20 July, 2015

All the Labels

At one point I used to be great about labelling my quilts. I planned and plotted my fancy label, carefully lettering and hand stitching it on. Then I got busier, faced deadlines and snotty noses, and frankly, got lazy. It is time to rectify the situation. I have a lot of quilts missing labels. Or, at most, they only have a name tag on them.



The label of the quilt needs to serve in place of you, the blog post, or the Instagram hashtag. If you've made the quilt well it could outlive you. If it is a gift it could travel to places you couldn't have imagined. The label should allow the story to move with the quilt.

What do you include on the label? Here are the basics I always have:

Quilt Name
Brief description of the why/how of the quilt. That is, who is it for? Why did you make it? Was it inspired by anything in particular?
Pattern credit or original design.
Materials in the quilt - batting and fabric and thread. (Are they 100% cotton or otherwise? Also brand of batting.)
Date the quilt was completed.
My name.

It may seem like a lot, but it isn't too bad. This is what one example looks like.

My preference is to print my label out on the special fabric that can go through the printer. That way I can have it smaller. At one point I used to print the label out on paper and trace it. That was a lot of work! Sometimes it is quick and easy, some notes on a piece of fabric and sewn down. My favourite product for labels is Printed Treasures. It isn't cheap, but I can get 3-4 labels on a sheet, making it more economical. And I've learned, the label looks better if you put it on before you wash the quilt because the Printed Treasures fabric shrinks differently than my quilts.



One thing I was taught early on in my career is to sign my quilts in a secret spot. This is especially a good idea when you are gifting a quilt. Labels can be removed and quilts stolen. For family in nursing homes, kids in dorms or camp, or anywhere there is common access having a secret little spot for a label is a way to identify the quilt if the label gets removed. I've seen people actually make their label before quilting and it is a permanent part of the quilt. Even silkscreening a panel with it and sewing it into the backing! If that isn't your speed, simple sign your name on the inside of the binding. Be consistent on which corner you do it, like lower left. If a label ever gets removed and ownership is contested you can undo a few stitches and your name is visible.

When I updated my goals the other day I should have added 'Making Labels for All the Quilts' to the list. Definitely need that on the list.

19 comments:

Josie McRazie said...

Ive gotten better about my labels. I always label if they are gifted (normally because I am a last minute Nelly and tend to get the gift done in the eleventh hour!!) I also ALWAYS (nit that I have a long arm and do my own quilting) stitch my name in the quilting!!! Normally it is at the bottom left as you look at the quilt. But if I didn't point it out probably I'm the only one who would know!!! (I recently gifted a quilt to my Aunt and she loved the fact that I not only quilted my name, but hers as well!! Its the little things!!)

Suzanne said...

A secret signature is a great idea.

Mary-Kay Colman said...

I try to always label quilts especially gifted ones. I made a heart shaped label for a quilt I gifted to my niece as a wedding gift. And you won't believe what happened. She told me that they were splitting up, apparently he didn't want to be married anymore. Jerk! Anyway, I thought about it and I told her to make sure she kept the quilt and I could take the old label off and make her a new one. She then told me that the label had fallen off (how I don't know) about a week before the split. Karma or what!
Anyway, when you use the Printed Treasures fabric, do you find that the ink runs if it gets wet? I have been finding that if I accidently spritz it, it bleeds like crazy but if it's soaked as in a washer, it runs but more like it faded. What kind of printer do you use and is there a special ink? Any info you could share would be greatly appreciated.

BJ said...

I love the intermittent nudges about labeling our work. I read about secret signing many years ago and I try to remember to do that as I hand sew the binding on, always starting in the same place so it just becomes routine. Hah! I always label quilts that I gift, which is most of what I make. I should get better about doing that for what I keep! Hadn't thought about adding the label before washing, so thanks for that great tip. Guess I assumed that the label soaking after printing would be enough.

BJ said...

I love the intermittent nudges about labeling our work. I read about secret signing many years ago and I try to remember to do that as I hand sew the binding on, always starting in the same place so it just becomes routine. Hah! I always label quilts that I gift, which is most of what I make. I should get better about doing that for what I keep! Hadn't thought about adding the label before washing, so thanks for that great tip. Guess I assumed that the label soaking after printing would be enough.

BJ said...

I love the intermittent nudges about labeling our work. I read about secret signing many years ago and I try to remember to do that as I hand sew the binding on, always starting in the same place so it just becomes routine. Hah! I always label quilts that I gift, which is most of what I make. I should get better about doing that for what I keep! Hadn't thought about adding the label before washing, so thanks for that great tip. Guess I assumed that the label soaking after printing would be enough.

Sondra said...

Great information, thanks Cheryl.

Charlotta said...

I always label my quilts, about the same way you describe. I try, in addition to hand-stitching the labels on, also fusing them to the quilt. That makes them harder to remove, in case a thief tries to do so. For the person who asked about printers, you have to use an ink-jet printer which uses real ink. You cannot use a laser printer or any other printer (or copy machine) which uses toner. Toner will not work. I've found that it helps to heat set it with my iron after printing snd before washing. But it does fade a bit with lots of washings. If I had a fancy embroidery machine, I'd embroider all my labels. But I'm not going to get one, just to make labels!

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Robby said...

For my niece and nephew who were leaving for college, I had a friend machine embroider their names and the dates the quilt was gifted onto a block of fabric. That was incorporated into the back and then quilted into the whole piece. It would take a lot of work to undo it. BUT, I like the idea of signing it inside the binding, too. Thanks!

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