• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

Window quilts (or other window insulation solutions) for Allerton Abbey (Wofati 0.7) at Wheaton Labs

 
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As we are belatedly finishing construction and gearing up for winter and the annualized thermal inertia test at Allerton Abbey, we are looking for a solution to slow heat loss through our many windows.

I have been researching window quilts, and have a few questions/ideas:

1) We would like to make our window quilts from natural materials (for instance, wool or cotton fabric sandwiched over wool batting, perhaps). We are worried about moisture and mold, as well as insulation value, however. Does anyone have experience that could speak to whether or not using a synthetic material in the window quilts for insulation and/or a vapor barrier is necessary/desirable?

2) Several anecdotal accounts have mentioned that having the quilt fit inside the window frame and rest on the sill is important, since cold air between the window and the quilt can otherwise sink into the room. However, the idea of having this cold, moist air pooled on top of/behind the quilt fabric strikes me as potentially problematic, especially for natural materials. Thoughts/experiences?

3) Also, how much is the home cooled by this cold air sinking effect versus heat lost through the window itself? One idea I came across was to use a sort of valance window quilt at the bottom of the window which rests on the sill and traps the cold air while leaving the top 3/4 of the window uncovered to allow in light. Any ideas about how effective this would actually be at preventing heat loss versus having the window fully covered?

4) Any suggestions for alternatives and/or additions to window quilts are welcome. We will probably be fabricating these ourselves, so we have a fair amount of latitude in the design process (we will consider things hanging from the ceiling, multi-layered or strangely shaped things, etc.)

Thanks!
 
master steward
Posts: 8723
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2515
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm trying to remember the window and window sill layout at the abbey...  Could you post a few reminder photos?

How leaky are the windows?  I don't know how that would affect the situation but it could help or hurt to have them leaking.

I believe if an uncovered window has 10 units of heat loss, covering the middle 90% and leaving a gap at the top and bottom would reduce that only to 8 units of loss.  Or in other words, if air can easily cool and drop in front of the window and be replaced by more air that then cools, that circulating machine of cooling has a pretty strong effect.

If you block it at the top or bottom but let air come in or leave at the sides, the convection current can still happen to your detriment.

If the fabric was snug at the top and sides and an inch off the sill at the bottom, it should do the trick.

All of this is for nighttime heat loss prevention.  To get light through the curtain I think you'd want to cover as much of the window as you have to and seal the curtain to the three edges where it meets the wall.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen

Can you and/or your accomplices, be explicit about the full list of do-nots, ie. constraints, that you are working under? I ask because going by what you said and did not say, it sounds like you have already discarded several possible options.

And the full list of what you _need_ from window treatment. Eg. do you _need_ to have light through those windows? Do you _need_ any window treatment at all? Or is this in the order of an optional lab experiment? This matters because if the whole thing is just an interesting experiment, you can pretty much discuss and think about and try and re-try almost anything throughout the coming months. If, OTOH, you _need_ to keep that heat in order for you yourself to remain in the Abbey this winter... That makes a real difference to how you approach the question of window treatment.


Regards,
Rufus
 
gardener
Posts: 3227
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1176
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First off, have you looked at the suggestions in these two threads?
https://permies.com/t/62681/journey-find-winter-curtains

https://permies.com/t/93472/Budget-Thermal-Curtains-stay-warm


Doing so might give us some idea of what you *don't* want!

If you're really worried about mold, have you considered solid wooden shutters on the outside for any windows you can easily reach from the outside? Shutters would stop all the wind from hitting the outside of the glass. Plain wood wouldn't insulate as much as some sort of sandwich with something like wood with mineral wool inside, but I can't think of a truly natural fiber that wouldn't go bad if it got wet, and shutters will get wet at some point I expect. The downside is that they will block *all* the light. You may want to choose a small window for some sort of inside treatment so that you don't feel like you're waking up in a dark cave.

The way I make Roman shades with a solid bar at the top and the shades going past the frame at the sides and bottom have worked acceptably in my climate, but I made them easy to remove for washing as moldy window sills is simply part of the island experience! (Borax helps - but it's damp for 7 months here, if not longer.)
 
