Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How to make a quilt sleeve

Nearly all quilt shows require a 4" hanging sleeve for quilts exhibited. This 4" size accommodates most hanging rods or slats used at shows. Lake Norman Quilters will have its first quilt show November 2-3, and there are some quilters in our group who have never exhibited a show before who have asked about how to make a sleeve to hang their quilts. So here are some basic directions for the process I use. For a copy of these directions in a PDF format that can be printed and distributed, click here.

1. Measure the top edge of your quilt, where the sleeve will go, about 1/2" from the top. My quilt measures 13". See photo below.

2. Cut a strip that is 9" wide and the width of your quilt plus 1" (for my quilt, this is a rectangle 9" x 14").

3. Fold in the short ends 1/2" and press. Fold in again 1/2" and press. See photo below.

4. Sew a seam along these short ends. See photo below.

5. Fold the strip in half with the wrong sides together, and press. Note that by using this method, you do not have to turn the tube inside out after you sew it together. If you have a wide quilt, and a long sleeve tube, it can be difficult to turn it right side out. This way, you don't have to, because the seam is hidden between the sleeve and the quilt backing.

6. Along the raw edge, stitch the long edge together with a 1/2" seam. See photo below.

7. Press the seam open, center it, and press. See photo below.

8. Along one of the long edges, fold down and press about 1/4". See photo below. This allows for a little slack so the quilt will hang better on a rod or slat. Without this slack on the back, you may have a buldge on the front of the quilt where the hanging rod goes through. You can see this slack more clearly on the side view photo below.

9. Pin the sleeve to the back of the quilt, about 1/2" from the top. See photo below. Take care to place the sleeve low enough that it will not show from the front once the rod is inside and the weight of the quilt pulls the sleeve up toward the top of the quilt. This is even more of an issue if the quilt is uneven at the top, as mine is, rather than straight.

10. Hand-stitch the sleeve to the quilt. See photo below. Go around all four edges, even the short sides. Your stitches should only go through the backing and the batting. You should not see them on the front of the quilt.

11. To display your quilt at home, place a dowel rod, metal cafe curtain rod, or a strip of lath (wood slat) through the sleeve. Nail nails or place screws into your wall, and prop the rod on top.


  1. Very good instructions and pics, Susan - I use this one all the time. One thing I would like to remind anyone re point #9 is that it is important to position the pocket so that when the quilt is hanging on the rod it does not peek over the top of and show form the front. This is easier to just check before handstitching than discover it later and need to unpick and re-sew. The more shaping on top, the lower the pocket has to be, and if there is some really (interesting) extreme shaping along the top, some of the sitcking up bits may need some inbuilt stiffening during the construction phase, although batting and quilting does it for most shapes.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I was looking for a different approach to making a quilt sleeve. When I googled the inquiry your directions seem very clear and I am looking forward to trying it.
    I am recent transplant to Cornelius and see you are "neighbor" relatively speaking.
    Thanks for the directions

  3. Thanks for the clear tutorial So many people overlook the importance of incorporating a pleat or "pouf" in their sleeve to accommodate the roundness of the hanging rod so I was pleased to see that you cover this

  4. thanks for the clear instructions. I just finished making the sleeve for my newest creation. I'll put a link on my blog as soon as I'm finished slip stitching everything!

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. This was my first quilt sleeve. Your directions were easy peasy. Thanks!

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  7. Thank you so much it was a fantastic support, now to make a quilt sleeve is simple and easy with the help of your advice. Kudos

  8. Easy and thorough instructions to use for making a sleeve for a special anniversary quilt wall hanging!

    Thank you.

    1. thanks so much! I made 2 wall hangings for Christmas gifts, May need to redo the first pocket. Great Instructions!

  9. Hi Susan Im still confused My quilt is 54" square I was thinking of catching the sleeve in the binding but that seems like a large sleeve Would a smaller sleeve work as well

    1. Hi, Patricia,
      I've never done a sleeve in the method you want to use, so I'm not sure exactly what you mean... if you sewed it inside the binding at the top, you'd still need to stitch it down by hand at the bottom. A 4" sleeve is standard for most quilt shows.

  10. Susan,
    I've made a quilt for a friend. Her husband is going to make the slat 3 1/2" x 3/4"
    I'm guessing the sleeve should be 8 3/4" but how much should I fold up before stitching the bottom - I'm thinking to fold up at 3 1/4"?

    1. It's okay if the sleeve is a little bit deeper than the slat, so you could start with a piece of fabric 9" wide, just so you'd have a little wiggle room. If the sleeve is tight, it's a bear to get the slat in. If I were you, I'd get the slat (or a leftover piece of it), and test with it before deciding how much to fold to accommodate the 3/4" thickness.


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