A bedspread by any other name is still a bedspread

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Duvet, comforter, quilt, bedspread….are they the same thing?

January is a big month for white sales…in other words..bedding.  And I often get asked what the difference between a duvet, comforter and bedspread is as well as questions about pillow sham shapes and sizes.  So before you go out and take advantage of the sales take a moment to review this list of bedding terminology to make sure you purchase the right item(s) for your particular needs.

Bedspread:  Think of your grandmother’s bedroom.  She probably has or had a bedspread at one time.  A bedspread will cover the entire bed, including the pillows, and falls all the way to the floor.  The spread covers your blanket and sheets and is removed at bedtime.  Easy to make the bed and eliminates the need for a bedskirt, they are difficult to find these days but are available at stores like Bed, bath & beyond or from online catalogs. They will give your room a little bit of a vintage vibe, especially if you can find one of the old chenille ones.  Buyer beware:  picking at the chenille is addictive!
This bedspread combines the look of a comforter, the stitching of quilt and the ease of a bedspread requiring no bedskirt. The best of all worlds!  Notice also the use of Euro shams, regular shams and decorative pillows.


Comforter:  A comforter is constructed of two pieces of fabric sewn together on all four sides.  It is filled with polyester or down (your choice) and covers just the sides and foot of your mattress.  Depending on your bed frame style, a bedskirt is often necessary to hide the legs of a metal frame.  In this photo you will see a comforter with matching standard shams on the bed.


Coverlet:  A coverlet is smaller than a comforter or a bedspread and is most often used as a lightweight covering in the warmer months.  It does not drape all the way to the floor. A coverlet will often feature decorative stitching which is what the term matelasse refers to.


Duvet:  Technically speaking, a duvet is the actual comforter used on a bed, often without a bedsheet.  It can be covered for protection with a duvet cover.  Duvets are often used in lieu of a top sheet and blanket…very European!   The two terms are often confused here in the US.  A duvet cover is constructed of two pieces of fabric sewn together on three sides, leaving the top area open in order to stuff it with a down comforter (duvet).  It closes with decorative buttons, ties, velcro or even a zipper.    They are difficult to stuff and the inside comforter can slide around, creating a messy and lumpy look.  Here is a helpful video on how to easily (?) stuff a duvet cover.

Quilt:  A quilt is a bed covering that joins together several pieces of fabric and stuffing with stitching.  They can be used as a decorative throw at the foot of the bed, layered over a comforter in the winter or as a lightweight bed covering in the spring and summer months.  Patchwork quilts are fun for a farmhouse or cottage look while solid colored quilts work well in a more contemporary design.


Pillow case:  A pillow case is just what it says, a case for your bed pillows.  They usually come with a set of sheets and match in fabric, thread count and color.

Sham:  Like a pillow case, a sham is used to cover a bed pillow.  The difference is that they are decorative and not meant to be slept on.  They are available in standard pillow sizes of standard, queen and king and often come with your comforter purchase in a matching or complimentary fabric.  They are easy to stuff and close on the back with buttons or ties.

Euro sham:  A euro sham is square in shape and used for decorative purposes on the bed. We will discuss how to make a bed in another post but euro shams are most often placed against the headboard or wall as a backdrop for your shams and decorative pillows.

What type of bedding do you prefer?

About hayniedi

What about me? In a nutshell I am a middle-aged interior designer and freelance writer, mother of an amazing 27 year old daughter, wife to my semi-retired lawyer husband and step-grandma to two delicious babies. From my earliest memories I have been fascinated with interior decorating and love to share my passion for beautiful rooms with anyone who will listen. Join me on this blog as my husband and I enter our empty nest years and move back into the first home we bought when we were first married that has been a rental for the past 15 years. I will share our experience with remodeling as well as other ideas and thoughts that I hope will inspire you.
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