How to Hang a Quilt with Rectangles

| |

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission which helps keep my blog up and running but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Click here to read my full Disclosure and Privacy Policy..

If you’ve done any research on how to hang a quilt, chances are you have seen something about sleeves.

quilt sleeves for hanging

Sleeves are a popular way to hang quilts, especially large ones. However, sleeves can be used with any size quilt or wall hanging.

Sleeves by themselves will not get your quilt on the wall. You also need to decide what type of rod and anchors you’re going to use that will actually hold the quilt in place.

Make sure to read How to Hang a Quilt on the Wall to discover the many rod and anchor options available to display quilts as part of your home decor.

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.

Types of Rectangular Sleeves

Rectangular sleeves are not hard to make or attach to the quilt but there are a couple of questions you need to answer before you cut the sleeve out and sew it on the quilt back:

  1. Do you want the sleeve to be permanent or temporary?
  2. Would a full-length sleeve be better or split sleeves?

Depending on how you answer these questions will determine how you cut the fabric for the sleeve and how it is attached to your quilt.

Permanent or Temporary Sleeves

For a permanent sleeve, the sleeve is added BEFORE you attach the binding.

A temporary sleeve can be added to a quilt that already has a binding or to a quilt that you would want to remove the sleeve at a later date.

There are different methods for sewing on a permanent sleeve compared to a temporary one.

Full-Length and Split Sleeves

A full-length sleeve is one rectangle that goes across the length of the quilt.

full length sleeve
This is a temporary, full-length sleeve. The top of the sleeve is not sewn under the binding.

Split sleeves are 2 or more rectangular sleeves that go across the length of the quilt with space between them.

split sleeve
These are permanent, split-sleeves. The top of each sleeve is sewn under the binding.

Why would you want a split sleeve? There are a couple of reasons:

  • You may decide to make split sleeves because one or more anchors will need to be placed in the middle of the quilt.
  • Another reason for making split sleeves is because the length of the quilt is so long you would need to sew strips together to make a sleeve that would span the length of the quilt and you don’t feel like doing that.

Fabric, Supplies, and Sewing Skills

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

Fabric

Any fabric can be used for a rectangular sleeve as long as it doesn’t stretch.

You can use:

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

Supplies

In order to make and attach the rectangular sleeve(s) you need basic sewing supplies:

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

Sewing Skills

Depending on whether or not the sleeve will be permanent or temporary, you will need to use your sewing machine, hand sewing, or both.

Binding Tutorials

The quilt will need a binding whether you decide on a permanent or temporary sleeve. There are many ways to bind a quilt. For tutorials on how I bind quilts, take a look at the following posts:

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 stitches used to attach the fabric for hanging your quilt are the:

Cutting Rectangle Sleeves

To make sleeves, you cut one rectangle for a full-length sleeve and 2 or more rectangles for split sleeves.

Use the same measurements for length and width as described below, whether you plan on making your sleeve(s) permanent or temporary.

Length

Full length sleeve – for all quilt sizes, if you make a full-length sleeve, the length of the rectangle will be 1-inch shorter than the width of the quilt.

Example – If the quilt is 52 inches wide, cut the rectangle for a full-length sleeve 51 inches.

Split sleeves – You need to do a little math to determine the length of each sleeve if you go with the split sleeve option. Use the following notes to figure out how long each sleeve will be:

  • Decide on how many sleeves you want.
  • Measure the width of the quilt and subtract 1 inch.
  • From that number, subtract two inches for every space between sleeves. (i.e. Two sleeves means 2 inches because there will be 1 space. Three sleeves means 4 inches because there will be 2 spaces.)
  • Divide that number by the number of sleeves. This number will be the length of each sleeve. You can round to the nearest whole number if it makes cutting it easier.
example of how to figure out sleeve length

Width

Whether you’re making a full-length sleeve or a split sleeve, the width of the rectangle will depend on the size of the quilt.

In addition to the size of the quilt, keep in mind the rod you have chosen to hang your quilt. The ends of the rod as well as the body of the rod will need to fit inside the sleeve.

