We recently ran a Great Giveaway in which we asked our S4H friends and fans to come up with unique ways to use Moda's toweling: 16" wide, pre-hemmed panels in 100% cotton. There were some really fun ideas from kitchen linens to totes to garments, and it got our own wheels turning. We pushed our thinking out of the box and dreamed BIG. What if we looked at the toweling as long finished panels rather than little, bitty cuts? Bingo! We designed a twin duvet cover and bed skirt combo that makes full use of those wonderful pre-hemmed sides. If you're a regular visitor to Sew4Home you might be surprised by our all-natural color theme. We needed the neutral palette so the duvet and skirt could act as a backdrop for piles of pillows and stacks of throws as we got my home studio ready for a photo shoot with Where Women Create magazine!
Jo Packham and her amazing staff at Where Women Create have been friends of Sew4Home for years. We love looking through the amazing creative spaces of women entrepreneurs, designers, dancers, writers, artists and more who've graced the pages of this wonderful magazine. So, we were thrilled (understatement!) when Jo contacted us for a profile. Thrilled... and a little scared as we looked around our studios at the everyday creative chaos. Senior Creative Director, Alicia Thommas and I each have our own home studio where much of the "magic" happens. And we also have our main studio in Portland where many of our machines and supplies and fabric live and where our seamstress team comes and goes.
We chose to feature my bright red studio with its collections of vintage memorabilia, which you glimpsed earlier during our Moda Half Moon Modern Sewing Room. The shoot was a hoot and a half, and photographer, Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon of Fancy Farmgirl Photography was an absolute delight... and very patient with me as her rather reluctant model! Be watching your newsstand for the August 2012 issue of Where Women Create and our big magazine debut!
We used nearly 32 yards of toweling for our duvet and bed skirt samples and are very thankful our friends at Fabric.com were able to rush us all the yardage in time for our photo shoot. They get the Sponsor Gold Star Award ! As always, the fabric arrived very quickly, no muss no fuss! Fabric.com is so very, very easy to work with. Visit Moda to see all the toweling options.
Here's a little snapshot of the bed with the duvet and skirt in place as we began putting out all our samples for the photo shoot.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon 7700QCP)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Fabric and supplies shown below are for a TWIN bed
- 13 yards of 16" wide pre-hemmed cotton toweling for duvet cover front: we used Moda Woven Toweling in Natural from Fabric.com
- 13 yards of 16" wide pre-hemmed cotton toweling for duvet cover back: we used Moda Woven Toweling in Natural from Fabric.com
NOTE : You could also use a plain cotton fabric or even a purchased bed sheet for your duvet cover back (see Getting Started below for the math to figure your size).
- Six 1" - 1½" buttons; we used 1¼" plastic buttons, three in red and three in white
- 5½ yards of 16" wide pre-hemmed cotton toweling for duvet skirt: we used Moda Woven Toweling in Natural from Fabric.com
- 1 yard of 90" wide solid, inexpensive fabric for the platform piece to which the skirt panels attach: we used a 90" basic cotton muslin
NOTE: You need this width to have enough to cut one piece for the platform without piecing; if you use a narrower muslin, you will need to seam together pieces to equal the finished size (see Getting Started below for the math ).
NOTE: When purchasing muslin, pay attention to the writing on the side of the fabric bolt. It will list the width of the fabric. Muslin comes in 36", 38", 44", 45", 90", 108" and 120" widths (there may even be more, I got tired at 120"). You can buy bleached and unbleached muslin in different thread counts and qualities. This fabric is going to sit under the mattress of the bed and hold the skirt in place, so buy the cheapest you can find. In a lot of instances, the quality of the fabric is of importance, but this is not one of those instances. Buy inexpensive muslin or use something you have on hand.
- All purpose thread in colors to best match fabric; we used natural
- All purpose thread in colors to contrast with fabric; we used red
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
Getting Started – Duvet Cover
- Measure your duvet. This may go without saying, but I'm glad we double-checked. The duvet was labeled as 62" x 84" but was actually 63" x 87"!
- The Moda pre-hemmed toweling is 16" wide. Our overlapping technique (similar to shingles on a house) will take up 3" at each of the four overlap intersections, so we will lose 12". Once the panels are sewn together, we need at least 64" in width to account for our 63" finished width plus 1" for a seam allowance. Four panels is not enough (16" x 4 less 12" = 52"), but five panels gives us plenty (16" x 5 less 12" = 68"). The excess will be trimmed prior to seaming front to back. So, we know we need to use five panels of toweling. Increase as needed if you are making a full, queen or king.
- The finished length of our duvet needs to be 87". We need to add ½" for a seam allowance at the top and 4" for a generous 2" double-fold hem at the bottom for the buttons/buttonholes. Therefore our panels will need to be cut 91½" (87" + 4" + ½"). We decided to round up to 92" to keep things simple and give ourselves a little wiggle room.
- When all your measuring is done, cut your panels. We cut FIVE panels 92" long for the duvet front.
