Homemade Quilt Labels – A Tutorial

Do you attach a label to each of the quilts you make? Or maybe you think you ‘ought’ to attach a label but don’t quite get round to it? If you are thinking labels are unnecessary then spare a thought for the next generation in your family or a quilt historian – imagine their disappointment at not being able to confirm who made the quilt and their longing to know when and where the quilt was stitched together. Quilts passed down through a generation or two become a bit like old family photographs: If they are not dated and the names of the people in the photo are not recorded they become difficult to identify and place, a frustrating mystery!

The very first quilt I made couldn’t be declared a finish until a label had been attached. This wasn’t a self imposed rule but the final instruction given by the local quilt group members, Chris and Flip, who guided myself and three or four other newbies through a patchwork quilting beginners course. We were left to our own devices when it came to making the labels. I chose to hand stitch the label for my little quilt. This is – and always will be -the most elaborate and time consuming label I have ever made!

My first quilt, labelled and dated, 2010. In late 2014 I opened this blog. In 2015 I wrote about the history of adding labels to quilts and a little bit about how I was making labels at the time. My technique has evolved over the past five years so I thought I’d share my label making process and hope you will find some helpful tips and ideas in this tutorial πŸ™‚ First I’ll explain the label making method I use then I’ll share several ways to attach a label to a quilt.

Making a label

You will need:

  • A computer and printer.
  • Piece of light coloured fabric – I tend to use calico – 7″ x 5″.
  • Light source – a light box is ideal but a window will do!
  • A fine tipped permanent marker – I generally use a Pigma Micron pen with 0.45mm tip.

I have a quilt label template saved on my computer. I name my quilts and add details such as the name of the designer, my name as maker, where I made it and when. I also make a note of the materials and wadding used along with brief washing instructions – I hope this gives the recipients confidence to stick the quilt in the washing machine when necessary!

The font used is obviously personal preference but do consider how easy/complicated it will be trace onto fabric. I use AR CENA (sizes 28 and 24) and Arial (18).

Once I’m happy with the layout of my label, I print it onto ordinary computer paper – the printed area takes up less than half an A4 sheet. I cut away the bottom half of the paper to make it easier to handle on my small light box.

Time to trace the printed information onto the fabric. As I’ve said I do have a light box so I make use of that but the print-out can be taped to a window to take advantage of daylight back-lighting.

Centre the fabric over the words and tape in place to prevent shifting as you are tracing. Tracing onto fabric isn’t like tracing on to paper. I find short strokes and going over thicker lines several times with my fine marker gets best results. Once finished, lift the fabric away from the light source and check the writing is readable before moving onto the next stage.

Variations: Symbols as well as words could be traced onto the label; space can be left for a handwritten message or signature; and, of course, the label size can be adapted to fit with the quilt size and personal preference.

At this stage I usually trim my fabric label and sew a 1Β½”-2″ border all around it. I like to use leftover fabrics from the quilt top as a way of forming an association between the back of the quilt (where the label will be attached) to the front of the quilt.

Attaching a Label to a Quilt

I use several different methods to attach handmade labels to my quilts. The first two involve adding the labels before quilting.

1 Integrating the label into a pieced backing (this is my favourite method). Adding the label before quilting allows it to become part of the quilt rather than an addition at the end (this also provides ease of identification and some security if the quilt is going to exhibitions and shows).

I tend to add the label to a piece of fabric that will be in the bottom third of the backing. I use seams about 3/8″ wide as I do when sewing the other pieces of the backing together. I press the seams open.

2 Stitching the label to the backing before quilting. If my backing is a whole piece of fabric I prepare the label by pressing a quarter inch of fabric to the back of the label all around to hide the raw edges. Next I pin the label in place on the backing (remembering not to to do this too close to the edge as the backing will be trimmed by several inches when quilting is completed!)

I-Spy Quilt backing and label by Allison Reid

I then machine stitch the label to the right side of the backing using a zig-zag or blanket stitch.

3 Attaching the label to the binding after quilting. I especially like doing this using a broad strip of a label to fit diagonally across a corner of a quilt. Once the lettering is traced I stitch the top and bottom edges of the label together to make a tube. I then pin it in place across a corner of the quilt before stitching the binding around the quilt. The binding stitches attach the label firmly to the edges of the quilt.

As a finishing touch I hand stitch the top and bottom edges of the label to the quilt back to stop them gaping.

4 Attaching the label to a completed quilt (my least favourite method). I prep the edges of the label as in method 2 above but hand stitch the label to the backing once all the quilting is completed and the binding attached.

Dashing Stars label and binding by Allison Reid

I hope you’ve picked up some useful tips from this explanation of methods for making and attaching labels to quilts. Do share your tips and links to other methods in the comments box below. Thank you!

Linking this post with Susan for Midweek Makers, where there’s always an inspiring gallery of works in progress from around the world on view.

Allison

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (109)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. Bring along your projects(s) and enjoy sharing in the inspirational conversations being held across our Worldwide Quilting Community πŸ™‚ Add to the conversations and share links in the Comments box at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

The weather here in the UK has been quite extraordinary. This has been the sunniest Spring on record and the driest May following on from the wettest February. The plants in my garden have never grown so well. Of course after two very dry months in succession the ground is drying out fast. As well as seeing the garden in it’s prime all this sunshine has given me so many delightful early mornings in my sewing room. All Winter long the sun never reaches through the window in my room, then in March the first early morning rays give a slither of gold on the wall next to the window. Now, nearing mid-Summer, the sun stretches far into my room, making it my early morning happy place πŸ™‚

Not that there has been a ton of sewing going on this past week! What with putting the finishing touches to my Four Patch Dash pattern and watering the garden!

