When Victoria, the chairperson of the education committee at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, asked for suggestions for topics a few months ago, the first thing to pop into my head was “quilt labels.” In the couple months that I’d been attending the guild meetings, I had noticed that a good number of the fabulous quilts at show-and-tell didn’t have labels. So last night, I gave a presentation to the CMQG on quilt labels, and I’d like to share the information from the presentation with you in this blog post and the next (titled “Quilt Labels—Tips and Inspiration”).
Now, I’m not an expert on quilt labels. My simple hope with the presentation and these blog posts is that those of you who don’t do labels will consider it and that those who do put labels on your quilts will come away with a few new label ideas.
I titled this blog post (and the presentation) “Quilt Labels—Because You’re Worth It” because I believe that to be true. I’m consistently blown away by the quality and creativity of the quilts at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild show-and-tell and all around the internet, and I truly believe that every one of those quilts deserves to have a label that tells the story of the quilt and its maker. I believe that someone in the future is going to want to know who you were.
Some people see a quilter labeling a quilt the same as an artist signing a painting. But to me, it’s even more important for a quilt to have its maker identified. Because a quilt is so much more than a painting. It doesn’t just hang on a wall. A quilt is a wonderfully usable item in a home. It’s something that brings beauty and warmth. A quilt brings comfort. And whether you can believe it now or not, it could very well be wrapping people in comfort and warmth more than a hundred years from now.
Right now, your kids and your family know the story of your quilts, and the quilts, I’m sure, are a huge part of their lives. But in the next hundred years, there will be a generation that doesn’t “get” your quilts. They’ll put those old “blankets” up in the attic, where they’ll sit until another generation comes along and loves them all over again. But by that time, the name of the maker, where she lived, when she made the quilts and why she made them will be lost.
If you have seen many antique quilts, at antique shows or shops, you know that there are so many quilts out there without a story. Quilts that took the maker countless hours to piece and stitch. Beautiful works of art with no record of who made them.
Your quilts don’t need to suffer that fate, though. With simple labels, you can let your descendants have the joy of knowing you—through your quilts. They can follow your creative progression through the dates on each one. They can be as proud of your workmanship and creativity as your family is today.
These future people will have your quilts as part of their lives; give them the honor of knowing you—the person whose time, thought, and creativity went into making them.
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Now I know that once you’ve finished your quilt, you just want it to be done. And adding a label is just one more thing to do. But labeling your quilts doesn’t have to be an involved process. You can put as little or as much effort into them as you like and include as much information as you like. Below I’ve listed types of information you can include on your label. I urge you to consider including the bare minimum of your name, city and date. But there’s so much more you can add that will tell more of the story.
What to include to keep it simple:
- Your name
- Your city and state
- Date finished
For the historical record, add:
- Your maiden name
- Name of the recipient
- Occasion the quilt was made
- Story behind the quilt or fabrics
- Quilt block name or if it’s an original design
- Care instructions for quilt
- Apply your label to the back before you do the actual quilting
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to write, you need to figure out how you’re going to write it. In my next blog post, I’ll share five different methods for the writing on your label and show some inspiring samples, too.