Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part II: From Duck to comforter

The gathering of the feathers was done over the course of 3 months. Every Saturday, my husband killed 2 more ducks and I plucked the feathers and down, separating the two. The cleaning, sorting and filling of the comforter was done in one day.

just a bit of clingy down
As I mixed the down with the feathers in the big plastic tub. I tipped the big brown grocery bag with the down over the tub and shook until most of them were in the tub.  Now...hold your breath, or breathe to the side. DON'T breathe into the tub or you'll look like a tar&feather victim.

Using the two bread bags was helpful. After mixing the down and feathers together like folding eggs into an Angel Food Cake batter, I stuffed the bread bags about 3/4 full. And I do mean STUFF.  Then, twisting the top of the bag, I stuffed it into the channel I had sewn into the comforter.
bag of down + feathers

 For the comforter itself, I am using 120" muslin purchased from the Fabric Store. Normally, this is used as quilt backing. It is 120" wide by however long you want. This comforter was measure to be 61" wide by the 120" length. I folded it in half and sewed it on each side with a 1/4" seam allowance to make one really big pouch that measured 60" by 60" which was big enough for a twin bed or a comfy throw for the couch.

breadbag in the channel
As I put the bread bag with feathers + down into the channel, I pushed it towards the closed end so the feathers would not fall out of the opening. Then, scrunching the bag while it is in the channel and trying to force the feathers out of the bag, I manage to get most of them into the channel.  It sucked, actually, but it was better than nothing.

Feathers and Down in the channel squished along the whole row

After pulling the bag out of the channel with wthe 1/3 of the contents left in the bag, I just dipped my hand in the bag, grabbed the remaining stuff and stuck it in the channel. That's when my black shirt turned all downy. Then, I sewed up the rest of the channel so it was closed.

The line for the channel was drawn with pencil and aided by a ruler. I measured down from the edge 10" and marked it with the pencil. Since I am intending on washing the entire comforter after it is finished, the pencil is ok. The mark will be washed away. And after the first channel, others were measure and marked 10" from the other channel.
all channels are filled!
 It did occur to me 2/3 of the way through this process that I could've just sewn the channels via sewing machine horizontally, then fill the channels and sew just one edge closed.That would be the most efficient way to do it.

I'll do that next time.

So all channels were filled, and I did sew the entire width shut on my machine. It was bulky, but easy enough if I left most of the bulk hanging off the left end of the table.

It took about 6 hours to fill the blanket, most of it was done watching Pride & Prejudice, which seemed apropos to the job. If you watch the one with Kiera Knightly in it, it has a few scenes where you'll see geese wandering around. They are either buff Toulouse or Pilgrim geese.

I will be sewing channels perpendicular to the ones already created to 'lock in' the down. I've done one row, and it is something that needs to be done by hand definitely. The loft of the blanket makes it difficult, but if you've ever quilted by hand before, it is the same technique. I'm using 2 strands of Embroidery floss to do it, only because my Mom scored a huge bag of it at a rummage sale and I've been trying to find ways to use it.

I've used the comforter as it is for a few days. It is definitely warm and cozy under it, so much so that I find myself wanting to stay under it for all times. Had I to do it again, I'd make it about 6" longer so it covers me from shoulder to over my toes. I'm 5'6", so that would be 66" tall by 60" wide.

A few facts about ducks and their down:

  1. Duck down is said to last 15 years, goose down 20
  2. Ducks mate for life. 
  3. Ducks lay eggs that ARE edible, larger than chicken eggs and have a thicker white.
  4. Ducks prefer to mate in water
  5. To incubate a duck eggs takes 30 days, a consistent temperature of 99.2 degrees Faherenheit, humidity levels must be above 60%, the ability to turn them at least 3 times a day,and need to be sprayed with water.
  6. The Aflac Duck is a breed called a Pekin. They never say Aflac.
  7. You can tell the boys from the girls because they have a curl in their tail. Also, they have a lower, raspier voice. The loudmouth ducks are the gals. 
  8. I've hardly ever seen my flock without each other. They are truly flock animals and depend on each other for company. When they walk, they walk in a line behind each other. It's hilarious. 
  9. They can stand the cold, snowy weather. I've seen 'em lay on the snowdrifts just acting like it's a summer day. 

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