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Here's a tutorial on the Goose Down Pants that I just completed and tested out. First off this will be my second garment that I've made.     The first one was a Goose Down Jacket, which was a challenge to make, but well worth the effort. Mind you I have no training and have never been to any sewing classes. Everything I learned about sewing and stuffing down, I've learned off the internet. Of course, I was little hesitant about making the jacket, only because I had never done a garment before and really didn't know some of the sewing terms. The only things that I had sewn were stuff sacks, a couple of tarps,  modifications to my hiking gear, the bike bags that are for sale on this site and some curtains for my house. And this was done on a 80 year old Singer Sewing machine. So if you think you need some fancy machine, you don't. the old did need some cleaning up in order for it to work well enough to use, and the more I use, it the smoother it runs. The old Singer must have been sitting for years, never being used.

Now onto the Goose Down Pants.


 I purchased the pattern from Seattle Fabrics and the pattern is the Pullover Rainpants #500 from The Rainshed. This is a very simple garment to make and I would suggest if you are going to be making your first goose down garment, this would be the one to start with.

 I wasn't sure what size to use for making the rain pants into down pants so I went with two sizes larger than what I take and a few inches longer in the leg.

  You'll be purchasing a inner and outer shell, choose an inner shell material that won't get soiled in the field when you go to put the pants on over your boots. My next pair will have the liner made out of SilNylon. I went with what I had used on the jacket and that is a Micro Ripstop 20D Nylon Taffita, that's from a kit at Thru-Hiker

  The reason for the SilNylon is that, one it's water proof and second being ripstop, should I put a tear in it when putting the pants on over my boots, the damage, hopefully will be minimal. The SilNylon will also act as a vapor barrier. The last thing you don't want to happen when your out in below freezing weather is for your down or any insulation to absorb moisture from your body. Whether it's from sweat or just your body's natural perspiration.  You might not notice the effect of the insulation getting saturated at first and it might take from a few hours to a day or so of sub freezing temps, and depending on how much your body is giving off moisture, sooner or latter the insulation is going to start forming ice crystals.  That's when your garment is going to start to fail. So I suggest using a material that will keep your body's moisture away from the insulation. The other advantage to using a VB (vapor barrier) is that it's going to help you keep from getting dehydrated and you'll feel warmer because the garment won't be wicking away your body moisture. For those of you that do perspire profuselyq, your gonna feel a little damp, but warm.



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The pants consist of only two parts, unless you include pockets. You will be cutting material only for the legs which go from the waist to the ankle cuff. You will also be cutting material for the baffles and those will be cut from the outer material. This needs to a porous material. It doesn't need to be something like bug netting. The air will get into the down quite fast and that's from my experience with using the same material as the shell material.




  The picture above shows the two materials. The top piece, the lighter color which is the outer shell. The stripes on the top piece are the baffles already sewn on to which the bottom inner shell piece is getting ready to be be sewn to.  The baffles are sewn on starting at the waist.

  Cut the baffle material at 2" which will give you a 1 1/2" space and a 1/4" seam allowance and go the full width of the pant leg. Follow the instructions on the pattern up to the point where you sew the inseam together.

 I used a hot knife blade to cut the Nylon. You don't have to go out an get a special knife for this. I used an old soldering iron with a short tip that I filed to a round chisel end.  I then used a piece of storm window glass, because it was large enough to put the piece of fabric on to cut, if you don't have a large piece of glass, you could use a piece of Masonite or anything that won't burn or have a grain to it.

  You can use scissors, but unless you seal the edges you will get unraveling on the edges. Another way to seal the edge is to use a tea light candle and carefully take the edge of the fabric and hold it close to the flame so you sear the edge. Be extremely careful doing it this way, if there are any long fibers, they could catch fire and will quickly burn towards the main fabric. Use extreme caution when doing it this way. If you use the hot knife method you can only cut one layer at a time because doing multiple layers will fuse the edges together.

 Lay out the pattern material and mark off where you want the baffles to be. I used 5" baffle spacing as a starting point. Remember to allow for the waist band and ankle band allowance of 2 1/2", 2" for the elastic and the extra 1/2" for the 1/4" seam allowance. Use the crotch point as your starting point for the baffles. That way the baffles should line up when you go to join the two legs.

 Once you have marked out where you want the baffles, sew them in place. I chose to sew the lower edge of the baffle onto, and this doesn't matter whether you start with the liner or shell, but looking at the leg the waist is at the top, so you would sew the bottom of the baffle. Then when you have completed sewing baffle to one of the liner or shell start with the cuff of the pant and sew each of the baffles to the other piece until you reach the waist where you have the 2 1/2" mark for the elastic.  Sew the waist so that you now have all of your baffles completed.  You should also have done the cuff, leaving the 21/2" allowance for the elastic.



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This picture shows the next step (B-1) after you have stuffed the pants with Goose Down and have sewn the seams closed.

I use a Basting Stitch where ever possible, getting stuck with a pin is not fun.







Now sew one edge in 1/4" of the pant leg leaving the other side open for stuffing with down.

Now the fun part, stuffing the Goose Down.  This isn't as bad as you might think. The down isn't going to fly all over the place when you cut open the bag. But do be in a room that doesn't have any drafts that you can feel.  I did mine in a spare bedroom that I use as my sewing and hiking gear room. I also used a canister vacuum cleaner that I put a cloth over the nozzle end and secured with an elastic. That way I could use it to pick up any stray down. Usually after I stuffed a baffle I would have a few feathers lying on the table and would use the vacuum just to keep the area neat. Place the bag and the baffle that your going to fill close to each other. Once the bag is cut open I would then grab a clump of down, either with my finger tips or as the bag gets empty, grab a fist full of the down (depending on how you buy it) it will come in either one bag or weighed out in several small bags.

A trick I used to keep the baffle open is to use a piece of paper, rolled up and inserted into the baffle. This is a good way to help keep the baffle open and control the down, as it tends to have a little bit of a static charge and sometimes the down will even be attracted to the paper, which helps get it into the baffle. Once you have a baffle filled to where you think is enough, take out the paper tube and hold the opening closed and pat the baffle down so that it gets distributed evenly in the baffle.  Keep doing this until you think you have enough down in that baffle and then move onto the next baffle. This is how I did it, some people use a gram scale and measure the Goose Down out by placing the bag of Goose Down on the scale and then you take out what you think you need as you watch the scale drop, there by measuring how much down is going in each baffle.  Pin each baffle shut once your satisfied with the amount of Goose Down in that baffle.  When your done with both legs, now's the time to check and see if each baffle has enough or to much, just by how high each baffle is. You might have to go back to some of the baffles and redistribute some of the Goose Down.    Now that you have your baffles filled to where each one is filed to your satisfaction, it's time to sew the baffles closed.

Continue on with the Rainshed directions for sewing the two pant legs together and doing the elastic bands.

That's it, your done. Now go out into the cold and take a friend