What Is a Doona?

In Australia, a duvet is called a “Doona “, from a trademarked brand name derived from the Old Norse “dunn” meaning “down feathers”. In Danish and Norwegian a duvet is actually called a dyne, which is pronounced similarly to “doona “. The name “Doona” has become a generic term for a duvet or down quilt.

Let’s clear up some confusion around definitions first! A doona is defined as a soft, flat bag filled with down, feathers or other synthetic alternatives. Traditionally, a doona is used as the top layer of bedding and sits above a fitted sheet and/or top sheet.

A doona cover refers to the removable cover that fits around this bag, similar to the way a pillowcase covers a pillow. A doona cover has both functional and aesthetic purposes – not only does it keep your doona protected and clean, but it also adds a decorative touch to your bedding. Doona covers come in a variety of colours, materials and designs, allowing you to change the look and feel of your bedroom instantly. 

History If “doona”

But why is it a quilt – why not a doona or a duvet? Other common terms include Continental quilt, eiderdown or even comforter – what are they all and is there any difference between them? Essentially, a quilt is ‘a warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching, typically applied in a decorative design’ (Oxford Dictionary). Those who have a MiniJumbuk quilt will realise this description is perfect.

Comparing the other terms, generally speaking, these names are interchangeable. They all describe a bedding option to keep you warm as you sleep. The terminology variations depend on their global location. Thought to originate in the European countryside, soft flat bags usually filled with feathers or down were referred to as ‘duvets’ (the French term for ‘down’) or ‘doonas’ (from the Old Norse term ‘dunn’ with the same meaning). Eiderdowns were filled with the down feathers from the Eider duck. 

As the popularity of this practical form of bedding spread across Europe to the United Kingdom, they became known as a Continental quilt. This term was later shortened to simply ‘quilt’. The old term ‘doona’ was given new life in the 1970s as a registered brand name for bedding company Tontine. The term has since become popular in Australia as a common term for all quilts.

Before “Doona” came into regular use, the term “continental quilt” was the standard name used across Australia, and some regions of Australia still use this term today. A duvet is also sometimes called a quilt, following British tradition.

A duvet (from the French duvet “down”) or doona is a type of bedding a soft flat bag traditionally filled with down or feathers, or a combination of both and used on a bed as a blanket. Duvets originally came out of rural Europe and were made from the down feathers of the Eider duck, which is well known for its usefulness as an insulator.

Duvets reduce the complexity of making a bed, as it is a single covering instead of the combination of sheets, blankets, and quilts or other bed covers, which is traditional in many parts of the world. The cover for the duvet is called a “duvet cover” or a “quilt cover “.

Choosing the Perfect Doona or Quilt 


The most important things to consider when choosing a quilt or Tontine Doona® include:

Quilt Size

One of the first things to look at when shopping for a new quilt is the size of the quilt. There’s no point buying the perfect quilt if it’s sized for a single bed and you have a king bed.

Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Just be careful. Australian standard quilt sizes are different from many other countries, so it’s best to check carefully if the quilts you’re looking at are imported or have been made in Australia for export.

Quilt Warmth

The warmth of quilts is probably the number 1 consideration to most people shopping for a new quilt or Tontine Doona®.

In other countries, such as the UK, they use standardised rating systems, such as TOG, which is the measure of thermal resistance, also known as thermal insulance.

In Australia, quilts are given a more simple warmth rating, such as 1, 2, and 3, along with a description of the warmth of the quilt and the season it’s most suitable for. For example, a quilt may have a warmth rating of 3, and or a description such as high warmth, most suitable for winter.

Some quilts feature both a numerical warmth rating, warmth description and season suitability guide to making the warmth of the quilt clear and selecting the perfect quilt simply.

As part of checking that your new quilt has the correct warmth for you, it’s also worth checking the construction of the quilt, including the stitching, to make sure that the warmth of the quilt is evenly distributed across the quilt, and that with a little use, all of that warmth won’t be contained in one of the corners of the quilt because all of the fillings have bunched over to one side and one end of the quilt.

The way some quilts are made, filled and stitched (e.g. box-stitched quilts, diamond-stitched quilts, cloud stitched quilts, etc.) are specifically designed to ensure even warmth distribution.

Seasonality often comes into play when we’re considering the ideal warmth of a quilt, which is why quilts come in different warmth ratings in the first place. For maximum comfort throughout the year, it’s often best to change the quilt on your bed to suit the particular seasons you’re in, such as changing from a winter warmth quilt to a summer warmth quilt, or an all seasons warmth quilt at the beginning of spring.

If that’s not the right option for you, go for an all seasons quilt, and in winter you can use an extra blanket on top of your quilt on those extra cold nights.

