101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

sewing 101: making a duvet cover

by Grace Bonney

I don’t know about you, but I never cease to be shocked at the price of bedding. And nothing sets off my “I could make that myself so much cheaper and better” instincts like duvet covers. It’s just a big flat case of fabric, yet even the simplest options easily soar into the three digits—but all it takes to make your own is a bunch of fabric, a few straight seams, and a spare afternoon.

Not only will going DIY with your duvet cover save you some cash, it’ll also allow you to custom-make exactly what you are looking for. What’s better than that? Let’s go! Brett Bara

*if you missed any of brett’s sewing 101 columns this month, check out her archives: curtains, zippered throw pillows, ottoman slip cover

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

What You’ll Need

Approximately 10 yards fabric (see below to calculate exact amount; I suggest buying extra just in case)

Yard stick, long quilter’s ruler or tape measure

Sharp scissors

Straight pins

Sewing machine

Iron and ironing board

Selecting and Preparing Fabric

I recommend machine-washable cottons or cotton-linen blends for duvet covers. Quilting shops are a great place to look for fabrics, as there are tons of choices there for cottons in tiny prints, large prints, solids and everything in between.

Here I’m working with Denise Schmidt Hope Valley Piney Woods from Free Spirit Fabrics.

Be sure to wash, dry and iron your fabric before beginning to pre-shrink it.

Fabric Tips

*If you find yourself head over heels for designer bedding, check to see if you can buy two flat sheets from the line, and use these to sew your own duvet cover. This can be much less expensive than buying the duvet cover itself, and sometimes the manufacturer uses the very same fabric for the sheets as for the duvets, so you’re really working with the exact same material.

*Consider using a different fabric for the front and back of the duvet so that the piece is reversible—two looks for the price of one, and a special bonus for the décor commitment-phobes among us.

Planning and Cutting

There aren’t strict standards for bedding sizes in the US (comforter sizes tend to vary among manufacturers), so I recommend measuring the comforter you plan to cover and using those numbers to plan your duvet cover.

Since fabric generally isn’t sold in widths wide enough for a full duvet, you’ll need to seam a few panels of fabric together to make the front and back. I suggest placing one full panel down the center of the duvet with two smaller panels to each side of it; this is generally nicer-looking than making one seam down the middle of the duvet.

NOTE: Remember that you should trim off the selvedge edges of your fabric (these are the finished edges on both sides of the fabric which are a little different in texture and/or color from the rest of the fabric) before sewing. Remember to subtract the selvedge edge from any measurements as you plan your piece.

Measure the width of your fabric without selvedge; plan to place one full panel of fabric down the center of the duvet and two smaller panels to each side of it. Simply make the side panels as large as they need to be to reach the desired width of your duvet cover, adding 1” to the width of each panel to allow for seam allowance.

So, if your center panel needs to be 40” wide and each side panel needs to be 20” wide, cut the panels 41” wide and 21” wide. Those extra inches will be consumed by the seams.

The length of your duvet is simply the desired finished length plus 2 ½” for hem and seam allowance.

*Remember that you need a front and a back, so plan all your measurements and double them to calculate the total amount of fabric you’ll need.

Here’s what your panels will look like when they’re ready to go.  (Note: I’m making a mini duvet here to make it easier to see the big picture of shape and construction.)

Sewing: French Seams

To begin, you’ll sew each side panel to its corresponding center panel, to make the front and back of the cover.

For a really nice professional-looking finished result, I recommend using French seams in this project. These seams are finished on both the inside and outside, so that no raw edges of fabric will be visible anywhere.

French seams may sound fancy, but they’re really easy! Here’s how:

Place two pieces of fabric WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. (This is the opposite of normal; usually you sew most seams right sides together.)

Sew the seam with a ¼” seam allowance.

Trim away about ½ of the seam allowance, being careful not to get too close to the stitches.

Iron the seam to one side, then fold at the seam so that right sides of the fabric are facing together, and iron the seam closed.

Pin the seam closed to avoid shifting, and sew it again with a ¼” seam allowance. Iron this seam to one side, and your French seam is done.

From the outside it looks like a regular seam, but on the inside all you see is this nice finished flap. Nice, right?!

For a nice finishing touch, you can top stitch to tack down the flap. All you do is top stitch on the right side of the duvet alongside the French seam, stitching over the folded-over flap in the back.

Iron the seam once again after top stitching to smooth and relax it.

Repeat for all center/side panels so that you have a complete front and back.

Attaching the Front and Back Together

Place the front and back together with wrong sides facing, pinning each side seam in place. Sew each side with French seams as described above (but skip the top-stitching for the sides).  After sewing the sides, sew the top closed with a french seam as well.

