Here's an easy way to turn a cheap quilt from ordinary to extraordinary.
It's a lesson in gilding the lily: Why start from scratch when you can simply embellish a finished product?
I wanted to dress up a rather plain bedroom in my St Kilda Rd apartment so a luxurious comforter draped over the foot of the bed seemed the way to go. On top of that, I needed it quickly so I could get in there to do some decorating on the one day between bookings that the property was empty.
The bed is one of those nifty Murphy Beds: You can fold it up and conceal it in the wall when not in use. It's an ingenious contraption, but below the mattress-line, it looks like the fold-away bed that it is and gives the false impression that it may not be comfortable. That's not the case at all - this beauty is a Queen-size bed with a great mattress and I always have hotel-quality bedlinen, guaranteeing a beautiful sleep experience. But I needed something to conceal the foot of the bed and make it look great in my Airbnb photos.
I agonised over how to construct the comforter...
I only wanted it to be decorative, just to overhang and conceal the frame of the bed-end. I worked out that a single-bed sized quilt will cover the end of a QS bed when laid side-on. Standard single-bed size quilt measures 140cm x 210cm.
Should I make it from scratch, buy miles of wadding, a super luxe fabric for the top, with a plain lining on the underside? Should I construct it like a quilt-cover with a doona inside? All too hard.
The light-bulb moment
Then I happened on an idea...
Why start from scratch? Buy a finished product and embellish it!
The single-bed reversible comforters that you can buy from Kmart come in colour combinations that include black one side, grey the other. The plain black side would be perfect for the underside of the finished piece, and the comforter itself was the perfect weight for this project. At $18 for the single-size, I congratulated myself on my penny-pinching genius.
Then came the tricky decision around what to line the top with.
I wanted to bring a sense of luxury into this room, to carry through the Art Deco theme in the rest of the apartment, and because I love that sense of decadence in a bedroom. Velvet or satin were the obvious choices, but I was more focussed on finding a fabric in the right colour and weight, so I kept an open mind.
The Klimt print above the bed proved to be the inspiration... His famous work "The Kiss" is a golden-hued icon of the Art Deco era, the most well-known example of the new romantic painter's school of the times. Tones of yellow, green, burgundy & black are highlighted with touches of metallic gold and provide a beautiful palette to work with. The lovers float above a bed of flowers in a passionate embrace. This classic piece virtually screams "Get a room!".
I found a gorgeous floral embossed velvet at Spotlight, then looked for something to team it with. This black burn-out velvet was just the thing, decorative enough in its own right to use on its own. I was chuffed with my choices. The velvet is sensuous and eminently touchable - just the ticket.
The creative process
The plan is to completely cover the grey side of the quilt with your fabric of choice, top-stitching it in place on the existing base. I wanted to also avoid the need to remove or replace the existing binding around the sides of the quilt - that's way too much work! Here's how I did it.
My floral velvet was only 115cm wide, narrower than the quilt width which was 140cm, so I was going to have to join it somehow. I decided to add a border of the black velvet top & bottom. The quilt base had sewn channels which provided the perfect guide. I made the black velvet borders the same width as one row of the squares on each side, and attached it to both sides of the floral velvet. So now I had a piece of velvet that was the same size as the quilted base.
Step 1: Prep your top fabric
Join your decorative fabrics to make a piece that is as big as your quilt base, with an inch or 2 to spare around the edges. Flatten out & press the join seams open on the reverse side.
Step 2: Pinning
Pin your top fabric to the quilt base. In my case, I pinned it in the "ditch" where I had joined the 2 fabrics. That meant that when I went to stitch along those lines, the stitching would disappear in the ditch and give a nice invisible finish. If you don't have any joins in the top fabric, you will have to mark some stitching lines yourself. The easiest way to do this would be to flip the piece over so you can use the stitching lines in the quilt base as a guide. Work from the centre out, flattening as you go, so that the quilt is evenly stretched over the top fabric.
Step 3. Stitching
Stitch along your pinned lines, right through the quilt. You can stitch as many rows as you want. I just did 2, one along each of the top fabric joins, but you may even opt to follow all the squared on the base quilt - up to you, as long as the top fabric is well secured.
Step 4: Securing the sides
I did not want to remove or replace the existing piping around the side, so I carefully folded the sides of the top fabric under, in line with the side piping, and top-stitched it all around very close to the edge, stitching in the ditch of the piping. It turned out perfectly neat and proved to be a good time-saving move.
Step 5: The finishing touches
Use the off-cuts to make some decorative cushions to tie the whole look together. Velvet bobbles are very touchable, and add a lovely detail. I made 2 x 45cm cushions and a glorious neck-roll with black & gold tassels on the ends. Why do I get such a kick out of using up all of the fabric? I hate waste.
Metallic gold drape tie-backs hung on the wall behind the lamps provide a decadent touch.
The Big Reveal!
Et voila... Romance is born!
The velvet comforter adds a sense of luxury & warmth to the room, the floral velvet echoes the tones & motifs in the Klimt print, and the twinkling lights of the city and the stars at night through the windows will do the rest (I can't claim any credit for that!).
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