As I mentioned in the post “Quilt Labels—Because You’re Worth It,” I had the honor of giving a presentation to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild recently about quilt labels. In that first post based on that presentation, I shared my thoughts on why quilt labels are important and what to consider including on them. In this post, I’ll share five different methods for doing the writing on your labels.
The earliest quilts that are labeled were simply embroidered. I like labels embroidered directly on the quilt because they’re so integrated into the quilt. And it’s really a fairly permanent way to label. Below is one of my first quilts where I’ve embroidered my name and the date in a matching color, so it’s barely noticeable. If you don’t want the label to detract from your quilt design, this is a way to do it.
In this example, my mother, Rose Doyle, embroidered her label right on the quilt, but incorporated it into the quilted design.
Because I hadn’t embroidered a label in a while, I decided to make a sample to see how long it would take. The sample below took me just under an hour to embroider.
Unlike quilt makers in the past, we have tools at our disposal to make writing easier. Like permanent pens. The type of label I most typically make is one that I simply write on with permanent pen. Micron pens and even Sharpies are permanent and won’t bleed. The label below is one that I wrote, sewed print fabric around the written part, and appliquéd it to the quilt.
To write on fabric, I find it’s easier to iron the fabric onto a piece of freezer paper to make it more stable. I sketch lines to follow using my wonderful Chaco Liner and include a centerline to try to keep things looking nice. Below I’ve also added a rubber stamped image, again using permanent ink, to indicate it was a baby gift. If you have a collection of rubber stamps, look at them with a fresh eye, and see if any can be used to spice up a quick quilt label.
You can even get a rubber stamp made with your vital information on it and then you can just add a date as you finish each quilt. Here’s a link to a stamped label that I found on the Flickr group Quilt Label Fun. I love that she uses a regular old date stamp for the date.
Printing on Your Computer
You can also print your labels on your home computer printer. This isn’t my favorite method, because I struggle making it look the way I want. But it can be fast and effective once you get the method down.
To make sure the ink won’t bleed, you can purchase special fabric that’s meant to be printed. Read the labels carefully to make sure you’re purchasing the fabric that will work best for your printer and desired method of washing. You can also pre-treat regular fabric with solutions like Bubble Jet Set that will prevent the ink from bleeding.
To feed the pre-treated fabric through the printer, many people again use the freezer paper method, ironing the fabric to the freezer paper and feeding it through the printer. It works best to cut the fabric/freezer paper to a size your printer will recognize, but that can be as small as index-card size.
On the rare occasion that I print a label on the computer, I print the label on regular paper first, use Scotch tape to tape my fabric over the printed words, making sure there’s enough fabric around it for seams, and then I send it through the printer again. My printer gets a little smudgey, so it’s usually the second attempt that works the best. I printed this clothing-style label that way, putting a piece of interfacing inside the label to keep it a bit stiff before sewing it into the binding. This type of label is super easy and quick for pieces that won’t be getting a lot of wear and tear, like wall hangings.
Printing Fabric Professionally
Finally, you can go to someplace like Spoonflower and have your own labels printed onto fabric. If you have a blog or business logo, you can incorporate it into a label that has some blank room for the quilt specifics. Julie Herman, of Jaybird Quilts, has a great tutorial for setting up label files for printing on Spoonflower on her blog. Here’s a sample of a label printed at Spoonflower from the Quilt Label Fun Flickr group.
Finally, here are a few more label examples to inspire you, all of which use one of the five writing methods mentioned above.
My mother has a nice stash of store-bought labels that she writes or embroiders on. You can find these labels at most fabric stores. Many of the designs are traditional, but you may find ones that speak to you.
In this sample, Mom had a busy back going on already, so her quilt label fits right in. I love that when she noticed she had a bit too much white space on the right side of the label, she simply attached three simple squares with a line of stitching down the middle to fill in the space.
In this sample from the Quilt Label Fun Flickr group, the label information is handwritten on a print fabric. Here the printed fabric is doodly, so the hand-doodled label information fits right in. These are just a few of the many examples of different labels at this Flickr group, so head over there for more inspiration. And don’t forget to add your own labels to the group, too!
A huge thank you to my mother, Rose Doyle, for the quilt labels she provided. She’s an amazing quilt maker, and I hope to feature the fronts of some of her quilts in an upcoming post.
Thank you, too, to Heather Jones and the other women at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild who contributed to the conversation after my presentation and helped fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.