- Our duvet is reversible, so we cut an additional FIVE 92" panels for the back. You could use a coordinating fabric (we would recommend a décor weight) or even a ready-made sheet for the back if you choose. If we had done this, we would have needed one piece 64" wide x 92" long or a combination of seamed together panels to finish at this dimension.
- Lay out the FIVE front panels on a flat surface. For most of us... this means the floor. Make sure it's clean.
- The panels should be laid out WRONG side up. We will be working from LEFT to RIGHT.
- On the right edge of panels 1 through 4, use your fabric pen or pencil to draw a line 3" in from the hemmed edge. In other words a drawn line parallel with and 3" from the RIGHT edge of panels 1 through 4.
- On the right edge of panel 5, draw a parallel line 4" in from the right edge. This will be the cut line, but don't cut yet
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board – Duvet Cover
Duvet cover front
- With all your lines drawn, start the overlap. Lay panel 1 flat. Overlap panel 2, aligning the left edge of panel 2 with the drawn line on the right edge of panel 1.
- Pin the two panels together at the top and along the overlap.
- Thread your machine with contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. We used a bright red.
NOTE: We will be stitching from the wrong side, so the stitching that will show on the front of the quilt will be the BOBBIN stitching. This is why both the bobbin thread and the top thread must match. Make sure you are comfortable with the quality of your bobbin stitching. If you aren't, use a thread that matches your fabric, and when you flip to the front for the second line of stitching, add a wide decorative stitch in a contrasting color. We will show you a photo of this option later. For our duvet, we used red contrasting stitching on the finished top of the duvet cover and natural matching stitching on the finished back. Then, if we ever get tired of our red, we just flip over the duvet to the all natural side.
- Place your first two lapped panels under the machine, and stitch together along the overlap, staying as close as possible to the pre-hemmed edge (in this case, that would be the left pre-hemmed edge of panel 2).
- Continue in this manner, adding one panel at a time. When finished, you should have five panels sewn together with four seams.
NOTE: Keeping the overlaps smooth and even as you go is very important. The hemmed edges of the toweling may not always be 100% perfect. If you must choose between a perfectly staight line and a smooth overlap, go with the smooth overlap.
- Flip the five-panel piece over the right side. The next step is to stitch the loose edge of each panel in place from the right side.
- Lay the five-panel piece on the clean surface, smooth out all the panels, and pin each panel edge in place.
- This step is much like quilting a quilt top, and in order for everything to fit through the machine, we recommend rolling the duvet cover as you would roll a quilt. Roll it up from the right side until you get to the left most overlap.
- As you did on the reverse side, edgestitch as close as possible along each pre-hemmed edge from top to bottom.
NOTE: If you are keeping track of numbers and sides, this first line of stitching on the front is actually the right pre-hemmed edge of panel 4. However, because we are looking at it from the right side now, it appears to be the left edge of panel 2. Whhhoooaaaa... that made my head hurt. We've done a drawing below, which we hope will help you keep track - or make your brains leak out your ears.
- Continue in this manner, unrolling one panel each time. When finished, you should have four new lines of topstitching and a completed five panel top.
- Here's that drawing I promised to help you picture the overlaps and stitching lines. This is drawn as if you are looking at the RIGHT side of the finished top.
- As we mentioned above, as a decorative alternative, you could use matching thread in the top and bobbin to do the stitching on the back, then switch to a contrasting thread and a wide decorative stitch to do the stitch lines on the front. This means you would only see four lines of stitching on the top as opposed to the eight in our original design.
- Lay the completed five-panel piece flat on your clean surface wrong side up. Measure the width. The finished width plus 1" (in our sample 64") should equal the width measured from the leftmost raw edge to the drawn line on the rightmost panel (this is the line you drew 4" from the raw edge of panel 5 originally). If your measurements have shifted at all, re-draw the line to match a 64" width. Once you have confirmed the width, cut along the drawn line.
Duvet cover back
- Our duvet cover back is made up of five panels just like the front. If you'd like to follow this design, create it in the same manner as the front EXCEPT work in the opposite direction. (Just like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire; Ginger did everything Fred did except backwards... and in heels!).
- This means you would layer and seam your panels working RIGHT to LEFT. Why? Because when you put the front and back together, all the seams and hems will match up just perfectly.
- If you are not using a paneled back, simply make sure your back fabric is cut and/or seamed to match the finished front.
- Since duvets can be laundered often, we recommend you finish all four raw edges of both pieces prior to seaming. You could use a serger or a machine sewn finish.
Assemble duvet cover front to back
- Place your finished front and back duvet covers right sides together. Carefully align all the raw edges and all your seams. Take the time to really make sure your lines of topstitching are straight and lined up front to back.
- Pin the covers in place along both sides and one end.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together along both sides and one end. It is really just like a big pillowcase!
- Turn the finished cover right side out.
Bottom hems, buttons and buttonholes
- Fold up the raw edges of the open end 2" and press.
- Fold up another 2" and press again. You've made a lovely 2" double-turn hem.
- Unfold the hem so you can see the pressed crease lines.
- Pin along the topmost crease line approximately 8" in from each side seam.
