Sunday, March 17, 2013

Run for Cover

I have made my first duvet cover.
I have also made my last duvet cover.
Yes, covers are expensive. Yes, finding the "perfect" shade of gray wasn't working (after a year and a half of trying). But sewing your own? Is. A. Nightmare.

At this point, my mother is thinking "I told you so." with a twinkle in her eye. The kind that only shows up when I declare some far-fetched goal and she gets to sit back and let me do it on my own because otherwise I'll never learn, but she's secretly laughing the whole time. 
Yeah. That twinkle.
Mothers know best.

I loosely followed this tutorial- because it was the only one I could reliably find on Google search, and with a little faith, a little trust, and some REALLY old math skills, I was able to come out with this.
My reasons for deviating? I wanted a reversible cover. Gray was all well and good- a nice neutral, not too light it'll show all stains, not to dark it feels masculine- but I needed something fun to break up the monotony. The stripes are a little thick to actually feel nautical, but generous and blocky that it doesn't look too feminine either. See, sweetheart, I was thinking of you all along.

I bought one set of gray sheets from Target in a CalKing (because I wanted as much fabric as  possible), one white flat sheet (in King) and the blue was a Full fitted sheet that split when I tried to manhandle it to fit our mattress. Use what you have. 
Overall, in fabric, I spent $40 (since I already had the blue) for a CalKing duvet cover. The insert was $30, from Ikea, the cheapest (and lightest) they had. So we're looking at a difference of EASILY $40, if not more, PLUS I was able to customize the duvet the way I wanted. 

I reached back into high school geometry sketched out the dimensions of the duvet, keeping in mind the dimensions of the duvet I wanted. This may have led to an issue down the road, but even now I concede that my thought process was intact. I wanted 6 stripes, and in no particular pattern, threw them together. Gray, white, blue, gray, blue, gray. This makes a duvet that is 104" give or take an inch, AFTER the stripes are sewed together (with a seam allowance of 1/4" for each inside stripe and 1/2" for the top and bottom).
Similar idea for the width- each stripe had to be cut (omg, nightmare) to a width of 86" plus 1/2" seam allowance (1/4" and 1/4" French seam again) which left us with 87".

Thus, my duvet (ideally) would be 87"x 105 1/2", but when trimmed and hemmed down, 86"x104". Right? Sure.

How does one cut straight lines on carpet, by ones' self, in a space that does not fit 107" of fabric? I freaking engineered that shiz, ya'll. I became mighty technical and in a burst of inspiration (and do-not-try-this-at-home-ness) I broke out the 6ft level we have lying around. And the painter's tape. And my cardboard cutting mat. And my Target scissors. (I'm sparing you all the pictures of my frustrating genius)

This is where my mother is starting to go red in the face because she's laughing so hard. I know this. But bear with me. If there is a will (to make a FREAKING DUVET COVER), there is a way (even if no seamstress in their right mind would attempt this).I cut, and lint-rolled (damn, we need to vacuum) and ironed my little heart out. With each edge I painstakingly created the will to finish this project both grew and fell. We were walking on pins for a while. Literally, sometimes

I won't lie, I had to seam-rip these bad boys pretty often. The edges I made were not straight. The seams I made were not straight. There were many hours of Doctor Who watching, sewing, seam-ripping and lint-rolling involved. 

But it all came together when I at last cut my top to fit my dimensions. And then cut my bottom to fit my dimensions (the bottom being the huge CalKing flat sheet). I cheated alittle bit and used the top part of the flat sheet- you know the part where they fold over about 4 inches and make a seam for you?- as a straight edge. Plus, I was able to leave the bottom undone also because flat sheets are hemmed nicely. 
I pinned the two sides together and left the designated "bottom" open in preparation for the buttons that this behemoth will eventually sport. The awesome thing about French seams is that you sew the top and bottom to each other the way the will look in the end. As in nothing's backwards or inside out. You'll sew them this way and THEN turn it all inside out and sew it the other way and when you turn it all rightside in for the last time, your beautiful seams won't have any fraying or raw edges and it all looks hunkydory.
This is the INSIDE of the cover: the edge seam on the top and the horizontal stripes are the frayed colors.
Except when you just in case lay it on the bed after the FIRST seam and realize THE COVER DOES NOT COME DOWN THE SIDE OF YOUR MATTRESS ENOUGH. Cue screams of frustration. Apparently, I didn't think to measure my own duvet cover (I thought it was a Queen so it'd be too small anyways, right?) OR my mattress. I just assumed a CalKing duvet would be much bigger than a Queen so comparing wouldn't matter, right? 
Regardless, I was left with stripes that came down just perfect to the edge of the mattress. As in, if you were to get under the covers with your husband and your dog and your plethora of pillows you wouldn't fit. And that's the whole reason we were making a bigger duvet in the first place. I hemmed and I hawed (see what I did there?) and decided what I needed was a border since I had plenty of scraps and extra fabric from all three colors.

My first attempt at a border I thought 2" would be enough. So I cut 4, ironed it in half and started to pin when I realized a seam would take away at least 1/4". So my little border would be this pathetic line on the edges. And still didn't give me the length I wanted. So I went back and measured and taped and cut (6 foot level, painter's tape, really crappy scissors) two 10" pieces (to fold over for 5"). Much better.
I have absolutely no doubt that this is what my mother envisions when I tell her these sewing plans of mine. I was a semi-permanent fixture on my couch, fingers cramped around my pins, my seam-ripper, my remote, trying frantically to finish this CalKing-size project because I just want it DONE already and did I tell you that patience is not my strong suit?

I pinned both sides, hemmed, then realized that I pinned one of my borders to the INSIDE. And then I sewed it there. But it was almost midnight (and on Mr. E's side of the bed) so it all looked fine to me. He could just sleep with a wonky duvet. My side was perfect.

After all the freaking woman hours I put into this thing, I still think it looks really nice. And it feels really nice. And it attracts dog hair like a motherflipping magnet. We'll just tuck a lint-roller in our nightstand drawer, shall we?

I do love the huge stripes. I love the colors. I love the border, actually. I love the pops of green around the room and the feel of the sheets- no soft enough to sleep on, but not as tough as I thought. 
I done good. But I will never do again.


  1. Oh my. I feel like I just relived your entire nightmare( I mean journey) in the matter of minutes and now I need caffeine.... I thought I wanted to make my own too, but I don't even have half of the space to cut the dang material. And, well, no sewing machine. So. I guess I already have two strikes against me!:) looks great though!

  2. Oh my. I feel tired and need caffeine, all of a sudden :) I had debated on trying to make my own but I think I may rethink that now! :) Yours look great though! I love your bedside lamps too! Did you make the state pillow on your bed too?

    1. Thanks! It was definitely a labor of love! I totally did make the state pillow. I have a tutorial in the works somewhere...;)

  3. Oh how I love the honesty of this post. And, THAT'S why this girl doesn't sew anything! Thanks for linking up :)


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Mrs. E