A quilt sleeve is not difficult to add to your quilt. If you are wanting to display your quilt on a wall or at an exhibition then adding a quilt sleeve to the back of your quilt at the top is one of the best and easiest methods to use. If at a later date you decide to remove this sleeve it can be done easily. The first hanging sleeve I saw was the one my sister made in the 1980s.
She used calico fabric and attached it by hand after the quilt was finished. 30 years later it is still working very well.
When adding a quilt sleeve one of the key things to remember is to allow room for the rod to fit. If there is not enough room for the rod then you will cause the quilt to sit awkwardly.
Below Bonnie Browning shows how to add a quilt sleeve or rod pocket to your quilt.
1. Cut a strip of fabric 9" x the width of your quilt on the straight of the grain for extra strength
2. Neaten each end (the 9" long ends) by turning the ends over twice towards the wrong side of the fabric and sewing close to the folded edge. This helps the rod slide in easily and stop any messy threads from appearing.
3. With wrong sides together fold sleeve in half lengthwise and press lightly. This press line will act as a guide for the two folds in number 4.
4. Open sleeve and fold each edge in half again to the middle press line with wrong sides together. Firmly press these lines in as these two lines will be your hand sewing lines.
5. With wrong sides together, sew a 1/4" seam the length of the sleeve. To avoid having loose threads straying out the ends of your sleeve make sure you start and finish each seam away from the edge. I usually begin sewing 1/2" to 1" in from the edge and then sew to the edge.
6. Press the seam open taking care not to press over the previous pressed folds. The sleeve will be fuller on the side without the seam. This fullness is the extra room for the rod to fit comfortably.
7. Pin sleeve (sleeve seam should face the quilt backing) along pressed edges to the quilt back. The top of the sleeve should be about 1/2" from the top of the quilt. Hand sew all the sleeve edges, taking care not to stitch through to the quilt front. It is best to ensure you do sew through some of the batting as well as this creates a stronger sleeve.
Temporary Sleeve Attachment: Add the sleeve on to your quilt after it is finished.
Permanent Sleeve Attachment: Add the sleeve on to your quilt at the same time as adding your binding. This will mean the top sleeve seam will be sewn in the binding.
Non-directional Wall Quilts: Add a sleeve at both the top and bottom of the quilt so that you can change the way it hangs - this will put less stress on the fabrics in the quilt