Sewing without a pattern -
A Quilted Coverlet
Bedspreads can have a tailored look, with straight sides or a frilly look with flounced sides; they can be formal or informal, snug-fitting or throwlike, floor length or short on the sides. Short, loose covers, called coverlets, are often coordinated with separate skirts, called dust ruffles. The ruffle conceals the box spring. The coverlet covers the mattress on top plus overlapping the top of the ruffle by 3 inches. Printed sheets can easily be turned into coverlets.
This coverlet was quilted by following the lines of the plaid. Working out from the center, first the lines were sewn in one direction, then the other.
Like any quilt, the coverlet pictured here has three layers: the top fabric, the filling or batting, and the backing. The top of the quilt was made from a twin-sized plaid sheet, the backing from a twin-sized sheet in solid green. Quilt battings are sold in standard sizes, including 72 by 90 inches, the most practical size to use for a single bed. Lightweight polyester batting is easy to work with and will remain fluffy through many washings.
To assemble the quilt, pin the three layers together on a flat surface. Place the backing wrong side up, spread the batting smoothly over it, then cover it with the fabric, right side up. The first step is to hold the batting in place with pins. Pins placed every 3 inches are not too many. use T pins or safety pins if you find that straight pins do not hold. Begin at the center and work out towards the edges in rows parallel to the lengthwise and crosswise grains, checkerboard fashion, smoothing the surface as you pin. Then baste the layers together using the same procedure as you did for pinning.
To quilt a coverlet by machine, push down on the three layers - the fabric, batting, and backing- as they go under the presser foot.
The design of a patterned fabric often suggests the placement of the quilting lines; here, the plaid provided the answer. Use the longest stitch on your machine for quilting. Usually eight to ten stitches to the inch set at a looser than normal tension take care of the bulk. Begin stitching in the center of the coverlet and move out towards the edges. First sew all the lines in one direction; then do all the cross lines to correspond with the lines in the plaid pattern. As they move under the presser foot, press the fabric layers down to lessen their bulk (see photograph above). Note: A coverlet larger than twin size may be too cumbersome to quilt by machine; stitching by hand is recommended.
After the coverlet has been completely quilted, lay it evenly on the bed and trim to size, 3 inches longer than the mattress on each side. Bind the raw edges together with medium-width (7/8 inch) bias binding in a contrasting color. Be sure to enclose the edges of the batting as you stitch.
Use commercial bias binding to enclose the raw edges of the coverlet. With wrong sides together and the bias binding face down on top, stitch 1/4 inch from the edge.
After sewing the first side of the bias binding, fold the binding over the raw edges of fabric, turn the binding edge under, and stitch along this fold, as shown.
The Dust Ruffle
The dust ruffle on the bed has a center section made from an old sheet; unbleached muslin could be used. The ruffle itself, a three-sided one because the head of the bed is against a wall, was made from a twin sized sheet. What remained from the sheet was used for the pillow cover.
To make the center section for the dust ruffle, spread the sheet over the box spring, taking advantage of the 1-inch finished hem by placing it at the head flush against the edge. (If you are using muslin, finish this edge with a double-stitched hem) Cut the sheet to fit the perimeter of the box spring, allowing an extra 1/2 inch for seams on both sides and at the foot of the bed. Round off the corners.
Measure from the top of the box spring to 1 inch from the floor to establish the finished length of the dust ruffle. (Ours is 14 inches) Allow an extra 1/2 inch for the top seam and 2 inches for the bottom hem. Measure the perimeter of the box spring on the three sides to be ruffled and allow one and a half times its length for the dust ruffle before gathering. Cut out enough sections of solid-color sheeting to equal this total.
To gather the dust ruffle, pull the ends of the three bobbin threads with one hand while gathering the ruffle with the other hand.
Sew three rows of long running stitches along the top of the ruffle material, instead of the conventional two rows, to prevent the thread from breaking under the weight of the fabric. Keep rows inside the 1/2 inch seam allowance. Join the sections but be careful not to catch the ends of the gathering threads in the side seams because you will need to pull them later. Hem the raw edges at each end,making two 1/4 inch folds.
Starting at the head end of one long side of the bed and with right sides together, pin the dust ruffle to the center section, following the rounded corners at the foot. Pull up the gathering stitches until the ruffle fits around the box spring and the fullness has been distributed evenly all around. Sew the ruffle and center section together. trim the seam allowances and press them towards the center section so they will lie flat when the dust ruffle is placed on the box spring. Place the dust ruffle on the box spring again, pinning up the hem to clear the floor. Take it off the bed, turn under the raw edge of the hem 1/4 inch, then stitch the finished hem as indicated by the pinning The hem will be a little less than 2 inches. deep.