How to make a Quilt Label
Your quilt is finally finished. You’ve pressed the last seam, quilted your last stitch and clipped the last thread. Now you can finally relax and enjoy it, right? Only if the label is on it! A label will tell generations to come the story of this quilt: Who, What, When, Where and Why. It will help identify the quilt should it become lost or stolen, and will increase the value of the quilt at appraisal time.
What should you put on your quilt label? Here are some suggestions.
- If you will be entering it in a show, or traveling with it at all, you should put the your name, address and phone number on the label.
- If you want a specific person to inherit this quilt, put their name on as the owner, maybe with a nice inscription or dedication.
- Why was the quilt made? Is there a story behind the colors, blocks chosen or technique used? Was anything special going on in the world at the time this quilt was made that may have influenced you?
- When and where was the quilt made?
- The name of the pattern, or the fact the quilt is an original design.
- The name of the quilter
- Care instructions
How do you make a label? A quilt label can be as simple as a signature on the back or as elaborate as a heavily decorated two page story. If you only have time for a quick label, just sign and date the back of the quilt with an archival ink (acid free) quality pen such as a Pigma or Sakura pen. Or you could sign embroider, cross stitch or stamp your name and date on the front of the quilt as part of the design.
You can buy labels already made or make your own. They don’t have to be made of muslin, and they don’t have to be square! Use a leftover block for the label, or cut out shapes echoing the quilt design and fuse them to the back of the quilt before quilting. How about two heart shaped labels for a wedding quilt?
To make a fabric label, use muslin adhered to freezer paper to stabilize it when you write on it. Simply iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the back of the fabric. If you are going to decorate your label, you can trace designs through this fabric or run the fabric through your ink jet printer. If you have finished an old quilt top belonging to a relative, here is a chance to put her photo on the fabric of the label.
If you do use a design from a clip art source, or perhaps created in a graphics program like Electric Quilt, be sure to mirror image the design so it comes out correctly. Do a test first. Of course, you can always use your computer to do the border of the label and hand write the interior of the label. If you still have a typewriter, that would work, too! Don’t forget to heat set the design when you are done. Be sure to create a design that allows for a seam allowance.
If you haven’t quilted your quilt yet, consider piecing the label into the backing or sew it on to the backing first. That makes it a very secure label, unable to be removed without damaging the quilt. If the quilting is done, but the binding is not completed yet, you can place two sides of the label into the lower right hand corner of the quilt. That way you can sew those two sides at the same time as the binding and only have to applique the remaining two sides.
If your label is added after the quilting is complete, consider tucking some leftover fabric, or maybe a block, behind the label. Should the quilt ever need repairs in the future, the fabric will be readily available.
The method you use to label your quilt is up to you. Just don’t skip this important step. Preserve your place in history - sign and date your quilts!
P.S. If you have EQ7, you can read a tutorial on using EQ7 to create a label here.