DIY Duvet Cover and Pillow Shams


It all started with the chair. Graham and I have been wanting to set up a reading nook in the under utilized bay window area of our bedroom for quite a while. We’re on the top floor of our condo and the view from the windows is so pretty, we want a place to sit and ponder. After much searching, we found the perfect chair, small enough to fit in the space without feeling overwhelming, in the perfect fabric!

The chair that started it all

As soon as we added the chair we noticed how drab and boring the rest of the room was and so began the bedroom makeover. The task, incorporate relaxing but vibrant colours and fill some empty wall space. With bare taupe walls, white trim, espresso furniture and no other colour, we had our work cut out for us.

We went shopping and happened upon some perfect Egyptian cotton, lime green sheets majorly on sale (so lucky!). I spent the rest of the weekend going to every linen store I could think of looking for a matching duvet cover before deciding to tackle the problem myself and make my own custom duvet cover and pillow shams.

Home made duvet cover and pillow shams

Here’s what I used for this project:

  • 1 old but unused brown flat sheet (I keep a collection of the flat sheets that always come with sheet sets that I never use)
  • 1 set of too-small white pillow cases (from an old set of sheets but were never used)
  • 1 green flat sheet from the new set
  • 1 duvet zipper from the local fabric shop (Gala Fabrics here in Victoria)
  • Brown, white and green thread

The first thing I did was measured my duvet and the sheets to make sure that I had enough fabric for this project. I had just enough width in the sheets and lots of length. Perfect. I began by undoing the end and side hems on both flat sheets (while watching three full episodes of Myth Busters… it takes a while). After that I ironed them out flat, measured, marked and cut both sheets to 224 cm x 224 cm (approx. 88″ x 88″). I put the remainder of the length aside for the pillows.

Next, with right sides together, I basted the side where the zipper would go. I finished all of my seam allowances in this project with an overcast stitch but you could easily finish with zig-zag too. Quick Note: install the zipper first our you won’t be able to get into it when you sew up the other sides!

After the zipper was in the rest of the duvet cover was easy. After sewing all three edges with right sides together, I finished the edges with a neat double row of stitching for added strength (using brown thread on the green side and green thread on the brown side). The result: my own custom reversible duvet to match my new sheets, for a fraction of the cost and headache of buying one.

Double row of contrasting stitching around finished duvet cover

Next I tackled the shams. I wanted to tie in the room’s white trim so I used my almost-new white pillow cases that had been hanging out in the closet for over a year. To make them fit the pillows I measured 6 cm in from the hem and cut all of the way around each case. I cut down the remnants from my duvet cover to make four 9 cm wide brown stripes and four 12.5 cm wide green stripes, each the as long as short edge of the pillow case (with 2 cm extra for seam allowances).

My pillow sham

First I sewed the long seams of both brown stripes to the closed end of the white case, followed by green stripe. Next I turned the case inside out and sewed the short ends of the stripes together, matching up with the side seam from the pillowcase. From there all that was left to do was turn it right side out again, re-attach the open end of the case to the green stripe, finish my seams, and top stitch on each coloured panel to hold the seam allowances in place. Because I saved the hem piece I ended up with a nicely finished case with minimum work.

I could not be happier with how this project turned out. The room is starting to come together (we also framed and hung a new print beside the bed). When I have some more time I’m going to tackle an art project for above the bed with some photos from our recent trip to Ucluelet. Stay tuned for more updates and the bedroom makeover continues.

Thank for stopping by!

~ Lindsay