Anyhow! I did finish the dark green blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

I’ve made two 12″ blocks for each of the colours along with 1-4 smaller blocks depending on the number of 2Β½” squares I’d cut at the start of the month. I put a block from each month up on the design wall with a colour wheel to hi-light the gaps in the rainbow.

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for June is pink – not a go-to colour of mine but my collection of RSC blocks could do with an injection of warmth, so pink is good πŸ™‚

Finding pink scraps for the June Rainbow Scrap Challenge won’t be a problem!

Here are some links into the Worldwide Quilting Community – all very worthy distractions from your housework!:

Christina Cameli has been sharing some wonderfully relaxing free motion drawing tutorials on Instagram. I’ve come across a few in my daily scrolling and always enjoy them. You don’t need to use Instagram to view the 10 minute tutorials, just click this link. Christina is full of FMQ ideas and demonstrates how to move around a space on a quilt (or a white board!) filling in awkward gaps as the pattern expands.

In last week’s Saturday Quilting Bring & Share I got distracted by a machine binding technique. Laura kindly added a link to a tutorial about binding quilts by Rob of Man Sewing. He shares lots of tips and his favourite binding tools including a ruler – I’ve never seen one of these used before, it could be a game changer if the thought of joining the ends of binding with a bias seam sends you into a flat spin!

Hum! Do you have a subscription with the Bluprint or have a library of classes bought when Bluprint was Craftsy? I have some Craftsy classes which I found really helpful and occasionally dip into for a refresher. Bluprint has announced it is shutting down. There’s a lot of confusion both for subscribers who wonder if access to classes will be lost despite the ‘lifetime’ guarnatee and tutors wondering if they’ll lose the rights to their work. Find out more in this Craft Industry Alliance post – there are a lot of comments!

Rona has some suggestions for supporting local quilt shops even if our budgets have been squeezed by lock-down.

I really like Stephanie’s flower design patchwork block. She’s evenΒ  managed to give her flowers patchwork stems – not an applique stitch in sight!

Finishing with a view down The Long Walk to a rather hazy view of Windsor Castle. Not a random photo but a record of a trip out we made yesterday to meet our lovely daughter and dear son-in-law (first time we’ve seen them since January). Confession to a bending of the social distancing rules as we did meet 2-2 rather than the 1-1. We did maintain our distances from each other and the many other individuals and family groups enjoying Windsor Great Park!

Linking with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for the Oh! Scrap! linky. This week Cynthia has embarked on a new quilt to commemorate 100 years of women in USA having the right to vote.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

 

Baby Quilt Finish and Pattern Release

 

I’m very pleased to have finished the ‘Four Patch Dash’ baby quilt. πŸ™‚ I designed this little quilt with speed in mind – hence the ‘dash’ in the title! The pattern PDF is now available to purchase and download from my Etsy store, AllisonsPatchworks.

The design is fat quarter friendly, using five fat quarters for the four patch blocks with some extra yardage for the borders. Definitely a quilt that can be quickly put together using stash fabrics!

I used a sea creature print fat quarter as the feature fabric of my quilt. The colours in the print helped in the choosing of four plain fat quarters from my stash.

In the pattern I have given instructions to cut fat quarters into long rectangles. These are used to strip piece the four patch blocks. Strip piecing saves a lot of cutting and time and helps with accuracy too. If you’d rather be using up scraps than using fat quarters, there is a cutting chart and instructions for making the blocks using individual squares.

To make the quilt sandwich, I pieced a backing (including the label) and used a piece of soft, easy care Quilter’s Dream Green wadding. To keep with the sea theme of the feature fabric I decided on simple ‘watery’ looking quilting designs. The wavy lines across the four patch blocks were stitched using a walking foot and a 40wt variegated Aurifil thread, 3817. In the borders I free motion stitched a ripple design using a 50wt Aurifil thread, 6724, which blends well with the unbleached calico. I used the same ripple design on a smaller scale to quilt the feature fabric blocks.

The quilt finished at 39″ x 39″ and used 5 Fat Quarters plus a yard of fabric for the front and half a yard for the binding. Backing and wadding were cut to 46″ x 46″ before trimming.

All finished with a blue/green binding. This was hand stitched to the back after my failed experiment with a different binding technique! I will give that technique another try but with wider binding..

Here is the Four Patch Dash quilt in a different colourway:

That’s the story of this little quilt! The pattern is now available as a PDF download from my Etsy store. I’m very happy to provide a 20% discount to readers of this blog as a thank you for your friendly and encouraging support :-). Use the code FOURPATCH or this link: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AllisonsPatchworks?coupon=FOURPATCH

Offer ends Thursday 4th June.

Allison

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (108)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share πŸ™‚ Bring along your projects(s) and share in the generosity and expertise brought to us by the Worldwide Quilting Community. Do join in the sharing by using the comments box at the bottom of this page and by leaving comments on the pages you visit.

At the start of the week I was keeping up to date with my email in-tray. Then I got busy watering the garden and the allotment as well as allowing myself to be driven by a plan to push on with a couple more projects in my sewing room. I did put the final stitches in the binding of the remaining secret sewing project πŸ™‚ The other secret sewing project got the big reveal in this post.

Weekend Projects. As I had to rearrange my sewing room to open out the gate-leg table to use as a surface for basting the small quilt I’m making I decided to take a leaf out of Laura’s book, basting a second quilt while the table was out. I have many more

Read moreSaturday Quilting Bring and Share (108)