Posts: 180
20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i am planning on having triple poly layers on my greenhouse with insulation which is rolled up and down automatically between the outer layer and the middle layer
i realize you want natural materials so maybe many layers of cloth held apart slightly on a wooden frame on hinges which clamps shut making a seal
my thought was to create a bunch of smaller temperature and humidity differences (although i dont know if it would actually work)

or maybe a window, on hinges, with natural insulation on the "outside" which clamps shut like the idea above but the glass stops the moisture from making its way to the insulation

just figured i would throw it out there......
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay's suggestion of blocking wind against the windows (with shutters) is smack on. To illustrate: In my bedroom in Chicago I normally see about a 20-25F difference between inside and outside temps. BUT. When there is strong wind (15+ mph) from that side, the difference drops to 10-15F. Now that old Victorian is pretty much Swiss cheese except in small places where I had to do repairs and at that time installed as much actual insulation as I could justify. The windows are old double-hungs with a good set of triple track Aluminum storm windows.  In this case the wind is w/out doubt coming through the exterior walls as well sneaking around the window frames.

But the point is - wind can make a big difference. It's something to look at seriously if weather is coming inside more that you like.

One other point: All my life, especially in the '60s when Chicago was getting mostly cold winters (25-30F highs) and it often dipped into the teens and below for several days, we got lots of frost decorations on the inside of the windows - we just considered it normal and pretty. When it started to melt, rolled up towels were deployed along the bottom of the windows. A little muss, no fuss.


Cheers,
Rufus
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 3227
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1176
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another thought occurred to me after I wrote my post above about using shutters. People used to have "storm windows" which they installed in the fall and removed in the spring, and they acted as a "second piece of glass" which eventually got replaced with "double pane" windows.  If one didn't want the utter darkness of shutters, it would be possible to make them mostly solid wood, but with a little "peek out" section of glass that would let in a little morning light but would still be much warmer than the large windows that the Abbey has. I'm thinking about 1 ft by 1 ft in at least one of the shutters.
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Or just make good old wooden storm windows. Perfect "Woodworking 201" project. <g>  Design and implement the frame, sash and fasteners.

(note: dumping any kind of window on a Woodworking 101 noob would be cruel, unusual and just not nice or productive)


Cheers,
Rufus
 
gardener
Posts: 493
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
291
dog foraging trees tiny house books bike bee
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So - how does insulation work? Insulation works by trapping and baffling air, to prevent drafts transmitting. Air is a great insulator, so long as it can't mix. I am a big fan of "not reinventing the wheel". Looking back at how people historically addressed windows (say, in my grandparent's farmhouse where the upper story was unheated, or in drafty castles), how did they solve this problem?

Drapes. Heavy, preferably velvet, wool, or brocade drapes, lined, often with a second set of sheers beneath.  Drapes that come almost 100% down to the floor, to block cold drafts, yet are 1-2 inches off the window to create an air gap to prevent condensation/mold. The traditional rules for drapes are: they should nearly touch the floor, the pole should be wider than the window frame, the pole should be halfway between the window frame and the ceiling, and you should have 1.5-2x the width of material as the length of your curtain rod, so that when you close them, they should still be wavy and provide baffling to the air/insulation gaps.

Now - I know it's hard to find cotton velvet these days - but 100% cotton drapery fabric is easy to find, and if you double it, is quite thick. Even throw in some thin cotton quilt batting for extra warmth. As a personal testimony, i put up floor length drapes in my last, very drafty and cold apartment, and they were wonderful! If I didn't close them, i could definitely feel the difference. I like having sheers or semi sheers under drapes, because it gives an extra layer of insulation, and allows you to close them and have some protection from the window drafts while still receiving sunlight.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forgot to take pictures of the windows, but I will try to remember to do that ASAP! I also need to get dimensions for them.

The windows are not leaky, the heat is simply lost through the glass.

