Here’s Why Your Bedding Doesn’t Seem to Fit Quite Right

published Feb 9, 2023
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Is there anything worse than a loose fitted sheet or a not-quite-full duvet? I mean, of course there is, but ill-fitting bedding is something that drives me wild. You would think all bedding would have standardized sizes, since most mattresses conform to prescribed lengths and widths, but that’s not the case. When purchasing sheets, duvets, and other bed linens, it’s important to get a good fit because it translates into a more comfortable sleep. Watch out for these sizing issues when shopping for sheets and other bedding:

Bedding base layers

Too-large fitted sheets and mattress protectors are a common problem because mattresses come in a variety of depths. Some bedding manufacturers acknowledge this and offer their products in different depths; for example, The Company Store sells mattress pads in 11-inch deep and 18-inch deep sizes. If you have a particularly plush mattress, be on the lookout for pads that can accommodate your depth, and if you have a particularly thin mattress (especially low-profile mattress, like those sold for bunk beds), it’s best to avoid anything with especially generous dimensions.

When buying sheets, be very careful when you take the sheet out of its packaging, and make note how it was folded. Try it on your bed before washing to ensure a good fit. If it’s a little baggy, immediately refold it following the creases and put it back in the packaging. Take it from me: It probably won’t shrink down to the proper size, so you should find something else. 

Credit: Samara Vise

Duvet covers

Duvet covers of all bed sizes are often mysteriously oversized. I assume this is because the manufacturers are trying to accommodate the fluffiest of down comforters and account for possible shrinkage, but I’d rather a slightly too small duvet than one with a limp border of fabric around the edges any day. (I’m not alone in this preference; I once even interviewed a blogger who told me she used a king duvet insert in her queen duvet cover because she preferred a full duvet, and this is a great hack if you feel the same way!) 

Another culprit in the category of misfit duvets is the attempt to create full/queen products. Full (or double) beds and queen-sized beds are close in size at 53 inches by 75 inches and 60 inches by 80 inches, respectively, so many manufacturers offer one size duvet for both, often labeled as “Full/Queen.” In terms of comfort, the one size will probably feel fine on either bed, but it can result in ill-fitting duvet covers down the road. If you want a better, close fit, measure the duvet you have and shop for ones that match your dimensions. You can also avoid this issue altogether by going with a comforter versus a duvet, but, of course, washing it will then be a more frequent chore.

If your problem is a too-long duvet and you have a sewing machine handy, you can remove the excess inches on the non-buttoned short end fairly easily. All you need to do is turn the cover inside out, sew a straight line where you want to cut it off, and then trim the excess fabric. A dry cleaner can also do this for a small fee (Mine charged just $12 for an XL twin duvet she whittled it down to a regular twin size).

Credit: Carina Romano

Twin versus XL twin and king versus California king

Twin and king bedding can be particularly complicated because of the alternative but close sizing situation. Some brands try to say their bedding fits both models of twin or king mattresses, but it’s a much better idea to buy bedding specifically designed for either a standard twin/king or XL twin/California King, especially when it comes to fitted sheets. Read the descriptions carefully and check the measurements: A regular twin is 38-inches by 75-inches, and an XL twin is 80-inches long; a regular king is 76-inches by 80-inches, and a California King is 84-inches long. Bigger is definitely not better when it comes to bedding!

Credit: Minette Hand

European brands

Another place I’ve run into trouble in the past is with European bedding brands. I once ordered what was meant to be a twin duvet from the Danish brand HAY, and it was comically large — almost big enough for my queen-sized bed. In Europe, all the bed sizes are different, and it can be confusing trying to find the right fit for your American bed. When in doubt, always go back to the measurements.

February is Bedroom Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re sharing stories all month about bedrooms — from how to sleep in them, decorate them, make the most of small ones, and so much more. Head over here to see them all!