When my daughter was shopping for dorm room “furnishings,” she fell in love with a waterfall-ruffled duvet that she couldn’t afford from a popular “urban” store. (there is beauty all around, when they use their own money) She considered buying it for about a second, but read the reviews on the product and decided it wasn’t worth the sacrifice of, say, two months of groceries. So, of course, she asked her mom (me) if “we” could make it.
I nearly died when I saw the picture.
A million ruffles, at least. But I would do just about anything for my kids, so…here’s how we did it.
Disclaimer: I am not a photographer. I don’t even own a camera right now. Some of these pictures were taken with my daughter’s point and shoot, others with my phone. They should give you some idea of what I’m talking about. I’ve also never before written a tutorial, so forgive whatever is lacking.
The least expensive, easiest way to make this was to buy flat sheets from a discount store and cut them up. The fabric is durable, and can be washed a bunch of times without shrinking weird. We made our duvet cover twin-size. We bought a twin-size flat sheet for the back and front of the cover, and a king flat to cut up for the ruffles, and pre-washed them.
Measure your comforter or look on the package it came in to get the dimensions of your finished duvet cover. Measure your sheet (or look at the package) or fabric and cut to size, adding a 1/2″ for seam allowance on ALL sides. Since we closed our duvet cover with ties, we used the finished top of each flat twin sheet for the bottom of the duvet cover, eliminating the need to finish the edge before we sewed on the ties.
Now it’s time to cut the strips of fabric for the ruffles. We folded our king size sheet in half twice to save time cutting the strips. Fold width-wise so that you are cutting strips lengthwise to get the longest strips possible, We cut as many 6-inch strips as we could, and ended up with 18 ruffles.
Starting at the bottom (the finished top edge of the sheet) of our duvet top sheet, we measured up 5 inces in several places and marked it with a pencil, then connected the marks with a straight edge to make a line. We continued this, marking lines every 5 inches to the top. You want your ruffles to just barely overlap, so you can adjust your measurements on the sheet or the height of your ruffle strips to make sure this happens. We had about 3 1/2 inches of sheet left at the top.
Next, we serged each of the long sides of the strips using a rolled hem. I positioned the fabric on the serger so I didn’t cut much off the height. If you don’t have a serger, you can make a narrow hem on one side of the strips by turning up 1/4″ of the fabric, press, and turn up 1/4″ again and sew the hem closed. If you exercise this option, you may want to cut your strips 1/2″ wider to allow for the hem. The other long side doesn’t need to be hemmed, but if you don’t serge it you could finish with a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying.
At this point I broke into a sweat thinking about gathering all of those ruffles. Luckily, I had to go to the fabric store for thread. That’s where I discovered this little miracle:
The Ruffle Foot.
(insert angelic choir here)
And it wasn’t even Christmas.
This little sweetheart not only ruffles your fabric as you feed it through the sewing machine, it can also SIMULTANEOUSLY SEW IT TO YOUR BACKING FABRIC. Sorry for the yelling. I’m still really excited about it. How have I sewn for 25 years and not known about this?!! When I think about all of the hours I spent hand-gathering ruffles for prom dresses in the 80’s I want to cry.
I bought a universal foot that fits my machine for about $40.00. Worth every sweet penny. For a good tutorial on the ruffle foot, go here. If you’re new to the ruffle foot, I suggest experimenting a bit with some scrap fabric similar to what you are using. I used setting #1 on my foot, which means the fabric is ruffled every stitch. You can also control the tightness of the gathers with the tension of your hands on the fabric as you feed it through. If you are gathering by hand, (I’m so sorry) adjust the gathers to fit the width of the top sheet of your duvet cover. Don’t worry about the raw edges of the sides of the ruffles, they will be caught in the side seams.
There are 3 options for sewing the ruffles on your marked top sheet. If you have hand-gathered the ruffles, pin them along the pencil lines, lining up the gathering thread of the ruffle with the lines, adjust the gathers to fit the width of the sheet, and sew on. If you gather the ruffles with the ruffle foot, you can either gather them first, pin them on the sheet, and sew them on, or gather them and sew them on at the same time using the ruffle foot. If you want to do this option, simply feed the fabric to be ruffled through the ruffler foot at the same time you feed the fabric you want it sewn to under the entire foot on the machine, like regular sewing. I threw all caution to the wind and gathered and sewed at the same time. I didn’t even pin it first. I’m not sorry about it either.
This took a little practice with scraps before hand, and it was tricky to deal with all of that fabric at once, but so worth it. I also had to get used to how tight or loose I held the fabric to make sure the ruffles went across the entire width of the sheet. Each ruffle length was slightly different, but I just cut off the excess on the end-no big deal.
When we got to the top, there was a little of the duvet cover that didn’t have a ruffle on it. That’s not a tragedy because it’s usually covered up with cute pillows anyway. If you’re bugged by things like this, just measure the length of your sheet, count your ruffles, and do the math to figure out just how far apart you need to space the ruffles and how high to cut your ruffles to get them perfect. We’re not perfect, and we didn’t care.
Once all of the ruffles are sewn on, do a happy dance and shake the sheet to see all of those glorious ruffles fall into place. Squeal with delight.
Next, we pinned the ruffled top sheet and the bottom sheet, right sides together, on the sides and top. Remember that the “top” hemmed edge of the sheet is now the bottom of our duvet cover. Make sure that you pin the sides of each ruffle so they get caught in the seam well. We sewed the top and sides and then turned it inside out to make sure the sides looked right with the ruffles and all. We had to fix a few spots. We’re not perfect. We also sewed about 12 inches from each side on the bottom, closing the hole in a little.
The last step was to sew on our ties. We used the hems we cut off of the sheets, because we’re lazy and they were already finished.
You could use grossgrain ribbon, velcro, or close with buttons. Measure the width of your bottom opening, and place your ties/ribbons/velcro/buttons accordingly to close up the opening. They don’t need to be more than about 5 inches apart, so three or four closures will do on a twin size. Once you get your closures sewn on, you are done!
Now bask in the fanciness of your project, and never, ever eat oreos on your bed again.