It seems way too early to be sending quilts off for a show that doesn’t happen until the end of October, but with the International Quilt Festival in Houston, that’s just part of the game. Every show has its own set of rules, including specifications for things like hanging sleeves. (Thus, my three quilts, one sleeve adventure…)
For the Houston show, multi-panel quilts must be hung from a single sleeve. They don’t want any guess-work when they go to hang the quilts. The rule is there to make sure they can take a quilt out of the box or tube, run a rod through the sleeve and hang it right up. (And when you have a gazillion quilts to hang, I totally understand that!)
The first order of business was to remove the individual sleeves from each of the three panels.
Then it was time to turn the three panels so the front was facing the design wall. (In The Right Order, of course!) I borrowed the carpenters levels from Jack’s shop to make sure they were level, and used a ruler to make sure I had the proper two-inch spacing between the panels.
What I promptly discovered is that the top of each panel is Not Perfectly Straight. That wasn’t really a huge surprise. They’re quilts – and fabric seems to have a mind of its own. But it did make this leveling process a bit of a challenge.
Once the quilts were lined up, leveled up, and the spacing checked, I carefully measured from side to side to get a proper length for the sleeve.
I would love to say that I just stitched up a sleeve and pinned it to the back of all three panels. The truth is Not Nearly That Simple! As a matter of fact, I went through this step three times before I was happy with the results.
Long story short, the standard instructions for quilt sleeves are most definitely designed for one-piece quilts. They do not make any consideration for the gaps between multi-panel quilts. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ll admit that by the third time I put the quilts up on the design wall, got them squared up and leveled, and pinned the sleeve on the back, I was more than Ready To Be Done With This Craziness! (Happily, the third time I got it right!)
Stitching the sleeve to the panels was easy-peasy. A bit more awkward, but no big deal. (This was good – I was getting really tired!)
It was after 9pm when I put the final stitches in the sleeve, but I wasn’t going to call it a night without checking the results. I pulled out a set of stands, put a rod through the sleeve and propped it up on the standards. I breathed a big sigh of relief to see that it worked just fine. The panels are reasonably level, the gap is correct, and the portion of the sleeve that show between the panels is free of both seam allowances and seam line. Whew!
By the time you read this, my lovely quilts will be safely in Houston, waiting their turn for check-in, judging, and their appearance in the big show. I have a few more gray hairs (at least in the ones that didn’t get pulled out!), but it’s done, it looks great, and I’m looking forward to seeing my quilts hanging in Houston. If you see me wandering around the show, stop me for a hug and a hello. I would love to meet you there!
Have you made multi-panel quilts? Can you share your strategy for hanging them? Leave a comment here on the blog. I’d love to hear your ideas.