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What Is a Coverlet? What to Know About This Traditional Bed Cover

coverlet on a bed
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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From duvets and comforters to quilts and throws, there are endless options for the top layer of your bed. Coverlets aren't anything new, but they tend to create some confusion among consumers.

So, what is a coverlet for a bed, and how does it compare to other types of bedspreads? Keep reading to find out.

What Is a Coverlet?

A coverlet is a cross between a blanket and a quilt. It's flat compared to a down-filled duvet but large enough to cover an entire bed while hanging off the edges. You can use a lightweight coverlet as a bedspread in place of a comforter, as a decorative top layer or folded at the foot of the bed.

This type of bedspread can be woven from various materials, though cotton is the most popular option. It's typically made with a French weaving technique called matelassé (a flatter, finer type of quilting) though some feature other stitching patterns and styles.

Coverlet vs. Bedspread

Bedspread is an umbrella term for any bed cover, including duvets, comforters, quilts and coverlets. In other words, a coverlet is a type of bedspread. That said, coverlets and other kinds of bedspreads are bigger than most blankets, as they're supposed to hang over the sides of the bed slightly.

Coverlet vs. Quilt

A quilt is a type of bedspread consisting of two woven layers of fabric, plus a layer of batting in the middle, with the three layers stitched together. Coverlets have a similar look to quilts, but they're not the same thing. They're lighter-weight and don't feature the same triple-layer design.

Coverlets mimic the woven design of quilts, with multiple layers and intricate stitching. However, they usually feature just two layers of fabric and don't have the batting in the middle. As a result, this type of bedspread is not as warm and is often used during the summer, as a top bedding layer or simply for decorative purposes.

Duvet vs. Coverlet

Sometimes called a comforter, a duvet is a quilted bedding insert that goes inside a duvet cover. Duvet is French for down, the super-soft undercoating of geese often used to fill the insert — but you can also find many down-alternative options. Coverlets don't have this fluffy, insulative filling.

Also, coverlets are more of a standalone bedding piece, while duvets are typically plain white and meant to go inside a cover. They can be used as a main bedspread for those who want something lightweight or as a decorative top layer.

What Is a Duvet Coverlet?

A duvet coverlet is not necessarily a real thing. People often get duvets confused with coverlets, and while they're both bedspreads, they're two separate bedding pieces. A duvet coverlet could mean a coverlet is placed on top of a duvet or simply a coverlet-style bedspread in place of a duvet.

Coverlet vs. Blanket

Coverlets and blankets can be used as a top layer when making the bed. However, they have some distinct differences. A coverlet is a type of bedspread, so it's as big as a duvet and drapes over the sides of the bed. Blankets, on the other hand, are smaller and are used for warmth or decoration.

Both blankets and coverlets can be folded and placed at the foot of a bed. For this purpose, they can be interchangeable, but some folks might opt for both. In this case, they might spread out the coverlet on the entire bed or fold or toss the blanket as a finishing touch.

For more insight into the different types of bedspreads, see our Guide to Quilts, Blankets and Coverlets: A Modern Take on Traditional Covers.

Is a Coverlet Right for You?

Lots of people appreciate the lightweight quality of a coverlet, especially during warmer months. This type of flat, versatile bedspread is often used in hotel rooms and guest rooms, usually placed on top of a sheet set and potentially under a throw blanket.

A coverlet might not be as popular a choice as a comforter with a duvet cover, but you don't necessarily need to choose between the two. Besides acting as a bedspread, you can use it in place of a blanket as an extra layer of warmth or a stylish top layer.

How to Style a Coverlet

There are a few ways to style a coverlet when making the bed. The first option is to spread it over the top of your sheets and mattress like any other bedspread so it lays flat and hangs slightly over the sides.

You can also fold the corners and tuck them into the bed frame for a tidier look, similar to a hotel. Another option is to fold your coverlet and place it at the foot of the bed, as you would with a throw blanket. To make things look cohesive, consider finishing the bed with Euro pillows and matching or complementing Euro shams.

What Are Euro Shams and Euro Pillows? Read our article for insight.

How to Wash a Coverlet

Coverlets are generally machine-washable. You'll want to follow the brand's care instructions, but when in doubt, use a cold, gentle cycle with mild detergent. Then tumble-dry your coverlet on low heat or allow it to air-dry.

If you sleep with your coverlet nightly, wash it every week or two. But if yours is more decorative or you use it only occasionally, you can wash it every couple of months.

High-Quality Bed Covers for Every Style and Taste From Parachute

You’ll find a broad range of thoughtfully designed coverlets and other high-quality bedspreads at Parachute, including duvet inserts, duvet covers, quilts and blankets.

Explore the collections today!

Read Next:

How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding

How to Layer Your Bed

Fabric and Bedding Materials Guide

How to Pick the Right Layer for You

How to Style Throw Pillows Like a Designer