One of the most common problems that people experience with comforters, especially those filled with down or other alternative fibers, is bunching and/or shifting of the filling.

Ultimately, this problem happens for two reasons:

  • Improper care
  • Stitching design

One of these problems is something that can be only be prevented by those that actually use the products, while the other lies in the hands of the manufacturer.

If you’re interested in down comforters, it is important to know this information before you buy so you can get bedding you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Stitching Design
A number of different stitch designs are used for comforters in an attempt to keep fill in place. Some of them work better than others, and even some of those that work have their drawbacks.

The most effective is called gated baffle-box, although there are designs that just go in one direction of the comforter, which is not as effective. This design uses a piece of fabric between the top and bottom layers of the blanket to hold the down material in place.

There is also box stitching, which is a sewn through design. Initially, this may seem like an effective design because it does keep the filling in place. However, it does not allow the material to retain its loft, which causes it to clump and compress. This results is less comfort and heat retention.

Improper Care
down-feather-clumpMost people do not realize that care of their comforters can actually cause fill material to shift or bunch. Washing is the most common culprit here, but this can actually depend on the kind of comforter.

Real down feather filled comforters are typically not supposed to be washed at home in a standard washer and dryer. Real feathers have an airy structure that collapses when it gets wet and will often remain that way even after drying out again.

As a result, just a single wash on the wrong type of comforter can cause permanent clumping of the fill material. This does not apply to all real down comforters though – some have been manufactured to be safe to wash at home.

Be sure to take a look at our down care guide for complete information on washing and dry cleaning these products.

Shift-Free Down Filling
Currently, there is only one patented stitching design that prevents the shifting of down feathers in a comforter. To top it off, this particular design, PermaBaffle shiftless construction, also allows real down to be washed at home in a washer and dryer and still prevents shifting or clumping of the material.

PermaBaffle is a unique baffle-box design used in Pinzon brand down comforters. They have Pyrenees (real goose down) and PrimaLoft (down alternative) styles that both feature this particular stitching construction, so either is recommended to overcome this problem.