Annette from nette’s studio 23 walks you step-by-step through the process of making a sturdy, custom duvet cover with fabric you love. Save money and make something that fits your style! Keep up with Annette on her blog and through Instagram; you can also learn more in her introduction.
I love bed quilts! I love making them and I love the way they look on the beds. Mostly because I love color, and not just color but color combinations. But there are times when a simple duvet is much more appropriate for the look. I’ve also heard that sleeping under a down comforter is comfortable all year round, cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
This year our daughter will be moving into a house for her third year of campus living. She’s back to sharing a bedroom, and her suite mate and her are opting for a more classic, low-key but somewhat contemporary look. She looked for a comforter on websites like Pottery Barn and Anthropologie. She spotted an inspiration photo on one of the blogs she follows and was looking for a simple white on gray print with some accent pillows in medium or navy blue. I loved the look she was going for, but I just couldn’t see spending upwards of $350 for a poorly made, store bought duvet cover.
Duvet covers are really giant pillowcases that have some sort of closure, many times a button closure. I knew I could make one but I also knew I could make some improvements to standard store bought covers. I wanted to add ties to the inside corners of the duvet and to the comforter, use a full zipper closure with a hidden flap and seam it using French seams so there would be no raw edges anywhere.
You can choose your favorite fabric for your duvet. A duvet cover could also really be made relatively simply with two flat sheets. The only all cotton affordable sheets I could find were solid colors and I didn’t want to pay sheet set prices and only use part of the set. I decided to look at 108” wide fabric; wide quilting cotton is sold most often for quilt backs. A cover could be made with regular width fabric and it would just have a seam or two. Wide quilting cotton provides the cleaner look I was looking for.
I found a white on gray print she liked for the top and a gray solid for the back which was a little bit cheaper than the print. Because of the zipper closure, this duvet cover wasn’t going to be reversible so the solid back was just fine. The comforter that I made this cover for was 83” square. While this tutorial is pretty generic, you’ll have to adjust the amount of fabric and zipper length accordingly. For this tutorial, I’m calling the duvet cover itself the cover or duvet cover. The down comforter that is inside the cover, I’m calling the comforter. So let’s get started.
- 2 ½ yards EACH of front and back 108” wide fabric (Adjust to your size comforter, and adjust your fabric according to the width you purchase.)
- At least 2 yards of zipper by the yard with one slider
Prewash both fabrics. Press using spray starch. (I laid the large pieces outside on the lawn spraying the back with spray starch before bringing it inside to press.)
Cut a piece of fabric for the top that is 2” wider in both directions. I cut mine 85” square. This is really one of the hardest parts– cutting fabric of this volume. You can find tutorials online for how to square up fabric. It is definitely difficult to work with this amount of fabric at once and I folded my pieces twice to cut them with my 24” acrylic ruler.
For the back, cut one piece of backing fabric that is the width of the comforter plus 2” x 12” long. Cut another piece that is the width of the comforter plus 2” x the length of the comforter minus 9”. For example, for my 83” square comforter, I cut one piece 85” x 12” and one piece 85” x 76”.
Additionally, from the scraps of either fabric, cut eight pieces 2” x 15”. These will make the ties that attach to both the comforter and the duvet cover. They’ll be inside so it doesn’t matter what fabric they are.
Cut the zipper by the yard to the desired length, about 10-20” shorter than the finished duvet cover. I cut mine to 72”.
The front is all ready so let’s start with the back. Working with the smaller of the two backing pieces, fold over 1” on one of the long sides and press. Fold over an additional 1” and press.
Now do the same with the larger backing piece but ONLY fold over ½” and then another ½” on one of the long sides.
Prepare the zipper by attaching the slider; it’s really easy. You can find an online video on how to do this. I used this one.
Once the slider is attached and in working order, stitch across both short ends of the zipper either with a zig zag stitch or a regular stitch to keep the slider from sliding off unexpectedly.
Mark the center of the zipper and the center of both backing pieces at the folded edges.
Place the zipper face up on your work surface. With the size of these covers, this very well may be the floor! Working with the larger of the two back pieces, lay the folded edge along the zipper teeth about 1/16” away from the teeth aligning the center marks. Pin in place.
Top stitch along this fold even where there is no zipper about ¼” from the fold taking the pins out as you sew. I didn’t change to the zipper foot on my machine because I could get close enough to the fold without it. You may have to change your foot depending on your sewing machine and your sewing feet.
