Search The Purl Bee
Sign up for our newsletter!

Idea Center
Follow The Purl Bee
« Super Soft Merino Hand Warmers | Main | Molly's Sketchbook: Super Simple Super Soft Merino Baby Hat »

Molly's Sketchbook: Liberty and Wool Lap Duvets

Every Christmas I travel to my hometown of Berkeley, California to be with my family. You might imagine it’s a warm and sunny contrast to Brooklyn, but really, the famous Bay Area fog seems to seep into everything, including my bones! I have spent many a Christmas morning snuggling my parents’ 100 year old radiators while I sneakily inch up the thermostat a few degrees. It’s moments like this that call for a Lap Duvet!

Since our first Lap Duvet project last year, these beautiful blankets have become my favorite quick sewing project, especially when I want to showcase a truly lovely fabric. This year, in anticipation of my chilly visit to California, I made an even easier version with my two absolute favorite fabrics in the world: Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn and Dorr Mill Wool. The contrast between the pretty detail of the Tana Lawn and the rustic beauty of the wool is just exquisite!

Since this version uses wool, there is no need for batting, making this the simplest Lap Duvet yet! Best of all, the resulting blanket is warm and elegant, with a drape that is graceful and very special. It only takes a couple of hours to make, so there’s still plenty of time to sew one or two up for the holidays, either as beautiful gifts or as welcome warmth for your shivering guests! -Molly


To make 1 approximately 33 X 52-inch lap duvet: 

Before you start you will need to felt the wool by washing it in hot, rinsing it in cold, drying it for 20 minutes, and then pressing it flat.


Rip approximately and inch off of each cut edge of the liberty piece (do not rip the selvage edges.) This will result in a perfectly straight rectangle of liberty that is approximately 34-inches by 54-inches. Press this piece flat.

Press the wool flat and lay it on a clean section of floor. Lay the pressed Liberty piece on top of the wool, wrong side facing up. Pin the two pieces together and then cut the wool to match the liberty.


Using your machine's walking foot and the neutral thread sew the Liberty and wool together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance around all four sides leaving a 4-inch unsewn gap on one side.

Snip off the corners and turn the piece right side out through the unsewn gap. Press the edges and corners flat.

Press the blanket in half lengthwise and width wise to find the center (represented by the dot in the diagram above.)

Lay it down again on the floor, with the Liberty side facing up. Using the curved safety pins pin the two layers of the blanket together at the center marking and then every 7-inches vertically and horizontally as represented by the "X"s in the diagram above.

Using a tacking stitch or short zig zag sew the two layers together at every pinned point using the contrast thread removing the safety pins as you go.

Hand stitch the gap closed and you're all done!

Reader Comments (33)

I see that the wool felt only comes in 34" options... I'm tired, so forgive me if this is a silly question, but would it be enough to just order one piece? or would those missing 2" mess things up?
December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine
Hi Katherine-

The pattern only calls for one piece of felt and one piece of Liberty.

Thanks for the question and let me know if anything else is unclear.


December 13, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
It's lovely (if chilly!) in Berkeley right now...wishing I could sew because this sounds perfectly cozy!
Hope you have a peaceful and relaxing holiday with us on the West Side :)
December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAriana
When tacking or zig zag stitching the two layers together at every pinned point, I'm guessing that you're using the sewing machine. Could you also sew it by hand?
December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean
Do you really need a walking foot for this? i don't have one. should i?
December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
Hi Stephanie-

A walking foot is a really great thing to have so I would recommend that you get one. However you can probably do this project without one. Just go slowly and make sure the wool and cotton are being pulled through the machine at the same rate.

Thank you for your question!

December 14, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Jean-

I did do it with a machine but you could certainly do it by hand!

Thank you for your question!

December 14, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This is a pretty blanket, but it would be nice to see photos of them laid flat (not folded in a pile) to see details of the tacking stitching.
December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine
I think KK2000 the temporary spray glue would be useful in a project like would keep the fabrics from shifting around...but only for 24 hours. After that...the glue is poof! gone! Also free motion embroidery might be fun too. this is is small enough for an ordinary machine to handle I think. Then I would sew on a binding to finish it off.
December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMB@YarnUiPhoneApp
I love it, so easy, fast and warm. This is a great way to do nice gifts from HOME. Just made my first of many this evening. Thanks for sharing
December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuna
Does the Tana Lawn need to be pre-washed prior to making this project? Also, is the duvet machine washable or should it be hand washed? Thanks for this project. This is a great gift idea.
December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
I love love the look of this blanket!!
I agree with Elaine, would like to see the blanket laid out flat, might be a better visual.
Can this be machine washed after making?
How scratchy is the felted wool? I have knitted & felted numerous items just
January 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterellen t
Hi Ellen-

I would say the felted wool is not very scratchy but if you're someone who is sensitive to wool it might seem more so.

It can be hand washed or dry cleaned but not machine washed.

Thank you so much for your questions!

January 15, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Love this tutorial! And the use of felted wool makes this really special. I haven't done any quilting before so this might be a silly question but with the zig zag stitching on the crosses, how long is each length of stitching or side of the cross? Or do you do straight lines? Thanks! I agree a picture of the blanket lying flat and open would be great and a close up of the stitching :)
April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusie
Hi, where can I get Mary Flanagan's felted wool for these cozy blankets? Do you carry this product and once the blankets stitched up, is there a risk of shrinking when washed? Many thanks!
April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
Hi Anna-

We do carry this material, and all the materials used for our projects. They are linked under the "Materials" section of any project. Just click on the red text. Or here is the direct link for the felted wool:

This blanket can be washed in a gentle cycle in a machine but it can't be machine dried.

