Sleeve by Machine

By Libby Swoope

Using your sewing machine's blind hem stitch is a fast, easy, secure way to attach a hanging sleeve to your project.  It is especially handy for finishing those great Quilt University projects.

With this method, the sleeve cannot be removed without removing the binding.

For demonstration purposes, I have used fabrics and thread that contrast so you can see the details.

Cut a rectangle of backing fabric the width of your finished project and double the sleeve depth plus 1". For example, the sample project is 15" wide and the finished sleeve will be 4" deep, so the sleeve rectangle is 15" x 9" (2 x 4" + 1").

With the WRONG side of the sleeve up, press about 1/4" of both short edges (the sides of the sleeve) to the wrong side of the fabric.

Fold the edges over again and press so the raw edges are enclosed within the fold.

With the RIGHT side of the sleeve up, topstitch the two folded edges about 1/4" away from the edge.

Stitched edges, RIGHT and WRONG sides

Fold the sleeve in half longwise, WRONG sides together, and press.

This photo of the opened sleeve shows the crease that was created when it was folded and pressed.

Center the opened sleeve on the back of the quilt with the RIGHT side of the sleeve fabric against the quilt back and pin the edges.  (The pressed crease has been marked with purple ink so that it shows in the photos but you do not need to mark yours.)

First, you will stitch the sides of the sleeve to the quilt back from the crease to the top.  With the WRONG side of the sleeve down and the front of the quilt facing up, fold the edge of the quilt over on itself and pin it in place. The folded edge of the quilt should be just in from the edge of the sleeve. You can use the stitches on the sleeve edge as a guide. You only need to pin from the top edge to the crease.

Using the blind hem stitch, stitch from the top edge of the quilt to the crease in the sleeve on one side and from the crease to the top on the other side.

The photo on the right shows the swing stitch just catching the quilt back. You may have to experiment with a sample sandwich to get your stitch settings just right, but the bite should catch the backing and perhaps a little bit of batting, but no more.

The finished stitching looks like this, with a row of stitches on the sleeve edge and swing stitches catching the backing. This is with the quilt top still folded back.

This is what the back of the quilt looks like when the edge is unpinned. This is the reverse side of the previous photo.

Lay the quilt top RIGHT SIDE UP with the top edge of the quilt facing left and the sleeve open underneath. Fold the body of the quilt to the LEFT (blue arrow) so that the folded edge is not quite to the crease in the sleeve (marked in purple in this photo). The sleeve is opened out and extending to the RIGHT (shown by the yellow arrow).

Blind hem stitch along the crease.

This is what the blind hem stitch looks like when you are finished but still have the quilt folded over on itself.

The photo (below left) shows the sleeve after it has been blind-stitched in place and the quilt has been unfolded. The sleeve is still open against the back of the quilt so the wrong side of the sleeve fabric is visible.  At right is a close up of one side, showing the stitching on the edges and along the bottom.


Fold the loose edge of the sleeve up to the top of the quilt and apply your binding using your preferred method. The binding stitching will secure the top edges of the sleeve.

Close up of the back side of a wall hanging with a machine-applied sleeve.

Close up of the front side of the same wall hanging. You cannot tell from the front that the sleeve was applied by machine.