Use the following measurements as guidelines for the sleeve width:

  • For small quilts (2 feet or less) cut the width 5 inches. This will give you a finished sleeve that is 2 inches wide.
  • For medium quilts (2 – 4 feet) cut the width 7 inches. This will give you a finished sleeve that is 3 inches wide.
  • For large quilts, cut the width 9 inches. This will give you a finished sleeve 4 inches wide.

Flat Sleeve vs Sleeve with Ease

IMPORTANT: Before sewing on the rectangular sleeve, you should have already decided on the ROD and ANCHORS you’re going to use to hang your quilt.

A flat sleeve with a wide rod could result in a visible bump at the top of the quilt when it is hanging on the wall. To eliminate this bump, you want to add ease to the sleeve.

flat sleeve vs sleeve with ease

If the rod is pretty much flat (like a yardstick), you can attach the bottom of the sleeve to the quilt without leaving any ease or space inside the sleeve itself.

hanging sleeve with a yardstick
The yardstick isn’t very wide so it doesn’t leave a bump at the top of the quilt. It doesn’t matter if the sleeve has ease in it.

However, if the rod is very thick you want to take an additional step when attaching the bottom of the sleeve to the quilt. This step will create ease within the sleeve and allow your quilt to hang flat along the wall.

hanging sleeve with a dowel rod
Top picture: This dowel rod is thick enough that using a flat sleeve creates a bump at the top of the quilt. Bottom picture: The sleeve with ease provides enough space that the quilt hangs flat against the wall.

How to Create Ease in the Sleeve

To create ease or space in the sleeve, you basically tuck the bottom edge of the sleeve under itself by about 1/2-inch before hand sewing it in place. (FYI, this is the last step in the construction process.)

There are a couple of ways to do this depending on if the sleeve(s) will be permanent or temporary

For permanent sleeves: When you’re preparing the sleeve(s), before step 3 in the directions below, line up one raw edge 1/2 an inch from the other raw edge and press. The crease you make will be your guide for hand sewing the bottom edge.

offset raw edges by 1/2 inch and press a crease in the rectangle

Then, in step 3 when you’re lining up the raw edges of the sleeve(s)with the quilt’s raw edges, the shorter side of the sleeve will need to be closest to the quilt.

For temporary sleeves or one that will be attached to a quilt that already has a binding: There is a way to easily adjust the bottom edge of the sleeve after the top of the sleeve is sewn on so you know exactly where to hand sew the bottom.

I’ll show you how to do this in the video.

Attaching a Permanent Rectangle Sleeve

The permanent sleeve will be attached BEFORE the binding is put on the quilt.

Permanent Full-Width Sleeve

  1. Cut a rectangle the correct length and width for your quilt. (See the section Cutting Rectangle Sleeves.)
steps 2-5 in attaching a permanent hanging sleeve

2. Turn the short ends 1/2″ to the wrong side and sew down.

3. With the wrong side of the fabric to the inside, put the raw edges on the long sides of the rectangle together.

4. Center the sleeve on the quilt edge and line up the raw edges of the sleeve with the quilt’s raw edge. Pin in place.

5. Baste a 1/8″ from the raw edge to hold the sleeve in place.

6. Attach the binding to the quilt front and back.

7. Hand sew the lower edge of the sleeve with a whip stitch or blind stitch.

Tip: Add ease to the sleeve in step 7 if your rod isn’t flat so the quilt hangs against the wall without a bump across the top. Do this by tucking the bottom edge of the sleeve under itself by about 1/2-inch before hand sewing it in place. (See the section above titled Flat Sleeve vs Sleeve with Ease for additional details.)

steps 6 and 7 in attaching a permanent hanging sleeve
This sleeve is flat and has no additional space in it. A flat rod works well with a flat sleeve.

That’s it…you’re done!

Permanent Split Sleeves

permanent split sleeves with ease
These split sleeves are permanent because the raw edges are secured under the binding. Inset – Sleeves have ease because the rod isn’t flat.

Use split sleeves if you don’t want to connect strips for a large quilt or if you need to put anchors in other places besides the quilt edges.

