Tent Insulation - DIY Journey Post

Creating a new post to capture this “journey” I am on…

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From prior post:

Seattle Fabrics is our local version of that place!

The warm window stuff has 10% cotton - I am going to steer clear of cotton for this application which stinks because that looks like a great option otherwise!

Also - went out for measurements today and going to place the insulation order today as well. I believe I can do it with 7 yards of 60" material but ordered 8 yards to be safe. Material is the Primaloft Gold 200 - thanks @Hoooogan for the Canadian hook up - Seattle Fabrics was out of this but it was what I was after.

As for the other fabrics needed - I will need to make some templates and try some stuff out - the ripstop nylon I want to use is available locally.

Lastly - I am going to support a local business and take a sewing class. I should be able to do everything I need to do with a non-industrial sewing machine - exciting!

This will be one of those make it up as I go along projects, but should be a cool end product and anything will help!
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Exploded view:

Sides: 60" tall, 96" long (note this is not a right triangle - so 96" length needs to be longer to split a rectangle into the two triangle wedge shapes)

Roof: 60" x 96"

Main Door: 60" x 60"

These measurements are oversized and for the purposes of ordering 60" wide materials only - everything will be trimmed down and if anything needs to be made larger will be sewn together using scraps.

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From prior post:

Finally got home from the holidays and while I was hoping to borrow a sewing machine, I realized it was 25 years old and the owner didn’t really know how to use it. That plus the hour each way to pick it up… I am now the proud owner of a brand new Singer.

Anyways - I have never touched a sewing machine one time in my whole life. This will be obvious momentarily, but good news is the machine can handle all the material I am using!

Picked up the ripstop nylon today (at least 5 yards of it) and have the Primaloft Gold 200 I got just before the holidays and some stuff called “bias tape” - I have gotten started.

Here’s the photos to prove it!

First stop was in the camper accurately measuring the panels. For the first pass I decided to “eat the frog ” and do the big triangles.

Once I had the measurements, I cleared out the living room floor to use as a work surface. Laid up the template on tape and then laid the insulation material down and cut it with a roller cutter and a cutting mat. Took maybe 30 minutes to cut out both.

Next - I opened the sewing machine and googled “how to use sewing machine”… and after I figured out threading the bobben and needle, I instantly nailed it. Well - “nailed it” might be a stretch, but it is sewing and I am the one operating the machinery. I can only get better, right?

Here is the sample of the insulation sandwiched in between ripstop and then I sewed on the bias tape.

Next up - learning how to sew with pins… cutting out the ripstop to the triangle template and pinning it all up. Then is is time to let her eat…

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From prior post:

Got the machine figured out kinda… and learned how to backstitch and finish the ends of each stitch… and ran a 20" piece of primaloft with double nylon through it using pins to keep it in shape. I’m ready to graduate.
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From prior post:

What am I doing today?

Well… learning, obviously. I have learned a couple great things the past few days - but I may very well be on to my second prototype before week’s end…

I learned how to use a sewing machine! And to be clear - sewing high loft material in layers of nylon is considered “hard” - and it is hard to get straight lines for sure. I have been trying to find videos or tutorials for making “technical insulated blankets” but the best info I have found is from granny’s and their quilting channels .

So what have I learned? First pass was to sandwich all three pieces of material with pins on all sides and run them through. Second pass will be to sew the nylon and create a “Pillow case” and then stuff it. That makes the seams cleaner and will make sure it stays the proper size when stuffed.

Second - I will be stitching the edges of the primaloft, but want to do some “quilting” although I will probably actually just use the “tying” technique to put a knot every 5" in a grid. This allows me to save a lot of time but also not need any new equipment. Quilting is really hard with my machine and the high loft of this material because I need to roll it up and pass nearly all the material under the sewing machine arm. Because the 200 loft is so thick, I can’t get it through there without a huge fight.

So - have I wasted any money yet? So far, just a few yards of cheap JoAnn’s ripstop are going to be sent to the scrap pile - but will be reusing the primaloft from my original templates and reworking the pattern to be a bit oversize and then stuffing after sewing the container.

I have a lot more respect for my grandmother all of a sudden…

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From prior post:

I had a hard time finding synthetic blankets that were large enough to be cut down to panel size… The one I did find was over $150 and I needed 4 of them… Not saying there isn’t one out there tho!

The only reason I decided not to use the quilted material is because I saw it. The insulation wasn’t what I wanted although it may work great. It’s very thin compared to what I have now. I dunno tho… might still try it

I’m just goofing around at this point and hoping I get something I can use… But this is more of my leaping into the world of sewing as so many of the projects I do have a point where I wish I had a sewing machine and some knowledge.

Here’s a fun kit - although I am learning that none of this is as easy as just “lay it up and sew it” - the thick insulation causes the layers to move around quite a bit. I have now tried 2 construction techniques and will be on to my 3rd option here shortly. Frontcountry Quilt Kit - Ripstop by the Roll

Real reward in getting right now is learning. Also banged up my elbow really badly on Xmas day so I’m on a skiing break against my will. This helps keep me excited about it!

