About Down Proof Fabric

Down comforters, pillows, featherbeds; any article of bedding or clothing that is filled with down or feathers, requires a special fabric, a "Down Proof" fabric, sometimes referred to as "Ticking", that will help prevent the down and feathers from leaking.



Down Proof fabrics that are filled with feathers or a blend of feathers and down need to be heavier and stronger than a fabric that is filled with only down.  These heavier fabrics will also tend to be stiffer, and not as soft as a fabric that can be filled with just down, and no feather.



Down Proof is actually a misnomer.  An unbroken down cluster is relatively large 3 dimensional structure that will not leak through fabric.  It is the tiny pieces of broken down clusters, known as "fiber", and feathers with their sharp pointy ends that will inexorably work their way through the fabric and into your space.  So, "fiber proof" or "feather proof" might be a more appropriate description, except for the fact that there is no fabric that is 100% fiber or feather proof.



Fabrics that are the most "down proof" (feather & fiber proof) are usually heavier and stiffer (not soft or cuddly), which is not a desirable attribute for a luxury down comforter or pillow.  Fear not, we are all about soft and cuddly!


cuddle up to soft and luxurious down proof fabrics  



Twill is the best down-proof weave, but these tend to be heavier fabrics - with a notable exception or two.  The German milled Fine Twill that we use for our Cascade Made™ 700, 800 & 900 fill power down pillows, and for our Cascade Made™ 700 fill power down comforter is an excellent example of a down proof, light weight, durable and luxuriously soft quality Twill.  That's why we've chosen it!


Plain Weaves

A plain weave fabric, such as Cambric or Batiste, is the next best.  They can be very soft, lightweight and strong. These fabrics can also be noisy, some more so than others.  Some examples can crinkle or rustle, and there is a myth that this rusting indicates lower quality.  An exquisite quality Batiste can exhibit a slight rustle or crinkle when shaken or smooshed, but it can also be among the lightest and softest of all down proof fabrics.


The Batiste fabric that we've chosen for our Cascade Made™ Batiste down comforter is a perfect example of a very high quality down proof cotton Batiste.  Milled and sewn for us in Austria, this fine fabric weighs just 2.71oz per square yard. It is so soft and light that sleeping under the Cascade Made™ 800 Batiste down comforter is almost like sleeping cuddled under a very soft cloud.



A quality Sateen fabric seems to hit the sweet spot; soft, lightweight, relatively quiet and very down-proof when matched with the appropriate down.  The finest quality Sateens can be softer and as light as the best Batiste and, when used with a high quality down, at least as down proof.


The Sateen fabric that we've chosen for our Cascade Made™ 900 Fill Power down comforter, is, in a word, exquisite.  Soft? OMG!  Down proof?  It actually tested as good, or better in some tests, than our Fine Twill, which was at the top of the class, except for this fabric.  Lightweight?  How about 2.68 ounces per square yard!  This fine fabric, paired with our rare RDS Certified 900 fill power Hungarian White Goose Down makes a down comforter that is the epitome of soft and light and fluffy.



The least down-proof weave is a Jacquard, generally speaking.  There are some excellent down proof jacquard weaves, but they are few and far between, and very expensive.  Cheap jacquards will leak no matter what quality of down you put into them.


More Important Than Thread Count

The weave of the fabric, such as a Twill, or a Plain Weave Batiste or Cambric, or a Sateen, is very important.  More important than thread count.  But so is the way a fabric is finished.  A lower quality cotton down proof fabric may be made "down proof" by simply coating the fabric with starch.  The starch will soon wear or wash away, and so will all the down proofness.  If your (cotton) down comforter is labeled "Dry Clean Only", it has likely been starched.



The best down proof fabrics are calendered, a process where the fabric is passed between rollers at high temperatures and pressure.  This, combined with the specialized down proof weave that the best fabrics use, helps to permanently seal the fabric while retaining the permeability, or "breath-ability" of the fabric.



Pairing Down to Fabric

Pairing the down to the fabric it is intended to be used with is a very important step for a manufacturer when choosing a down proof fabric.  A fabric might do very well with one type of 650 fill down (for example), but fail miserably with another 650 fill down.



It is also worth noting that a higher quality down, with less fiber and feather, will be less prone to leaking than a lower quality down.  In other words, a quality fabric filled with a quality 700 or 800 fill power down will perform much better than the same fabric filled with a lower quality down.



Our down proof fabrics chosen for their softness, lightness of weight, and most importantly - for their down proofness.  Each of our fabrics is rigorously tested, both by the fabric manufacturer and by an independent testing facility, and paired during the testing process with the specific type of down that is to be used with that fabric.



Care For Your Down Proof Fabric 


Proper care also plays an important role in the down proofness of a comforter or pillow fabric.  It's especially important not to over dry your comforter or pillow when drying it (after washing).  Over drying your down can make the clusters brittle and easy to break.  How long should a down comforter last?


This breakage will turn down clusters into tiny little pieces of down which can leak through even the best down proof fabric.  Not only that; if the clusters break from over drying, your pillows and comforters will become flat, with no fluff or resilience, or ability to insulate and keep you warm. 




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