Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adding a hanging sleeve to a quilt

As I was adding a casing to the quilt I finished this past Friday, I recalled how many questions I get from my students here in NE Ohio about the way I do this.  So I took some pics so I can share it this morning and now my students will have the step-by-step of my technique at their fingertips!

I start with the finished measurement of the quilt edge where the casing will be added and the size of the bar/rod/rail that will be inserted into it.  The requirements for the Lake Metroparks Farmpark Quilt Show call for a 4" sleeve -- normally, I use a narrower sleeve but I'll use this size as an example for my math.  I actually make a separate sleeve/casing, so I need 4" plus 2" for the headers (6").  I double that (12") and add 3/4" for seams.   The fabric I cut for this quilt is 49"  (the width of my quilt) by 13".
After finishing the two short ends with a quick hem, I fold it in half lengthwise (like a hotdog bun) with right sides together and stitch about a 3/8" seam.
At the ironing board, I press the seam flat, then turn the casing right side out and press the tube while rolling the seam to the back side of the casing.  It runs horizontal across the middle of this picture.  (It's easier to roll the seam to the back side than to try to press it straight along the top or bottom edge -- can't tell you how many years it took me to figure that simple trick out!?!?)
At this point the tube is about 6" wide (the math worked!!).
Before attaching it to the quilt, I topstitch two rows approximately 1" from each fold making the sleeve into a casing.
And here I am stitching off the casing onto my current hexie by machine project -- no wasted time here!!  By the time I finished making the casing, I had added two more hexagons to the motif!
At this point, the opening for the rail that will be inserted when the quilt is hung for display at the show is 4" wide and the rail should go through smoothly without touching my quilt.  That's one of the reasons I do it this way.

Now it's time to center the sleeve/casing on the back of the quilt and pin it into place for stitching.  It's important to be sure the sleeve/casing is horizontal on the quilt and attached to the correct edge!!  I like it to be about 1" shorter than the edge of the quilt on both ends so that the rail doesn't extend past the edge of the quilt.
Time for the hand stitching!  I use the longest double strand of thread I can manage and a stitch I learned back 40 years ago during my tailoring courses -- the catch stitch.
Start at the left end, anchor the thread and secure with a couple stitches up and down.  The needle goes through the casing/sleeve from right to left catching the backing and some of the batting without going through to the right side. 
It alternates one stitch up and one stitch down.
As you work towards the left edge of the quilt, the stitches form a criss-cross design.
Stitch both the upper and lower edges of the casing this way and -- Ta-da!! It's ready to go the show committee on Wednesday! 
Two other reasons I prefer this method is that if I want to remove the sleeve, it comes off quickly and doesn't leave any marks.  I also feel that it puts less strain on the top edge of the quilt. 
In the morning, since I don't live in a pet-free zone, I'll take the quilts somewhere and roll the sticky thing all over it until I can't find a single cat or dog hair on it!!
The next finish is in progress . . . . . sort of . . . . .
I keep telling Harry he's not accomplishing anything because you can't quilt while you are watching the birds?!?

Mary Huey




  1. What a great tutorial and that stitch looks neat! Thanks also for sharing why you do that stitch! Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

    1. One thing I forgot to mention is that on quilts wider than 60", I split the casing in the center of the quilt so I can secure the rod/rail to the wall at the center of the quilt as well as the ends. Once again it spreads out the weight of the quilt and puts less strain on it in my opinion.

    2. I've never made a sleeve this way but will certainly do so in future. My Guild has a quilt show coming up in September so there will be instructions sent out to members about making a hanging sleeve. I'll ask the quilt show committee to refer members to this post for wonderful instructions!

      As for Harry, he is doing exactly what my guy (who looks just like Harry) does. They can't quilt because they don't have opposable thumbs so the next best thing is to just curl up on a quilt and watch the birds in the garden!

  2. great tutorial! your instructions are so clear!

    Thanks for sharing at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation