This bed cover is ideal for anyone confined to bed or in a care home and is very simple to make. You can tailor make it to the exact size you need, and choose whether to leave it as a thin cover or make it into a quilt.
We made ours from scraps of material, but you could make yours with old clothes that your relative doesn’t wear anymore. It may jog their memory to the time they wore it, or give them some comfort having something of theirs to hold or stroke.
Here’s what you need
Material (old clothes are great for this project)
coloured thread (this can be matching or a contrast colour)
Fabric marker or pencil
Here’s what you do
The size of the cover is entirely your choice. You can follow our dimensions or use your own, the principal is the same. It is best to measure when the person is in bed to allow for the extra height you will need when they are laying down. If you measure an empty bed, it may not cover them completely once they are in. If they are confined to bed, they may have sensitive limbs and won’t want a big heavy cover. We made ours just like a duvet cover (but without the duvet inserted). Care homes have a consistent warm temperature and we found it was too hot and heavy with a duvet. Of course there will be times when extra covers are needed but you can always add layers.
To work out how many squares you need, get a rough idea of how big you want your cover or quilt. Our squares are 8 inches to start with but allowing for 1/4 inch each side for sewing, actually end up 7 1/2 inches square. You must always remember to factor in the seam allowance when calculating. So if we want our cover 48 inches wide by 60 inches long 4ft by 5ft we divide our desired size by the size of our square. ie: 48 (desired width) divided by 7.5 (7 1/2 inches, size of finished square) = 6.4 so you can either have 6 or 7 squares for you width. Then 60 (desired length) divided by 7.5 (finished square) = 8 We chose 6 X 8 so therefore needed 48 squares for the patchwork panel. If you can’t get the exact size you want with 8 inch squares, choose another size.
The first project has been made as just a cover. If however you want to turn it into a quilt, you will find instructions further down. Again it is worth considering the finished weight of the quilt. We used a special wadding that is fairly thin so won’t be too heavy, but is thick enough to be nice and warm.
Patchwork is really fun and will give you an amazing finish. A lot of people shy away from it as they think lining the joins up will be difficult. The most important thing with patchwork is your measurements. If you make sure that you cut all your squares exactly the same size and sew the same seam allowance throughout, your seams will join up perfectly. It is worth taking your time on the cutting stage as this will make the rest of the project a breeze.
Before you start cutting you need to make sure that all of your fabric is crease free. This will mean that once you have cut your square it will be exactly the size you want. If you don’t do this step and iron after you have cut, they may not be accurate.
Please take care with this step, especially if you are using old clothes or different materials and follow the instructions on iron temperature.
The first cut on any of your material will be to get one of the sides straight. Cut along one of the sides of your material in order to achieve this. If you start with one straight edge and work from that, your squares will all be accurate. To save time we ironed our material in half so that we could cut out two squares at once. If you decide to do this, it is crucial that you don’t move the material. If the two pieces move slightly this will lead to different sized squares. As we mentioned it is really important to cut all the pieces the same size. If you have a folded edge you can line the ruler up along it.
Cut off the uneven edge so that you now have a nice straight edge to work from.
If you are using a cutting board and fabric cutter, a top tip is to turn the board and not the material. The chances are, if you do move the fabric, you won’t be able to line it up exactly again. This of course is only crucial if you folded your material and are cutting two layers together. We want 8 inch squares for our cover. Place the 8 inch line on the straight edge of the material. Line up one of the bold lines along the bottom. That way you know that the square will actually be square.
Our ruler is only 6 1/2 inches wide so we couldn’t cut the 8 inch square out in one go. Move the ruler up making sure that you keep the 8 inch mark on the straight edge.
Cut all the way up the material, and it should now be the correct width for your square.
You now need to cut the cut the length of material so that it measures 8 inches, which will turn it into the square we want. We know that the ruler isn’t wide enough so again line up the straight edge and line up the bottom and cut near to the top of the ruler. Don’t be tempted to go past and cut as again you may not cut accurately. Move the ruler up as you did previously to finish creating your square.
