How to Hang a Quilt

Several Options

I would wallpaper my entire house with quilts if my husband would let me 🙂 I love to hang quilts, and maybe you do to! So I want to share several hanging options that won’t damage our precious quilts.

We’ll talking about the following:

  1. Buy a ready made quilt hanger
  2. Hanging sleeves
  3. Corner triangles
  4. Tabs or ties

You’ll see each of these methods have their place, and some work better in certain situations than others. Mainly I base my decision on the rod I’m going to use. Do I want the rod to show? How big is the rod? Does it have a large finial? Read on and see which option works for your quilt.

1. Use a ready made quilt hanger

Of course one way is to buy a special quilt hanger like this one below – it’s that thin bit of wood at the top, with the little knobs. I do like it since it matches the wall so well – kind of makes the quilt look like it’s floating. Store bought hangers come in all shapes and sizes, so you could easily find one you like. But since this is a tutorial on making a hanger, I’ll move on to some other options that involve sewing!

2. Hanging Sleeve

First, let’s go over how to make a hanging sleeve. You can use whatever leftover scraps you have, or muslin as the sleeve won’t show once the quilt is hanging. Sleeves can be added before or after the binding. I’m going to show you how to do it while attaching the binding. If you want to add this to an already completed quilt, you would simply enclose the raw edges and then attach it by hand. With a sleeve, only the ends of the rod will show.

Cut 9″ x width of quilt

Cut the sleeve 9″ x the quilt width. The 9″ isn’t a hard and fast rule – just a guideline. It depends on how big a rod you use.

Press a hem on both ends

Along both of the 9″ ends, press in 1/2″ toward the wrong side, and press in 1/2″ again to make a hem.

Sew both hems in place close to the edge.

Press creases

Now fold in half, wrong sides together and press. Unfold, and bring the raw edge up to the crease you just pressed, and press again. This step will allow a little wiggle room in the finished sleeve so that the rod will fit without pulling out the stitches.

Attach sleeve

Refold aligning the raw edges. Center along the top edge of your quilt, and baste within the binding seam allowance, about 1/8″ in. Attach the binding as usual. In photo below, my binding is machine stitched to the back.

“Ease” for rod

Press the binding to the front as usual, just be aware the sleeve is back there and don’t accidentally catch it as you sew. Turn the quilt over to the back and push the sleeve up just a little so that extra crease we pressed earlier sticks up a bit. Pin in place. This gives the sleeve some ease for the rod to fit nicely.

Hand sew to finish

Hand stitch the folded edge down using a small whip stitch, being careful to not poke all the way through to the front of the quilt.

Here is the finished sleeve, with plenty of room for a rod. It’s about an inch from both sides of the quilt, but you could make it shorter or longer if you prefer.

3. Corner Triangles

Another way to prepare a quilt for hanging, and this is my favorite method for small wall hangings, is to add triangles to the back four corners as you bind. I like this option because it gives me a place to sew my label and the bottom triangles can hold a dowel to keep the quilt hanging straight. With corner triangles, none of the rod will show.

Cut four 5 1/2″ squares

To start, cut four squares. I usually cut mine about 5 1/2″, but that’s not a hard and fast rule either! That size just works for my size label and is big enough for various dowel sizes.

Press and add label, if you want

Press the triangles in half, wrong sides together, on the diagonal. If you want to add a label, now is the time. I open one triangle back up, sew on the label, and then refold. If you want the label on the bottom of the quilt, like me, place the label with the top towards the fold.

Baste triangles to the back

Place the triangles on the four corners on the quilt back. Align all the raw edges. I usually put the one with the label on one of the bottom corners. Baste in place, close to the edge.

Bind as usual, and you’re done!

Tacks or dowels? Or both? Your choice!

Now to hang the quilt, you can use thumb tacks pushed through from inside the triangles. Look right next to my thumb nail – you can just see the tack. That way nothing shows from the front, and you haven’t stuck a tack through your quilt! You can do this with all four corners. Put a little tension on the wallhanging as you tack it to the wall, this will keep it from sagging in the middle.

Another option is to put wooden dowels in the top and bottom, Hang the quilt from the top dowel on two nails or Command hooks, or picture hangers etc. Two nails work better than one – this keeps the quilt from swinging or hanging crooked. And the dowel at the bottom adds a little weight to pull the quilt down and straighten out small wrinkles, as well as keeps the corners from curling.

Have the dowel long enough to put tension on the wallhanging so it doesn’t sag in the middle. But if you need to, you can always run a few stitches around the center of the dowel, essentially sewing the quilt to the dowel.

What’s a quilt picture without a dog standing on it? My fault since I put it on the floor 🙂

4. Tabs or Ties

The final way to prepare a quilt for hanging is to use make tabs, or use ties.