Dos and Don'ts:

At the Lab, we try to use almost exclusively natural materials and to exclude glues, paints, almost all plastics and synthetic materials, etc. There is a tiny bit of latitude here when really necessary, but not much.

What we need from a window treatment:

We need to be able to let light in during the day at least sometimes.

We need to be able to open the windows to charge the mass, although this won't be much of an issue till spring.

We need to maintain the Abbey at a livable temperature. It is currently hovering around 50 degrees F, often the mid/high 40s. I have no plans to abandon the Abbey or ATI test because of it being too cold, but neither do Josiah and I want to live in a house that's much colder than this. Due to the wofati design with lots of windows, most of our heat is lost that way. Window treatments are a pretty standard conservation method, so we think that is fair game for the ATI test.

We need to prevent the window treatments from molding. Sometimes there is ice or condensation on the inside of the windows. Especially the single-pane windows in the doors.

We would like to experiment, innovate, and gather data in this area as well, but that is not my top priority compared to simply slowing the heat loss.

Thank you all for your input! I will be back to answer more questions/comments later.

 
master steward
Posts: 14329
Location: Pacific Northwest
6487
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would a strip of long magnet be okay?

When I was a kid, my mom sewed curtains that had a drawsting on the side and could be pulled up and down. They had a magnetic strip down the sides, so they sealed against the sides of the window frame. They were made like quilts and so probably insulated really well. I'm going to see if she has any patterns or remembers how she made them. Even pictures would be helpful at this point, as I think I'd like to make some, too!
 
pollinator
Posts: 2085
Location: 4b
498
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really like the Kume curtains I posted in the other thread that Jay mentioned, but they don't meet your "natural materials" criteria.  You could make them out of natural material except for a sheet of plastic this is inside them.  I don't know if you find that acceptable or not.
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 3227
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1176
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A drape is trying to do several things:
1. Reduce air flow. The tighter the weave, the less "breeze" will blow through something.
2. Create air pockets. "Waffle" blankets use this principle to trap warmth, as do both wool and down.
3. Be practical to open and close, so that they're used effectively.
4. Due to the concerns about mold, they need to be easy to launder.
Jennifer Richardson wrote:

At the Lab, we try to use almost exclusively natural materials and to exclude glues, paints, almost all plastics and synthetic materials, etc. There is a tiny bit of latitude here when really necessary, but not much.

Is Paul OK with small quantities of Borax? Doing a final rinse of fabric with some borax in the water will discourage mold. I wouldn't want to do that with something I was wearing, but drapes are another matter!

Bearing the above in mind, it seems to me, that mold problems we've had tend to be on the window side, not the room side. Maybe part of the solution is to make a drape that rather than being either a single layer or multiple layers all sewn together, you could consider several parts to the drape - like my sister had where she put a "black-out curtain" on the same track as her decorative bedroom drapes. The black-out layer was artificial enough that I don't think it ever grew mold, but in the case of the Abbey, using something highly washable such as cotton sheets with a high thread count (= tighter weave, less air flow), as the window layer and washing them as often as needed, and putting something more insulative towards the room from them, might be part of the solution.

 
Mike Haasl
master steward
Posts: 8723
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2515
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm suspecting that the mold would be from two potential sources.  One is window condensation dripping down onto the sill and then getting the curtain wet.  The second would be condensation on the curtain itself.

The first could be handled by keeping the bottom edge 1/2" off the window sill.  You'd want the other three edges sealed to the wall to keep air from circulating between the window and the curtain

The second is an effect of where the dew point is in the window and curtain area.  For a given humidity level, water condenses out of the air when the temperature drops to the "dew point".  So when humid air hits a cold window, it condenses.  Or in my case in Wisconsin, when dryish interior air hits a frigid window, it still condenses.

Once you have a curtain up, the interior surface of the glass will be even colder since it's not getting heat from the room.  The window side of the curtain will be pretty cold and the room side of the curtain will be pretty warm.  So there's a chance that the dew point for your particular level of humidity will be reached somewhere in the thickness of the curtain.  So then the curtain would get wet regardless of what you do.

