If You Like It, Then You Need to Put a Sleeve on It….

I am in quilt show mode…


My guild’s bi-annual quilt and vendor show is August 12 – 13, 2017.  I’m not only busy with vendors and layouts and quilt in-take issues, but I’m also working like a mad woman with my own quilts.  They are finished, but if you’ve planned to put a quilt in a show, there are a few additional steps you must make sure you’ve completed.  The label is a given, but you must always attach a sleeve to the quilt so that it can be hung on a quilt rack.  The exception to the sleeve may be a miniature quilt, home dec items, and quilted wearables. Just be sure to read the rules on entry procedures carefully.


I had three quilts that needed sleeves, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many quilters actually knew how to make a show-ready sleeve.  So, here’s how I do it.  The directions aren’t mine, but are based on Libby Lehman’s 1992 instructions.  These sleeves are the type that AQS require for its shows and it’s the type that fit most quilt racks – a 4-inch deep pocket.


First of all, measure the width of the top of your quilt and cut a piece of fabric 9-inches by the width measurement.  I use quilting muslin for this.  It works wonderfully.



Fold the 9-inch ends under twice.  I generally just eye ball this measurement and try to make the folds a half-inch. Press and sew close to the folded end.



Fold the sleeve in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.  This press line will serve as a guide.


Open the sleeve and fold the edges to the middle and press again, wrong sides together.  Press firmly (I also use a little spray starch at this point).  These new fold lines will serve as your hand sewing guides.

Now take the sleeve to your machine and with the wrong sides together, sew a ¼-inch lengthwise seam.  Begin the seam about a half-inch from the end and backstitch.  Continue sewing the length of the seam, stopping about a half-inch from the other end and backstitching again.


Take the sleeve back to the ironing board and carefully press the seam to one side.  Be very, very careful not to press over the previously pressed edges that are your hand sewing guides.  The sleeve will be convex on the side without the seam and this is how it should be.  If it were flat, the horizontal quilt rack rod would not fit in correctly and your quilt would hang catawampus.



Pin the sleeve along the pressed edges to the quilt back.  The top of the sleeve should be about a half-inch from the top of the quilt – this usually hits just below the binding.  Hand sew both sides of the sleeve down, just be careful not to stitch through the front.


And there you go. A nice sleeve for your show-bound quilt or any quilt you’d like to hang on a wall.  Since the sleeve is hand sewn, it can easily be removed after a show without damaging your quilt.  It’s also a good idea, if you’re making a quilt you anticipate entering in a show, to go ahead and put the sleeve on it as you are binding the quilt.  It will just save you time in the long run.


Have a great weekend and quilt fearlessly!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



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