Here’s what it should look like when you are done. Lay this piece right side up on your work surface.
Next, working with the smaller piece of the backing, open up the first folded edge and mark the center. Lay this folded edge on the upper portion of the zipper tape aligning the edge of the tape with the fold, the center marks and the right and left side of both backing pieces as best as possible. Pin in place.
Stitch about 1/4” away from fold taking the pins out as you sew. Again, you may need to use a zipper foot or you can use your regular sewing foot depending on your machine.
Flip the top part of this smaller backing piece over, letting it fall to the pressed fold you created earlier. This forms the flap for your zipper. Topstitch about ¼” from edge of fold.
With the wrong side facing up and the piece laying flat, sew again on the same stitching used to sew the smaller piece to the zipper. This keeps the flap that hides the zipper nicely in place.
Pin or mark a line about 1” in towards the center of the duvet cover at each short end of the zipper. Pin the flap in place in the area where there is no zipper. Make sure the slider is somewhere between the two marks toward the middle of the cover and clear of the area you will be stitching.
Topstitch close to the bottom fold through all layers until the first vertical mark at the zipper end. Pivot the needle and stitch until the topstitching performed in previous step. Don’t be alarmed but you will be sewing over the zipper teeth. Do the same on the other end of the zipper.
Here’s what it should look like when you are done.
Next, make the tie downs using the 2”x15” pieces. Fold each one in half along the long edge and press. Open the fold and fold each raw edge in towards the center and press again. Open one short end and fold in ¼” of the raw edge. Refold and press again to keep in place.
Stitch close to this one short end and along the entire long edge close to the fold. Continue with remaining seven pieces. (Please note: If your comforter has tie downs, you need only make four ties and you can skip this next step.) Pin the unfinished short end of one tie about 2” from the corner with the tie lying in towards the comforter. Stitch across this edge in a small rectangle backstitching to secure stitches.
Flip tie away from quilt and pin if necessary. Stitch in a rectangle to secure end and hide any raw edges. Continue in similar fashion with remaining three corners of comforter.
Next, attach the four tie-downs to the duvet cover back. Working with the wrong side of the backing facing up, pin the short raw edge of one of the ties about 3” from the left or right edge of the back with the tie lying in towards the backing. Stitch in place using a ¼” seam allowance and securing the beginning and end. Repeat with remaining three ties.
Clear a large enough work surface for the whole duvet cover. Lay the front of the cover wrong side up on the work surface smoothing it out flat. Lay the back right side up lining up the four edges of the cover. It is most helpful to have an assistant with this step. If you are familiar with sewing, this wrong sides facing may seem a little funky to you. Remember though, we want to do French seams to conceal all the raw edges.
If necessary, trim either piece so they are the same size. You don’t have to be real fussy here because no one will notice any minor disparity once the comforter is inside the cover. If you are going to trim be careful not to cut off the ties or into their stitching.
Pin around all four sides aligning the raw edges. Ties should be inside the cover.
Pin ties clear of your seam allowance so they don’t accidentally get sewn into a seam other than the one short end raw edge. It is also helpful to have the zipper open about 12”. Sew along edge of all four sides using a 3/8” seam allowance. You can pivot at the corners or you can start and run your stitches all the way to the end. Trim the seam allowance diagonally at all four corners to remove bulk. Traditional methods of French seaming suggest you trim your entire seam allowance to 1/8”. That’s probably important to remove bulk with garments, but it’s not necessary here.
Open the zipper the remaining length and press the seam allowance to one side. This may be a little difficult in the corners, but try your best. Turn the cover so the wrong sides are facing out. Press the seam again on the wrong side to ensure it is completely open and flat. With right sides together, pin along this folded edge on all four sides. Pin the tie downs out of the way, too. Sew using a 5/8” seam allowance completely encasing the previous seam into this new seam. Again, you can pivot at the corners or run the stitching to the end. Sew all four edges.
I did not trim the corners on this step because I wanted a completely finished edge inside. Turn right side out and press the seams flat.
Turn the cover back wrong sides out and lay out on floor zipper side down. Lay the comforter on the top of the cover and tie each corner of the comforter to each corner of the duvet cover. Flip the duvet cover right sides out around the comforter. Push the comforter into the corners of the duvet cover to fill them out. Zip the cover closed. Admire your new duvet cover that you made at a fraction of the cost of buying store bought.
This post is sponsored by Fabricworm, your source for modern, designer and Japanese import fabrics, perfect for crafts, quilts and home decorators.