Cut out all the squares in the same way. Our cover was 6 X 8 inch squares wide by 8 X 8 inch squares wide, so we needed a total of 48 squares. This is the most time consuming part of the project as you need to take care with cutting them exact.
This is a patchwork cover and should look random, but it is a good idea to lay all your pieces out on the floor before you sew them together. Once you have positioned them a top tip is to take a picture on your phone. We don’t know why, but it will highlight any areas that dont’ look quite right. You can then have a play, changing them around until you are happy. It’s also a good habit to get into, especially if you have pets or children, just in case they come and move them all around. You will be able to look at your phone and put them back in the order you had them.
Once you are happy with the layout, start with the bottom strip. Pick up the pieces from left to right, placing them at the bottom of the pile each time. You should have the bottom left square at the top as this is the square you will start with.
Pick up the first two sqaures. Lay the first square right side facing up and then lay the second square on top with it’s right side facing down. Pin or clip the right hand side. This means that the squares will be in the right order once finished.
Most machines nowdays come with various feet. Find one that will give you the seam allowance you want when you line it up with the edge of the fabric. The foot we used measures 1/4 of an inch from the needle position to the edge of the foot. This means that as long as when we sew, we keep the foot on the edge of the material, we will have a 1/4 inch seam. If we use this method with all of our seams, they will line up nicely without too much effort from us. A straight stitch length of 2.5 is good for sewing seams. As the stitches are close together the seam will be strong and not have any gaps. Don’t be worried if your seam isn’t 1/4 of an inch. The most important thing is that whatever foot or seam allowance you choose, stick to it for the whole project and you will be fine. Sew down this seam making sure you do a reverse stitch as both ends as this will stop the seam coming undone.
Place the next square in the sequence right side down on the right hand side square and sew down the edge as you did before.
Continue with this method until you have sewn all the squares in this row.
Place them back down where you got them from and pick up the row above, again keeping the sequence.
Continue working upwards until you have sewn all the rows and placed them back down in the right place.
Iron the back seams open. Don’t be too rough and stretch or press them out of shape. When we attach the rows together, this step will keep the seams flat and even.
The next part is not essential but we found that it gives the cover a more professional finish. It will also keep your seams in place, which means sewing the strips together will be easier. Sew a line of top stitching either side of the centre joins of each sqaure. We used our foot as a guide by lining up the gap with the centre seam. Top stitching looks better if you increase your stitch length. We like 3 or 3.5. A longer length will help the material through and give a straighter line.
By using the foot as a guide, we have neat lines on our squares.
It is a good idea to give one final iron before attaching the rows together, but again, remember to be gentle and not stretch the material.
You can see on the back of the material that the top stitching has secured the seams in place.
Do this for all the strips and they are now ready for joining.
Place the bottom strip right side up and lay the next strip on top right side down. Pin or clip the strips at the top, paying extra attention when lining the seams up. A top tip is the get the first join lined up. If you start from the edge, your first join may not be spot on and that will put all the other joins out.
Sew along this edge and keep checking that the seams are in line as you go. Let the machine do the work and don’t stretch the fabrics as you sew. Stop about an inch or so from each join and see if it lines up. If it doesn’t it will only be a fraction out and you can tweak the top fabric slightly so that it is perfect.
You can see that the intersections line up beautifully. This is due to accurate cutting and consistent seams.
Turn your work over and press the seams you have just sewn open. These joins are flat and even due to the way they have been formed.
Turn your work right side facing and sew a line of top stitching each side of the seam as you did with the strips.
On the reverse you will see that the joins are held down nicely. This is especially important for someone with delicate skin as bulky joins will irritate them.
Continue adding the strips in order, pressing the seams and top stitching as you go.
