


~ by quilteresq on March 24, 2012.

4 Responses to “Almost Pucker-free Seams on Down Quilts”

  1. Learning to adjust your thread tension correctly and hold the fabric as you sew will give even better results with much less effort. The key to starting a seam without puckering is to hold the thread tail in tension as you start. As I sew ultra-light fabric, I hold both sides to keep it flat as it feeds. I also use tailors chalk to mark lines instead of scotch tape. Adding sticky products is just not nessasary and pins should never be used on down products. I have built two Thru-hiker quilt kits with great results. Take your time and practice on scraps.

  2. That can be done as well – but it’s more difficult to start the seam if you’re hanging on to those thread tails. The fabric stabilizer is an applique technique, basically – used to make appliques lay flat.

    I don’t see this as a big deal. I still hold the fabric in slight tension as I run the seam through even with the fabric stabilizer. I have tailor’s chalk, but my marking tool of choice for everything – including for this quilt is this: Love mine!

    Also, with my fine pins, I don’t worry too much about down migrating out of the quilt. It won’t lose much. I would NEVER pin anything I wanted to be waterproof, though!

  3. From what I understand, if it is a ripstop nylon material, the pins will only push the threads away when in place and once the pins are removed the material can be gently rubbed back into place. Kind of like what is recommended when down comes through a down garment or sleeping bag. I have read to try and pull the down back into the chamber from the back side and then to massage the material to remove the hole.

    Also, I am just curious, would some paper tape be ok to use as a fabric stabilizer? Would it be able to tear away after sewing?

    I am planning to my my first DIY quilt sometime this year, however, I am going to use Climashield Apex for some experimenting with using as an over layer for my down bag in the winter. I am hoping it will move the dew point into the synthetic layer rather than in the down. However, I will also carry this DIY quilt in the summer too. I only want it to be good to about 50 or 55 F.

    Anyway, I am planning to use either some of Thru Hikers M90 or maybe some of Joe (from ZPacks) 0.85 Pertex Quantum as the outer and probably some of Ti Goat’s 8D as the inner. However, I am not the best behind a sewing machine and don’t expect perfect, but I don’t mind taking my time and trying to get it as right as I can. However, I am concerned that the 8D especially, and the M50 as well will be rather wispy (for this reason I am debating the M90) but if I could use some paper tape to tape it that would be some really great help!

    Thanks for the help.


    • Not sure about the paper tape. I have LOTS Of painting tape left over from painting the sewing room a year ago. I’d test it on some scrap before proceeding. My guess is that the glue might gum up the needle. I think the fabric stabilizer might be cheaper. I know it’s pretty cheap. In the sewing catalogs, they do sell some tape – for instance to baste zippers to fabric, and they specifically state that it won’t gum up needles. It’s not wide enough to use as stabilizer though.

      I finished the quilt except for the stuffing. In the middle, I also lengthened the stitch length, and you can see exactly which row I did that on – the rows of stitching are a lot smoother with 4 mm stitches rather than 2.5 mm stitches. My quilt is made from M 90 from Thru Hiker. It weighted 5.3 oz before stuffing. Pics to follow. Got caught in some law this week, so not a lot got done in the sewing room.

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