DIY Karo Step Top Quilt

I decided a many months ago that I would make a winter top quilt for hammock camping. I saved and saved and then I contacted Scott over at Backwoods Daydreamer (aka – DIY Gear Supply) and placed an order for 850 Fill Down and rip-stop nylon fabric. Then Fall Semester happened and I was unable to get motivated to do anything other than study and hang out with the family.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago…

The urge to make something starts gnawing at me again so I start researching the designs for a karo step top quilt. I wanted to try this style top quilt because the karo step quilt does not have traditional full length or width baffles. The baffle walls do not run continuously down or across the quilt. This allows for two things

  • The Down can be dumped into the quilt with out needing to make sure equal amounts of down fill each chamber
  • The Down can be shifted around as needed to help with hot/cold spots


The chambers are 14″ squares with 8″ baffle walls offset by 6″

karo step top quilt pattern

This appealed to me mainly because I didn’t want to bother with weighing out the bulk down I had ordered. I also liked the idea because I could adjust my wall spacing and distance from the outer edges allowing me to forego sewing the baffle wall height up the outside edges. After much hemming, hawing, determining, and discussion with friends, I came up with this pattern (not pretty I know but hey it works).

The planning phase was really the biggest part of the process — for me. After getting the layout finalized, I got started cutting and sewing, and sewing and cutting.

My process is as follows:

  1. Measure and cut baffles using a Rotary Cutter (make sure you use a mat for cutting or you could get in trouble).
  2. Cut out down chamber template from piece of cardboard and mark center-line and baffle locations on all four sides.
  3. Cut inner and outer shells to length and put rolled hem on head and foot ends.
  4. Mark baffle wall location on inner and outer shells using template and soft colored pencil (don’t want any snags on your fabric). Start along the center-line and then work your way out.
  5. Pin all head-to-toe baffles to inner shell and start sewing then pin all side-to-side baffles to inner shell and start sewing (see video #1 at bottom of page for a tip with this).
  6. Mark outer widths (plus seam allowance) for head and foot ends of the inner shell – for me this ended up being 56″ and 48″ plus seam allowance (including a rolled hem on each side).
  7. Mark a cut line between outer head-end and outer foot-end marks and pin two layers of material together just inside and outside the cut line.
  8. Cut along the diagonal cut line between head and foot ends. This results in a tapered shell.
  9. Line up the center-line of the head-ends of the inner and outer shells (make sure the outside faces are together. baffles out).
  10. Stitch head-ends together.
  11. Place material right-sides out and mark and cut the outer shell two inches wider than the inner shell width (this will give you an outer wall when every thing is said and done).
  12. At this point, I put a rolled hem along both outer edges of the inner and out shells seperately.
  13. Now you can start pinning and sewing the first row of head-to-toe baffles one at a time to the outer shell. Pin one then sew. Be VERY careful to make sure you are pinning to the correct outer shell baffle line (don’t ask me how I know.)
  14. Then you get to pin and sew the side-to-side baffles to the outer shell (see video #2 below).
  15. Now repeat steps 13 and 14 until you have no more baffles to pin or sew.
  16. Line up the outer edges of the inner and outer shells pin together and sew being careful to dart the corners to form boxed corners. At the top on one side, I stitched in a short loop of 3/32″ shock cord to serve as a button loop.
  17. Start stuffing down into the the foot end as far into the quilt as you can. (Sorry no pics or videos or this step :) ) A shop-vac really helps with this process.(click here to see how)
  18. Once all the down is in place, sew a rolled hem into the foot-end of the quilt. Be sure that there are NO openings left to let down out of the quilt. Don’t forget to dart your corners.
  19. Now mark three locations on each side at the foot-end of the quilt. This is for the ‘foot box’. I marked mine at one inch, nine inches, and eighteen inches. Once marked, you can stitch the 3/16″ hook & eye closures in place.
  20. Next I fixed a single 4 hole black button opposite the shock cord button loop.
  21. Finally string a draw cord through the rolled hem at the foot end of the quilt and secure it in place by stitching one side and placing a cord lock and figure eight knot on the opposite side.

Video #1

Video #2

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