Having an exterior shutter that fully seals the window from the outside air may be a fix for at night.  Then the shutter would protect the glass and maybe it would be 20 degrees warmer on the inside surface of the glass.  Maybe that would prevent condensation on the inside.  A curtain then could give further protection, possibly without experiencing condensation.

Others with more experience could chime in here but that's where my head is at....
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
184
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I realize what I have done doesn't meet your requirements in terms of materials, but I thought I'd share the link to my blog post about my window inserts anyway.  You might find something of use in it.  https://theartisthomestead.com/a-trick-to-reduce-heat-loss-through-windows/


For part of the post I share temp. readings I did one day when it was really cold out to demonstrate what window inserts can do.  Here's a quick cut and paste from that section:  

"So, crudely speaking, the window itself provided a difference from -13.5 to 6.5, or 20 degrees F. The window insert gave a difference from 6.5 to 56.3, or 49.8 degrees F. This means the window insert, a slapped together construction of fabric and bubble wrap, increased thermal performance about 250%! I’m happy with that!"
 
master gardener
Posts: 1917
Location: Maine, zone 5
818
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also consider using shutters on the inside rather than outside.  I'm thinking the equivalent of doors that have a sealing gasket.  When it's dark outside shut the shutters to stop air flow to the glass and greatly reduce radiative losses.  Heck, if they seal they'll limit all 3 modes of heat transfer (radiation, convection and conduction.  Borax treatment, as mentioned above, will limit ick over time even with wood.  Baking the wood (torrification….brown finish color) or else shou sugi ban (charring the wood, black finish color) will make it rot resistant as well.  Not sure indoor shutters will be convenient, but can be mostly wood.  Not sure what the best gasket material would be.  What do you gasket your doors with?  (not something I thought to look at when I was there)
 
David Huang
pollinator
Posts: 406
184
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I feel like I should add that my understanding of this sort of thing is that if you have a gap at the top and bottom of the window insulation what you are creating is a sort of reverse thermosiphon.  The space between the window and insulation will chill the air in it which will drop down and out of the lower opening into the room.  This in turn will draw in warmer air from the room to be chilled and dropped down.  Such a situation could actually be working to cool the room even more than if you didn't have any insulation.  In my mind keeping that bottom zone sealed is the most important since that is where the cold air wants to fall from.  If the top was open, but the bottom closed it seems to me what you have is a mini chest freezer/refrigerator containing the cold.  
 
Mike Haasl
master steward
Posts: 8723
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2515
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David, I think you're generally right on.  If the top and bottom are open it will create a convection loop.  I believe if you block the top or the bottom, you stop that convection (assuming the sides are blocked as well).  I'm guessing blocking the bottom would be better since the cold air would be trapped in there and can't fall out, but you may get condensation from the window sill onto your curtain.  With the top and sides blocked you create a vacuum to hold the cold air up in the window area.  Cold can spill out and be replaced by warm but it's much slower than if the top and bottom were open.
 
Posts: 93
5
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the 80s a book came out by Rhodale that showed how to make the curtains, sorry cannot find my copy to give the name.

I made them for an old mobile home I was living in with crank out windows that didn't close well 8n Michigan. Anyway they were made like Roman shades. The key was they were sealed all the way around when closed using a piece of thin wood on hinges. Roll down the curtain and fold the wood over to seal. They are easy to open to wipe out any condensation and let light in.

My problem was the draft when open so I made the side hinged sections in pieces. I opened the curtains from the top down. If really cold, I opened the top 6 inches, if not in the negative degree range, I opened another foot and so on.

On the sunny side of the house, I lined with black fabric which also absorbed some heat that would circulate into the house when the top was open.