If you are making the cover, you can either make another patchwork panel or add a plain backing. We have chosen to add a plain backing. Although the cover is beautiful and bright we are aware that sometimes, someone suffering with an illness needs peace and calm. If this is the case, then the cover can be quickly turned over. If you have made a second patchwork panel, all you need to do is lay them right sides facing together. They will be a perfect fit as you have made two exactly the same. If like us you have gone with plain, lay your patchwork face down on your chosen fabric. We used an old double duvet cover which is ideal. Make sure that you smooth both pieces out or they won’t match properly.
Carefully cut around the edge of the patchwork panel so that backing is the same size. Adult supervision is required here. You may find is easier if you secure the pieces together first with pins to stop them moving about. Once you have both your pieces,and keeping right sides together, sew right the way round the edge. Make sure that you use the same seam allowance so your outer squares are even. Leave a hole in the bottom edge though, so that you can turn your cover right sides out.
We left a gap the length of one of the squares and chose one of the white ones to disguise the join.
Turn your cover right side out through the gap you left, making sure you push all the corners out well. Do not use anything sharp to do this as you will tear your cover. Once right side out, press the opening, pushing the seams inside so that they are even.
Iron all round the edge of the cover. It is a good idea to carefully push the backing slightly back so that it doesn’t show from the front.
Sew a line of top stitching all around the edge of the cover, including the opening that you left for turning.
You can give the cover one final iron or maybe wash it so that it’s nice and fresh for your recipient.
This one has been designed for a specific need so musn’t have a inner. You of course are free to make yours what ever size you want. How about making an actual duvet cover using an old one as a size guide. If your old one is done up with buttons, use the side that has the button holes as the backing fabric. All you need to do is make a proper seam at the bottom of your new panel and sew the buttons in line with the button holes and you have a new quilt cover. You can then use it with or without a duvet.
We also made a patchwork quilt for chilly days and nights. Make the front patchwork panel in the same way. You can still have the back and front the same or choose one piece of fabric for the back. This time though you will make a sandwich of layers. The top layer is your patchwork panel, middle layer is quilt wadding, and the final layer is your backing fabric. First lay your backing fabric wrong side up on the floor. Next add your chosen quilting wadding and then finally lay the patchwork panel right side up on the top. Pin them altogether. It’s a good idea to use lots of pin so that the sandwich doesn’t move. Our backing and wadding was slightly larger than the patchwork panel.
Sew very close to the edge all the way round to hold all your pieces together. Your line of stitching needs to be within your final seam allowance so that it won’t show once sewn.
Once you have sewn the edges, you can then cut the excess wadding and backing material so you have a nice square cover.
You now need to sew over all the seams top to bottom and left to right. This will make sure that the wadding will stay in place once the cover is being used and also for washing.
To get the fabric out of the way, you may find it easier to roll up your quilt as you sew. It doesn’t matter if you prefer not to, just make sure that you support the weight of your quilt so that it doesn’t pull against the machine.
On the back you will see that squares have been formed on the material. It is a good idea to make sure you have a matching thread in your bobbin so that is blends in with the fabric.
Once you have sewn all the seams you can add the edging. We used an old floral duvet cover for this. Cut lengths of 3 inch strips and sew them together to form a long 3 inch strip. You can guage how much you need by offering the strip to the quilt checking that it will go round all four sides. Once you have a suitable length strip press in half to form one long 1 1/2 strip.
To attach the binding, this tutorial explains the technique perfectly CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Don’t forget that we use a 3 inch strip as this fits a 1/4 inch seam perfectly. Use your machine foot as a guide to keep the edges even.
We chose to hand stitch the back of our binding to the quilt but as the video above explains, you can use your machine too.
This is a perfect size for a care home bed and we are pleased to report that the very special lady that received it was delighted.
They are a great way to use up all your oddments of material. You can choose whatever size squares you want to work with, and they make fab family heirlooms too, so why not start the tradition with your family.
We love seeing your creations and makes, so don’t forget to tag us #CraftyCoCreations
The Crafty Co