Thank you for your questions!

April 18, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Susie-

You sew a straight line, about 1/2-inch long at each marked point backstitching at the beginning and end of the line.

Or you could use a tacking stitch if your machine has one. This stitch sews a horizontal bar of stitches in the same place.

However you choose to do it these stitches are securing the three layers (front, batting, and backing) together at the marked points. Our previous lap duvet story has a little more detail, if you'd like to review it as well:

Please let us know if you need any more help, and good luck with the project!

Thanks for writing in!

April 18, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
No matter how careful I am with both pieces aligned, when I start sewing, the wool seems to buckle, go askew. I'm using a walking foot so not sure what I am doing wrong! I've ripped it out 3 times, a calming task but still annoying :) Thank you.
May 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
Hi Barbara-

How frustrating! Are you using your machine's walking foot? It's a larger foot that sort of "walks" along as you sew. It helps to keep two (or more) layers of disimilar fabrics together as you sew and it's very useful for this project.

If you are already using a walking foot and still having problems (or if you don't own a walking foot) then my suggestion would be to iron on strips of light weight fusible interfacing to the edges of the wool before you pin it to the cotton fabric. It should keep the wool from stretching as you sew.

Please let us know if this helps and if you have any more questions!

May 10, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Do you have to use the fabrics suggested or does it not matter?
May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiona
Hi Fiona-

They should work with any woven fabric.

Thanks for your question!

May 16, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I adore these quilts; they are so simple, yet so beautiful! I'd love to make some of my own one day. I do have a question though (I apologize if it's already been answered!) Do you think the felted wool would be a fabric appropriate for a summer quilt? If not, do you have any suggestions for a similar fabric? I am currently working on a quilt that is under the same principle as these lap duvets - two layers. I would love any suggestions!

June 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Traylor
Any chance to see a full picture?
December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiff
Hi Tiff-

We don't have any full photos of these. They are all wool on one side and all Liberty of London Tana Lawn on the other side, with some very subtle stitching every 7-inches.

If you are in the NYC area you can see them in person at our Soho Store. Or, if you would really like to see a full view of one of them I might be able to take a quick snap and send it to you. Feel free to email me at Molly AT purlsoho DOT com if you'd like this.


December 4, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
This is such a delightful duvet and I am going to show it to my quitting group which
are all over 70 and need something to keep us cozy while lounging in the evening
Thanks for the pattern
December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLyletta Groves
I would like to use something that would be completely machine washable with the Liberty fabric. I have dogs and want something I can easily wash and dry. Can you suggest another fabric in lieu of the wool? Thanks!
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentershar
Every year I consider making these and while the photos of the quilts in a stack are beautiful, it would be great to see these lap quilts 'worn', draped around the house, or even just one laying flat finished with the tacking or small zigzag stitches sewn in them. Otherwise, they look a lot like my unused (and also beautiful) piles of fabrics sitting there, un-used. :)
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire Szeto
Hi Shar-

Sure! Instead of the wool we would recommend the following fabrics:

Flannel, which would be very soft!

Cotton Fleece which would be warm and soft, you might want to consider using the fuzzy side as the outside.

Cotton Sherpa. This fabric is ultra warm and would add a nice weight:

Keep in mind that you should wash and dry all of the fabrics before you sew with them. Both the Fleece and the Sherpa shrink quite a bit so you will want to buy a 1/2 yard extra to be safe.

Thank you so much for this fun question!

December 5, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Molly,
This project caught my interest as I had an older liberty in my stash that I knew was perfect for my mother, but I didn't know what to do with it. I read through your readers comments and tweaked the pattern to suit my sewing skills: being a good, but simple sewer, I enjoy the results of hand sewing better. I used 11/2 yards of the wool, and washed it twice, and machine sewed a 3" boarder of another liberty to my main liberty fabric. I then added a 2" border to that for a binding.I used the curved pins, and attached the liberty top to the wool. I hand sewed with a running stitch, the edge of the border/binding to the wool, so the two layers became attached. I tied the top to the wool where the pins were, then I turned the binding around the edge of the wool to the back and did an invisible stitch to attach it to the back. I was very happy with the result, and I did not have to go through the frustration I would have had sewing the two unequal layers together ! Thank you for the inspiration. It is the perfect present for my mother this year! It gave me a lot of joy to make.
December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline
I just ordered the Liberty and wool to make one of these...the Liberty is by far the most beautiful fabric I have ever had my hands on! Does the Liberty need to be prewashed? I read through the comments and I wasn't sure. If so, what would be the recommended washing instructions? Thanks so much.
January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKarrie
Hi Karrie-

You should prewash the Liberty in a normal cycle. You should be able to wash the finished blanket on a gentle cycle.

Thank you!


ps- Also make sure to pre-shrink the wool in hot as instructed in the materials section!
January 6, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I like the idea of using the cosy cotton sherpa instead of wool. For a beginner sewer, is the sherpa easy to manage on the sewing machine?
Thank you.
January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine
Hi Catherine-

The cotton sherpa is a little bit stretchy so it can be harder to sew with, but if you just cut pin and sew carefully you should be fine.

Thank you for your question!

January 30, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.