How to Make a Quilt Label
How to Document Your Quilt with Quilt Labels
Many people have purchased quilts at an antiques store or auction and wondered about the story of the quilt. They want to know who took the time to lovingly make a quilt. They wonder whether it is an antique quilt or a reproduction of one. They want to know where it was made, and why. Unfortunately, all of this information and history is lost, simply because the quilt maker did not bother to label her quilt.
Why should you label a quilt?
When you are excited about finishing a quilt, sometimes putting a label on a quilt seems like too much work, because you are anxious to move on to the next project. Labeling a quilt is quick and easy. It helps you remember when you made something When the quilt is inherited down the generations, you and your quilting talents will be remembered.
Sometimes it feels like labeling a quilt is pretentious, like you are declaring yourself to be an artist or some kind of creator. Well, if you make a quilt, then you are one, and you shouldn't feel shy about identifying yourself as one. Besides, you can think of it this way. Would you feel bad about putting your name on a book you lend to a friend, or a CD you take to a party, just so they remember who it belongs to? The label just gives a provenance, a history of the quilt. And just imagine the relief some people might feel reading a label and finding out that this ugly quilt wasn't made by their grandma! Even if you keep the quilt at home, it is very helpful to to help you remember. You can simply look at a label to find out when you made a particular quilt.
How do you make a label for a quilt?
Creating a label is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The simplest way is to take a fabric pen and sign your name directly on the quilt either on the front or the back. Most people generally put the label on the back to avoid interfering with the design on the front. If you sign the hanging sleeve, you can ensure that the pen will not bleed through the front.
You can also quilt your signature in if you are doing free motion quilting, or add some stitchery by machine or by hand.
Most quilters prefer to make a quilt label on a separate light piece of fabric and attach it to the back of the quilt. If you do this, it is generally recommend that you add it before quilting, so someone can't take the label off and claim the quilt as their own.
- You can use an embroidery machine to put your information in a nice design.
- You can make a quilt block, or use an extra one that mirrors the design on the front, and use that as a label.
- You can print a label using your computer complete with picture, and typed information. You can use photographs, or drawings to enhance your labels. Tags designed for scrapbooks make great quilt labels.
- You can write your information on a separate piece of fabric and attach it to the back. If you don't like your own writing, simply ask someone else to write it.
What kind of information do you put on a label?
The most important pieces of information to add to a label, of course, is your name, and the date you finished the quilt. If you remember the exact date, use that for the label, but if you don't, use an estimate. A month and year, or even a year by itself is better than nothing. Since you made the quilt, your estimate is likely to be a more accurate one than an estimate by someone many years later.
My Quilt Labels board on Pinterest has many examples of additional quilt labels that can serve as inspiration for your next quilt label.
Other facts that are fun to include, especially if they are noteworthy are:
- Name of the quilt
- Where you made the quilt (city and state)
- Who it was made for, and their relationship to you, and maybe their city and state
- Wash and care instructions
- Who helped you with the quilt
- Where did you get the pattern, or idea for this quilt
- Anything unusual about the fabric - (made from grandma's clothes, etc.)
- Who quilted it
- Why you made it, was there a special occasion?
- Your age when you finished it
- A photo of yourself
- your favorite quote
- Number of pieces in the quilt
- How long it took you to make it - the starting date as well as the ending date
- Any secrets you have hidden in the quilt
- Any symbols on the quilt and what they mean
I think the more you say the better it is for historical purposes, but even if all you do is write your name on the backing, it will provide valuable information for yourself and others who may eventually own the quilt.
How do you attach a label to a quilt?
You can put a fusible material on the back of the label, like Steam-a-Seam2 and press it on the back of the quilt. Or you can sew it on by hand, being careful to make sure the stitches do not show on the front of the quilt.
An easy way to attach a label is to sew it into the corner of the quilt. Just fold down the two sides that will not be hidden in the seam allowance. Baste two of the sides to the corner about 1/8 inch from the edge before applying the binding. Stitch the remaining two sides of the label by hand when you are hand sewing the binding.
Another way to avoid hand sewing a label is to take a five inch or larger square piece of fabric and fold it in half diagonally. Baste the raw edges into the corner, and put your information in the resulting triangle. Be sure to write well away from the part that will be covered by the binding. The triangle label does not need to be sewn down, although you may want to sew it down if you are making a baby quilt. You don't want the baby's hand or foot to get caught in the label. These triangles can even be used to hang a small quilt. Add a triangle to each side at the top, and insert a dowel rod. The dowel rod can then hang on a nail or hook on the wall.
There are so many ways, and they are so easy, you have no legitimate excuse to not have a label on your quilt.
Adding a Quilt Label to Your Quilt
Adding a quilt label is quick and easy, but it really provides valuable information for you and future generations. When someone buys your quilt at an antique store, they will think of you, and know who it is that made this gorgeous piece of textile art.
Remember, a quilt is not really finished until it has a label.
© 2011 Shasta Matova