Many people are confused with the two terms coverlet and comforters. Coverlets are exactly like bedspreads, but do not drop all the way to the floor. Coverlets can be created in a wide variety of styles, while comforters definitely are casual.
Comforters have a specific purpose rather than simply covering and decorating the bed. Originating in the word comfort, comforters were designed to be used as a cover to provide warmth. Comforters usually were folded and laid across the end of the bed where they would remain handy until needed. Today, we very often use comforters as coverlets -- the comforter is not folded at the foot of the bed, but covers the bed completely. Comforters are never long enough to create a pillow turn, therefore decorative shams are needed to cover the pillows.
Comforters are easily recognized by their very specific characteristics:
* Comforters are very thick, as much as six inches.
* Comforters are reversible. Because they are so thick, both sides of the comforter can be seen on its edges. Using a lining on the back would be inappropriate.
* Because comforters were originally intended to be used as a type of blanket, the corners always are square. (However, comforters can be custom designed with the corners rounded.)
* Comforters have only a small amount of quilting stitch to hold the batting in place. They are never outline quilted or quilted with any other busy design that would flatten the puffy fill.
Although comforters can be custom created to any size, they usually are offered in these typical sizes:
* Twin: 64 inches wide by 88 inches long.
* Full: 79 inches wide by 88 inches long.
* Queen: 85 inches wide by 93 inches long.
* King: 103 inches wide by 93 inches long.
Duvets are very similar to comforters. They are very thick and puffy, have square corners, are reversible, do not have enough length for a pillow turn and are used as a cover to provide warmth.
Originating in Europe, duvets were intended to be used as a functional cover rather than a decorative bed covering. The fill, either down or feathers, is never stitched into place. During the winter, the duvet is shaken in the horizontal position to keep the fill evenly distributed throughout the duvet. It is then used as a very warm cover. During the summer, the duvet is shaken in a vertical position, which forces the fill to one end. That way it still can be used as a cover, without creating excessive warmth.
Duvets still are used extensively in Europe today. Many travelers are surprised when they find them on beds in hotels. The beds will have a bottom sheet to cover the mattress, but will have no top sheet. The duvet is used directly against the body. This, of course, generates a need for a highly washable cover for the duvet. Many times the cover will be made of sheeting material to provide as much washability as possible.
The cover also needs to be easy to put on and remove. A duvet cover is made like a big pillow case that slips over the duvet. The opening can be closed with ties, buttons, snaps, a zipper or hook and loop tape fastener. The center area of a duvet cover can never be attached to the fill by quilting because then it could not be removed. Nor could the fill be shaken to the desired position. The top of a duvet cover can be quilted, but only before it is sewn onto the back of the duvet cover to give a mock quilted look. The duvet would then look much more like a comforter or coverlet, either of which can be quilted.
Before providing a cover for your customers' duvet, you first must analyze their intended use of the duvet itself. Are they going to be using it directly against their bodies without a top sheet? If so, then a very washable fabric is required. Are they going to use it as a decorative bed cover and never sleep under it? Then basically any type of fabric can be used, washable or not.
Because it is not quilted, keeping a duvet in place within its cover can be a real challenge, especially if your customer sleeps under it. Attaching the corners of the duvet to its cover is the best method for keeping it in place. This can be accomplished using myriad techniques. They can be tied with small ties made of fabric or twill tape. They can be snapped with snaps sewn onto small tabs of fabric. They can be attached with hook and loop fastener.
Stuffing a duvet into its cover can be a real chore! You're crawling inside the cover, dragging the duvet with you. Then you try to push the corners of the duvet into the corners of the cover while you're kneeling on the duvet. Now you have to attach them somehow! What a hassle! Here's a terrific trick of the trade to help: Turn the duvet cover inside out. Place the duvet on top of the cover and attach its corners. Now turn the cover right-side out around the duvet and close the opening. It's so much easier and it doesn't even mess up your hair!
