Babsie Quilt Ready to Ship
QuiltCon 2019

Hanging Sleeve: To Match or Not To Match?

Over the weekend, I began working on the final details I needed to apply to my quilts that will show at QuiltCon: labels, label covers, and hanging sleeves.

Quilt Labels - In Process

Quilt Labels – In Process

I have to be honest: I have never really loved making labels or hanging sleeves. Last year, I saw the beautifully made labels by Paige from Quilted Blooms, and I decided that I was going to do a better job with my labels. I have decided to use a graph-paper like print (in this case Graph Paper in Bachelor Blue by Heather Givans from the Jot collection for Windham) for the label. I start by writing everything on the graph lines that I want on the label. I trim with a minimum of 1/2″ from the edges of all my written text, and then I cut a second square to the same size. Right sides together I sew them together around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2-3″ opening for me to turn the label. Clip corners, turn, press, and top stitch around the edge to close the opening and voila! a lovely quilt label that I am proud to use with great handwritten spacing (thanks to the graph paper lines)!

As you can see above, I used the same envelope technique to create the label covers that are pinned to the back of the quilt to obscure the label and note the quilt number as well. I am proud to be sewing these labels onto the back of my quilts this year.

Pressing with the Clover Hot Ruler

Pressing with the Clover Hot Ruler

My quilting friend Afton from Quilting Mod has revolutionized the way I view creating hanging sleeves, too. She gifted me the Clover Hot Ruler to use to turn over the edge seams and it really has helped me be much less cranky about the hanging sleeve making process: burned or steamed finger tips are no fun and should be avoided! Thanks, Afton!

Babsie Quilt Ready to Ship

Babsie Quilt Ready to Ship

Which brings me to the blog post title: do you match your hanging sleeve to the quilt or do something funky and fun?? To match or not to match – that is my question?!

Honestly, I typically reserve or have enough excess backing fabric and I match my hanging sleeves to my quilts. In the case of the Babsie mini quilt, though, I had to make an exception. One of the many things that I think about when I remember Babsie is her large and assorted trinket pig collection. She had a pig watering can (with Babs etched on the side, no less), pig magnets, a pig dice game, pig collectibles, pigs on necklaces and pigs on earrings. So it seemed only fitting to include a dash of pink on the back of the quilt.

So I’d love to know: if you use hanging sleeves, do you like to match them to the quilt, do you use up what you have in your stash no matter how it works, do your hanging sleeves have stories and significance to the project much like the Babsie quilt does now, or do you use some other method to select the fabric for your hanging sleeves?

29 thoughts on “Hanging Sleeve: To Match or Not To Match?

  1. Hanging sleeves and labels are on my list of things to do this week as well. You’re one up on me, I’ve never finished the label covering as nicely as you have done. Beautifully done!

  2. Alys says:

    If the sleeve is for a show and will be removed afterwards, I use any material i have on hand whether a match or not. I save the removed sleeve(s) to use on other projects. if the sleeve is going to be a permanent fixture, then I use muslin or fabric that matches the backing.

  3. I try to match the sleeve to the back if possible. I like the label idea.

  4. Ben says:

    I will match the sleeve to the backing if I have the fabric — especially if I use a wide backing. But I don’t hesitate to use a contrasting fabric for the sleeve either, particularly for a scrappy backing.

  5. So, I’ve only got one quilt for which I’ve needed a sleeve and I’ve yet to attach it!! It does not match my backing, but does match the binding!

  6. I match the hanging sleeves when possible, but if not I try to pick something that will not show through to the front of the quilt (like a red sleeve on a mostly white quilt). I need to get labeling and making sleeves this week 🙂

  7. I have several sleeves made of muslin, they are all tubes that I can turn to fit the size of quilt. I put them on temporarily, and remove them to use again on the next quilt to send for showing. One thing that I learned, it is best to have a tube so the back of the quilt is protected from tearing by the insertion of the poles for hanging.

  8. jayne says:

    I wondered about this when I was making my sleeves! In the end I had matched and not matched sleeves. I’m not sure it matters much as it will be on the back. If I were making one specifically for a quilt not in a show (for someone else), I try to match the backing and sleeve. I made my labels exaxtly the way you did too! Next step…get them sent off!

  9. Tami Von Zalez says:

    I match it to the backing and affix the sleeve when I am hand binding the quilt. I need to enter the realm of labels for when I enter a contest that requires them.

  10. Jan O says:

    Actually, I usually use muslin for hanging sleeves, especially if the sleeve will be removed later.

  11. Lisa J. says:

    I like the pink hanging sleeve on Babsies Quilt. I don’t make a lot of hanging sleeves but I usually try to match or co-ordinate them with the back….although lately on the bigger quilts I just recycle them off previous quilts.

  12. aquilterstable says:

    No sleeve of mine has ever had a ‘story’…. they usually coordinate with the quilt but are not necessarily a fabric used in the quilt. As usual, your’s are much more thoughtful than mine. 😉

  13. KJ says:

    I typically match the hanging sleeve to the backing fabric, which co-ordinates with my quilt fronts. For one quilt, I had over 40 different spider web fabrics on the front, and a spider web fabric for the back so chose a back co-ordinating spider web fabric for the sleeve. I think choosing fabrics for my backing and sleeves is as much fun as choosing those for the quilt front.

