Martha! I Made It! #2: The Duvet

Posted by on Jul 22, 2010 | 15 comments

This is going to be a long post.  I hope you read it and validate my psyche, because after this project, I need some validation.  Whew!  I am, however, totally okay with you just looking at the pictures and then posting a comment (ha!).

This project started a long time ago in my head.  Michael and I have been dreaming of getting a king-sized bed for months and months.  When your husband is 6’3″, you need a big bed.  In mid-June Michael noticed that Macy’s was going to have a stellar sale on mattresses and said we should go ahead and do it.  I was so excited and petrified.  We chose gray for our master bedroom, and while I like the gray, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do with the bedding.  I don’t want more gray bedding- to dreary and plain.  And supposedly gray is neutral, but I think it’s a tricky neutral.

I did have two sources of inspiration.  I saw this photo in a magazine and loved the look of orange, white and gray on the walls.  (My dog is cuter than that dog, BTW.)

Then I saw this photo in (you guessed it) Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  It’s on page 150/151.

(I took this photo with my iPhone and hope I don’t get in trouble for posting it, but couldn’t find it online anywhere).

I didn’t like the idea of having a white comforter. With a little black dog who likes to snuggle in our bed while we get ready in the morning, I could just see it getting covered with little black hairs.   And Michael and I are hard on things- white would just get dingy and dirty too quick.  But the tones in Martha’s book were a bit too muted for me- I wanted something a bit more striking.

I headed to BB&B and found some sheets.  I chose a copper color- it was as close to orange as I could find.  I did like it a lot.  I wanted to add a second color as an accent, so I chose an olive green that was near it because they just seemed to go together.  What follows is a sort of pictoral journey, if you will.  But if you don’t want to scroll through them, I’ll put the finished product first to save you the scrolling (aren’t I nice?).  :)  Ta da!

(Please don’t look in my closet– it needs some work.  Should have closed the dang curtain…LOOK AWAY!)  I think the white pillows made it look complete.  I love it.  Really, I do.  I’m just not sure about the color combo with the gray walls.

Now, onto the process….ah, the process…

One of the wonderful things about Martha’s book is you get templates and patterns.  Lots of them.  This particular template was a doozy, though, since it’s soooooo big.  Many pages to tape together.  I also used that to cut out the teardrop templates.

I set to cutting out the appliques.  There were a lot of them.  It took me an entire morning- I caught up on a lot of Oprah.  The process outlined in the directions basically tell you to use the template to trace the pattern onto your sheet with transfer paper and a tracing wheel.  Transfer paper is also… a doozy.  I even bought the same transfer paper used in Martha’s book- you can find it here.  I wish I could tell you that I love transfer paper and it worked like a charm. I do not love transfer paper, and it did not work like a charm.  After 45 minutes of tracing the pattern onto my sheet, I pulled it away and there was very little to show for my lower back workout.  So I had to resort to my own brainpower because I wanted to get to sewing.  Bad.  What I ended up doing was placing the appliques and tracing them with disappearing ink.  I learned, however, that on this particular sheet at this particular time of year, the disappearing ink disappears quickly- overnight.  So I worked one circle at a time.  I placed the appliques on the inner circle and then sewed them down.  Then I worked my way out from there.

Tracing paper (and Sophie, wondering what in the world I’m doing)

One of my learning moments was the stitching for this project.  Martha’s book talks about using a satin stitch, but I couldn’t find anything in my sewing manual about satin stitching.  So I zig-zagged the appliques to the copper sheet (Martha and her editors said that would be okay).  Let me tell you- a king sized sheet- that’s a lot to work with.  This was my world for several days:

Things moving along…

Here was my problem, though- sometimes the zig-zags turned out okay (pre-trimming)…

And other times they pulled away- either due to my poor stitching skills or they just pulled out of the threads- a little bit of both.  When I saw this happening, I became a bit depressed.  I spent so much time on this project, and felt like it wasn’t going to pan out.  Then (enter angel chorus music) I asked my friend Kari for help.

Thankfully, Kari didn’t have to make a special trip- she was already coming over for a get together.  I brought her back to check it out and she set me straight on how to satin stitch.  Basically you set the zig zag setting on your machine at opposite ends to make it as wide and as close together as possible, and ta-da!  Satin stitch- looks much better, eh?

Once I finished up the satin stitching (several days later) I was finally ready to make the duvet.  I followed the directions in Martha’s book on page 147.  I’m glad I took my time with this part.  My white sheet was significantly larger than my copper, AND they were both larger than my comforter, so I had some work to do.


