Adding a Hanging Sleeve, For Beginners

Honey, Do: Adding Hanging Sleeves to Quilts

I was so thrilled back in December to have my Polka Dot Bikini Quilt and my Twirling Fans Quilt invited to be included in an MQX (machine quilting exposition) show in Portland in August. The show is a special exhibition focusing on examples of combining traditional and modern quilting styles. It will be on display during their regular show and festival August 14-16 in Portland, Oregon.

So that brings me to today’s topic: I needed to add hanging sleeves to both quilts as well as label them before I send them off in a couple of weeks.

Hanging Sleeves on Quilts

This is a great hand-stitching project for evening Tour de France viewing (or World Cup, if that’s what you’re into). But first, a bit of machine stitching. I wanted to sew the top of the sleeve with my machine, hoping to give it extra strength because these quilts are very heavy with two layers of batting. (you’ll notice on my finished sleeve above that the end one is smaller. I wasn’t paying attention when I cut the pieces.)

First I cut strips of scrap fabric 5 1/2″ wide by the width of the fabric. Then I measured and cut it to the length I wanted for my quilts. I always do my sleeves as one long strip across the center top of the quilt, plus two smaller ones on each end. The space between the strips on each end allows for your hanging hardware. This way it is hidden behind the quilt rather than visible on each end.

Hem each end of the sleeve by turning the raw edge under and stitching it down with the machine. Now it’s time to apply it to the quilt. I don’t want the machine stitching to show on the front of my quilt, so I use monofilament clear thread (it’s like sewing with hair).

clear monofilament thread

Place the sleeve, right sides facing the back of your quilt, with what will eventually be the bottom of the sleeve hanging over the top edge of the quilt like this (front view):

Hanging sleeve on a quilt

Pin in place like this (back view):

adding a hanging sleeve to a quilt

(you can see my white thread above, that is my Bobbin Thread) Then stitch it on from the FRONT of the quilt, with the clear thread in your machine. Sew carefully in the ditch at the edge of the binding. If all goes as expected, you should not see any sign of the stitching for the sleeve on the front of your quilt.

Next, fold the sleeve fabric back over the seam just sewn. Now it is right side facing up against the back of the quilt. Turn the raw edge under 1/2″ and pin in place. Make sure you keep the sleeve fabric flat all the way across the quilt. It is easy to get going crooked and then you have fullness or tightness in the sleeve. You don’t want your sleeve to pull on the quilt, and you want it to provide even support once there is a pole through it and the quilt is hanging.

adding a hanging sleeve to a quilt


Hand stitch the bottom edge of the sleeve down using a whip-stitch (like on binding) or a running stitch. Be very careful not to stitch all the way through the quilt, just catch the backing fabric and batting.

Hanging the quilt: I have found that my favorite “pole” for hanging quilts is a type of lightweight wood found at hardware stores. It is about 1 1/2″ wide and 1/4″ thick and comes in long lengths so you can cut it as desired. Since it’s flat, you don’t see it when the quilt is hung (like you would with a round dowel or such), and the 1/4″ edge fits nicely in a regular picture hanging hook.

Signature on my Quilt

And, last of all. My signature. I label my quilts by embroidering my name (S. McConnell) and the year I finished the quilt. Nothing fancy. I had to the Bikini Quilt in this strip between the quilting, because the quilting along the edge is so dense I couldn’t do the embroidery without going all the way through the quilt.

I love to display my quilts. I hope you will, too, and enjoy them every day!


15 thoughts on “Honey, Do: Adding Hanging Sleeves to Quilts

  1. Lynette says:

    Oh, my gosh! One more incentive calling to me to try to figure out how I can go out to the show. 😀 My Dragonfly Party quilts were requested, also, so they’ll be there. I really – REALLY – want to go out there, but we have such huge bills still from our move. ::sigh::

  2. Donna C says:

    HI! Thanks for the tutorial! I wonder though….if the hanging hardware is between the strips ,why add the extra short pieces on each end?

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