The inside of the duvet is now fully finished, with no raw edges visible at all. Isn’t that nice? Here is what the corners will look like on the inside.

To hem the bottom of the duvet, fold 1” of fabric to the inside and press. Fold up another 1” and press again; pin folds in place.

Stitch hem close to the exterior fold line and again close to the interior fold line.

Getting Closure

You have many options for closing up the bottom of the duvet (in each of these cases, I suggest placing a button/snap/ribbon about every 8” along the bottom):

*Buttons and buttonholes: easy to do with the buttonhole attachment that comes with most sewing machines.

*Sew-on snaps: very easy to sew on by hand, and quick to snap/unsnap when you change the duvet.

*Snap fastener kit: All you need is a hammer and the special tool that comes in this set to attach snaps without sewing for a very professional-looking result. (Check the instructions on the package.)

*Ribbon or twill tape: even easier to install. I suggest tucking 10” lengths of ribbon or tape under the folds of the hem before sewing it.

*Zippers: long zippers can be purchased online; you might consider a zipper closure along the bottom, using the same zipper-installation method as the zippered pillow cover.

That’s all there is to it! Don’t you feel so wonderfully nice and cozy with your new handmade duvet cover?!

Suggested For You


  • My problem is a little different. I need to make a tailored duvet cover. almost like a day bed cover but the seams are open at the foot instead of closed. or, if that makes no sense, picture a comforter with the corners court out at the foot of the bed, eliminating the corner drape. making the cover is not a problem. I’ve done that. finding an insert with the corners cut out is the problem. I’m using down alternative Dixie to allergy issues and I’m wondering about the feasibility of buying the insert and sewing the corner notches and then trimming. I am reluctant to try this and am open to any alternative solutions. I only found two places online that sell these. One sells only to hotels. the other has a foot panel significantly shorter than the side panel. any ideas?

  • Donna,

    I am making a Duvet cover for a friend, so found your question. This is my first experience with this, but I have done many quilts. I would suggest that, yes, you should get a duvet the size you like and stitch along the corner you wish to cut out. Cut the corner out, and bind the edge with bias tape to secure it further. It may help to make 2 lines of stitching on the side you will keep, to make it easier to bind, and sew a seam 1/2″ into the piece you will cut out so that you aren’t left with a mess of stuffing when you cut. then you can cut between two of the rows you stitched.

  • I made my quilt cover using this tutorial and it turned out fabulously. Thank you for a very easy to follow tutorial. You have done a great job with this tutorial. I will be recommending this tutorial to all my sewing friends. Thank you once again.

  • Thanks, I always thought I could make it too after seeing them in the stores…you did a great job with the instructions, I will make one as soon as possible…thanks again.

  • I did this by sewing 2 king sized flat sheets together and it turned out great. I used button closures at the bottom. Obviously, it matched my bedding exactly!

  • Hi, Donna. Thank you so much for these instructions. I am not much of a sewer, but I am going to give this a try. I feel kind of silly asking this, but I’m not sure I understand how you hem the bottom. So, you do this AFTER you have sewn up the sides and top (so that you are folding, pressing and sewing a big circle of fabric)? Is it possible to hem the bottom of each side separately and then sew the front and back together, or do you get a better result doing it the other way? By the way, I can’t wait to try the French seams! Thanks so much!

  • Kaille, I thought the same thing at first. Perhaps the instructions about the bottom hem are referring to the top and bottom of the duvet cover – separately – BEFORE they are sewn together.

    Design Sponge, these are exactly the type of instructions I was looking for. Will do very small practice one perhaps, and then begin.
    Thanks MUCH!!!


    • Ive never used a sewing machine. Actually, i don’t even have a sewing machine lol but I’ve been wanting one for this project specifically. Anyways, making a small one for practice is a really good idea!! Ill add to your great idea of making a smaller one.. I think ill practice by making “duvet covers” for my pillows.. that will match. :-) oh, is that a pillow case lolol.

  • Thank you so much for the great instructions. Doing French seams made a huge difference in the appearance of the finished duvet. It was a lot of work but well worth it. I used velcro for the bottom closure.

  • I’m planning to make a twin size quilt for my granddaughter. I’ll use a cotton sheet for the top. Can I used a jersey sheet for the bottom, or will it cause problems to have two such different fabrics?

  • Hi there!

    If I wanted to add ties into the inside corners (to hold the duvet in place, as often found in many store-bought duvet covers) at what point in the French seam process would I do that?

    • You would insert the corner ties in the first step of the seam process. layers: bottom fabric (right-side down): ties (layed out toward center of duvet): top fabric (right side up).

      I usually pin my ties to the bottom piece of fabric so that they don’t fall in the way. Then, when I flip the fabric to finish the seam, they continue to stay out of the way.

