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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 1ยฝ”-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 (58)

Welcome to a Bank Holiday edition of Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. Published a day late this week due in part to a rush to finish a quilt and a trip to the seaside. More of these two in a mo… But first, a reminder that this is an opportunity to enjoy a virtual sewing day so bring along your project(s) and share in the conversations and inspiration doing the rounds of the Worldwide Quilty Community. Please do leave your links and reactions in the comments box at the end of this page. Thank you!

My newly finished quilt travelled with us to Eastbourne and joined us on an early morning walk along the promenade.

Eastbourne Diamond Chips (4) by Allison Reid

Eastbourne Diamond Chips (4) by Allison Reid

Rewind a few days to view a chronological progress of the quilt in the making:

Diamond Chips leaders and enders by Allison Reid
Leaders and Enders growing into blocks on my design wall
Diamond Chips border and binding by Allison Reid
After auditioning fabrics from my stash I surprised my conservative self by going with black and white gingham borders and shocking pink binding! I even added a couple of strips of the pink into the top and bottom borders!
Diamond Chips marking quilting lines by Allison Reid
I used the 30 degree line on my ruler and masking tape to mark out the quilting lines. (The 30 degree line is lying on the right hand edge of the pink binding).

I decided to quilt straight lines 5″ apart and at an angle of 30ยบ to create a diamond grid across the quilt. I’m pleased with the effect and the soft drape of the finished quilt. The quilt is called ‘Diamond Chips’ – thinking of the little pieces of fabric being facets catching light just as diamonds do (fanciful I know but I can’t help myself!).

Diamond Chips finished by Allison Reid

Diamond Chips label by Allison Reid
A label attached to the pieced back.

We are in Eastbourne enjoying not only the sea air and pre-breakfast walks along the prom but also the gifted Bible teaching given by speakers at the 11th annual Bible By The Beach conference. Don Carson is the ‘headline act’ and we trying hard to absorb his teaching as well as the teaching we’ve received at other seminars hosted by churches across the town. We came last year so it’s been easier to get orientated and settled second time around – we’ve been very Anglican in our habits and are even staying in the same guest house (not the same room/pew though!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

My blog reading has been a bit curtailed due to time spent finishing the ‘Diamond Chips’ quilt and having a weekend away from home but here are some links into the Worldwide Quilting Community that I hope you will find of interest:

Keeping with the scrappy theme: here is a link to a free tutorial by Allison Harris. Her Strips and Squares Quilt looks to be a great way to use up scraps and leftover fabrics ๐Ÿ™‚

Cindy has made a sweet baby quilt. It’s the way she has quilted meandering feathers around the patchwork design that really caught my attention… Lovely!

I do so enjoy being part of the on-line quilting community. Reading blog posts and sharing my quilting ups and downs gives me a lot of pleasure. I had an unexpected bonus waiting for me in my email inbox today – I won a pattern by Myra Barnes of Busy Hands Quilts ๐Ÿ™‚ The pattern is calledย  ‘Boundless Beauty’and is the one I requested if I should happen to win the give-away. Myra will shortly be hosting a Quilt Along of one of her other patterns called Jelly Roll Waves. I can see I will be making both….

Chela uses little pieces of fabric, fmq and threads to make journal pages and portraits. She’s looking for books and tutorials that give guidance on how to make fabric faces. Perhaps you could help with some suggestions for her?

Patty over at Elm Street Quilts shares her Top Ten Notions for Hand Piecing. Lots of useful tips and advice to be found there.

Linking my finished quilt with Michelle’s Brag About Your Beauties, Beauties Pageant.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

 

Dashing Stars – a finished quilt

Wahoo! I’ve finished the Dashing Stars quilt just in time to join other quilters in the new linky hosted by Cheryl, Favorite Finish Monthly Link Up.

Dashing Stars hanging in the hall by Allison Reid
Dashing Stars brightening up our hallway.

