Hanging Sleeve How-To

See how there is extra fabric to allow room for the rod?
 I've been putting hanging sleeves on a few projects and thought I'd share a little about how I do it. First off, I hate adding the hanging sleeve, but since I mostly make wall quilts, I have to make the best of it.

Cut a length of fabric the width of your finished project, the size for the other dimension of the sleeve depends on the size of the rod to be used or if the work with be shown somewhere, depending on the directions of the show. For a small piece a sleeve cut the width of the project by 4 to 6 inches is plenty. For a four inch sleeve as required by the Sacred Threads Exhibit for my Poured Out 2 Quilt, I cut it at 10.5 inches. That leaves plenty of room to make a  D shape on the sleeve to allow for the bulk of the hanging rod.

Hem the sleeve with the wrong side showing on the right side!
Hem the short sides by folding the wrong side out! I use a double fold hem about 1/2 inch wide. Folding the hem to the right side keeps the hanging rod from catching on the hem. Fold the sleeve lengthwise, making sure to have the 'wrong' side of the hem out, and stitch the raw edges together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Then set your machine to a long basting stitch and stitch along the folded side anywhere from 1/4 inch to maybe even an inch, depending on the rod to be used. After the sleeve is hand stitched on, the basting will be removed, giving you the D shape, allowing for the rod. This helps your quilt hang straight instead of bulging out around the rod.

The basted fold.
Now comes the part that drives me crazy! Pressing the tube of the hanging sleeve so it is nice and flat but also even. If your sleeve is wonky or crooked, it will cause the quilt to hang crooked. My trick is to treat the seam of the sleeve along with the basted fold as a set of nesting seams, like when piecing.

Nesting the seams for pressing the sleeve

In the picture above, the seam with the long raw edges of the sleeve is finger pressed to one side (under my finger) while the basted fold is pushed to the other side. Once you feel those seams are butted up against each other, press the tube. This should place the actual seam of the tube right in the middle.

Check to see if the fold is right on the line of stitching or not. In the above pic, the fold has gone astray. The below pic shows how the fold falls right on the stitching.

Once everything is lined up straight and pressed flat, open up the seam allowance to reduce the bulk.

Make sure the basted fold faces away from the quilt!

Then align the sleeve an even distance from the top edge of the quilt. To keep the sleeve from showing above the top quilt edge, make sure it is at least the same width away from the edge as the width of the basted fold. For example, if the basting is half an inch from the fold, stitch the sleeve at least half an inch from the edge of the quilt.

You can pin the sleeve on, or use the Elmer's Washable glue, or I've even seen a video of Ricky Tims using the free motion foot to baste the sleeve on until it is all stitched. I usually pin it. Hand stitch the sleeve securely and evenly on the back of the quilt along the 2 long sides and then also stitch the short sides; but only the part touching the quilt. Then remove the basting of the fold.

And there you are! Ready for hanging.

I am so glad I got the sleeve done on this quilt as the intended recipient was at church the following Sunday and I was able to give it to her. I think she was thrilled!


  1. This is really useful! I'm a little sleepy today so I can't quite take it all in. I'll be sure to come back and check it out when I need to make a sleeve.

  2. That is probably the best set of instructions I have ever seen for making a hanging sleeve. Thanks Amy!