Back then I did the shrink window film also but that was the only way to not have actual open windows in areas. The curtains dropped out energy bill by 2/3 that year.
 
pollinator
Posts: 226
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
26
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a wall of south facing windows and interior insulated curtains.  They don't seal perfectly against the windows but make a very noticeable difference in heat loss.  They make the windows even colder, though, and thus we get more condensation when the curtains are drawn.  For that reason I am planning some kind of exterior insulation, plus 3 rather than 2 layers of glazing, for when we move to our new house I'm currently building. There is a logging concept called 'parbuckle', https://gsopera.com/lexicon/parbuckle , which is also used in window blinds. It allows you to roll up a curtain (or a log up a hill) by simply pulling 2 ropes.  The ropes are fixed at top and go down to the bottom of the curtain, which is fitted to a heavy dowel, and back up, often to a pulley to redirect for convenient pulling. When you pull the ropes (which can be combined into 1, the curtain rolls itself up, and when you release it rolls back down.  
 Any kind of opaque window covering will make a big difference similar to the lo emissivity window coatings, which do nothing to stop convective heat loss but reduce a lot of the radiation going out (and also in, which limits the effectiveness of lo e windows in passive solar designs, in my opinion).
 
Posts: 10
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, this is the opposite of natural meterials; but I was just repurposing some giant, stiff sheets of industrial strength bubble-wrap-on-steroids that came with a Christmas box; and thought of that stuff when reading your post.  You could seal with a thin magnetic bar on the wondowsill and magnets hotglued onto the edge of the bubblewrap, perhaps.  Pros: no mildew problems, lets in light, cheap or free and maybe repurposed/reused; cons: not natural materials.  But this is not a perfect world...
 
pollinator
Posts: 254
53
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sometimes technology doesn’t mix with ‘natural’ all that well. The technology to do what you are attempting is not consistent with natural materials due to moisture issues. Maybe if your inside air was REALLY dry, but probably not. I have wood heat and my rh is typically 30-35% and I still have condensation on cold windows, which are double pane argon filled. As has been mentioned, bubble wrap is the cheapest and simplest method and it still lets light in. You could add heavy drapes for times when you don’t have or need daylight. I’m sure bazillions of square feet of it are thrown away every year, so you’d be recycling if you got it used. Soapy water film adheres it to the window, no other frame or fastening system needed. It makes an amazing difference in heat loss!
In your situation I don’t see condensation as a huge issue, but mold would be (a huge health issue). You can wipe down moisture on a daily basis. How much airflow do you have? That’s typically a major downside to earth sheltered dwellings. Lack of airflow is your nemesis when it comes to mold.
If you end up determined to go natural and hang blankets, you will probably need to dry them daily and wash them weekly to avoid mold.
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rough window dimensions (for reference). Quilts will need to be somewhat larger in all dimensions:

Bedroom window: 88.5" wide x 51.5" high
Kitchen window: 47" wide x 48.5" high
Bunkroom window: 101" wide x 49" high
Lower cell/dining room window: 48" wide x 51" high
Front door window (single pane): 18.5" wide x 24" high
Back door window (single pane): 17.25" wide x 25.25" high

 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, so we have decided to go with a simple, natural design to start with and iterate from there.

Basically, it will be a small quilt of three layers: wool fabric top, wool batting, wool fabric backing. At the top will be an open hem into which a tension rod can slide to hold the quilt inside the window frame. The quilt will be several inches larger than the window dimensions in both length and width, so that it can be tucked inside the frame to prevent convection currents from cooling the house.

We will see if/how badly/how quickly it dampens and/or molds.

Does anyone know of any good sources of (preferably organic) wool fabric or quilt batting? We don't want to spend a ton of money if we can help it. We would prefer a light, solid colored fabric, but are willing to be flexible as long as it's not too crazy.

Thanks!
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 3227
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1176
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That list of windows is impressive!

A list of parameters to consider when deciding where to start: 1. most weather exposed therefore greatest heat loss
2. Least "looked at" therefore if your first attempt doesn't look too pretty, you won't mind so much
3. start small and work up (this may conflict with item 1., but having made curtains in the past, small is easier)

Are you planning to quilt these by hand or by machine?  Either way, you're going to need to lay things out on a large flat surface, even if that's just boards on top of sawhorses!