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Basically I am really struggling getting an insulated blanket to assemble correctly. There are 2 main issues:

  1. The 2" loft of the insulation needs to be pressed nearly flat to sew, and when doing that, no matter how many pins I use, the top and bottom layers of the nylon walk around and create crazy ripples and wrinkles in the fabric. This is still functional, but looks pretty bad.
  2. The thickness of the loft is causing the finished product to be smaller than the template. Originally I sandwiched the insulation in nylon and sewed all three but that came out over an inch smaller per side after I trimmed it. I tried again creating a perfectly sized “pillowcase” and then pushing in a perfectly sized piece of insulation like a duvet cover but as I started to jump stitch (or machine quilt knot) the thing, bullet 1 occurred and the whole thing got smaller. This I could have been more careful with but I am not even at the hard part of it and already can’t fit in my machine.

So what’s next…I will finish up with the last panel and try to make it work. If I can, I can use it! Meanwhile, I am back to my original plan of buying pre-quilted material and facing one side. This seems like it will be infinitely easier than what I have been up to… but probably not. If it works, maybe I will give away my first attempt. Remember - it is likely still fully functional even if not something I am proud of :slight_smile:

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As you have learned, pins are your friend. I am a big fan of clips as well (these).

Look up basting tape, also known as seamstick. That stuff has saved my sanity a few times.

Keep the reports of your progress coming. It’s fun watching what others come up with for ideas. I have been kicking around a near identical arrangement using some Climashield Apex 2.5. I have visions of them being useful when a friend and I do an Alaska run for some northern lights this September.

Apex (thanks to @WrinkledPants for the knowledge) is a better option because it doesn’t have the same quilting requirements as Primaloft and other short filament insulation batting… but the sewing will be the same challenge. The 2.5 should be pretty easy to work with though as it is pretty thin relative to the 7.5 oz which is what I think the Primaloft 200 gold is equivalent too approximately.

I will def check out the basting tape and seamstick stuff - I know there is a better way but also know that most stuff like this is prepared on specialized equipment versus a “learning to sew” base model singer.

great project! looks like your onto something. since i have no sewing skills i have thought about hanging something like packing blankets from harbo fr8 and using a grommet kit or plastic Kam snaps for hanging. i also see cheap oversize Walmart sleeping bags and Snugpac has those jungle blackets. not much insullation there but lightweight. keep the updates!

subscribing to the money wasting thread! haha

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Grabbed some of the prequilted stuff… Verrrrry thin compared to what I was constructing.

Also grabbed some double sided tape to help lay things up.

Gonna try another technique with the thick stuff and also try this thinner stuff.

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@the_philxx welcome to the sewing rabbit hole! Picking up a “walking foot” for your sewing machine in addiction to the tape will help move fabric through more evenly and should help with the wrinkling as well. Looks like fun!

What I love the most about this is everyone knows how to sew - everyone but me. So it’s fun to hear suggestions about things that might be super common knowledge to a sewing person that I am just learning about. Walking feet being one of these!

I want to echo what @the_philxx has said here… I have ZERO sewing knowledge or experience so I’m tagging along here to learn all about the tips and techniques for when my zipper tracks arrive so that I can make the insert for the rear door flap when used in conjunction with an awning kit

Had a break in meetings this morning so I whipped out a pattern and cut my new nylon taffeta material to shape as well. Pinned/taped together - ready for das machine.

I am going to try to grab a walking foot today from the fabric store before sewing this - even though this material is considerably thinner to start and the poly insulation has less pile to slide around… I still think it will be wise.


pre-quilted stuff cut to pattern - 2" oversize in each direction for the “velcro flaps” attachment method.


Trimming Nylon taffeta to pattern


All cut out and ready to stick it together…


Pinned and taped together. Ready to go (sew).

So far the time it took to cut these out and get them ready for sewing was about 30% that of the double layered nylon with 2" loft insulation… and I am using the red color to create a mental sense of warmth even if the insulation doesn’t do anything. The power of suggestion is very real!

Update - the Quality Assurance guy is here inspecting my work… awaiting his report.

Update - Inspector didn’t know how to approve this project - had to call in his super…

Messing with some scraps before going after the big project - looks nice! I know the big pieces are much harder but I like these colors.


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I think the most important thing to remember is that, at one point in time, none of us knew any of this. We all had to learn it at some point. The learning never ends either. “Experts” don’t know it all, they just know more than you do at that moment. I share information, you convert that information to knowledge and learn a new skill, then you post your information, and someone else can convert that into their own knowledge. It’s entirely likely I will learn something new from what you post. I know a little, and sharing it usually leads to me learning something more. Then you get someone with a great experience base like @WrinkledPants who drops all kinds of great, hard earned information… We have a great community on here, sharing all kinds of great information, in an effort to improve each other.

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ROFL QA guys. funny how nothing stays dog hair free for long.

dogs-ooh is that a new bed for me? let me try it out

is that your finished product about ~3/8" thick? might be enough to cut down most of the condensation

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Dog got a technical bandana as well…

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Wasted a day of “insulation making” to go track out a pristine face…

Started and finished the second panel of my second design today…

Here are the two of them…

Just for funsies - you can see how much my sewing improved even in just 24 hours of working the machine. Almost feel comfortable on it now. Hard to believe I have only owned this for a week…

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