Making a Quilt Sleeve

Tags: how-to, quilt sleeve, quilting lesson

All quilts should have something for hanging them, even bed quilts. At a minimum you want some method of hanging your quilt for washing and drying it.

I usually make tabs for hanging instead of a sleeve - it's quicker and easier in my opinion but if you plan to display your quilt in a quilt show or quilt gallery, you will more than likely be required to add a sleeve.

There are several ways to make a sleeve. There are methods for attaching a sleeve by machine or by hand. My method will show you how to partially add the sleeve by machine and finish by hand stitching. A full hand stitched attachment is not much different so I will include instructions for those too. You can visit this page for the machine method: Adding a sleeve by machine.

How to Make a Quilt Sleeve

When making a sleeve, use a double layer of fabric. The layer next to the quilt will lay flush with the quilt and the top layer will bulge so it can accommodate the hanging rod.

Measuring for the Sleeve

Measure the width of your quilt where you intend to add the sleeve (at the top of the quilt) and minus 1" - you want the sleeve to finish inside the edges so it doesn't show when hung. You'll need to cut a piece of fabric 8" x your measurement for a double layered sleeve.

Creating the Sleeve

Turn under the two short ends twice (1/4" each time) to enclose the raw edges forming a hem on the wrong side. Stitch them in place with matching thread.

Create hems on the short sides of the quilt sleeve

Next you will create folds to determine the stitching lines. The stitching lines depend on whether you have already attached the binding or not. When adding the sleeve prior to attaching the binding allows you to machine stitch one edge which makes it more secure. Let's start with that...

Before Binding is Attached:

Fold your sleeve, right sides together, 1/4" off the center line. To do this, determine where the center is by folding in half lengthwise and then roll the fold down 1/4". The two raw edges should sit 1/2" apart thus you will see a 1/2" strip of the wrong side. Press the fold firmly - this will be the stitching line.

determine stitching line by rolling sleeve just off halfway

Next, align the two raw edges together and place them even with the raw edge of the quilt with the pressed fold underneath - you shouldn't be able to see it.

Tack the sleeve in place within the seam allowance.

tack sleeve within seam allowance

Hand stitch the sleeve along the fold to the back of the quilt (lower edge in photo) pushing the bulk of the sleeve upward so it is out of the way. 

See photo at end of this page for a view of the sleeve side on.

After Binding is Attached:

Fold the sleeve in half lengthwise and finger press. Unfold.

Fold both raw edges into the center fold with wrong sides together. Press both folds firmly - these are your stitching lines.

fold both raw edges of the sleeve into the center fold line

Unfold the sleeve and place the two raw edges together, wrong sides out - do not press.

Stitch a 1/4" seam to join the sleeve in a loop. Press seam open.

seam sleeve with right sides together

Turn inside out.

Position the sleeve with the seam side against the quilt and the top fold butted up against the binding. Pin and hand stitch along the fold.

hand stitch both folded edges to secure sleeve on quilt

Pin the lower folded edge in place pushing any bulk upward. Hand stitch along this fold to complete the sleeve.

Here's how it looks from the end.

an end view of the attached sleeve to a quilt
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