All you need to know about bedspreads

Comforters, also known as bedspreads, can make any bed a warm, inviting and beautiful place to rest. A comforter goes over your sheets to keep you warm at night and to give your bed a fresh, decorative look when it's not in use.

Comforters and Bedspreads

Comforter sets are a great way to buy a matching bedding collection for yourself, a guest bedroom or a child going off to college. Purchasing a set ensures that the comforter, pillow shams, bed skirt and sheets all complement each other and create the overall design you're looking for. Additionally, buying the items together often means a lower price than buying items individually — meaning you can find discount comforters without discounting quality.

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If you're hoping to find a comforter that matches the sheets and other bedding materials you already own, look for a standalone bedspread in a complementary color or pattern. You will likely change your sheets more often than your comforter, so find a bedspread that can coordinate with more than a single set of sheets.

When purchasing a comforter, your main concern should be construction, of both the filling and the covering. Polyester and cotton fills are both low maintenance and easy to care for — just pop them into the washing machine. Polyester and cotton comforters should be able to provide you with lightweight warmth in the summer months while keeping you insulated in the winter. To prevent the fill from bunching, opt for quilted bedspreads; the quilting helps to keep the fill in place and evenly distributed.

Down comforters, filled with goose feathers and down, are considered softer, warmer and more luxurious than most other bedspreads. For those with allergies, there are also down-alternative comforters that give the same luxurious feel as goose down but without the sniffles. When purchasing a high-quality down comforter, you may see a "fill power" listing — this is the amount of space one ounce of the down in the comforter takes up. The higher the number, the softer and more insulating the comforter.

Custom Bedspreads

Unless you're planning to spend a significant amount of money on a custom bedspread, you'll be limited to the standard sizes offered by manufacturers. King comforters are usually 110 x 96 inches. Queen comforters typically run 86 x 94 inches. A full-size comforter will be about 80 x 90 inches, but there's also a measurement between full and queen (appropriately called full/queen) that measures around 88 x 88 inches. Twin size comforters are usually 68 x 86 inches.

If you have a California King or Twin XL bed, you may have difficulty finding a bedspread to fit. Most manufacturers don't make bedspreads in these sizes, but some do make "oversized" comforters that can accommodate bigger beds. The best thing to do is measure the bed's dimensions and compare these to the dimensions listed on the comforter's packaging.

Many seamstresses, tailors or sewing shops will make custom bedspreads, but these will likely be more expensive than anything you find in a store. The added advantage, however, is that you get to determine not only the size of your bedspread but also the color or pattern. In most cases, you will have to supply the materials to the seamstress or tailor, who will then cut and sew them.