Saturday 5 September 2020

5 Things to do with a dead duvet ...

 Do you feel bad about throwing things in the bin - things that you might just conceivably find a second life for?

I hate to waste things. Any things. It's my pet peeve. And one thing that always causes me particular angst is the vast expanse of a dead duvet - a duvet that, for whatever reason, you no longer want to use for its primary purpose. I am ideologically opposed to sending so much fabric off to landfill . So here's a list of what I've found to do in order to spare my conscience the wrench of binning the cast-off.

1. All purpose bias binding

I use lots of bias binding - either as decorative trim or to finish off seams. It's useful and it's pretty. Even when it's functional a flash of contrasting bias binding can also be decorative. The dimensions of a duvet give you a bountiful reservoir of fabric, which means that you can cut super long lengths of binding without having to do too many of those right-angle joining seams that add length.  Invest in a few bias presses to use with your iron, and you'll never singe your fingers again. 

I've done a how-to make bias binding post here if you'd like to see how I go about making my bias binding

2. Ironing board cover

This one is an easy sew that calls for a fair amount of fabric, so, overall, it's a worthy project for a dead duvet.

Open up the duvet cover, unpicking the seams so that you have two lovely expanses of single layer cloth. Chose the side that you'd like to up-cycle for your ironing board cover and press it with the iron to get rid of any wrinkles that might distort the shape as you cut.

Remove the old cover from your ironing board and save the heat-resistant padding to re-use. Alternatively if your padding has passed the point of no return, buy some new padding, and cut it to fit the precise shape of your board - you can do this by laying it down on the kitchen table, placing the ironing board on top and then drawing around the board with a tailor's pen so that you get an exact outline which you can cut out with a sharp pair of scissors for a perfect fit. 

Now for the cover: lay the duvet fabric, wrong side up, on your kitchen table. Using a seam ruler (perfect size for the job) - or any other ruler that you have to hand, carefully measure an outline that is 5 cm bigger than the size of your board. I measured out from the edge of the board and drew a sequence of marks exactly 5 cm from the edge. Join these together with your tailor's pen, and you've got a cutting outline that's got enough turn-under to draw around the board with a draw-string. Use your pinking shears and you won't have to sweat about a raw edge.

When you've cut out your outline, use the remaining fabric from that section of the duvet to produce enough 25 mm width bias binding to go all the way around the edge of the cut-out - this will involve using 50 mm strips of fabric cut on the bias (see section 1 above on how to make bias binding). Lay the binding all the way around the cut-out with only a short space between the beginning and the end to allow for threading with a draw-string.  At either end fold the ends of the binding over to the inside to form a neat seam and stitch down. Otherwise leave the openings at either end un-stitched to allow a drawstring to be threaded through the binding to affix the cover to the ironing board. Sew the binding in place along both edges. 

Cut a drawstring that's long enough to go all the way around the cut-out with enough free length to tie, draw it through the binding using a safety pin and pull to hold the cover in place on the ironing board. You may need to tease the gathers so that it fits snugly, and I like to use a spring-mounted toggle to keep the string taut after I've get it in place.  You can buy these bad boys on eBay or Amazon. 

Spring loaded toggle holding the drawstring taut
Spring-loaded toggle to hold drawstring taut. Binding seamed at the end and stitched along the sides to create a channel for the drawstring to pass through.

3. Painting sheet

I'm as keen on a spot of chalk paint as the next person, and I've used heavy cotton duvets, unopened as a ground sheet to save the floor from splashes. Alternatively you can open them up along 3 of the seams, unpicking those seams and leaving the final seam in place to produce a huge rectangle that will make an effective dustsheet for sofas or chairs if you were dabbling with some ceiling paint.

Duvet paint sheets - use double thickness for added protection

4. Dress Cover

My tailor's dummy often stands neglected with creations pinned together for periods of time when I get distracted with something else. When she's either not in use, or modelling something partially completed waiting for my return, I like to cover her up with a dust cover. 

Dust cover for tailor's dummy

This one was made from two rectangles of 65 cm x 105 cm, sewn up with a 2.5 cm seam allowance to produce a dust cover that measured 60 cm across the chest and 100 cm from the shoulder to the hem. I took the dimensions from one of those plastic covers that came from the dry cleaner's. In order to make the whole thing hang better I used a dressmakers' curve to slope the shoulders. After I'd measured out my rectangles I used the curve, centered at the centre point of the fabric to shape the shoulders. 

Shape the shoulders using a tailor's curve centre on the centre point of the fabric, and turned upside down to get the left shoulder sloping in the right direction.

Having drawn them in with a tailor's pen, I cut them out.

Cut-out fabric - use double thickness to produce 2 identical shapes - with shaped shoulders

I sewed the shoulder seam across, following the curve of the shoulders and leaving a 20 cm opening for the neck, sewing a box hem across either end for reinforcement. 

Measure neck opening from the centre point of the fabric

This size works great for something on a hanger, but next time I sew a cover for the dummy I think I'll aim to leave it a bit wider - maybe allowing another 10 cm so that it's a more relaxed fit over the dummy's neck. 

5 Embroidery canvas

I've up-cycled plain cotton bed-linen for embroidery projects loads of times. If it's pure cotton with a decent weight and thread count it can be a great candidate for non-aida projects. 

And don't get me started on how wonderful vintage linen is for this job ... A chum of mine volunteers in a charity shop, and we're always plotting things to do with vintage linen that gets rejected by the shop management. 

I've also used patterned material for some machine embroidery/ collage. Emi had a cosy brushed cotton set in a nice tartan pattern that went west courtesy of a nose bleed. I've been using salvaged snips from that for all sorts of stuff. I don't have a fancy-schmancy sewing machine with hundreds of embroidery stitches: I have to get by with zig-zag stitch, but it's amazing how far you can take a simple stitch repertoire if you've got some nice fabric contrasts. I liked how the tartan pattern from the ex-duvet contrasted with the upholstery off-cut that I used to make this notions purse. 

Anyway that's all from me and my War on Waste for now. Have a great weekend!

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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