When making a hanging sleeve for a quilt, it is important to incorporate some give to accommodate the hanging device, which at quilt shows is generally some sort of pole. If the sleeve is sewn onto the quilt without any give, the hanging device can cause the quilt to buckle and not hang as it should. While there are many methods of creating a sleeve, the following method works for me. I also must credit quilt artist Libby Lehman on the instructions she shares on the IQA website. While I discovered sewing wrong sides together for a hanging sleeve by accident (there’s a story), her folding method resulting in the “D” shape for give is more exact than my older method of ironing in a pleat.
Cut a piece of fabric that is about 10+ to 11 inches wide by at least the width of your quilt.
I place the cut fabric on the back of the quilt, and I fold over the edges to the approximate width that I want the finished sleeve. I finger press it (no photo – sorry about that!). Generally I place the sleeve about 1/2 – 1″ from each side.
Fold the edge over twice and sew a seam away from the folded edge. If precision is more important, then you may want to trim, double fold, and then stitch closer to the edge. Or, you may prefer two seams — one by each edge.
When finished, lightly press the fabric in half, right sides OUT.
Open the fabric and then fold each edge to the center. Again, right sides of fabric out.
Press this with a hot iron and some steam to create a good crease on each side. Both crease lines will serve as the hand stitching line.
Grab the two edges of the fabric to seam together. The fabric remains right sides out.
Sew the entire length of the sleeve with a 1/4″ seam allowance. I start about 1/2 inch from the edge, back stitch to the edge, and then stitch the seam.
When coming to the end of the seam, I sew just about off the edge. I then swing around the fabric around . . .
and sew about an inch or so in. This way the end of the seam is in rather than right at the edge.
Iron open the seam, but take care not to create a new seam. I use a mini iron. If you use a regular iron, tilt the iron so that you’re only using the tip. Again, avoid making new creases (you only want the two to serve as your hand stitching line.
The seam is pressed open, but the original crease line is still there.
Pin the sleeve into position.
The important thing is maintaining the “D” shape. In other words, do not pull the sleeve taunt. If you’re more comfortable, baste rather than pin it into place.
Another view. Also, per Alison’s helpful comment, watch the top placement of the sleeve to confirm that it is not too close to the edge. Otherwise, you risk the sleeve peaking out from the top when the quilt is hanging.
Stitch the sleeve into place using whatever stitch you prefer — blind, whip, etc.
Here is the side stitched down (and if you’re more careful, you’ll line up the edges of the seam better than I did). Once the sleeve is stitched into place, the quilt is ready for hanging.
Again, Libby gets all of the credit for her folding method resulting in the “D” shape for give. If you’d like a copy of her instructions, visit the International Quilt Association website here. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the download PDF link. And, while there, if you’re not a member of IQA, consider joining.