How to Hang a Quilt with a Dowel Rod and Tabs

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A dowel rod is a length of wood in the shape of a cylinder. It makes an excellent rod for hanging a quilt because it comes in different diameters, can easily be cut to the length you need, and painted or stained to complement your home decor.

Quilt hanging tabs with different dowel rods

Dowel rods are one of many different rods you can use to display your quilt on the wall.

In addition to tabs, a dowel rod can also use be used with rectangle sleeves or triangle sleeves and triangle corners to hang your quilt.

Would you like all of the information on how to hang quilts in a printable format?

If you’re nodding your head yes, then you need the Ultimate Guide to Hanging Quilts with Confidence.

Two Types of Tabs

One reason to use tabs is they can be attached in such a way that the tabs are either visible from the top of the quilt or hidden on the back.

visible tab on the left and hidden tab on the right

If you go with the visible tabs, you have the opportunity to get a little more creative with your quilt when selecting the fabric for the tabs and the method used to hang the rod.

Whether you make them visible or hidden, tabs will be a permanent part of your quilt. This means the tabs will be attached to your quilt BEFORE the binding is put on.

Fabric, Supplies, and Sewing Skills for Tabs

In order to make the tabs, you’ll need fabric, basic sewing supplies, and some machine and/or hand sewing skills.

Fabric

Any fabric can be used for the tabs as long as it doesn’t stretch.

You can use:

  • leftover fabric from the quilt
  • coordinating fabric
  • muslin
  • fabric left over from another project

Keep in mind if the tabs will be visible, you probably want to stick with a fabric that is the same as the binding or another fabric in the quilt. You may even consider a fabric that complements the quilt colors.

Supplies

In order to attach the tabs you’ll need basic sewing supplies:

  • pins
  • needles (machine and hand)
  • thread
  • scissors
  • sewing gauge or measuring tape
  • rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
  • iron and board
  • sewing machine

Sewing Skills

To attach the tabs you will need to use both your sewing machine and hand sewing.

Binding Tutorials

Tabs need to be sewn to the quilt BEFORE putting on the binding.

A few binding tutorials on The Ruffled Purse are:

Hand Sewing Tutorials

Not sure how to hand sew or need a refresher?

You can find all my hand sewing tutorials here – Types of Hand Stitches: a Guide for Beginners.

Popular posts in the hand sewing guide for beginners are:

The two main hand stitches used to attach the tabs for hanging your quilt are the:

Make the Tabs

Note: There are many different ways to make tabs. I’ll be showing you my favorite way. I like the following technique because it’s easier to turn the tube right side out and it produces two tabs.

By following the directions below, you will end up with 2 finished tabs that are 1 3/4″ x 6″. After the tab is attached to the quilt, a visible tab will be 2″ tall.

Visible tab next to a quilting ruler to show the height

If you want tabs that are either larger or smaller (maybe to line up with sashing), adjust the dimensions of the strips you cut in the first step below.

The weight of the quilt should be distributed evenly across the tabs. Two tabs will be enough for small quilted wall hangings. For medium and large size quilts, you’ll need more than 2 tabs. Cut as many strips as you need to get the necessary number of tabs.

  1. Cut two strips 2 1/4″ x 12″.
  2. With right sides together, sew down one long side with 1/4″ seam allowance. (Don’t sew the short ends.)
  3. Sew down the other long side with a 1/4″ seam allowance leaving a gap approximately 2 inches in the center for turning.
making the tabs

4. Press open the seam one side at a time. This will make it easier to get crisp edges in the next step and keep you from pressing a crease in the center of the tab.

5. Turn the tube right side out using the gap. Press to get crisp edges.

6. Topstitch close to the edge on both long sides.

7. Cut the prepared strip in half to get two strips that are equal in length.

Attach the Tabs

  1. Fold the prepared tabs in half and place them on the back of the quilt at the top. Where you place the tabs is up to you. Consider the following when making decisions on placement:
  • If there is sashing on your quilt, consider lining up the tabs with it.
  • Have the tabs that are closest to the edges be the same distance from the edges.
  • For medium and large quilts spread the tabs evenly between the two end tabs.

2. Line up the raw edges of the tabs with the raw quilt edge and pin in place. The tabs should be facing down. Baste in place 1/8″ from the edge

Baste the tabs in place on the back of the quilt

3. Attach the binding on the front and back of the quilt.

For Visible Tabs

4. Lift up the tabs so they are above the quilt top and pin. On the back of the quilt, tack down both sides of each tab to the binding with hand sewing. On the front of the quilt, use the blind stitch across the front of the tab.

Flip up and sew the visible tabs in place

That’s it…you’re done!

For Hidden Tabs

4. Leave the tabs down. Tuck the bottom edge of the tab under itself by about 1/2″ before hand sewing it in place. Use either the blind stitch or whip stitch to sew the bottom of the tab to the back of the quilt. Be careful not to sew through to the front of the quilt.

Sew the bottom of the hidden tabs

That’s it…you’re done!

Hanging the Dowel Rod

To hang the dowel rod, you can tie a store-bought ribbon or a handmade tape to the dowel rod and then hang it from an anchor.

Hidden tabs seen from the back side. Inset image - front of quilt
Using a ribbon to hang a quilt with hidden tabs. Inset: How it looks from the front
Hanging a quilt with visible tabs. Inset image - full view of rod and handmade tape.
Using a handmade tape and visible tabs to hang the dowel rod. Inset: Full view of rod and handmade tape.

Making a Handmade Tape to Hang a Dowel

This method of how to make handmade tape to hang quilts with dowel rods was shared with me by a member of The Ruffled Purse email community. She prefers to use rectangle sleeves instead of tabs but both ways work with a dowel rod.

“I took a 2 1/2″ x WOF [width of fabric] strip and folded it in half and then folded the edges into the middle and sewed 1/4” seam on both edges and ends after turning in the ends. I would probably use something to stabilize it on the wrong side if it was a flimsy material.

Then I took that strip and tied a knot onto each end of the dowel that I used to hang my quilt (using a rectangle [sleeve] – I usually like that method as it doesn’t sag at all). The knots butt up nicely against the end of the quilt and stay put. Then Command has nice-looking hooks now, so I bought a nickel-plated hook that went well with my quilt and … Voila! Easy Peasy!

~ Jean M., subscriber to Snappy Scissors, the official newsletter of The Ruffled Purse

The measurements Jean included in her explanation were for a 36″ dowel rod. You would need to sew together strips of fabric to make a long enough tape for larger wall hangings.

Dowel Rod Anchors and End Caps

The anchor will be visible. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting how to hang the quilt on the wall.

Examples of anchors that can be used are:

There are end caps and finials you can purchase separately if you don’t want the blunt end of the dowel rod to show. IMPORTANT: Make sure to get the matching size for the rod you’re using.

Supplies for hanging quilts with tabs
1. Handmade tape 2. Store-bought ribbon 3. Monkey Hook and push pin 4. Cup hooks 5. End caps and a finial

Another Use for Tabs and Sleeves

One or more hidden tabs can be used on the back of a larger quilt in conjunction with triangle corners if you notice there is sagging in the middle.

In addition to using hidden tabs between triangle corners to prevent sagging, you can also use a rectangle sleeve.

hanging corners with rectangle sleeve to prevent sagging
A rectangle sleeve can be used between triangle corners to prevent sagging of larger quilts just like tabs.

Related Quilt Hanging Posts

Dowel rods and tabs aren’t the only way to hang quilts. Check out these other quilt hanging posts.

Let’s Connect

My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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Pinterest image of dowel rods and quilt with tabs

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