- Stitch along the crease line this 8" distance from each side seam. Back tack securely at the 8" point on each side as this seam will take some stress when turning the duvet inside/outside during laundering.
- As a option to help secure the duvet to the cover AND get the duvet in the cover the right way every time... stitch a 10" length of ribbon at each corner of the duvet cover.
NOTE: This is S4H sewing team member, Kathy Andrew's secret trick: When you have these four colored ribbons sewn into the corners of the duvet cover, you then stitch matching ribbons on the four corners of the duvet itself. Make sure the ribbons are colorfast so they do not bleed in the wash. Kathy likes to use lightweight seam binding tape. When the duvet cover comes out of the wash, lay it on the bed WRONG side out. Lay the duvet on top of the cover, matching the ribbon colors. Tie the ribbons together in a little bow, then turn everything right side out. The duvet will end up in position, flat and secure every time!
- Okay... back to those buttons and buttonholes.
- Lay out the buttons on the INSIDE of the hem of the duvet BACK panel.
- Mark the button placement balancing the buttons between the panel overlaps. We used six buttons, two each centered on the three middle panels. The exact spacing will depend on your button size.
- Mark the position of each button. Then, mark the position for each buttonhole exactly opposite the button within in the hem of the duvet FRONT panel.
- Make the buttonholes following the directions in your machine's manual. We recommend making the buttonholes with matching thread in the top and bobbin. You don't want the buttonholes to be the accent; you want the focus on the buttons.
- If you are new to making buttonholes, we have a buttonhole tutorial you can read through, but it's always best to also review your machine's manual.
- Hand sew the buttons in place.
Getting Started – Bed Skirt
- The bed skirt goes over the box spring and under the mattress, so you need to measure your box spring's length and width and the height off the floor when sitting in your particular bed frame. As above with our duvet, we recommend actually measuring everything rather than simply going by standard sizes off the internet or from the bed store. Reality varies!
- As you know, the Moda toweling is 16" wide and fully hemmed. We are not going to undo any of the stitching. It's only the mattress sitting on that hemmed seam, so we are not worried about the thickness. Unless you are the fabled Princess from the Princess and the Pea ... it will be fine.
- Our box spring measured 72" x 36" and was 15" off the floor. A finished skirt drop should be ½" off the floor to keep the dust bunnies at bay, so here's the math: from the 16" wide panel we want end up with a 14½" skirt; one side is pre-hemmed, the opposite side's ½" hem will become the seam allowance, that leaves a 1" lap onto the box spring. Therefore, the platform fabric (the muslin in our sample) needs to be cut to 35" wide (the 36" box measurement minus a 1" lap on each side (36-2=34) plus a ½" seam allowance on each side or 1" total (34+1=35).
- The platform length is 72". The 72" box measurement minus a 1" lap at the bottom plus a ½" double turn hem at the top (1"). 72 - 1 +1 = 72. Typically, there is no skirt at the head of the bed, just the simple hem.
- We cut our muslin 35" wide x 72" long.
- From the toweling, cut THREE lengths for the three skirts. The TWO side panels should be the length of the box plus 1" at each end for a ½" double turn hem or a total of 2". Our TWO side panels were cut 74" long. The end skirt should be the exact length of the box, this is because the side panels are attached first and will eat up the width of the seam allowance. Our ONE end skirt panel was cut 36" long.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board - Bed Skirt
- On both cut ends of each of the three skirt panels, make a ½" double-turn hem. To do this, fold in the raw edge ½" and press. Fold in an additional ½" and press again. Stitch in place close to the fold. If you are new to hemming, we have a tutorial you can review.
- In the same manner, make a ½" double-turn hem along one short side of the platform fabric (one 35" side in our sample).
- Pin a skirt drop panel to either side of the platform piece, right sides together. One hemmed end of the each skirt panel should be perfectly flush with the top hemmed side of the platform piece.
- Stitch both side panels in place, following the existing hem stitching on the toweling.
- Stop approximately 1-2" from the end.
- Press the seam allowances towards the platform piece. Stitch the seam allowance flat along the outer hemmed edge of the toweling, encasing the raw edge of the platform. Again, stop just 1-2" shy of the end.
- At the raw platform end, measure 15" up from the bottom of each skirt panel and place a pin.
- Find the end skirt panel. Measure 15" up the bottom of this panel as well and place a pin. Then, fold this panel in half to find the center and mark that point with a pin.
- On the raw end of the platform piece, find the center and mark it with a pin as well.
- Place the end skirt panel and the platform piece right sides together, matching up the pin points.
- Continue pining outwards towards either end. You should have more skirt than platform.
- Pin as far as you can, then stitch as far as you can across the end. As above, your stitch line should follow along in the existing hem stitching on the toweling.
- Flip the seam allowance towards the platform and smooth out the overlaps in the corners.
- The two 15" pin marks on the intersecting panels should form a cross.
- Topstitch around the corner to secure all the layers. Then continue the end-skirt-seam from the point where you originally had to stop, all the way to the edge of the toweling hem. This is a hard step to put into words, but here are another 1000 words in a picture.
Project Design: Liz Johnson
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 3210 Jeans and the Baby Lock Molly.