Repair your Down Jacket or Sleeping Bag yourself?

Rrrrrrrrriiiiiip! Oh no! You turn around only to find your brand new down jacket with an ugly L shape rip and a cloud of feathers in the air. You take the jacket off and the first thing that comes into your mind is to tape the two ends together. Does that sound familiar?

Polyester or non rip, these materials are very vulnerable. With functional clothing and equipment getting lighter every year, durability has also gained importance in the characteristics of outdoor garment, especially for the users. The manufacturer classifies this under the wear and tear category,  and expects the consumer to renew his clothing every 2 years. Just like your mobile phone. But then again, there are a few of us who thinks about sustainability. Yes?

So after seeing the loss of a few feathers, you’ll probably be looking for a tape and rescue sewing kit to save your favourite down product.

But wait!

Did you know that you might be making the damage bigger than any good? This article from Rainy Pass shows an example of what happens, if you think duct tape is good to use.

The Rescue

A tape or the Duct tape may be an acute rescue solution for the moment to stop losing more down from the product. But when you remove this to replace it with a better patch fabric, you might tear the material thats sticks to the tape like Pergament paper, and some glue residue that are ugly can gradually sink into the material. So take extra care while removing. Refrain also from using nail polish remover to remove the glue residue, as often advised in the web, as this solvent may damage sensitive materials like Polyester.

Using an iron on fabric repair kit

There are Iron-on- fabric repair kits which you can buy off the supermarkets. Remember using them when you have a hole in your jeans? Using them for your expensive down product may not be the optimal choice. If you ‘re going to iron on that patch with an iron too hot for the sensitive material like pertex-quantum you might end up burning up a hole. It also doesn’t always survive the wash routine because they don’t always stick well. Either you’ll have the edges peeling off, or you can just peel off the whole thing after the wash and watch feathers flying all over again.

A good tip that came from Marmot was to round off the edges of the sticky plaster. This makes the temporary repair last a little longer. Look for a fabric that is similar to your down product.

The Repair

Wouldn’t it be logical to repair and sew the rip as soon as possible? Did you also know that those fat needle stitches causes feathers to come through? At the same time, water could permeate these holes, making your jacket water permeable.

Tip: Use a seam sealing adhesive inside the surface of the coat after stitching to prevent the jacket outside from coming apart. And let this dry overnight before moving on to the next step.

Outdoor garments these days aren’t always the same like it was years back. Materials are thin and sensitive. If not handled proper,  you may ruin it completely.

So lets buy a new one!

That would be the best case any manufacturer would wish for from their consumers.

Frankly, you can really repair your down products yourself. It may not be pretty, but it could be a solution if the small rip is on an area that’s not often under constant tension. Smaller rips can be repaired with a nylon repair band or outdoor glue from e.g. Seamgrip.

You could also bring your down product to a special outdoor repair service who knows exactly how to handle these sensitive materials professionally.

Most of the manufacturers has an address where you can send in your products, have it repaired and returned in a whiz. The cost for repairs depends on whether it’s just to fix that rip, or if you need to fill in your jacket or sleeping bag with new down.

It’s definitely cheaper than buying a new jacket. And your down product will look like new.

Thanks to the North Face, Hägloffs, Marmot and Rab for information and tips!

Have you repaired your jacket yourself and have more valuable hints that works? Feel free to comment.

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  1. I use the iron on patches in a matching color with the edges rounded, but I iron the patch under a thin towel to protect the sensitive jacket material. I don’t wash my jacket too often but it is holding up well after a few years.

    1. Hi Deirdre,
      Thanks for the suggest to iron the patch under a thin towel or cloth. That helps definately!


  2. Hi, I just emergency repaired an small L-rip from a nail snag on my wife’s ‘puffy coat’ by using a patch from the inside-out (glue side up) and using a COOL iron (acrylic setting) and pressing hard for a minute seems to have mended it! Looks hardly noticeable. It’s a little tricky rolling the little patch up and through the hole and getting the feathers back but it works and looks OK.
    I tested this lower temp on similar material and found that the patch had really good pull-apart strength but you could peel it off. From inside the coat no peeling forces, we’ll see !

  3. Thanks for your suggestion to use an ultra fine needle. I also inserted flat a scrap piece of fabric under the jacket tear with a pair of tweezers. Then when I sewed the tear together with needle and thread, it didn’t pull the feathers through as there was a barrier under the outer fabric.

    1. That’s a good point Joanne. Adding a piece of fabric stabilizes the material. Thanks for the tip!


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