I often use tabs so that I can show off the rod. My husband is a blacksmith, and he makes beautiful hanging rods in his shop. If you had a lovely walking stick or piece of driftwood or something that you don’t want covered up by a hanging sleeve, then tabs or ties might be the way for you to go!

Star quilt top made by a Sioux woman in South Dakota in the early 1980s. I just quilted it!

Wide or narrow tabs?

To make wide tabs – by that I mean a tab that is at least 2 1/2″ wide when finished, you can simply sew a piece of fabric right sides together and then turn it inside out. I’ll go over narrow tabs in a moment.

Tab dimensions depend on your rod

These tabs are 2 1/2″ finished. Cut the fabric 5 1/2″ wide (this is twice as wide as the finished tab, plus a 1/4″ seam allowance.) You can leave the fabric long at this point, and cut it after it’s sewn to save time.

Matching thread would be better, but with this darker thread, the seam line is easier to see in the photos.

I wanted the tabs to be 2 1/2″ tall as well, based on the diameter of my rod, so I cut the strip at 5″ lengths. Base the height on your own rod.

Turn the tabs inside out and press. You can leave them as is, or you could top stitch along both edges.

If you want narrow tabs, you’ll need to make them a little differently so as to avoid having to turn a narrow tube inside out. Cut the fabric 4 times as wide as you want the finished tab. For example, if you want a 1″ tab, cut the fabric 4″ wide.

Fold the tab fabric wrong sides together and press. Fold the long ends into the center crease and press again. Now fold the whole thing back together, enclosing all the raw edges. Sew along where the folds come together. Optionally, you could sew along the other side as well.

Make enough tabs to distribute the weight of the quilt

Either way you’ve made the tabs, fold them in half and place them along the top of your quilt, with all raw edges aligned. Placing the tabs along the front or the back depends on how you like to do your binding – I sew my binding to the back first, then machine stitch it down on the front – so in this case, I place my tabs on the back of my quilt. If you do your binding the opposite way, and stitch it to the front first, then hand tack it to the back, you would place your tabs along the front. Space the tabs out evenly across the edge. You’ll want enough tabs to help distribute the weight of the quilt. This way there won’t be too much pull on one part of the quilt. Plus it will hang flatter and without gaps if there are plenty of tabs. For one of the rods my husband makes, I also consider if he’s made any twists or or other decorative embellishments on the rod – I don’t want a tab covering that up!

Baste tabs and bind as usual

Baste the tabs close to the edge like with a hanging sleeve. Keep about an inch away from the corner of the quilt free of tabs so that you have plenty of room to miter the corners without catching the tabs. Bind as usual, keeping in mind the tabs are back there as you sew!

Add tabs after binding as well

You could still add tabs to a quilt that is already bound – just make the tabs the appropriate size and pin them to the back. Sew them on from the front using the same color thread and same seam line as the binding. I used this technique on the wall hanging below – you can also see another time I used a dowel in the bottom triangles.

This is the same wall hanging from the front – you can’t tell I added the tabs later.

Consider embellishing the tabs

And here’s where I added a decorative button on the tabs. You could really add lots of character to a quilt by simply embellishing the tabs!

Consider ties if your rod is an odd size

Adding ties is the last method I have to share. You can use 550 paracord or twill tape or most any kind of tie you have on hand. I try to use a color that will match my rod or the wall – whatever makes the ties show the least.

For the star quilt below, I used small rope for the ties. I pulled the rope around the rod to the back and made sure to tie it tight so none of the knot or bow would show from the front. These were added after the binding – I zig zag stitched the rope tie down along the same seam as I sewed the binding.

For this Celtic cross wall hanging, I felt like ties were the best option as this was something I bought ready made on a trip to Scotland and was already hemmed. And most importantly, my husband had made a beautiful hanging rod with these St. Brigid crosses on the end – they are big and pokey, so would have been nigh on impossible to get through tabs.

So I just cut some polyester ties from that stuff you can buy from Hobby Lobby by the yard, and used a tacking stitch to attach the ties to the back. I used black thread and it hardly shows at all.

Ties can also be added with the binding too

You could also attach ties with the binding. Cut the length tie you want, fold in half and put the folded part along the top edge of the quilt and secure with the binding. This leaves the two ends free to be tied around the rod. I did this with a wedding quilt I made for my son and his wife – I used narrow twill tape. They want to hang their quilt from a piece of drift wood from one of their favorite rivers, and a tie will best accommodate the uneven nature of the wood. To hang, pull one end of the twill all the way around the wood and tie at the bottom – all that will show is the flat loop of twill around the wood – the knot or bow where it was tied will be behind the quilt.

Wow, that’s a lot of information! But there are so many options to hanging a quilt, there’s just a lot to say 🙂

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help.