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DIY 20°F Ultralight Backpacking Quilt Part 4-
Final Touches and Thoughts

Final Touches

Installing the Cord / Bungee

  • Cut your cord or bungee at least 6 inches longer than the length of your casing. This will make it easier to tie knots in once it is in place. 
  • Use some wire (I used a paper clip) to create a hook that will enable you to feed your cord through the casing
  • I used glow in the dark paracord because I had a bunch laying around. To reduce bulk and weight, I removed the core strands. 

My hook made from a paperclip
Drawcord with mini-cord locks installed

Adding Buckles

I decided to go with the Enlightened Equipment style of attachment with a couple of my own alterations. 

Bottom two buckles- For the bottom two buckles, I wanted them to connect to each other and be adjustable because I anticipate snugging my quilt up close around my feet and lower legs on cold nights. I used 5/8" grosgrain ribbon for the strap part. I probably should have used elastic to reduce the potential for tearing, but my buckles did not adequately grab the elastic and hold it in place when adjusted. I'll just have to sleep carefully on cold nights

Sewing on the straps/elastic to the liner- I very carefully hand sewed the buckle straps to my liner. The buckles along the torso part of the quilt are attached to 1/2" elastic that is sewn to the liner. 

Close up of one of the foot straps
What my quilt will look like on a cold night

Pad Straps

If your sleeping pad tapers, you'll need to make custom length straps for the different parts of your pad that correspond with the clips on your quilt. If you have a rectangular pad, ignore the above instructions and just make several of the same size straps.

**If you don't want to bother with making them, they can be purchased for $3 from Enlightened Equipment This is also a great place for a detailed look at how the straps are made.

  1. Start with a piece of elastic and put the female part of a clip on it about 10 inches from the end of the elastic and sew in place by making a little loop of elastic. Make sure you seal the end of the elastic with a lighter
  2. Inflate your sleeping pad and put it on the floor next to your quilt. (this is only necessary if your sleeping pad is tapered)
  3. Place your strap around your sleeping pad where it aligns with the quilt clips and pull it snug. Mark the spot with a silver sharpie
  4. Cut the elastic at least an inch beyond (longer) than the silver sharpie line
  5. Put the 'male' part of the buckle on the strap, it doesn't matter where
  6. Overlap the elastic so that the end you started with overlaps the other end and lines up with the silver line and sew 
  7. Repeat the steps for the number of clips your quilt has.


A Quilted Ray Way- the little black dots
are the pieces of yarn used to quilt
The Ray-Way quilt kits call for very loose quilting using yarn in a varied pattern all over the quilt. At first, I wasn't planning on doing any quilting to mine but then I noticed just how much the shell poofs away from the rest of the quilt, especially while packing it away.

My quilting in the shape
of the Big Dipper
I honestly hate the way the quilting looks on the Ray Way quilts- I think it looks very amateur. I decided that I didn't care too much about weight and wanted to add my quilting in a nicer pattern- in the shape of the Big Dipper using buttons and embroidery thread.
I had originally hoped to find star shaped buttons but had to settle for round ones. Maybe I'll find some and switch them out. Glow in the dark star buttons would be even cooler.

Final Thoughts, Lessons and Resources

Perfection isn't necessary.  Crooked seams, uneven casings and accidental gathers won't impact your quilt's ability to keep you warm. Sewing such a large object made with challenging materials makes perfect seams and casings nearly impossible even for seasoned sewers. Each piece of gear you make will be better than the last because you'll develop a feel for the materials and your machine.

Hindsight is 20/20. I definitely should have gone with the wider size for my quilt. When I toss and turn, even with the straps that hold it to the pad, I get some gaps that let cold air in. I also would have made my quilt longer so that I could pull it up over my head and still have my feet inside of it. The takeaway? Make your quilt longer and wider than you think you need.

Getting a Professional Look. If you want your quilt to look more professional, make sure you get enough fabric (unlike me) or make your casings beforehand and sew them in with the stack like the clips. To get neat folds and thus cleaner seams, iron your fabric beforehand, iron all your seams and your folds. Set your iron on a very low setting- 2 out of 9 works well. The polyester setting will probably be too hot. I did not do this because I was stupidly afraid it would melt. After more research I discovered that was not true.

Ask for advice. When planning my quilt I did TONS of research. There are so many blogs and tutorials out there with lots of good info. The HammockForums website was an enormous help. Forums about DIY outdoor gear offer the opportunity to get help from people who have done what you are doing. They can help you plan and give you tips if you get stick in a conundrum. When I realized I didn't have enough fabric, I turned to my mom to help me with a solution. Fabric stores are full of knowledgeable sewers who are happy to answer questions and offer advice.

Click the photo below for DIY Gear Making Resources