How to make a quilt from a duvet cover

Make a wholecloth quilt out of an old duvet cover with Jessie Cutts

Wholecloth quilts have a long history as a way to make a warm blanket without having to make a patchwork design. It literally uses two whole pieces of cloth, front and back – plus wadding – and is stitched all over to hold the layers together. There are incredible examples of decorative stitching to create intricate designs but in this tutorial, the example shown is big stitch quilting which is equally striking and much quicker. 

There are two edge finishing techniques shown. First is a simple foldover edging which means you can make the entire thing by hand. Or for a more sturdy edging and some extra contrast, there are instructions on how to do double fold binding, which does require a sewing machine. 

In the quilt I made, one side of the quilt has been dyed a contrasting colour and the binding made from a selection of colours to add some extra fun to the finished piece. Or if your duvet cover is white, you could dye two different colours, or different strengths of the same colour. 

You can make your quilt whatever size you like depending, of course, on the size of the duvet cover and if there is any damage to it that needs repairing, or if it’s too damaged, cut away. 


  • Old duvet cover 
  • Fabric dye (if using) 
  • Hand sewing thread 
  • Embroidery thread such as cotton perle or sashiko thread 
  • Wadding of choice (this could be cotton or wool) 


Needles, hand sewing and embroidery 

  • Thimble 
  • Hera marker or butter knife 
  • Measuring tape 
  • Ruler 
  • Scissors 
  • Sewing machine 
  • Pins 
  • Safety pins, curved if you have them 
  • Iron and ironing board 

Making your quilt

Step 1: Prepare your fabric

  • Prepare your duvet cover by making sure it is washed and dried. Then cut the seams open and fastenings off. Now you’ve got two large pieces of fabric ready to sew with. 
  • Cut two pieces the size you would like your quilt. If you are doing the simple foldover binding, make sure to keep one piece about 5cm bigger all around. I like to keep the bottom piece bigger until I finish quilting anyway. This is an unnecessary step, but I dyed one of my pieces so the back and front would be different, giving a lovely contrast. You could also dye some left over fabric a different colour again if you are doing double fold binding. 
  • Give everything an iron as it’s easier to cut straight when working with flat fabric. 
  • Trim the top piece to your finished size. 

If you are dyeing your duvet cover, make sure to wash it well before you start sewing; you don’t want colours to bleed later down the line. 

Step 2: Make the quilt sandwich

  • First, tape the bottom, larger piece of fabric, right side down, to a clean floor or table if small enough, smoothing it out as you tape. This keeps everything in place while pinning. 
  • Cut the wadding to just a little bigger than the top piece and lay down on the taped bottom piece, smoothing again from the centre out. 
  • Finally lay the top piece on, so you have a sandwich of fabric as bread and wadding as filling, making sure everything is centred, especially if you are doing foldover binding. 
  • Now pin all layers together with safety pins starting from the centre and working your way out, smoothing any lumps out, so the layers stay together when hand stitching. 

Step 3: Mark quilting lines

  • While the quilt is taped in place is a good moment to mark the lines you want to hand quilt.
  • I use a Hera marker which is essentially a blunt knife used to create a groove in the fabric and will disappear once quilted. You can use a butter knife or even a credit card to do the same. You could also use chalk, but I find that the Hera marker lines stay in the fabric better once you are working on the hand quilting. 
  • Decide on the sort of pattern you want to use. This will be the decorative element to your quilt. Simple rows of stitching are always effective, but you could try diagonals, freeform lines, waves or even drawings. You could also try different colour threads to create even more interest. 
  • Simply push firmly with the Hera marker or butter knife to draw the stitch pattern. Make sure there is enough stitch coverage across the quilt to hold the layers together. 

Step 3: Hand Quilting

  • When hand quilting, I always start in the middle and work outwards to keep the fabric smooth, as you may find, especially with linen, that a few bubbles need moving out as you stitch. Just smooth it out and move the safety pins as you need. 
  • Thread the embroidery needle with embroidery or sashiko thread and tie a double overhand knot at the end. Hiding the end of the thread between the back layer and the wadding, push the needle to the front of your work. 
  • You will be working a simple running stitch along the lines you have drawn. I like to work in my lap or on a table, holding the fabric taut from the bottom in my left hand and picking up stitches with my right. This can take a little working out to see what works best for you. As you get used to it, you can pick up a few stitches on the needle at once. 
  • Set the stitches back a little from the edge of the fabric so that when it’s trimmed, you don’t cut the hand stitched threads. When you come to the end of the thread, secure into the wadding with a couple of knots. I try and finish a thread close to the edges for ease. Some people like quilters knots to finish, but I don’t get on with them. 
  • Once you have finished all the stitching, trim the quilt edges according to the type of binding you plan to do. 

Step 2: Foldover Binding

  • Carefully trim the wadding to the same size as the top of the quilt. 
  • Trim the bottom layer of fabric leaving around 3.5cm all around, snipping the corners at 45° about 1cm above the corner of the top fabric. 
  • Once trimmed, double fold the edge of the bottom fabric onto the front and pin in place. 
  • In the corners, create a neat mitre, making sure all edges are enclosed. 
  • Whip stitch or slip stitch in place. Whip stitch will be slightly visible, depending on the colour thread you use. Slip stitch will be just about invisible, but is a little slower. 

Double Fold Binding

  • Double fold binding is a bit more technical than foldover, but creates a more sturdy, long lasting finish, especially good for larger quilts. Trim the edges of the quilt all together, being careful not to snip your hand quilting. 
  • Cut strips of binding along the fabric’s grain (we are not making bias binding), 7-8 cm wide depending how wide you would like the binding. This can be a chance to use a contrasting fabric or use up some scraps of fabric you may have. Striped or floral fabric can look wonderful or use a few colours as I have. 
  • Cut enough binding to go the full circumference of the quilt. If you are making a larger quilt, you may need to join strips to have enough. 
  • To join strips, set them at right angles, sew across and trim the excess away leaving about ¾ cm seam. Repeat with all the strips. 
  • Press the joins open and then press the entire binding in half along the length so that it’s folded double (hence the name). 
  • Starting in the middle of one side, pin the binding onto the front of the quilt with the raw edge facing out, leaving a 20cm tail to start. 
  • At the corners, fold the binding back on itself at a 45° angle, and then back again to create a little triangular pocket that will form the mitred corner when flipped to the back. 
  • Machine-sew the binding in place, with a ¼ inch (about 6-7mm) seam allowance. Stop short of the corners, around ½ cm or so and leaving the triangles free. 
  • When you get near the end, leave a gap of 20cm in order to join the binding. To join the binding, overlap the ends and mark with a pin or chalk. 
  • Set the markers at 45° to each other and sew across as you did to join, this is a good moment to check the binding fits. Sew the remaining binding in place. 
  • From the back of the quilt, whip stitch or slip stitch the binding down. Whip stitch will be slightly visible, depending on the colour thread you use. Slip stitch will be just about invisible, but is a little slower.  
  • To create a neat, folded mitre in each corner, think of how you wrap a present. Push it over in one direction and then back over itself in the other direction. 

Once the binding is all sewn in place, your quilt is finished and ready to keep you warm!