Quilt Weight

In addition to the warmth of a quilt, the weight of the quilt can be an important consideration.

Some people love to snuggle under the weight of a heavy quilt because it makes them feel comfortable and secure. Others prefer light and fluffy quilts that feel as light as a sheet.

The common mistake made here is to assume that a winter warmth quilt is heavy, and a summer quilt or all seasons quilt is automatically going to be light.

When choosing the right quilt for you, be sure to check both the warmth rating and the quilt weight to make sure you find the perfect quilt for you.

Quilt Loft

Quilt loft refers to how high a quilt sits, and is more of an interior design consideration than a functional consideration, because it affects how fluffy and luxurious a quilt looks on the bed, rather than how it performs.

For those that love the look of a fluffy, luxurious quilt, look for a quilt described as a high loft quilt, or superior loft quilt, and chances are you’ll find the quilt you’re looking for.

Sleeping Partner

Many people have had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night to find that our sleeping partner has dragged the quilt over to their side of the bed and left us virtually uncovered and cold.

This phenomenon happens because many of us have different sleeping preferences from that of our partners. These preferences more often than not have to do with sleeping temperatures, and it’s very common for women to be cold at night, while their male partners are hot.

This can make it difficult to find the perfect quilt to suit a hot and cold sleeper, and at least for someone, a compromise needs to be made.

If this is an issue in your household, you might consider buying a dual-zone quilt, which has more filling on one side than the other, resulting in a quilt with a warmer side and a less warm side. That way, two people with different sleeping preferences can sleep side by side comfortably under the same quilt.


The golden rule when it comes to buying a new quilt for yourself or someone you love is the same as when you’re buying a new pillow; “buy the best quilt you can afford”.

Good quality sleep plays a vital role in ensuring we all lead happy, healthy lives, and along with the mattress you sleep on and the quality of your pillow, your quilt plays a key role in determining how comfortable you are throughout the night so is an important factor affecting your quality of sleep.

The things that most affect the price you pay for your new quilt is the type and quality of materials it’s made from, and where it’s made.

Some materials are more expensive than others; for example, feather and down quilts and Australian wool quilts are usually more expensive than cotton and polyester quilts.

And even among quilts made with the same type of material, there can be quality differences. For example, not all polyester fibres have the same specifications and treatments.

Where a quilt is made can also affect its price. For example, generally, Australian made quilts are often a little more expensive than fully imported quilts, and more often than not, the increased price reflects a better quality of construction and grade of material used.

Quilt Durability

Often, but not always, related to the price of a new quilt is the durability of that quilt.

Durable quilts are often those made from superior materials, hence the common link with the price of the quilt.

The material type, in addition to the material quality, used to make a quilt usually has a direct link with how durable a quilt is, but so too is how well you care for your new quilt.

A good quality quilt should last for years with normal use and regular care. Regarding care, some quilts are machine washable, while others can only be dry cleaned. If you wash your quilts regularly, you may want to look specifically for a machine washable quilt.

Special Needs

In addition to all the considerations listed above, you may also need to consider other things, which we call “special needs”. Special needs relate specifically to your circumstances and preferences. They include things like whether you or someone in your family suffer from allergies and asthma, whether your child is transitioning from sleeping in a cot to a bed for the first time, etc.

In each of these examples, there are quilts designed to cater to these special needs, as well as all the other quilt choice considerations there are.

For example, the fibres used are Anti Allergy quilts are coated with an antimicrobial treatment that inhibits the growth of bacteria, as well as mould and dust mites, which are known triggers of allergies and asthma.

Can a Doona Cover Be Used Alone?


With all of the bed linen definitions now out of the way, let’s talk about the correct way to use a doona/duvet. Can a doona and doona cover be used alone?

This is very much a personal preference (and one that’s sure to cause heated debate in your office!). Some people like to add a top sheet/flat sheet, while others prefer the simplicity of a doona used alone. Using a doona/duvet alone can definitely cut down the time spent making your bed each morning while adding a top sheet is a more traditional approach that provides a beautifully layered look. 

In the warmer months, you might choose to remove the doona bag and just use the doona cover on its own as a lightweight sheet (or layer some flat sheets for the same effect). This works particularly well with pure linen duvet covers, as they adjust to changing temperatures.

Because duvet covers are removable and washable, most people will have a couple of duvet sets handy to switch around as needed. Changing your duvet cover is a simple way to refresh your bedroom styling throughout the year. 

As you can see, choosing the right quilt or doona for you and your loved ones isn’t as straightforward as making sure it fits your bed.

And although there are quite a few factors to consider, the investment in choosing the right quilt and buying the right one for you, will pay off in terms of providing years of great night’s sleep.

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