  1. Cut two or more rectangles the correct length and width for your quilt. (See the section Cutting Rectangle Sleeves.)
  2. Turn the short ends 1/2″ to the wrong side and sew down.
  3. With the wrong side of the fabric to the inside, put the raw edges on the long sides of the rectangle together.
  4. Space the sleeves evenly across the width of the quilt leaving the same amount of space between the sleeves. Pin in place.
  5. Baste a 1/8″ from the raw edge to hold the sleeves in place.
  6. Attach the binding to the quilt front and back.
  7. Hand sew the lower edge of the sleeves with a whip stitch or blind stitch.

Tip: Add ease to the sleeves in step 7 if your rod isn’t flat so the quilt hangs against the wall without a bump across the top. Do this by tucking the bottom edge of the sleeve under itself by about 1/2-inch before hand sewing it in place. (See the section above titled Flat Sleeve vs Sleeve with Ease for additional details.)

That’s it…your done!

Attaching a Temporary Rectangle Sleeve

A temporary sleeve is attached to a quilt that already has a binding.

Hand sewing is necessary to attach a temporary sleeve.

Check out the Hand Sewing Guide for Beginners if you’re new to hand sewing or need a refresher.

Temporary Full-Width Sleeve

  1. Cut a rectangle the correct length and width for your quilt. (See the section above on Cutting Rectangle Sleeves.)
  2. Turn the short ends 1/2″ to the wrong side and sew down.
  3. With the wrong sides together, match the raw edges on the long sides and sew together with 1/2″ seam allowance. This makes a tube.
  4. Center the seam on the tube and press it open.
  5. Place the tube on the back of the quilt near the edge of the binding with the seam facing down. Leave approximately 1″ at the top and on either side of the sleeve. Pin in place.
  6. Hand stitch the sleeve in place with either a whip stitch or blind stitch on both the top and bottom.

Tip: Add ease to the sleeves in step 6 if your rod isn’t flat so the quilt hangs against the wall without a bump across the top. Do this by tucking the bottom edge of the sleeve under itself by about 1/2-inch before hand sewing it in place. (See the section above titled Flat Sleeve vs Sleeve with Ease for additional details.)

That’s it…you’re done!

Temporary Split Sleeves

Use the split sleeves if you don’t want to connect strips for a large quilt or if you need to put anchors in other places besides the quilt edges.

  1. Cut two or more rectangles the correct length and width for your quilt. (See the section above on Cutting Rectangle Sleeves.)
  2. Turn the short ends 1/2″ to the wrong side and sew down.
  3. With the wrong sides together, match the raw edges on the long sides and sew together with 1/2″ seam allowance. This makes a tube.
  4. Center the seam on the tube and press it open.
steps 1-4 in attaching temporary split sleeves

5. With the seams facing down, space the sleeves evenly across the width of the quilt leaving the same amount of space between the sleeves and about 1-inch on either end.

6. Hand stitch the sleeves in place with either a whip stitch or blind stitch on both the top and bottom.

steps 5 and 6 to attach temporary split sleeves

Tip: Add ease to the sleeves in step 6 if your rod isn’t flat so the quilt hangs against the wall without a bump across the top. Do this by tucking the bottom edge of the sleeve under itself by about 1/2-inch before hand sewing it in place. (See the section above titled Flat Sleeve vs Sleeve with Ease for additional details.)

That’s it…you’re done!

Related Quilt Hanging Posts

Rectangle sleeves aren’t the only thing you need to know about hanging 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!

Make sure you sign up for Snappy Scissors (my FREE newsletter sent directly to your inbox) for ongoing sewing inspiration and education. You can find the sign-up box at the bottom of the post.

Also, like or follow The Ruffled Purse® on Facebook. This is another way to stay up-to-date on the fun things going on at The Ruffled Purse.

You can even follow me on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube! 😊

Nicki has taught classes in:

Nicki’s work has been featured on:

More Sewing Education Posts

Looking for more sewing education? Here are a few other posts you may like:

pinterest image for rectangle sleeves

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.