Red alert, folks. I’m being a tidge pompous. I think I just may have solved one of the great conundrums of the ages. Nate had that whole Shroud of Turin thing . . . and I’ve been feeling the pressure to keep up with my little brother. This is my moment. I’m expecting National Geographic to call any minute.

The Problem: How to keep the bedspread from wadding up inside the duvet cover, combined with the added riddle of how to keep your sanity and your sanctification whilst inserting the bedspread into the duvet cover.

I’ve sewn more duvet covers over the years than I care to think about, and I’ve always had a love / hate thing going on there. The beauty of the duvet is that it’s washable, relatively cheap, easy to make yourself, and makes re-decorating a breeze. On the downside, the bedspread shuffles around inside the cover, eventually twisting itself into a giant lump of sin and evil that is impossible to solve without removing the entire thing and trying to re-insert it. It is at this point in the process that I, myself, become a giant lump of sin and evil . . . because there are few things in the world worse than crawling around on the floor trying to smoothly insert a bedspread into a duvet cover. “Claustrophobic” doesn’t even begin to describe it. At the end of the process I’m always a sweaty, angry, red-faced, static-haired stinker.

Way back in my early duvet sewing days, a lovely interior decorator friend gave me a hot tip. Sew ribbons into the inside corners of the duvet cover. Then you simply tie around the corners of the bedspread to hold it smoothly in place. Brilliant. So I did that for years. It was better than nothing, but I’ll tell you about the troubles I encountered with this method because I’m sure you’re dying to know all about it. First of all, if you tie it just to the very tip of the bedspread, it slips out. If you tie it to a biggish lump of the bedspread, then you have what looks like a tennis ball stuffed into the corners.  If you tie a bow with ribbon, it unties. If you tie a knot – then you’re stuck untying a knot next time around. Also, ribbon frays – and no one wants to try to sew a tiny hem at the end of a ribbon. There’s always fray-check I suppose . . . but still. All in all, the system is not ideal.

Enter my amazingly awesome plan. It’s Spring Break this week, so I’m sewing new duvet covers, shams, etc. for my three girls. (Loads of fun incidentally . . . I let them unroll bolts of my fabric all over their room yesterday and they each got to pick out their own coordinating prints and we had a grand old time.) Anyhow, I think I have officially solved the duvet problem.

First, I placed a small metal eyelet in each corner of the bedspread. Then, instead of ribbons, I sewed shoelaces into the corners of the duvet cover.

Do you catch the subtle brilliance? First of all, the end is finished off, and won’t fray . . . even in the wash. Second, shoelaces are a much better texture for staying tied. After all, that’s their entire purpose in life. I’m sure there are whole armies of shoelace engineers somewhere, dedicating their lives to the question of optimal texture for tying performance. Or something like that.

You need two sets of shoelaces per duvet – and I trimmed them down to a length of 12″ which leaves enough room to comfortably tie it, but not have laces dangling out the opening. After the duvet cover was finished, I laid it (inside out) on the floor and placed the bedspread on top of it. Then we threaded the laces through the eyelets, tied them in a double bow, and then simply flipped the whole thing right side out. Not once did I have to stick my head inside or grope blindly around in the end, trying to find the corner. Totally amazing.

Now I’m off to sew two more duvets and five more shams. Also curtains – or possibly roman shades. Then lampshades. Finally, upholstered headboards. When it’s done I’ll post a picture, which should be sometime in 2014. Stay tuned.

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36 thoughts on “News Flash

  1. This is BRILLIANT! Really, National Geographic should call you…or at least Real Simple! Would you ever do a tutorial on sewing duvet covers? I’m planning to attempt my first for my son this summer.

  2. Thank you! I never understood the ties in the corner! They were just a tease of a solution.
    By the way, I’m enjoying the contrast of your spring break day to that of Rachel’s. What a difference a couple of years make!

  3. Your solution is brilliant….now, let me offer a brilliant solution to the ribbon fraying issue: my mother used to sew baby clothes and accessories for the public, which entailed loads of ribbob and rickrack. She eventually figured out that running a lighter quickly over the cut ends seals your ribbon…..so no more fraying! (Incidentally, this probably wouldn’t work with natural fibers)

  4. Would you believe that about 4 hours ago I was having my own battle inserting duvet in cover…one corner is still mysteriously empty and there is no lump. I was too done to worry about it. I will have to try this…though I swore to myself that I’d never use one again after this one :). Perhaps I’ll change my tune.

  5. Oh and…do you do tutorials on how to sew these things??? :)Would so love to do that!!!!!! (these things being roman curtains, lampshades, and especially especially upholstering headboards)

  6. Oh no! You are a week too late for me!

    I have wrestled (literally) with the duvet issues for several years now. It is such a pain to keep it looking good. My husband dislikes them because we just end up with with empty cover at top and the duvet is always hanging in a lump somewhere off the end of the bed.

    So I have gone to bedspreads/quilts. I still loved my (IKEA) coverr though so last week I chopped it up to make a footstool cover for the living room…..if only I’d known your trick I may have given it another try :o)

  7. Aha! Great idea. I had figured out (after many years) how to get the jolly quilt into the cover without the static hair thingy and I had been sewing it into the corners. However, bedwetters complicate things ’cause I had to keep unpicking my sewing and then it was just too plain hard to sew the clean one back in. This solves my problem, thank you! I can get an older child to TIE it in, whereas asking them to sew was just not going to happen. Bless you, Rachel. :o) (Now I just wonder if I’ll ever get around to it…)

  8. What I have done for all the years of my marriage was to take the top flat sheet and safety pin it to the comforter. Of course, you don’t have the ever changing duvet cover. Use the big safety pins. Since I have a bedspread on top the showing pins doesn’t bother anyone. Keeps the sheet from balling up at the foot of the bed.

