There are many ways to put a sleeve on a quilt, and I thought I'd share mine with you. This will give you all Summer to get a sleeve on one of your quilts and be ready when Quilt Show Season starts up again in the Fall.
This sleeve is made with two fabrics from the quilt. A great tip is to make the sleeve with the leftover fabric, and then it will be available if the quilt ever needs a repair (that is a nice thought more than a requirement!).
These instructions will make a tube-style sleeve the generally required "show width" of 4" to allow for a hanging rod to easily slide inside. If you have ever hung a show, you know that a small sleeve can be hard to fit a rod through, and could cause damage to your quilt. The extra fabric against the quilt back provides another layer of protection.
The back of the sleeve
I cut a strip of each fabric 9.5" wide and then sewed them together on the short ends.
Fold one short end in twice and topstitch to make a good edge. Measure how long the sleeve needs to be (just inside the binding at each side) then add an inch and cut the long strip to size. Fold in that end twice and topstitch.
Fold the sleeve Wrong Sides together and stitch along the long edge to make a tube. This seam will go against the back of the quilt, so why sew a tube that is difficult to turn right side out? The thread is a good match, but you can see the seam there in the center...twisted! But it won't show, so I don't care. It's on the back!
It's the end of the sleeve, but not the end of the job!
Next is to add some room for the hanging rod, so when you quilt is in the show it doesn't have that stuffed roll along the top, just like a guy's too tight collar with a big fat tie!
The sleeve is flat on the back and has extra fabric on its front
I accomplish this by pressing the sleeve flat, then pinching up the center about 1/2" or so, and pressing again. That makes a crease at the top and bottom edges of the sleeve (and if you crease the pinched up part it's OK!).
Then I baste along the crease (see the stitches?) just to hold them nicely for the hand sewing part. That would be optional, and it all gets pulled out later.
If you are making a quilt for your own home and plan to hang it on a flat lathe strip or something similar, you won't need the extra poofy fabric built in this way.
If you forget to sew a finished end before making the tube, you can still fold the end inside. It's just easier to do when it's flat. But do stitch it down, so the hanging rod is easier to insert and also won't catch as it's coming out the other end.
Major Tip: If quilt show rules have you confused, you should volunteer for hanging the next one possible. You will learn why most rules exist, or wish that show had better ones! And sign up to help with the judging, too...that's a real education.
In a perfect world (please send location if you know where it is!) we would all have quilts just like the photos in magazines and the diagrams in books.
What I like best about the sleeve is that it is on the back!
OOPS! Who measured for THIS sleeve?
Did this quilt grow over night or what? This is also the end where I had to add some extra backing! But I try never to be stopped by own mistakes, hence I am The Queen of Fudging-It!
There probably is not a mistake I have not made, and will be making again at some time.
When you mess up:
1. Say "oh, darn" or other favorite phrase
2. Feel a bit disappointed for 30 seconds
3. Get on with it! Necessity IS the Mother of Invention, and it is also the Best Friend of Creativity!
The sleeve should go from the inside edge of the side binding right under the binding along the quilt's top (it makes your sewing guide) and end at the other side, just inside the binding.
This is hand sewing for me, as is the binding. You can use any stitch you like. There are methods of doing it all by machine, and if that works for you, have at it!
OK, so the sleeve is 4" short. I have a really good binding (double French fold) and quilting around that corner, so it will hang just fine.
And it's not going in a show, anyway!
If you are entering a show, you have the option of slapping on a sleeve that is meant to be taken off later.
Yes, I actually have long muslin tubes for that very purpose....one time I used a Sharpie pen and wrote "Show Sleeve" across it!
But then, I was not really trying to win a prize.
If the judge has to examine and comment on your sleeve, you have done well to get her/him to be checking that closely! If you really want to win a prize, everything about the quilt counts.
If you don't care about winning, then it's just fun to have your quilt hanging a show so other quilters can enjoy seeing it.