quilt sleeve tutorial

Adding a quilt sleeve is really easy, I promise.  If you want to enter quilt shows, or just want to hang your quilt on a wall, my quilt sleeve tutorial will walk you through it, step-by-step.  Today I added a sleeve to my smallest piece that’s headed to QuiltCon 2015, and decided to write a little tutorial on my process.


I start by creating the sleeve with a piece of coordinating fabric that measures 8.5″ wide x the exact width of your quilt.  In this case, the quilt is 20″ wide, so the piece shown here measures 8.5″x20″.

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On the 8.5″ sides, fold the fabric over twice and press to create a clean edge around the opening of the sleeve.  Repeat this for both the right and left sides.

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Stitch along the edge of the pressed seams.

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Once both sides have been stitched down, fold the entire sleeve in half, lengthwise, and press.  Notice that the fabric is facing right side out.  (A bit hard to demonstrate with white fabric!)

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Stitch a 1/4″ seam along the raw edges, down the long side, backstitching at both ends.

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Next, set your stitch length to a basting stitch (should be ~5 on your machine) and stitch 1″ away from the long folded edge.  This seam will be removed later on.

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Now the sleeve needs to be pressed into shape.  The following two photos demonstrate how the sleeve should be folded and pressed flat.

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Press flat.

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Now the sleeve is ready to be lined up on the back of the quilt.  I like to place it about 1″ below the top.

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Pin the sleeve into place.

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Now you’re ready to hand-stitch the sleeve in place.  I like to double thread my needle and use a thimble, because I tend to stick myself while hand-sewing.  Use a running stitch as shown below, and sew around all 4 sides of the sleeve, taking care not to sew through the front layer of your quilt.  I like to check the front frequently to avoid any mistakes.

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When you reach a corner, be sure to sew only the bottom layer of the sleeve to the quilt.  Otherwise the opening will be sewn shut and you won’t be able to use it!

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Once the sleeve is sewn on around all sides, it’s time to remove the basting stitch along the center.  Pick out the stitches with a seam ripper, and voila!  Your quilt sleeve is complete!

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I hope this was a helpful tutorial for those who might not know how to add a quilt sleeve.  This is only one method, but I love it because of the extra space that allows the quilt to hang flat.  Now, back to more sleeve-making for me!