    I like your idea very much, but I don’t know how to install eyelets but it looks fairly simple just involving a hammer.

  9. Oooh, yes! A Duvet cover sewing tutorial please! Every store seems to sell duvets, but very few places sell duvet covers. Why???

  10. Just curious if you are dealing with mostly queen sized comforters. Because I always find the corners inside out of the duvet from the other side with my hands and then grab the corners of the comforter through the duvet, do a flip over and shake really well whilst holding the corners tight.(did that make sense?) This is for my 4 children’s twin size duvets. I can readjust very easily by pulling the comforter out again- takes a mere minute tops.

  11. My solution is not nearly as creative… I just bought the plastic duvet holders from BedBath & Beyond… a good solution for the non-creative or sewing types :) They insert on the inside of the duvet cover and hold it in place nicely. Works for me and our King size covers.

  12. I tie the ties in the corners into a big, fat knot and then put a big safety pin through it. Then I just run the safety pin through my duvet. Just an idea for anyone (like me) who does not sew or make duvet covers–I’m stuck with the store-bought one, so I had to figure out a way to make it work!

  13. I got annoyed by that same thing this summer. (bane of my exsistence haha) What I did was put snaps along the top of the duvet. Not a lot of bulk with snaps and easy to put together and undo. I only had to use 5/6 snaps to make it secure. I haven’t had the slipping problem since!

  14. You have come up with a great idea! I live in Japan and they have found wonderful ways to tie their duvets onto their comforters. The comforter has a little loop string sewn in each corner. The duvet has ties on each corner that you tie onto the comforter’s loop. AND, the duvet has a tiny, unnoticeable slit in each corner for easy access if needed. And they just sell them all like that here! Perfect!

  15. I just had a good laugh, because only yesterday I removed my duvet in a little fit of frustrated passion and decided to use the comfort without the cover for a while. I shall have to try this.

  16. Very clever indeed! Not being a seamstress myself, I have discovered that if you can bunch the duvet cover enough to get the top two corners in correctly, all you have to do is hold onto those two corners and shake until it all comes out right. Surprisingly, it never takes very long at all, and then it is so delightfully fluffy.

  17. Good innovations. As another option, try button holes in the duvet cover and big buttons on the corners of the duvet. I live in England where everyone uses duvets and I have found that turning the cover inside out and inserting your hands all the way into the cover grabbing hold of two corners of the duvet and then a little flip and hearty shake works quite well.

  18. I, too, have made many duvet covers. I find that grosgrain ribbon stays tied well. I have always fray-proofed the ends of the polyester ribbon by holding them to the flame of a lighter. The threads melt slightly and immediately harden, preventing fraying.

    I like making duvet covers for toddler beds because the selection of toddler bed linens seems extremely limited in stores, and I like to custom design my kids’ rooms. Duvets also make bed-making a breeze for little ones, and they are easily laundered. I have found toddler duvets and adorable toddler-size pillows at IKEA. If you don’t live near an IKEA, they will ship them to you. Then you are ready to have fun making the duvet cover and the pillow case.

  19. Oh…about the word “duvet,” I always understood it to mean the down-filled or poly-filled comforter or bedspread that fits inside the duvet cover under consideration in this post. Maybe that helps clarify what I wrote above.

  20. That’s awesome Bekah! I love your creativity!

    I struggled to keep my six girls’ duvets all smoothed out for several years. I finally asked my friend Sheri to help me by cutting the duvets apart and using the fabric to make quilts. (I sew but not enough to make SIX quilts in a jiffy) Each quilt is a bit different from the next since we mixed and matched coordinated fabrics and she used a different quilt stitching for each.

    So cute!

    xo, Michelle

  21. So clever, Bekah, as always. I know that if I ever have the energy or desire to make a duvet cover I will use this idea :) I do want you to know that my girls have a gorgeous quilt made out of your fabric. I wish I could say that I made it, but I didn’t. A dear friend from TX made it as a thank you for Anna and Leah giving up their room to her and her husband for a week last Summer. It seemed an “over the top” thank you, but we are not complaining, and the girls’ room is simply happier and more lovely than ever now! She also made pillow cases and shams.

  22. Bekah,

    This is a great idea!

    What’s your favorite fabric source for the big items like this duvet cover and curtains?

  23. Have just ordered my first duvet cover and bought a comforter. Do you think that sewing a button to each corner of the comforter, with a rather long thread shank (like on thick coats where thread is wrapped around the stitching before knotting it) and then making a buttonhole in each corner of the duvet would work? has anyone tried this?

  24. You’re brilliant! I wish I worked for National Geographic…sorry … I guess I could pretend to work for them and then interview you, but you’re so brilliant you’d see right through me and my lame attempt.

  25. I just purchased my first duvet cover and was seriously concerned about how it was going to keep from wadding up. Thank you so much!!! Now I just need to find someone to sew the shoelaces on since I cant even sew a button.

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