Friday, 6 July 2012

Duvet DIY - not the sides or the middle

When I was a child, my grandmother taught me the art of 'sides to middling' - a way of fixing sheets that had worn thin in the centre. In order to make use of the fabric at the sides, which got less wear from kicking feet, the sides would simply be brought together to form a new middle, with the original centre being cut and hemmed to form new sides.

So when our duvet cover split across the top seam - a casualty of being tugged and pulled up around our shoulders - forking out £30 for a new one wasn't the obvious option. Especially when I still had some silk left over from our bedroom blind.

With its bird-cage design, it was bought to remind us of our honeymoon in Paris where every single market trader seemed to have a job lot of ornamental bird cages to shift.

There wasn't enough width to just sew a strip straight across the duvet cover top, so I cut my fabric into panels, matching the pattern, with a wider piece in the centre and two smaller ones at the side (see! I have done a Diagram!). I could have just sewn two long panels together, but it seemed wise to at least attempt a bit of symmetry.
I fixed the split seam of the duvet together with a wide zigzag stitch.

The next job was to pin the replacement panel over the edge of the duvet. This was not done particularly precisely. A duvet is meant to look crumpled, I reasoned - if the end result wasn't iron-flat it wouldn't be the end of the world. After stitching the panel around the top of the duvet, I unpicked the stitching at the top edges in order to tuck in the edges of the panel and then resewed them in place.

So here is our duvet, in its refashioned cover, doing a rather sterling job of matching the blind and saving us £30. Would my grandmother have been impressed?

Probably not. One of her favourite stories was one involving Phylis, a young newlywed, and the daughter of my grandmother's friend. Phylis was showing her mother her new house, all excited with her decorating plans and schemes. She would have a sofa and curtains all 'to tone'. She would have the walls painted to tone and add some toning cushions.

Eventually her mother cracked. "Oh, bugger tone, Phylis," she said. "Let's have a cup of tea."


  1. How clever you are, I'll bet your Granny would be proud of you.

  2. Inspired and classy. Mending stuff is so satisfying isn't it?

    My boys' sheets are wearing thin in the middle. Don't think sides to middling them will work as they are fitted. Did your grandmother ever turn collars?

  3. I'm still busy being impressed by your diagram.

  4. I want a wooden ruler, I am distracted by the photos, so I haven't read the words.

  5. I'm sure if I understood any of this I'd be quite impressed.

  6. So, you mean the answer to the gaping at the end of our duvet cover due to buttons having been chipped in half in the wash isn't just to put up with the southwards migration of the innards? How novel. Must try this mending lark sometime.

  7. Silk? You have silk blinds? Consider me green.

  8. Does anyone ever do that thing where you tug up the duvet, accidentally let go and punch yourself in the face? I do.

  9. What a great fix :D

    My Gran and my Mum sides to middled sheets. Worth doing with proper cotton ones.

  10. i think this is one of the best approach.duvet are looking so nice.i acknowledged know,we are giving an enormous arrangement in UK on exceptionally shabby and range capable which all lines items and each sorts of towels, you have to use in day by day life e.g: Hand towels, cheap duvet sets uk, shower towels, tea towels, wraparounds, cot sheets and everything related linens.thanks for offering this data.


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