Measuring beds requires as much careful attention as do windows. Typical standard mattress sizes are:
* Twin: 39 by 75 inches
* Full: 54 by 75 inches
* Queen: 60 by 80 inches
* King: 78 by 80 inches.
The most common drop is 20 to 21 inches. Make no assumptions! Just because it is supposed to be a particular size bed doesn't mean it is an exact size or the same size as the last one you measured.
Measure the width and length of the mattress and the drop to the floor. Always note if the corners of the bed treatment need to be split because of an obstruction such as a frame bracket. Not only note if it needs to be split, but where it is to be spit and how far up from the floor. With these measurements, the workroom will know exactly where and how to split the cover to assure an exact fit.
Also, always measure in several places. The mattress may sag and be closer to the floor in the center than on either end. The frame itself may not be level, creating an uneven drop. The workroom can create the cover with a drop perfectly matching that of the bed, if the proper information is provided.
Calculating yardage for bed treatments is exactly the same as for window treatments using the typical yardage formula: the number of WOMs multiplied by the cut length divided by 36 (WOMs x cut length ÷ 36).
First, determine how many widths of material are needed to be sewn side by side to create enough width to fabricate the treatment. Then determine the length to which each width needs to be cut adding in allowances for hems, quilt shrinkage and pattern repeat if any. Multiply the number of widths by the length of the widths to determine the total number of inches of fabric needed. Divide by 36 to determine the number of yards.
Let's calculate the amount of 48-inch fabric with a 27-inch repeat necessary for a quilted throw bedspread with a pillow turn for a king size bed 78 inches wide by 80 inches long and 22 inches high. The full finished width of the spread would be the mattress width (78 inches) plus two side drops (22 inches each, or 44 inches combined) for a total of 122 inches. The necessary allowances to be added would include 10 percent for shrinkage caused by quilting (12 inches) and several inches for seaming and hemming (let's use six inches). The total comes to 140 inches (122 + 12 + 6 = 140). Now, divide the total by 48 (the width of the fabric) for an answer of 2.9. Three widths of fabric would need to be sewn together to produce enough width for the finished product.
Next, to determine the cut length, we must first determine the finished length. The finished length is the length of the mattress (80 inches) plus one drop at the foot of the bed (22 inches) plus the pillow turn allowance of 20 inches for a total of 122 inches. The added allowances include 10 percent for quilt shrinkage (12 inches) plus a few inches for hemming (let's use six inches again). The total cut length would be 140 inches (122 + 12 + 6 = 140).
To allow for pattern repeat, we must divide the cut length (140 inches) by the repeat (27 inches), round up to the nearest whole repeat, then multiply the number of repeats by the size of repeat (27 inches) to determine the new cut length. The new cut length is 162 inches (140 ÷ 27 = 5.2, rounded up to 6; 6 x 27 = 162).
Now we place these two answers into the yardage formula: 3 WOMs x 162 inches each = 486 inches; 486 inches ÷ 36 inches = 13.5 yards.
Be very careful when calculating the number of widths of fabric needed for a twin bed. You cannot simply add the mattress width and two side drops as we just did in the example. The center width of fabric must be trimmed to fit the width of the mattress or the seams will fall into the side drops, which is unacceptable. The extra fabric that was cut off is wasted. Allow one width of fabric for the center of the twin spread and then determine how many widths are needed for the drops. If quilted, do not forget to allow for shrinkage. Usually one width split into two is not enough width for two quilted side drops. Therefore, a total of three widths almost always is needed.
Be sure to take advantage of this perfect opportunity for an add-on sale and treat all of your customers' bedroom, not just the windows. You will be giving your customers the finishing touch they deserve and giving yourself the extra sale you deserve!
Cheryl Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery Seminars. She is an internationally-acclaimed speaker with more than 20 years experience in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional drapery workrooms. Strickland also is the author of A Practical Guide to Soft Window Coverings and the Designer's Sketch Pad, which are available through Draperies & Window Coverings magazine.