Ready to sew it up!

Up close in our room.

And the final product again.  *sigh*  I love it.

I’d love to know, if you’ve gotten this far (thanks!) what you think of the copper and gray situation.  Is it bad?  Different?  Too different?  Awesome?  Okay?   And what would you hang above it?  Please don’t tell me to make something.  Ha!
Whew!  I’m ready for a teeny, tiny, miniscule project now.  Maybe a pincushion or something…


  1. I’d have to see it in person, but from the picture, I think the color combination definitely works.

    As far as what to hang above it, with all these earthquakes recently, I personally would forgo the wall hanging altogether. Maybe paint something on the wall in complementary colors?

    Good job! That looked like a ton of work! It looks great.

  2. Nat it turned out beautiful!!! Great job!!!!

  3. Looks great Nat! Wow- looks like so much work, but I’m sure it’s rewarding too. I think the colors work. As for right above, how about a white mantel shelf with a cool framed enlarged b/w photo of you two? The white wood would help your white accents pop, and the b/w would work with your color scheme. Plus, inexpensive and easy! Just an idea… Ps- thanks for giving me something to read while I’m up in the middle of the night w/ Lila.

  4. Wow! Wow! and Wow!! I read every word and scrutinized every picture. When you said you were making a Duvet I pictured two sheets sewn together, maybe with a button closing, or other cute detail. I did not picture tear drops painstakingly sewn on with a satin stitch (went through some thread I suspect!). I’m so impressed. It’s absolutely beautiful. I LOVE the copper color.
    Now, however, you do need a next step in my opinion, which is also your opinion but you’re too tired to think about it now. A couple of options: A simple headboard–piece of wood, some batting and material/sheeting over it (ask Sarah to send you a picture of what Angela made for their bed), or do the wood, batting and material thing and just hang it over the bed–you have total control then of size, color, etc. or repaint that one wall behind the bed a complementary color to both gray and copper. Or just delete this comment! Love you! I’m sooooo impressed!

  5. PS How about a soft black shade on the headboard, picture?

  6. Great job! Looks great! I am a “Martha wanna-be”. But I like simple projects! I agree with one of the comments above, mantel or a photo of the two of you (B&W would be awesome – maybe with a pop of copper in the photo!).

  7. Natalie, this looks FANTASTIC. Martha Stewart, watch out!!!

  8. I am really impressed! The neutral colors work well in your space and this is a great way to get custom looking bedding. I love Martha’s Sewing Encyclopedia, it inspired me to get a sewing machine although I have yet to complete a project…

  9. LOVE it!! Nat, you did a beautiful job! I am most impressed with your endeavor…duvet for our bed is on my list. Someday…

  10. It is beautiful! I can’t wait to see it in real life. I was reading the comments and love that my mom is following your blog. :)

  11. I love your new duvet! I can’t imagine how much time that would take, but it turned out BEAUTIFULLY! You should be really proud! It looks like something you could spend a ton of money on, but you have the satisfaction of having made it for yourself.

  12. hi nat!
    i hope you don’t think i’m a ding dong for posting so many comments in your blog. i’m just seriously in procrastination mode this weekend and therefore browsing some of my favorite blogs…

    every once in a while i go and check blik just for fun. being a minimalist, i think the wall above your bed looks great empty and just makes your pretty bedding stand out more. but if you didn’t already have bedside lamps, i think something like this might look cool. i’m sure you could make something similar yourself. hey i know! how about painting a cute graphic or making a decal of the twitter bird – something like this except for using colors more suitable to your room?! and no i am not kidding here… i happen to like that little bird graphic and i know that you like to tweet!…

    anyway, i think i’m done being a comment hog. i think someone else already mentioned this but, with all the earthquakes we’ve been having, i would think twice about hanging something substantial on the wall. oh and your duvet cover project is beyond impressive… when you mentioned making a duvet cover at first i’m with barbara – i thought you were just going to sew two sheets together or something. so yeah – WOW.

  13. do you happen to remember who makes the original duvet from the magazine?? I saw it a long time ago as well and have been trying to track it down. I’m not as crafty to create my own….but might have to give it a shot.

    • Hi Jessica,

      I’m not sure- I never saw it in a magazine, just Martha’s book. I will never make anything like it ever again- I love it, for sure, but it took way longer than I thought it would. :) Good luck!

  14. I’ve been searching in google for some new ideas and accidentally found your website. I don’t have much to add to the conversation, but I’m right here with you. This post said exactly what I have been thinking. Good to see you posting again.


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