Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hanging a Rug Part Deux

The top sleeve halves pinned in place.

As I mentioned in my previous post, making a hanging sleeve for a needlepoint rug has many similarities to making a hanging sleeve for a quilt: you have to leave extra room at the side edges to make sure the hanging rod is covered when the piece is installed; if the piece is large enough, you need to allow a gap in the top sleeve for additional hanging hardware; you have to decide on the type of hanging rod that will be used ahead of time, so that you can factor in the width and depth of the rod into the size of your sleeve calculations.

In this case, I knew I needed weighted steel rods, at least in the bottom sleeve. I also knew I didn't want them to be too thick, which causes a bump even in a pleated sleeve, and would risk straining and distorting the closes stitching on the front. But where to get these rods? I emailed my artist friend, Kathy Weaver, who often uses this type of hanging rod in her work. In her area, she finds them at a local hardware store. In my area, I only found them at Home Depot, and had to search the store before finally finding cutable lengths in the hardware aisle. The steel rods are narrow, about 1", and thin, less than 1/4". They can also rust. For this reason, they need to be sealed, and the sleeve needs to be a double sleeve, i.e. a width stitched and folded in half so that no part of the rod comes in contact with the fibers of the quilt or rug directly.

Top sleeve with separation in the middle. If you look closely, you will see that the sleeve is doubled, with the edges finished and the seam allowance, unseen, against the piece.

This type of hanging rod is thin enough that the sleeve probably would not absolutely have to be pleated. The pleating, however, allows extra depth for the hanging rod prevent distortion, is easy to make, and therefore is usually the best solution. To make a double pleated sleeve, add the depth of the rod doubled, plus the width of the rod doubled. Calculate the seam allowance and add that to your measurement. Then add the doubled depth of the rod again, which will create an allowance for a pleat on one edge. This is the minimum size needed.

In my example here, I made the sleeve extra wide, wider than I would actually need, because of the tight stitching on the front, and because I needed to stitch the bottom edge of the sleeve into the reverse side of the needlepoint stitches for added strength. I cut a 10" piece of canvas, stitched a 3/8" seam allowance, then pressed the sleeve along the length so that the seam allowance fell in the middle. I also pressed the seam open to reduce bulk. I finished all the side edges after cutting the length in half for the top sleeve.
Start your stitching with a hidden knot. Sew the top (outside edge) first.

Like many textiles, the edge of this needlepoint rug was not completely straight. I laid the sleeve out to determine the best place to sew it straight across, and pinned it down. Remember to leave room for your pleat at the top edge. My pleat is relatively small, just over 1/4", so I have allowed plenty of space. After stitching the top edge down with a blind stitch and glazed quilting thread, (knots hidden, please!) I created my pleat:

Once the top edge is stitched in place, gently pull the entire sleeve toward the top edge to create the pleat. Since the sleeve had been previously steam ironed, the ironed edge on the bottom of the sleeve will give you a visual guideline. Check to be sure that, when the pleat is in place, the top of the hanging sleeve does not show on the front. Make adjustments as needed, then pin the bottom edge of the sleeve in place and pull the extra sleeve bulk toward the previously sewn edge. This will help keep it out of the way while you stitch.

The sleeve bottom edge is pinned in place. Notice how the pressed line provides a visual guide.

Notice there is enough room along the top edge to accomodate my thin hanging rod to prevent it showing on the front when the rug is installed.

Do the same to the bottom edge (minus the two-piece sleeve) and you are ready to install.


  1. Nice step by step info! Hope the installation goes well.

  2. Thanks, CB. I hoped it would be a visual tutorial. Glad you could follow it : )