Exploring ways to get your quilts up on the wall.
My quilt guild recently had a virtual retreat. It was way more fun than it sounds, I promise!
45 of us signed up to spend two days together over Zoom, all of us safely working at home in our own sewing spaces. We shared short technique demonstrations, enjoyed a great show and tell, and three of our members gave virtual tours of their sewing rooms.
What struck me most about these studio tours was how wonderful it was to see so many quilts up on the walls of these quilt makers’ homes. One woman’s work must have been in every room of the house!
It’s true; the spouses, family and friends you share your home with might not always be as quilt-crazy as you are. But I’m willing to bet there’s a wall somewhere in your home that’s just waiting for for the perfect quilt.
But here’s the question: How to hang it?
Here’s the run down on some of my favorite methods and products. It’s certain there are more ideas out there - please share your favorites in the comments!
The simplest way to get a small quilt up on the wall is to use push pins, but be careful not to tear the fabric as you push them through your quilt layers. Pati helped her friend, the wonderful Diana McClun, pin up this lovely quilt just the other day.
If your quilt is small, it may not need a sleeve. Here’s a quick and easy way by Sherri McConnell to add pockets to the back corners, ready to tuck a dowel into.
For most other quilts, you’ll need to sew a sleeve across the top of the back of your quilt.
If you’ve ever submitted your work to a show, you’ll be familiar with the 4” sleeve requirement. This allows a good sized plastic, metal or wooden pole to slide through.
In a helpful demo from Fons and Porter, Colleen Tauke shows ways to add a sleeve before or after binding your quilt.
For hanging a quilt at home, the sleeve can be narrower. I often use metal, adjustable cafe rods, skinny curtain rods from Ikea or lengths of wooden trim from the hardware store.
If you make a two-part sleeve with a gap in the middle, you can hang a small to medium sized quilt by simply attaching a metal loop to the center of your wooden baton and hanging it on a picture hook, as you would any other piece of art. Quilter Barb Strick shared with me that she hangs her quilts this way.
With the sleeve and baton in place, it’s up to you if you want to put nails in your wall, or if Command Hooks are a better choice. Be sure to reach for your leveling tool!
Some of my quilt guild friends live in older, high ceilinged homes with picture rails. This gives great flexibility because you can suspend the quilt's cross bar from picture hooks and move the hooks along the picture rail each time you hang a quilt of a different size.
In my home I have a gallery hanging system of a narrow track positioned at ceiling height, with two rods that hang off that rail and have adjustable hooks on them. This arrangement lets me change out the quilt display without repeatedly repositioning nails. The cross-bar I use is a telescoping Räka curtain rod from Ikea with eye hooks screwed into each end.
If your quilt has no sleeve, try a compression bar that snaps onto the top edge of the quilt, with the bar itself attaching to the wall. There are many commercially available but here’s a thrifty article on how to make a compression bar yourself.
If you prefer the hanging method not to be visible, there are several options that use magnets and brackets that use metal bars and grip the quilt through the fabric of the sleeve. I like that these two options both hold the quilt very close against the wall. (Confession: I tried imitating the quilt magnet system by buying stuff from the hardware store but my magnets weren't nearly as strong and didn't have the tacky rubber casing - this quilt has fallen down once too often!)
The Hang It Dang It system also comes recommended by a friend because the pole extends at each end and the quilt hangs from one central point. Again, this allows you to change out your quilts, even if they vary in width.
Now that I’ve overloaded you with hanging techniques, I’ll end with a word of caution:
Consider the wall you’re hanging quilts on. Direct sunlight could fade your quilts if you leave them hanging in place for a prolonged period. For your more valuable quilts, choose a wall that doesn’t get bright sunshine every day. I have a nice large wall in the center of my home, away from bright daylight, which is good. But I need to improve the electric lighting in that area. Spot lights or ceiling cans would really show off beautiful colors and quilting textures to better effect.
Inspired by my fellow quilt guild members whose homes we got to tour virtually, it’s my goal to have a quilt in every room of my home! Wish me luck!
Thanks to the following San Francisco Quilters' Guild friends for their tips: Janis B, Christine B, Lorraine W-L and Catherine S.
PS: But wait! There's more! By happy coincidence, the very same day this blogpost was published, Susan Brubaker Knapp, host of Quilting Arts TV, shared her musings on how to hang art quilts. Read her article here.