Wool fabric is neither cheap nor easy to get until permies efforts to convert the world back to wool are more successful. I suspect we need to get *all* permies watching thrift shops for pleated wool skirts?

Yurts used to be covered with felted wool - I'd ask r ranson about that one!
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay, we are planning to quilt them by machine. I have always sewn by hand, and never used a sewing machine, so there may be a steep learning curve, but the time required to do it by hand seems prohibitive under the circumstances.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1543
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
479
hugelkultur dog forest garden urban cooking bike
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Real woolen fabric does not get mold as much as cotton fabric. I've seen old woolen blankets used as door-curtain for an 'outhouse' (compost toilet) and it did not look molded.

Often for furniture (chairs, sofas) woolen fabrics are used. You could ask an upholstery shop for remnants maybe?
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 3227
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1176
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen, I would suggest you think of a smaller project you'd like to do using thinner material as "practice" with the machine before tackling the quilt. For example, I use homemade oven mits and they need new covers when the old ones die of old age or abuse. I use salvaged material (the backs of worn out jeans), but a project like that would help you get comfortable.

There are a couple of tools I find *very* useful when machine sewing thick projects. (see pictures here: https://permies.com/t/40/73482/permaculture-projects/day-permie-challenge#616638)

In the picture below, the silver things are intended for marking hems, but they act like giant pins without actually putting holes in things.
The white gizmo fits on the machine instead of the presser foot and acts like a feed dog from the top, in sinc with the feed dogs at the bottom to help multi-layer thick material move through evenly, top and bottom.

It's important when machine sewing long straight seams, that you sew from the same direction from the point of view of the finished product - each side seam gets sewn from the top to the bottom - to help keep the drape from going skewed.

If I say anything which doesn't make sense, I'll try to word it differently. I think this is an awesome project, and really hope it turns out well!
quilting-tools.jpg
quilting tools I find useful
quilting tools I find useful
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay, many thanks for the tips! I think you are right that a smaller test project will be a good idea, as the materials for the window quilts are a bit pricey, and I would not like to mess them up.
 
pollinator
Posts: 879
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
72
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I doubt this will fly, because it's 'plastic' !  But a quick and dirty test of the effectiveness of  'window insulation' might be using 'bubble wrap'; all the windows can be temporarily insulated, while taking the time to make the permanent natural versions.

I think the large bubble type is most effective, but small bubbles work well also..  It instantly sticks to windows if they are just slightly wet... .like sprinkling with fingers, or light mist from a spray bottle, i.e., doesn't have to be total coverage, etc.  It takes minutes (seconds) to lightly wet the windows and press the bubble wrap on it, etc.  It sticks like magic, removes in seconds, and insulates very well ... plus pretty cheap, can use 'piece meal' pieces, and free if you can scavenge it (i.e., 'recycling' it ;)   And it transmits some light.  (I haven't seen any condensation problems with it, but Hans Quisdorff mentioned this: "If condensation is a problem place the smooth side of the bubble wrap against the glass and it will stick there,")

It might tell you how much benefit you can expect with the permanent, natural quilts you'll be making.   (I imagine someone else has mentioned this, but just in case :)
 
Jennifer Richardson
gardener
Posts: 977
Location: Wheaton Labs
597
foraging books wofati food preservation cooking fiber arts building writing rocket stoves wood heat woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, for the window quilt, I need:

6 yards of woolen fabric. There is this organic stuff at $54.45 a yard, for a total of $302.22 (ouch!).

https://organiccottonplus.com/collections/wool/products/light-wool-57-natural-1

So I am thinking instead of going with non-organic wool from the Dorr Mill Store (number 168 - primitive natural), which at 17.60 per yard, still makes for a total of $105.60.

https://dorrmillstore.com/index.php/site/products/category/fabric_by-the-yard/P20//

Wool batting:

The batt from this place will be a good size. I would like to get the 3-lb (thick) batt, for $35.

https://www.sugarloafwool.com/wool_batting_p/wool-batting.htm

I am also looking at this metal tension rod to hold the window quilts tight inside the frame with no gaps:
https://www.amazon.com/Meriville-Diameter-Tension-Adjustable-52-inch/dp/B075154ZGN/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=tension+rod+88+inches&qid=1578084450&s=furniture&sr=1-7
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 14329
Location: Pacific Northwest
6487
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would also check thrift stores for wool blankets, any time you're in town. You might get lucky!

