In Our Own Backyard...It's turnin' me inside out!


In a groundswell of pre-holiday enthusiasm, last weekend I decided to take the summer duvet cover off the comforter in the upstairs guest room and replace it with a festive flannel one. It's one of those tasks I have to do early in the day, when I still have lots of enthusiasm left for housework, because it takes a lot of patience and concentration.

In case you're clueless as to what I'm talking about, a duvet cover is basically like a giant pillow case that envelopes the comforter (or duvet, as the Europeans would call it), keeps it clean and allows you to change decorating schemes on a whim. My summer duvet cover has giant butterflies on it. My winter one is decked in snowflakes. It's one of those things that women just do, like rearranging furniture or changing purses to match the color of your wardrobe.

But getting the comforter into the duvet cover is no easy task. The cover is open on one end and you have to somehow cram the comforter inside it, smooth it out, and then close the end with a series of buttons. It's not all that tricky if you have a twin-size bed, but if, like me, you have a queen bed, it takes on a whole new dimension. Each season I lay the duvet cover out on the bed and take one end of the comforter and try to ease it into the cover. The problem is, as I ease one corner in, the other side manages to slip out. And if I try to wedge the whole thing in at once, I end up with the comforter in a hopeless heap in the middle!

I confess that I was dreading the annual battle, so I decided to do the only reasonable thing I could think of -- go to the Internet. I booted up Google and typed in, "How do you put on a duvet cover?" Much to my surprise, pages and pages of helpful hints popped up from folks all over the world.

The first one was from a woman who worked for a bedding company. She suggested turning the duvet cover inside out and tying the quilt to the ribbons attached to the corners of the duvet cover , easing the two of them right side out and voila! It's done. The trouble was, when I turned my duvet cover inside out there were no ribbon ties, nor were there any ties on the corners of the quilt. Of course the woman on the video said all of the duvet covers and comforters that her company sells came equipped with the ties. BUT, if yours doesn't happen to have them, she said, her company just happens to sell handy dandy clips to use instead. I moved on in a spate of self-righteous indignation.

The next helpful hint came, surprisingly, from a man. I can't imagine a man anywhere who would bother putting a duvet cover on a comforter -- settling instead to just throw the dang thing over the bed and call it a day. But this guy was different. He seemed kind of sensitive and caring, and I wanted to believe that he could show me a better way of taking care of the dreaded chore. He suggested placing the duvet cover on top of the quilt and then folding both of them toward the center -- "burrito-style!" he explained with enthusiasm. He lost me midway through a complicated series of folds, wondering how in the world the comforter could possibly end up inside the duvet cover in the end. I moved on.

A woman suggested turning the cover inside out, reaching your arms into the far ends, and grabbing both corners -- "Just like a giant finger puppet!" she cried with a laugh.

The next helpful "how to" once again came from a man, this one with a thick British accent who told me this advice must come "straight from the horse's mouth" in the heart of duvet country. He, too, embraced the method of first turning the duvet cover inside out and placing it over the comforter. Then, he said to grab the corners of both the cover and the comforter and then "shake the whole thing like a sh***ting dog!" (must be an old British expression....).

I was growing weary of all that advice, so I decided to give his method a try. I carefully lined up both the duvet cover and the comforter, I reached inside to the far corners, grasped the corners of both and slowly began to turn it right side out, inch by agonizing inch. It took a whole lot of finessing to get it done, but I finally had it in some semblance of order and was prepared to button up the open end. It was then I spotted a giant wrinkle in the middle of the whole thing and silently cursed my inability it make it look as easy as all of those online helpmates would lead you to believe it is.

And then, in a moment's shock, I wondered if the giant wrinkle in the middle of the coverlet might actually be our cat, who from time to time likes to "help" me make the bed...