Ultra-Simple Duvet Cover

Easy duvet cover from flat sheets by Beautiful Entropy

I’m a big fan of duvet covers for toddlers and little kids. Because duvet covers are easy to wash, W doesn’t use a top sheet (and really, top sheets just get tangled up in little kid feet or pushed aside anyway). In the winter, I put a down comforter inside the cover, and she’s super cozy. In the summer, she uses the duvet cover without an insert, and it acts like a very thick sheet/thin coverlet that provides just the right amount of warmth against cool summer breezes. The only — really, the ONLY — thing I don’t like about duvet covers is that they can be expensive to buy and are nearly impossible to make on the cheap, because it’s really hard to find fabric wide enough for even a twin-size cover (about 64″ wide, finished size), and extra-wide fabric is even more expensive than regular fabric. Anyway, W has been dying for a set of owl sheets, and I found this on Pottery Barn Kids and loved it. That is, loved it…except for the price ($69.00 + tax for a twin sheet set)…and the quality (for that price, I really expect more than 200-count sheets). We went to Target, and I found this set, which was $17.99 for a 225-count sheet set, and was just as cute. I bought an additional flat sheet for $10.99.

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This is the flat sheet from the owl set, plus an additional flat sheet in a coordinating coral color that will go nicely with her room.

The plan was to use the pillowcase and fitted sheet from the owl set as they were, and to make the two flat sheets (the one from the set plus the extra) into a duvet cover. Why would I cut up perfectly good flat sheets? Because they’re actually cheaper than buying extra-wide fabric in the same yardage.* Two flat sheets (in any size) make a perfect duvet cover for a bed of that same size. Cheap and easy!

*Have you ever wondered why finished cloth products like clothes and sheets cost about the same, or only a bit more, than it would cost to buy the fabric to make them yourself? It has to do with tariffs. There are tariffs on imported fabric, but not imported finished cloth goods, in the US. Sucks, right?

A twin duvet cover is about 86″ x 64″, while a twin sheet is about 96″ x 66″ so — after washing and ironing* the sheets — the first step was to cut the sheets to size. Twin sheets are supposed to all have the same dimensions, but they don’t, as you can see from this picture.

*No, I am not a “sheet-ironer” in real life, but I was treating the sheets like fabric, so I treated them like…fabric.

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Whatever. Duvet covers are very forgiving; it’s enough to get close with your measurements and then ensure that the two cut sheets end up the same size. To cut the twin sheets down to size, you’ll need to remove about 10″ of length and just a few inches of width; in both cases, make sure you remove the hemmed edges, since you don’t want the extra thickness mucking with things.

Once I had the two sheets cut down to the right size (I figured on 1/2″ seam allowances, so I cut 87″ x 65″, more or less), I pinned the edges. This step probably wasn’t particularly necessary, but even with woven fabric, there’s a little bit of shifting that will take place (particularly over such a long seam length), and I didn’t want to deal with misaligned fabric at the corners.

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All nice and pinned. I am usually so lazy about pinning; I was really well behaved on this project!

I seamed the top, right, and left of the duvet cover (with right sides together) and seamed the bottom partially, leaving approximately two feet in the center of the bottom open. This seam section will remain open, as it’s where you’ll have access to the duvet insert for adding or removing it.

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About 2′ of open (unseamed) area at the bottom of the duvet cover.

Before turning the duvet cover right-side-out, I trimmed the corners on the diagonal to reduce bulk.

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That open area at the bottom of the duvet cover can either remain open or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can add snaps, velcro, or buttons to hold it closed. I wasn’t that motivated, and closures aren’t really necessary. It needs to be hemmed, though, so it won’t unravel. The easiest way to do this is to try to match the 1/2″ seams from the rest of the edges as much as possible by folding your raw edges over 1/4″, then 1/4″ again, so that the eventual hemmed edge flows smoothly out of the seamed edge.

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Fold the raw edge over 1/2″ (as I’m doing here), then tuck the raw edge underneath by another 1/4″, so that it’s tucked in neatly and the hemmed (unseamed) edge matches the seamed edge.

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Pinned and ready for sewing.

After I hemmed both sides of the open area (coral sheet and owl sheet), I did a small bar tack on the outside of the join, just to reinforce the transition from seamed area to unseamed (open) area. This is a good idea, given that you’ll be shoving an insert into the duvet cover and removing said insert (and these inserts tend to be bulky) many times during the duvet cover’s lifetime.

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I used cream thread for the bar tack, which looks ugly, right? Remember that the coral side is my down side, and the bar tack matches the top side (the owl side), so it won’t show. Yes, I could have used coral bobbin thread. I was being lazy. Or else I was making sure the bar tack would show so you could see it. Yeah. That’s it.

Aaaaand…that’s it! You’re done! I made up W’s bed with her new duvet cover, and she LOOOOVED it. Notice that we also got an owl-shaped pillow ($16.99 from Target), so all told, I was in for $45.97 for a sheet set PLUS a duvet cover PLUS a cute owl pillow (at a higher thread count) compared to $69.00 for just a sheet set from Pottery Barn. I’m pretty pleased.

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What do you think?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sula1968
    May 21, 2013 @ 10:16:44

    Great idea and I love the owl fabric!

    Reply

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