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Help! My Quilt needs a Rod Pocket

Rod Pocket or Hanging Sleeve. Same thing, two different names.

They are the thing at the back top of the quilt that allows you to hang up your quilt on a rod. Most quilt shows require that your quilts have a rod pocket of about 3″ so that they can hang your quilt on the stand crossbars.

4″ is a standard Rod Pocket size. This means it should be 4″ high, and it should go across the width of the quilt.

Single vs Double Layer

Some people do their rod pockets as a tube and then put the tube on the back. This protects the back of the quilt from the wooden / metal rod. If you have loose stitching, a pale colour back or a large (say Queen size or bigger) quilt then this is the best option.

If you have a smaller quilt and it’s just a temporary rod pocket for the show, you can get away with just a single piece of fabric with the sides ironed in as little hems.

No Pins!

Most groups specify no pins. That means no pins. No straight sewing pins. No safety pins. You sew your rod pocket on. Even big basting stitches are better than safety pins. No one wants to give your quilt back to you with torn backing because the safety pins couldn’t handle the weight of the quilt. No one hanging your quilt wants the safety pin to come open and jab them.

When they say no pins, they mean no pins.

Permanent vs Temporary

If you have a large quilt that will be hung in your local show and then spend the rest of its life on the bed, then a quick and dirty temporary pocket is fine. This should be sewn on after the binding is on the quilt and you can remove it afterwards and use it on another quilt.

If you are going to hang the quilt again in the future then go to a bit more effort. Plan ahead and make the rod pocket out of the same fabric as the backing so it isn’t obvious. Pin the top of the rod pocket on the back before you sew your binding. Then when you sew your binding the top of the rod pocket is sewn on at the same time.

Leaving Some Space

You need to allow some “give” in the rod pocket so that there is room for the pole to go in, otherwise the quilt will wrap around the pole and you will see a bulge along the top of the quilt. If you are doing a tube, then you will need to make one side a little larger than the others.

If I’m doing just a temporary single strip of material, I slip my hand flat in the rod pocket to give it a bit of height and pin it down with my hand in there. Very high tech.

Putting it all together

I love this video – she shows how you can make a tube including the give for the pole and shows sewing it on either before or after adding the binding. I don’t bother sewing the hem on the ends of the tube – I just fold ’em under and press them.

Blind Hem Instead

Not into the hand sewing of the top/bottom of the quilt? If you know how to Blind Hem then stitch them using a Blind Hem foot. Fold your quilt back so the little mountains of the blind hem stitch go on the quilt, and the straight bit of the blind stitch goes on the rod pocket. This can be done on either the top or bottom of the rod pocket. I’ve never done this myself – I have a blind hem foot and will have to learn how to use it one day!


If hanging a quilt at home, you can think about putting on triangle corners on the back of your quilt, then the holding rail goes into these corners and the holding rail is held up in the center. Bit like hanging clothes on a clothes hanger.

Two issues with this method:

  1. It will not work at a quilt show as the rods need to stick out on either side of your quilt.
  2. You have to get your hanging rod exactly the right length. Too short and the quilt will sag or the hanging rod will fall out. Too long and you will stretch the fabric and put the stitching under tension.

I prefer the rod pocket myself.

What to Expect at a Quilt Show

Thinking of visiting a Quilt Show for the first time and wonder how it works? Let me guide you through a typical small to medium size quilt show run by a local Quilt group in Australia – at least, on the east coast of Australia. Maybe the folks from Perth could tell us if it works the same over there.


Check the location on Google Maps first. Most groups don’t have a lot of choice in the halls they can hire, so the parking ranges from very easy to woeful. Carpooling with your crafting friends makes parking easier and increases the fun of the visit.

Cash is Queen

Not everywhere accepts cards, and transferring money via direct debit has issues. So take along some ready cash (including your gold coins) and you will get in faster and be ready for all those little things you want to buy.

At the Door

Show entry, food tickets and raffle quilt tickets are being sold at the door.

Common door entry fee is about $5 at most smaller shows. All adults have to pay but mostly little kids will get waved through for free.

