Monday, August 25, 2008

Sleeve Pleat

Sleeve Pleat

I was recently asked by a group to write a description of a sleeve pleat. Making a pleat in your quilts sleeve will allow the quilt to hang on the wall much flatter and is well worth the trouble of creating it. I cringe when I see quilted projects with too slim or too tight of sleeves that make the quilt bulge out at the top when hung. A sleeve on any quilted project should be able to be hung at any quilt show, but it requires at least a four inch wide sleeve. Even on my small quilts which are intended to be hung as art, I always put a good 4 inch sleeve on the back with an half inch pleat in it so that when it has a rod in the sleeve it doesn’t cause a bulge at the top of the quilt. It really isn’t very hard to make a nice sleeve that is finished off neatly and that has an easy pleat incorporated into the making.

What follows are easy to follow straight forward directions for a neat sleeve with a ½ inch pleat.

Measure your finished squared up quilt width before binding. Cut a piece of fabric at least 1 3/4 inch longer than the finished quilt length and 10 inches wide.

On your ironing surface, press a ½ inch over on each short end. Press it again ½ inch over to enclose the ends. Stitch these ends down with a straight stitch. This will finish off the exposed edges of the sleeve neatly.
Fold the whole piece of fabric length wise in half, matching the raw edge along the top of the long side, creating a long open ended tube that is 5 inches deep and an inch shorter than the length of the quilt. Press this with a steam iron.

With the tube still laying on your ironing surface, take the top fold and bring it up 3/8 inch over the top of the back half. Make a new crease with the steam iron. This creates a second crease that will be on the back side of the sleeve when it is folded back to the first crease and even at the top. You can stitch a straight line along this fold to use as a guide later when you fold it up to stitch it to the back of the quilt.
I then add my label to the center of my sleeve on the front side and sew it in place with my sewing machine.

Fold the top flat back down to the first crease mark with the two edges flush at the top. Place straight pins along the top length to hold it all in place. With a regular length stitch on your sewing machine, stitch the top together along the long side with a quarter inch seam.

On the top edge of your squared up quilt, find the center and center the sewn tube along this edge with the raw edges at the top meeting flush. With a quarter inch seam allowance, sew the sleeve in place. Go ahead and add the binding all around the quilt.

After you have finished stitching the binding down on the quilt, hand stitch the sleeve into place. To create the pleat, push the sleeve unit up so that the second pressed crease with the stitch line that was on the back of the sleeve is the crease that you hand stitch in place. By sewing down the second crease, you have created your pleat. Once it is sewn in place, you can press the sleeve again to create a crease at the top by the binding.

It is just as important to have a neat and carefully crafted sleeve on your treasured quilted pieces as it is to have a neat and carefully crafted quilt.
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