  • Hi there,

    thanks for writing this blog post, I’ve been going crazy trying to find a nice but affordable duvet cover and have found some beautiful fabric online which I think I will buy to make one myself and for much cheaper (and personalised).

    I am wanting to make one queen and one king size cover, I couldn’t find the measurements of how much fabric I would need to buy in your post but you said you’d post them somewhere.. could you please send me that link? or just let me know the measurements?

    thanks very much!

  • Thank you so much for posting this!! Our duvet is an odd-sized king, and I could not find a cover that would fit it correctly. I sewed together some pieces of leftover fabric I had lying around and used your instructions to make a correctly sized cover for it. The result was far beyond my expectations! I rarely sew, but I was able to follow your instructions easily with a beautiful result! I finished it inside a day. It looks more expensive than any duvet cover I have ever bought and fits perfectly!

    An alternate closure method: I ended up using small pieces (about the size of a button) of sticky velcro to close it. I sewed them in place by hand with a couple small stitches in the very center of each piece. It works nicely – easy to open/close but stays closed well.

  • I sew a 4″ square of colored quilt squares into the center of a white sheet for the top of the duvet. I have to cut the sheet to fit it in. That’s easy. I want to make the bottom sheet top fit over the top of the front. It looks very nice. I did it once, but wonder if you have a tutorial. I struggled for hours before. I used Velcro to close the entire opening. I would like to just leave an 18″ gap next time. Have you ever done this?

  • Betsy
    I have a bed spread for my king size bed and I wanted to make a duvet cover with it and buy fabric for the bottom and saw it together. Since there is not fabric as wide I was thinking o using a king size sheet and adjust it to the measurements so I do not have to worry about sewing pieces of fabric. My questions are, if somebody with sewing experience think this is a good idea? The duvet has to have an overlap fabric so nobody can see where is the top or the bottom? Thanks very much.

  • I was wondering if anyone made a twin size and how much fabric they purchased/used. My daughter is a big super hero fan and I”m trying to find bedding to go with the colors of her room that will mix well with superhero stuff. I think making something is easier then the search of bedding. Thanks.


  • I found some lovely superking size covers which I need to convert for my king size duvet, the only thing is that the bargain duvet cover I bought has Oxford edges to it so I want to recreate that on the sides that I have to alter, I am not sure how. Do I just unpick the side seams and copy how they have done them?

  • I am trying to find out how to make a “Throw Bed”. This looks to be similar to a comforter, but perhaps lighter and is inside of cover like a duvet . I found these in Real Simple Mag 4/16 issue, and only a couple places on purchase them (online), AND they are real expensive!

    Any ideas about how to make one and instructions will be greatly appreciated.

  • I made the twin cover with your instructions. The only question I have, The comforter did not stay to the corners of duvet cover . it rolls over inside. Any suggestions

  • This would have been a better tutorial if you had shown the finished bottom of the cover. All you say is use buttons or velcro or a zipper.

  • Just made the king size duvet, (0: thank you for excellent directions and extra guidance to adding the ties inside. It turned out better than I anticipated. On the back side, I used the top fabric as the center panel and cut a king size flat sheet to size for the outer panels. Love it! Thank you again for the efforts to help us learn. (0: Love the french seams! M

  • I am making a twin size duvet cover for my granddaughter’s birthday using different but coordinating fabrics for the top and underside of the duvet. I plan to use twill tape in the corners to hold the insert in place, but the duvet I’m using as a guide has only a partial opening with the buttons attached to be hidden. Does anyone have directions about how to get this effect?

  • I tried to made my quilt cover using this tutorial and accidentally it turned out fabulously. Wow. Thank you for a very easy to follow tutorial.

  • Wow. Seven years ago and people are still learning from you. How wonderful is that?!!!
    Thanks for the great tutorial. A good seamstress/sewer/designer always uses an iron to obtain professional results. Give yourself a pat on the back!

  • Great tutorial Would you know how much fabric i would need for a twin duvet cover, the fabric is 55″ wide,
    thanks for your help.

  • When I measure the duvet im planning on making the cover for do I need to add any additional length on each side besides the seem allowance?

  • I am just about finished my second duvet cover using your method. The first one was a great success except that the snap fasteners (to close off the bottom) didn’t work too well. They were the kind where you use a tool to hammer them in place. About half of them came off the fabric after a couple of washings. I’m going to use sew-on buttons on my second cover since I just recently mastered the buttonhole attachment on my machine. I’m even going to try to use my machine to sew on the buttons. Wish me luck! Anyway, many thanks for a great tutorial!

  • Hi, I plan to start this as a business specifically for making throw pillows, duvets and bedsheets. What sewing machine would you recommend. Thank you

  • Where do you suggest buying buttons for the duvet closure? Also, can you share a photos of a ribbon closure?

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