Homedit is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

What Is A Coverlet? A Guide To This Unique Piece Of Bedding

You can search as long and as hard as you want online, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s all for naught. When shopping on Amazon, Wayfair, and other e-stores, it’s important to use the correct keywords.

CoverletView in gallery

If you search for a bedspread when you actually want a coverlet, you may end up with nothing but frustration and an oversized blanket. When it comes down to it, it isn’t that difficult to tell coverlets apart from other bedding

But how do you know if you are looking for a quilt or a coverlet? That’s what we’re going to “cover” today. You need to know how to Christmas shop for coverlets, what makes a coverlet different than a quilt, and what material to choose for your coverlet. 

What Is A Coverlet?

View in gallery
Image By Wolstenholme Associates, LLC

Those with little to no experiencing in interior design or shopping for home products don’t know the difference between a coverlet, a duvet, and a comforter. A coverlet is usually non-reversible as it sets on top of your bed for decoration. 

Because a coverlet goes on top of the rest of your bedding, it is often paired with matching pillowcases or shams. These shams are usually quilted in a pattern to match the coverlet and offer extra padding for your pillows.

When shopping, try to find coverlets that come with shams to bring your bedroom together. If you’re lucky, you can find a set that includes a bed skirt as well. This will save you a lot of money.

A History Of Coverlets

View in gallery
Image By Jon Stuefloten Restoration Painting

The term coverlets began popping up in texts in the 16th-century. They were originally called coverlids, which was derived from the Catalan language. This lets us know that the first unofficial coverlets probably came from a Spanish country. 

All the way until the 19th-century, coverlets were made primarily from wool. The wool used in coverlets was placed on a cotton background and dyed. The most common color you would see was dark blue. They were often weaved in a summer-winter pattern, making them reversible.

Since then, much has changed. Most coverlets aren’t reversible and the materials used to fill them vary. Wool is still used to ward off the cold, but so is 100% cotton, muslin, polyester, and other materials. We’ll get into that later.

What’s The Difference Between A Coverlet And Quilt?

Image By Lands Ends Development

A quilt is often used to describe all sorts of blankets, coverlets included. But the biggest difference between a traditional coverlet and a quilt is that a coverlet is a layer of bedding. A quilt can standalone and be used as the only other blanket on the bed aside from the sheets. 

One thing that makes a quilt so different is that it is made to look handmade and unique. A coverlet offers a more modern look while a quilt often looks homier. If you want both a coverlet and quilt, you will want to put the coverlet on top.

What’s The Difference Between A Coverlet And Comforter?

View in gallery
Image By Rikki Snyder

This one isn’t too hard to understand. A comforter is the fluffiest, most heavily padded blanket you can buy. There are many different materials that can be found in a comforter from feathers to wool. 

Those who live in hot climates may never buy a comforter in their life. But those in cooler climates are never without one. Comforters are never just one or two layers. They are either stuffed with cotton or filled with many different layers to keep you warm. 

Those who want the look of a comforter without all of the added warmth may opt for a thin, cotton, or “down alternative” comforter. These keywords will get you the look you want if you live in a warm climate.  

What’s The Difference Between A Coverlet And A Duvet?

View in gallery
Image By Terracotta Design Build

A duvet is similar to a comforter, rather than a coverlet. It goes on top of the sheets and underneath the rest of the layers. A duvet is like a comforter only it’s almost always white. While a comforter can be decorative, a duvet is purely practical.

However, a duvet takes more care than a comforter and is usually dry clean only. It is softer and flatter than a comforter and cannot stand alone on a bed. If you can’t afford an entire set of bedding just yet, then you may want to lean away from a real duvet. 

What’s The Difference Between A Coverlet And A Duvet Cover?

Image By Alpha Design Group

Now, this is probably the most commonly asked question when it comes to coverlets. The texture and thickness of a duvet cover and a coverlet are often similar. But a duvet cover acts more like a pillowcase for a duvet (or comforter). 

A duvet cover often comes with ties or is fitted, so you can fasten the corners around your duvet. But a coverlet is made to throw back. It doesn’t rely on covering a comforter or duvet. Unless you get a duvet, you probably don’t want a duvet cover. 

What’s The Difference Between A Coverlet And Bedspread?

Image By Alpha Design Group

A bedspread is made to cover the entire bed, and oftentimes, touch the floor. This type of “blanket” will lay over your pillows. Despite the name coverlet, this piece of bedding usually sets folded back away from the pillows.

One thing you’ll notice, besides the bedspread skirting the bed, is that bedspreads are more old-fashioned than coverlets. There is often a Victorian feel to them as they encompass the bed and come in neutral colors of flowery patterns. 

Even if you do have a bedspread, you may or may not want to get a bed skirt. When the bedspread is set right, you won’t need one, however. But when you forgo the bedspread for a coverlet alone, then you will definitely need a bed skirt.

Why Choose A Coverlet? 

Image By Kathleen O’Donnell

At this point, you may still be asking yourself if a coverlet is right for you. If you already have a set of bedding that you love, then adding a coverlet to go with it is ideal. If you are starting from scratch, then things will be different.

It is possible to choose a coverlet that you can’t live without and base the rest of your bedroom design around it. However, make sure you can find the perfect bedding that goes along with it first. You’ll need sheets, pillowcases, and something to go under the coverlet. 

A bedspread, quilt, or comforter are all valid options. A comforter may be hard to work with since they are usually the top layer. But you can lay a coverlet over the comforter as long as the comforter isn’t too thick.

How To Decorate With A Coverlet?

Image By MARCUSSE CONSTRUCTION

A coverlet is used as a decorative piece of bedding rather than a practical piece. If you want something pretty to add on the top layer or at the foot of the bed, a coverlet may be perfect for you. Some people like to use chenille coverlets to throw on the corner. 

However, you can also use a coverlet as a light bedspread. Just fold it down so that the pillows are showing. Most importantly, make sure both sides are even and that it overlaps the bed skirt, or just meets it.

Christmas Shopping For A Coverlet

View in gallery
Image By Lowe’s Home Improvement

If you’re Christmas shopping for a coverlet, chances are, you have no idea where to start. When someone asks for a coverlet for Christmas, they probably want a coverlet, not a bedspread or comforter.

Throw blankets are one of the most popular Christmas gifts, so that’s a good place to start. A throw makes a perfect Christmas gift for anyone! Just look for lighter coverlets. To do this, search “lightweight coverlet” or check the tag. 

Coverlet Materials

As previously mentioned, coverlets used as throw blankets are usually not as heavy. Muslin, bamboo, and light polyester/cotton blends are perfect options for lightweight coverlets. But how do you know what material you want?

One of the best materials for light coverlets is muslin because muslin is soft and can be found in one, two, or three layers. Bamboo microfiber is a little warmer but not too heavy. Polyester/cotton blends will be the easiest to find and can be found in any thickness. 

Bottom Line

Coverlets are not for everyone. Many people prefer duvets and duvet covers. Some people want to go the whole nine yards. Other people want sheets and a simple quilt that means something to them.

Now that you know all you need to know about coverlets, you’re ready to start shopping. Remember that the most important thing you can do when shopping for home decor is to find what speaks to you. If coverlets aren’t your thing, then forget them! You just keep doing you.