MYOG Backpacking Quilt Overview
Now this is a project that has been on my mind for a while. This MYOG sewing project is for an Apex Climashield synthetic backpacking quilt. Apex Climashield backpacking quilts are some of the easiest MYOG quilts to make because the insulation is on a continuous sheet and does not need baffling like a down quilt needs.
Down quilts are lighter and can stuff down more compact than synthetic quilts but I specifically wanted a synthetic quilt because synthetic can hold warmth when wet which down can not. I wanted a nice synthetic quilt that I can take on snowshoe trips and kayak camping trips when there are good chances of the bag getting a little wet.
The other downside to synthetic quilts in my opinion is they dont look as great. I personally am a huge fan of how baffles look in sleeping bags and quilts. So for this MYOG backpacking quilt I wanted to do something special.
ℹ️ Recommended Sewing Gear
Here is a list of sewing gear that I recommend:
I absolutely love maps, so for this Apex Climashield quilt I decided to print the map of the High Sierra Trail on it! The High Sierra Trail is a 75 mile through hike from Sequoia National Park to the Top of Mt Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. My buddy and I did it very early in the season and had extremely dangerous ice crossings needing rope, crampons and Ice axes and also a number of dangerous stream crossings. We spent 6 days on the trail overcoming all sorts of obstacles culminating with making it to the Top of Mount Whitney. I often look back and reflect on this hike, and thought it would be great to commemorate it on my quilt:
Printing the map on the the fabric was all made possible by Ripstop By The Roll, OutdoorINK. OutdoorINK allows you to print custom images on a bunch of different fabrics! This was my first oder with them, and I am super thrilled with how it all came out!
MYOG Backpacking Quilt: Design Aspects Overview
Before making this quilt I have only sewn one other backpacking quilt. The first quilt I sewed it all inside out except for a small patch flipped it right side out and then stitched up the small whole from the outside. I did not have enough sewing skills to hide that last small seam and it was a bit of a tiny rough spot on the quilt. So for this quilt I decided to only sew three sides inside out, then flip it right side out and roll a color on the top. It didn't come out perfect but I think it is a huge improvement on my previous quilt attempt.
The other big design decision on this quilt was instead of a zipper footbox I decided to use kam snaps instead. The zipper is a pretty cool idea for the footbox, but it's a little more challenging to add more weight and zippers tend to accidentally get stuck and can rip the thin quilt fabric. For these reasons I went for snaps to close the footbox.
Lastly I kept this quilt a rectangle in shape. My previous one, I trimmed the sides to save very minimal weight. I figured since I cut the zipper off I can afford the "extra" ounces by keeping it a rectangle. I think keeping the quilt a rectangle gives me more options with the quilt other than just solo backpacking. Makes it easier to use as a boring blanket at home on the couch.
My last comment here before we get into the actual build itself is get a walking foot for your sewing machine! This is the other big change since my last quilt attempt. I purchased the Singer Even Feed Walking foot (Amazon Affiliate) and I am so glad I did! Tee Walking foot makes it so much easier to sew super thin fabrics! If you are not familiar with a walking foot, it pulls both the top and bottom fabric through at the same feed, which greatly helped me sew straight.
MYOG Quilt: Laying out the material
If you want to sew a Apex Climashield quilt the first thing you have to do is, lay the materials down in the correct order:
- Alex Climashield Synthetic Insulation
- Inside/bottom fabric (Face up)
- Outside/top fabric (Face down)
ℹ️ Pro Tip: Prototyping
If you have some extra fabric and climashield laying around and you want to triple check you have the order of material right, then I recommend you make a mini prototype.
Before any sewing on my quilt I made a mini quilt through the sewing machine real quick and it was great to play around with before working the larger real quilt
We layer the materials in this way because I am going to hide 3 out of the 4 seams. This allows me to sew those seams and flip everything right side out.
With all the materials laid out flat on the floor of my apartment, I used binder clips to hold everything in place. Since Mount Whitney was near one of the ends and I wanted to make sure it ended up on the quilt, I marked it with another binder clip so I knew where it was as I traced out my rectangle pattern.
The rough size of this quilt is 55 inches by 75 inches in length.
While cutting out your quilts shape, use either pins or binder clips to hold everything in place while you cut. I also used a few heavy books I placed on certain corners as well.
MYOG Quilt: Drawstring Footbox
Sewing quilts is fairly simple, but if you add a drawstring foot enclosure this makes it a little more complicated. There are two types of drawstring foot enclosures I have seen people make:
- String out either end
- String out the middle
The easiest drawstring foot enclosure to make on your MYOG quilt is one where you just make a simple channel and have the string come out either end and use two cordlocks, one at each end. This is pretty simple but does not look as good in my opinion and you have to fumble with two cord locks when enclosing your footbox.
I went with the slightly more complicated version of having the drawcord anchored at either end and then come out the middle to one cord lock. This in my opinion is much easier and quicker to use when enclosing the footbox.
I first started out by cutting a 3 inch wide strip equal in length to the bottom of my quilt.
After I had the channel piece cut, I folded it in half and marked the center of its length. This is where the center hole is going to go for the draw cord to come out. Since I was using one ounce HyperD fabric I wanted to re-enforce the spot where the center hole would be made. I ended up sewing some light grosgrain to reinforce.
I then poked a hole in the grosgrain and punched in my eyelet:
Next I used some more small grosgrain pieces and sewed in two anchor points at either end of the cord channel where I tie my cord to.
Lastly I attached my cord and can it through the entire channel and out the eyelet. I then proceeded to sew shut the bottom of the channel to help manage and keep the cord in place while I sew it into the bottom of the quilt.
Once that is complete you are ready to add it to your quilt. Make sure you place it in between your top and bottom and pointing inside. This will make sure it is poing in the right direction when you flip everything inside out. Here is an image that illustrates much better what I am trying to describe.
It was at this point I also placed in the grosgrain that I would use to attach the snap buttons to as well. Be careful with these and they go in between the top and bottom layer just like the cord channel.
I then placed the top fabric over the channel and secured everything tightly in place with binder clips so nothing would move out of place while I sewed it all together. While sewing make sure you are constantly feeling with your fingers for the cord, to make sure you do not accidently sew over it.
MYOG Quilt: Sewing it all together
Now this is probably the most simple step, especially if you own the walking foot I mentioned earlier. I sewed the bottom length first then the two sides, opting to keep the top open as discussed earlier.
MYOG Quilt: Finishing Touches
After sewing the three sides together, I flipped everything right side out. It's always a littler nerve wracking to see if everything came out alright! Mine wasn't perfect but it was good enough, and I was pretty happy to finally be seeing this map turn into a quilt!
Next I sewed the top shut with a simple top straight stitch, and then everything was all closed up. Before rolling the top and doing the final top straight stitch, I did some clean up around all the edges.
I basically just went around and trimmed, very carefully the excess fabric. I should have mentioned I trimmed the first three sides before flipping right side out and just trimmed the top closing stitch here.
For the final top stitch, I tolled the exposed edge twice to hide it and then stitched over it. This didn't come out super perfect but it looks nice enough and overall I am pretty happy with how the entire quilt came out.
Here are two final pictures showing how the cord channel and snaps came out: