By Mary Beth Krapil
EVERY quilt you make needs a label. A quilt is not finished without a label. You are the artist and an artist must sign their work. Your label preserves your quilts heritage. The future will thank you.
Quilt labels are easy to make and there are many ways to do it. Basically, a quilt label is a piece of fabric with information about the quilt and the maker attached to the back of the quilt. I like to say there are no real rules in quilting and that certainly applies to quilt labeling as well. Make your label the way you want, put whatever you want on the label and attach it however pleases you.
Some ideas of what you might want to include on the label:
- The name of the quilt
- The reason it was made – special occasion – holiday, graduation, wedding, birth, friendship,
- Topper’s name
- Quilter’s name
- Date and place where it was completed (or maybe even start date if you can remember that far back!)
- Care instructions
The information you include on the label depends, in my opinion, on the ultimate intended use of the quilt. Perhaps it’s a gift or a show quilt or a family heirloom. You would likely put very different things on the labels. It’s important to think what someone in the future might want to know about the quilt.
For a gift, you might include the recipient’s name and if it was made for an occasion like
graduation, wedding, birth, or friendship. Write a special poem or quote or Bible verse to make it personal.
For a show quilt, more identifying information such as a phone number would be good in case the quilt gets lost.
There are lots of techniques you can use to create your label.. It can be as simple as using a piece of plain white fabric or you can get just as creative with the label as you did with the quilt. Here are some examples:
Use a left over block (or make an extra one on purpose) filling in the label information on the lighter or solid parts of the block. If you have no negative space on the block, add a light color border for writing space.
You can purchase fabric yardage that has printed label templates. Simply fill in the information. You can also create labels and have them printed by a company that custom prints fabric.
Or order woven labels, made similar to clothing labels, from an online store with your name and perhaps a logo. This is a great option for those who create quilts as a business, for example T-shirt quilts.
Fussy cut fabric from the quilt to jazz up a label.
Draw a motif from the quilt or add a quilting motif used on the quilt to your label. As a quilter, I especially like this idea!
Or incorporate some design element from the quilt. This quilt had wide ric-rac on the front so Shelly used ric-rac in creating her label.
There are also a lot of ways to actually get the information on the label:
Hand written is my favorite. There’s something romantic about thinking your quilt will be found years from now with your own hand lettering telling your great great grand daughter that you made this quilt.
- use a permanent fabric marker with a fine point (.25mm)
- trace a label printed or drawn/written on paper (helps avoid mistakes)
- use a light box or sunny window for tracing
- tape paper and fabric down to avoid shifting
- iron fabric to freezer paper to make it more stable under the pen
- don’t forget to set the ink, following manufacturers directions
Embroidery is another option. Embroidered labels stand up to washing. No worries if the ink will fade! Hand or machine embroider the label information. Fabric that matches your backing makes it look like it was embroidered on the quilt itself.
Thanks to modern technology there are a lot of other options too.
Use whatever software you have: Scrivener for word processing, Photoshop for illustrating or label making, desktop publishing, to create your custom label. Then use your ink jet printer to print it out.
There are many free printable label templates to download online, then just fill in your information.
You can purchase printable fabric sheets that fit right into your printer. Alternatively, you can treat some fabric with a fixative solution like Bubble Jet Set 2000 which will help the ink to be permanent. Then you must iron the fabric to freezer paper and cut to a size that will go through your printer. Another option is to use Transfer Artists Paper (TAP). You print in reverse on the TAP, then iron the image onto your fabric. It creates a very sharp image. With any of these methods you will want to follow manufacturers directions on how to set the ink to make it permanent.
To finish a printed label it’s nice to sew on a border. A great place to use scraps from your quilt! And the printable fabric can sometimes be a little hard to hand stitch; so the border will help with that.
Remember there are no rules! The label does not have to be square.
So add embellishments like applique or buttons!
The last step is attaching the label. Usually, the label is sewn to the back by hand after the quilt is finished and bound. But if you want to ensure that the label never gets removed, attach it to the backing fabric and quilt right through it.
Or (that no rules thing?) fuse it to the back.
NOW the quilt is finished. And that makes all of us at Handi Quilter happy! Because we are all about finishing more quilts.
Do you have any labeling tips? Please share!