Monday, April 8, 2013

Adding a sleeve

Some quilts are designed to be hung on a wall. You can do so using a variety of clips, or you can add a sleeve to the back and hang it using a rod. Here is how to add the sleeve.

Let’s say that this is how your (almost) finished quilt looks:
It has a body and two borders: a thin inner border and a wider outer border.

Before putting on the sleeve you should:

  • Finish all piecing,
  • Finish all quilting except for the “ditch” between the inner and outer border at the top, and
  • Trimmed away all the excess batting and backing fabric flush with the edges.

Make The Sleeve

1. Measure the length of the inner border at the top of the quilt (horizontal arrow). Add 2”. This is
    how long to cut the sleeve fabric.

2. Measure the space from the inner-outer border seam to the top edge of the quilt (vertical arrow).
    (This is also the width of the outer border.) Multiply this by 2 and add 1.5”. This is how wide to
    cut the sleeve fabric.

For example: If the measured width was 36”, cut a piece 38” long. If the outer border is 3” wide, cut the sleeve width to 7.5”.

3. To “finish” the raw ends of the sleeve, fold in ½”, then ½” again. Press and top-stitch. Repeat for
    the other side.

4. Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
5. Measure the width of the inner border. In the picture below, it is 1 ½”.
6. Flip the quilt over and measure up (from the ditch line of the inner border) the amount from Step 5
    plus ¼”.  So in this example, it would be 1 ¾”.  Put several pins across the quilt at this
    dimension. Lay the folded edge (not the raw edge) of the sleeve along this “line”. Pin in place
    (and also put a couple of pins in the raw edge side so that the sleeve does not flip up while you
    are sewing).

7. Turn the quilt back over (right side up) and stitch in the ditch between the inner and outer borders
    at the top of the quilt. This will also sew the sleeve in place at the same time. The picture below
    shows how this will look (from the back side) once you have done this step.

8. Remove all the pins, flip the sleeve up, press, and match the raw edges of the sleeve with those of
    the quilt. Pin in place. Note: If, after flipping and pressing, the sleeve hangs over the quilt edge
    by more than 1/8”, you may want to trim it (to 1/8” or just even with the edge). Be careful not to
    cut the quilt top!

9. The top (raw edge) of the sleeve will be sewn on as you do the binding. There is no need to baste  
    it in place.
Notes: If the quilt is wider than about 4 feet, you should consider “splitting” the sleeve into two sections and leaving a 4” – 6” gap in the middle. That way there can be a center support for the rod.
After flipping and pressing, the sleeve should lay flat. Most borders are 3” or more wide, so there is enough “give” in the quilt top and sleeve fabric to allow for a “cafĂ©” style rod. If the outer border is less than 3” wide, then you should leave the extra 1/8” or even 1/4” on the sleeve.
If there is no inner border, follow the instructions above but use the seam between the body and
(only) border as the reference point.
Also, you may want to add a second sleeve to the bottom of the quilt (following the steps above). With this arrangement, you can use a second rod or weights (coin rolls or a pipe) to keep the quilt hanging taut (i.e., to avoid its curling at the bottom or moving around in a high traffic area).