They often have these kind of satin edges.  Here's a picture of one I got from my mom. None of mine have labels, so it can be hard to know for sure. But, it's bound to be a LOT cheaper than buying wool by the yard!
20200103_131700-1-.jpg
Wool blanket with satin edge that my mom gave me
Wool blanket with satin edge that my mom gave me
 
pollinator
Posts: 411
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
82
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Suggest trying military surplus outfits as they often have 2nd hand wool blankets for sale cheap.
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Project thoughts:

- mockup (prototype) using GoodWill sheets and trash bubble wrap (free) or GoodWill blankets. See how the fit works, practice sewing, check attachments, etc.

- ? consider ? sacrificial bottom strip, 2-4", on the bottom of the quilt where you expect it to get wet; held on by blanket pins or something pointy through an interlocking seam; surely somebody can think of a better way to hold it on while allowing it to be removed...

- ? consider ? sponge material (old trash fabric) laid along bottom of window, sufficient depth to absorb a day or two's condensation; replace with dry material as needed.

- full width "curb", 2"-4" high, along bottom of window - sheet metal, maybe or 1/8" "door skin" would work - something thin to keep the profile as close to the plane of the window jams as possible in order to not interrupt the seal of the quilt as it lays along the sides of the window;  the curb provide a dry surface (on the room side) to seal bottom of quilt onto. Use it with the sponge material on the bottom sill or naked and wipe up condensation each day at the bottom of the window.

I don't think you're going to avoid condensation, but one _can_ find an easy effective way to deal with it.

I bet Josiah can figure out a way to use 1/4" dowels and wooden clips or slots or wedges to hold the top of the quilt if you make the top with a wide hem of thinner material ! No big metal parts from Amazon. <g>


Cheers,
Rufus
 
Julie Reed
pollinator
Posts: 254
53
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have purchased 100% wool surplus blankets online for about $25, which, for a 55”x80” blanket works out to about $7.50 per yard.
To add to what Rufus mentioned, sawdust or cardboard could probably be used on the sill as renewable moisture absorbent. If you had 2 or 3 pieces of corrugated cardboard cut to fit each window, you could rotate them daily and have the others drying near the cook stove. Could probably run a few cycles before it deteriorated and had to be replaced.
 
Posts: 7
Location: Western New York
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Although they are not organic, I have gotten 100% wool blankets from Harbor Freight. At that time they were selling for about $12 and some change. At least it would help in short term until you were able to spend more for the organic. Also, has anyone looked into using kombucha scoby "leather" as an added layer of protection for windows? Not sure how well that would hold up due to the moisture, but hey.. Just a thought.
 
Posts: 8
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My first thoughts are of Chinese greenhouses where the roll of insulation is on the outside. Then no problems with condensation. Winter inside with windows means lots of plants for me, but that means lots of moisture and condensation can be a real problem. My solution—- get more plants and make life wonderful, then put more wood on the fire and forget about perfection!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1044
Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
280
hugelkultur forest garden trees chicken wofati earthworks building solar rocket stoves woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jennifer Richardson wrote:I am also looking at this metal tension rod to hold the window quilts tight inside the frame with no gaps:
https://www.amazon.com/Meriville-Diameter-Tension-Adjustable-52-inch/dp/B075154ZGN/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=tension+rod+88+inches&qid=1578084450&s=furniture&sr=1-7



I am a bit worried about the rod strength. Wool is heavy, what your building is going to be very heavy. So be aware of this and plan ahead.
 
Do Re Mi Fa So La Tiny Ad
2021 RMH Jamboree planning thread!
https://permies.com/wiki/148835/permaculture-projects/RMH-Jamboree-planning-thread
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic