Daybeds are perfect for unexpected guests and for rooms that are too small for a full-size mattress. The daybed frame usually uses a twin mattress, making it difficult to find a fashionable cover for the bed. With a few simple tools and a sewing machine, it's easy to construct a cover that will make a striking statement for this functional piece of furniture.
Start by measuring the bed. Traditional daybeds use an ordinary twin mattress, but some have custom mattresses. Jot down the measurements for the width (from piping seam to piping seam) and length of the bed. Measure down from the piping seam on the edge of the bed to the floor. If the floor is carpeted, or a rug will be used next to the bed, measure to the top of this item. Add 3/4 inch to all of the measurements for a sewing seam allowance.
Print out the fabric conversion chart from the Butterick Corporation (see Resources). Calculate the daybed measurements using a 36-inch fabric. To do this, take the length of the bed and determine how many yards will be needed to cover the bed. Then, do the same calculation for the width of the bed. The length is usually the required amount of fabric, unless the bed is custom-made or an unusual size. Most fabric is sold in 35 to 36 inch or 44 to 45 inch widths. Decorator fabrics, including those made for daybeds, are also manufactured in 58 to 60 inch widths. The chart allows for a quick conversion among fabric widths. A bed requiring 4 yards of 58 to 60 inch decorator fabric will need 7 yards of 25-inch fabric. This may take time to calculate, but the chart provides a quick reference to convert fabric width.
Take a trip to the fabric store to shop for material. If the bed is located in a room with other fabrics, bring a photo of the room or bring fabric samples to match to the new daybed material. Bring the bed measurements and the conversion chart. Ask the assistants for suggestions for bedding fabrics. If the bed will be used as seating, select a heavy, sturdy fabric for wear. Also select a fabric that will withstand additional trips to the laundry and remain colorfast. Buy matching thread.
Take out the measurements for the top and sides of the mattress. These will be the main fabric pieces for the cover. Be sure that the figures incorporate the sewing allowance for all seams. Beginning sewers should transfer these measurements to make pattern pieces, but it is easy to lay out the fabric on the floor and cut the pieces from the measurements.
Lay out the fabric, leaving the fold in place. Make sure that the fold is even and the salvages (the rougher ends) are also even. If it is uneven, iron the fabric so that the fold and all edges are exact. This will allow the fabric design and any texturing to appear even on the daybed. Use the length measurements for the top of the bed as the first measurement. Use dressmaker pins or chalk to indicate where to cut this piece. Take the side measurements and pin or chalk these pieces. Depending on the width of the fabric, there may be room to lay the side panels parallel to the top piece of the cover.
Cut the fabric along the chalk or pinned lines.
Pin the fabric pieces for sewing. The side panels will face "right side in" relative to the top cover piece. Pin all sides at once so that the corners will match when sewing. If there is a pattern on the fabric, make sure that it matches on the side and top pieces. The same check must be made for a nap (texture) to the fabric.
Sew the pattern pieces, using a 3/4-inch seam allowance. Once the four edges of the side pieces are attached to the top of the cover, open the cover so that the front side of the pattern shows.
Sew the hem by first fitting the cover on the bed and chalking the mark where the cover touches the floor. Add 2 inches to that for a hem that will add weight and hold the cover close to the bed. Fold the 2-inch hem up to the chalk mark and pin the fabric. Once the hem is pinned, either sew with a needle and thread or machine sew around the hem. Fabrics with small patterns will not show machine stitching, but large patterns or solid colors look better hand sewn.