    For my labels, I do them on my computer and choose a graphic that evokes the feeling of the quilt – almost always a photo I have taken – I fold over the edges, press well and add fusible to the back, iron to the quilt back and then hand stitch in place. I seldom have to use pins and the labels don’t slide around on me while I am stitching. I actually now use fusible for may hanging sleeves, too.

    Best of luck at QuiltCon.

  14. It depends! If it is permanent, I like it to work with the back. If it is temporary – it doesn’t matter – but I do not like one that clashes! I love the way you did it with a pocket of sorts for the real label – and a fabric one for the number. I also love that little ruler – I just use a piece of cardboard with sharpie for those pressing events.

  15. springleafstudios says:

    If the quilt is meant to permanently hang, I take more care about using matching fabric for the sleeve. Otherwise it’s usually just plain white fabric. Labels are another matter . . . I’ve not good at all about labeling unless it requires one for a show and then I do just what you are doing. Now I need to get busy and get my QuiltCon quilts ready too. Thanks for the push.

  16. pennydog says:

    My sleeves are all muslin and I do it in a way so I can remove the sleeves if I sell a quilt and the new owner doesn’t want a sleeve. Not that that has ever happened!

  17. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Hello Yvonne, Due to the fact that I very seldom create a quilt that needs a hanging sleeve, I am not sure what I have done in the past. LOL. Most likely, I tried to match the fabric, but then again it may not have mattered either. I am not helping. I did check out your tip on the seam and will have to invest in one! Thank you for sharing all of your great methods today and best of luck at the event this year! Have a fantastic day!

  18. Patty says:

    Perfect timing. I’ve been thinking the same thing for my QC quilt! I think I have enough scraps to match the backing for this one. Yours look great!

  19. If it’s a permanent sleeve, I match the sleeve fabric to the backing fabric…providing I have enough left over fabric, which is usually the case!

  20. Sophie says:

    I always match the sleeve to the backing fabric. Except for a mini quilt I have to bind now. I realised I was too short of this backing fabric when the quilting was done. And I don’t know why it bothers me so much !

  21. Lea says:

    I don’t have a big preference either way. It has been a while since I’ve made a wall hanging but when I did I usually did not match the sleeve. I had fabric left over that matched the front and used that.

    I used to be good about labels and always made labels for my quilts. But I’ve gotten away from that because it just didn’t seem important to me anymore – I just wanted to get to the next quilt, asap. For the quilts I’ll be making this year will have a simple label because they are gifts. If I was keeping them I’m not sure I’d bother with a label.

  22. thedarlingdogwood says:

    If I have extra of the fabric that was on the back, I use it. Otherwise, whatever I have in my stash. My hanging sleeves can look pretty funky sometimes!

  23. Ilona O Strull says:

    I generally use backing fabric for my hanging sleeves so they will blend in. I put hanging sleeves on any quilt that would possibly be hung and generally put sleeves on smaller quilts that I have given as gifts. That way the gifted can decide if they want to hang the quilt or not.

  24. Anja @ Anja Quilts says:

    I try to match, but by using what’s in my stash. Sometimes, it’s a contrast to stand out, and sometimes, it’s similar colours.

  25. MaryR says:

    I have several sleeves that I reuse when I need a sleeve for a show quilt that I don’t normally want a sleeve on. They don’t match anything and some of them are so ugly they have come around the other side to fabulous. If the sleeve is a permanent part of the quilt I make sure it goes with–sometimes matching, more often coordinating. I find sleeves a good use for large scale prints that I like but that often don’t work well in piecing.

  26. helen says:

    I rarely label anything now. I used to all the time, but they always look amateurish. Now I don’t bother, I just stitch my initials and the year, HC’18 or some such. I am however putting a quilt into an exhibition soon so will have to label it. I am hoping they dont want a hanging sleeve, it is a baby quilt we use or else my transparency quilt, and I dont want a hanging sleeve on it either. Ho hum. This is why I don’t show my quilts!

  27. I love the dash of pink! What a fun additional element of meaning to this quilt. For my backings, I’ve matched fabrics, used muslin and used whatever I had on hand that was big enough, lol. I know that for some magazine quilts I’ve used a completely unmatching, very ugly fabric for the sleeve because I knew it wouldn’t be shown in the pictures and I’d be taking it off again once the quilt was returned to me.That sleeve is actually still on my Medallion Magic quilt because when it was returned I decided to hang it, but at least no one sees it 🙂

  28. The graph paper fabric is brilliant. I can go either way with the matching but usually if I know I’m leaving it on and it’s a throw or bed quilt that will be flipped and visible I will use the same. For really temporary sleeves that come off after a show, I whip stitch on flannel because it’s easy to hand sew.

  29. Who knew such a mundane topic could provoke great ideas? Thanks for the post, Yvonne, and all the shared comments, fellow readers!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)