Morning/Afternoon Tea and Lunch vouchers are usually here too. To save the kitchen staff having to handle the money you pay for a voucher at the door, and hand in the voucher at the kitchen. Get one as you go in, or come back and get one later. It’s a great way to treat your friend – just buy them their voucher before they have a chance to argue.

See the gorgeous quilt or two behind the folks on the desk? They are the raffle quilts, to be drawn a week or so after the quilt show. Look for the volunteers with little raffle books in front of them and they will be happy to sell you a ticket or 3.

Viewers’ Choice

When you came in you were given a small slip of paper for viewers’ choice. Most smaller shows are not judged, so there are no 1st 2nd and 3rd rosettes being awarded. The visitors get to pick which is the “best” quilt in the show. Each quilt will have a number – write the number down on the slip and drop it in the box on the way out. The maker of the winning quilt will be given a small prize for their great work at the end of the show. It may not be an easy choice and no you can’t vote for more than one quilt. Only one.

Now you have paid and got your viewers’ choice slip, it’s on to the quilts.

Viewing the Quilts

The show floor will be a food-free zone, even if you see the volunteers with a cuppa and a scone. They can’t leave their post to get refreshments so the kitchen folk are running supplies to them at their posts. But apart from that no food or drink anywhere near the quilts *please*.

Walk up and down the aisles looking at the quilts. Make sure you take a step back for the larger quilts – looking too close you won’t see the overall effect of the design.

There will be people wearing white gloves wandering around near the quilts. These folks are the guardians of the quilts – if you want to see the back, or see something close up ask them and they will handle the quilt with their gloves. This keeps the natural hand oils off the fabric. If you have a question about a quilt they will be happy to chat and try to answer the question. They may even be able to point out the member who made the quilt!

Oh and don’t forget, the person who made the quilt might be standing nearby and hear your comments.


Perhaps you espy a set of wallhangings, maybe with a rosette on one? That’s probably the challenge entry, which may be judged. The group members have been given a piece of fabric or a theme and challenged to make a wall hanging with the fabric, or on the theme. As they are small they will often be good examples of art style work with a lot of embellishment and layers, thread painting, etc. As a wall hanging we do not plan to wash them, so we can go to town on materials and techniques.

Retail Therapy

Around the quilts, or in a separate hall or room will be people with tables of goodies.

The Sales Table will have items made by members, such as tea towels, bags, cushion covers, beanies, cards, etc. Great for picking up a gift or treating yourself to something nice. Yes maybe you could make it yourself, but will you?

The Traders are local businesses that will be selling everything from fabric, quilting notions, sewing machines to goat’s milk and jams.

More Raffles

You don’t think they will stop at raffling just the quilts, do you? I told you to bring cash for a reason. There’s often a sewing basket raffle and a gourmet food hamper raffle for starters.

Then there is the shoebox raffle, also known as a penny raffle. You pay for a sheet of tickets and then you tear up the sheet into individual tickets. One ticket on the sheet you keep (they will tell you which one) and the rest you distribute how like into the shoeboxes next to the prizes you want to win. Put all your tickets in one box, or spread them out over a few boxes, however you like. They may be drawn at the end of the show, or at the end of the day and new prizes put out the next day.

Do I need to be present when the Raffles are drawn?

Generally no, that’s why you will be asked to put your name and phone number on everything. They will ring you if you are not present to arrange pick up/delivery. Or it may arrive via Friend Express if you are a friend of one of the members.

Cuppa Time!

After all that you will need to put your feet up and have a cuppa. Out the back or on the side usually will be some tables with some natty tablecloths and decorations. Using the vouchers you bought at the front door go to the window and collect a plate of nibbles and tea/coffee (morning or afternoon tea) or a plate of sandwiches and nibbles and tea/coffee (lunch). Sit down and have a chat with your friends, quietly look through your purchases or make a new friend.

And so farewell…

Quilts seen, raffles entered, money spent and sugar boosted, it’s time to leave this little patch of quilt heaven and enter the real world once more. Don’t forget to make sure you pop your viewers’ choice in the box and find out if the next show is planned for next year or two years’ time.

Looking for a quilt show to attend? Check my list of shows for South East Queensland.