I start with the finished measurement of the quilt edge where the casing will be added and the size of the bar/rod/rail that will be inserted into it. The requirements for the Lake Metroparks Farmpark Quilt Show call for a 4" sleeve -- normally, I use a narrower sleeve but I'll use this size as an example for my math. I actually make a separate sleeve/casing, so I need 4" plus 2" for the headers (6"). I double that (12") and add 3/4" for seams. The fabric I cut for this quilt is 49" (the width of my quilt) by 13".
After finishing the two short ends with a quick hem, I fold it in half lengthwise (like a hotdog bun) with right sides together and stitch about a 3/8" seam.
At the ironing board, I press the seam flat, then turn the casing right side out and press the tube while rolling the seam to the back side of the casing. It runs horizontal across the middle of this picture. (It's easier to roll the seam to the back side than to try to press it straight along the top or bottom edge -- can't tell you how many years it took me to figure that simple trick out!?!?)
At this point the tube is about 6" wide (the math worked!!).
Before attaching it to the quilt, I topstitch two rows approximately 1" from each fold making the sleeve into a casing.
And here I am stitching off the casing onto my current hexie by machine project -- no wasted time here!! By the time I finished making the casing, I had added two more hexagons to the motif!
At this point, the opening for the rail that will be inserted when the quilt is hung for display at the show is 4" wide and the rail should go through smoothly without touching my quilt. That's one of the reasons I do it this way.
Now it's time to center the sleeve/casing on the back of the quilt and pin it into place for stitching. It's important to be sure the sleeve/casing is horizontal on the quilt and attached to the correct edge!! I like it to be about 1" shorter than the edge of the quilt on both ends so that the rail doesn't extend past the edge of the quilt.
Time for the hand stitching! I use the longest double strand of thread I can manage and a stitch I learned back 40 years ago during my tailoring courses -- the catch stitch.
As you work towards the left edge of the quilt, the stitches form a criss-cross design.
Stitch both the upper and lower edges of the casing this way and -- Ta-da!! It's ready to go the show committee on Wednesday!
Two other reasons I prefer this method is that if I want to remove the sleeve, it comes off quickly and doesn't leave any marks. I also feel that it puts less strain on the top edge of the quilt.
In the morning, since I don't live in a pet-free zone, I'll take the quilts somewhere and roll the sticky thing all over it until I can't find a single cat or dog hair on it!!
The next finish is in progress . . . . . sort of . . . . .