Dashing Stars is a quilt designed by Viv Poon, owner of my local quilt shop, Purple Stitches. We used the pattern to teach the recent Beginners Course at the shop. It provided a great introduction to rotary cutting and piecing – building from making simple squares to four-at-a-time flying geese. Last Saturday, in the last session of the course, we made and added binding to our quilts.

Here is a slightly bashful Beginners Course participant with her first ever patchwork quilt – a very satisfying moment for pupil and teacher alike ๐Ÿ™‚

Dashing Stars student quilt by Allison Reid

I usually make a quilt alongside the classes I teach. I find this the easiest way to have samples at the ready, also working on the quilt at the same pace as the class helps me to give tips and deal with snags in a timely fashion. Here are some photos of my finished Dashing Stars quilt. (Thanks to my long-suffering Husband for being the quilt stand!)

Dashing Stars finished by Allison Reid

Dashing Stars label and binding by Allison Reid

The quilt is named ‘Dashing Stars (2)’ as it is the second version of the quilt I have made – the first is the sample kept in the shop. I decided to use some strips of the extra wide backing fabric for the binding. I machine stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and then machine stitched it down on the front. The backing, the 100% cotton wadding and all the feature fabrics were purchased at Purple Stitches.

Dashing Stars binding detail by Allison Reid

You can read more about the zig-zag quilting design I stitched across the quilt here.

The next Beginners Course starts on 1st June. The week before, on 25th May I’ll be teaching the Scrap Buster workshop. More details in the Workshop section of this blog (button on the bar at the top of this page).

Happy stitching!

Allison

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (51)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. I hope you have had a good week and you will have time for a some creativity over the weekend. Bring along your project(s) and share in the latest quilty conversations across the Worldwide Quilting Community. Do use the comments box at the bottom of this page to share your projects and add your thoughts and reactions to what has inspired you and caught your attention this week.

I’ve been busy preparing for the third class of the Beginners Course at Purple Stitches. This, the penultimate class, is all about basting and quilting. I’ve pin basted my Dashing Stars quilt ready for the quilting demonstration.

Dashing Stars (2) basted by Allison Reid

I decided it would be a great idea to use another quilt top to demonstrate basting. I could have picked any number of completed quilt tops from my UFO pile but no, I chose to use the #scrappytripalong2019 – the blocks needed to be sewn together, borders measured and stitched in place, the wadding cut, the backing fabrics chosen and pieced together… Oh! And a label made too! Well! It may have been a good idea… But…It took me all day Thursday to piece the top and faff about putting the backing together. Thankfully I had a piece of Quilter’s Dream Poly wadding just slightly larger than required. I pushed through, not only making the label but also machine stitching it to the backing ๐Ÿ™‚

Blocks stitched together and borders added.
Backing for Scrappy Trip Along Quilt by Allison Reid
#scrappytripalong2019 backing
Label made and stitched in place.

I’m really pleased with the pieced backing. It looks so simple yet it took me well over two hours to select the fabrics, cut them to size and stitch those l-o-n-g seams! I had a thoroughly satisfying day moving on the #scrapytripalong2019 blocks from the design wall to having a quilt top ready for basting although it really struck me just how long it takes to make a quilt! I guess when we make a few blocks here, a few blocks there and complete a quilt in our ‘free’ time we very quickly lose track of just how many hours it takes? I was amazed how the hours ticked by that day and by my consistent underestimating of how long it would take to complete each step!

We have a houseful of guests this weekend so my sewing room has morphed into a guest room. Once home from Purple Stitches I’ll be turning my hand to some hand stitching ๐Ÿ™‚ As luck would have it I started a little Blackwork bookmark project on Monday at our monthly craft group.

Blackwork bookmark by Allison Reid Elizabeth 1 wearing Blackwork by Allison ReidI like Blackwork, I first learned it as an off-shoot of cross stitch (my go to craft before I discovered patchwork). Blackwork (essentially filling stitched outlines with repeating patterns stitched in running stitch) has a long history and was particularly popular in Tudor times. Look at this portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, her sleeves and the bodice of her dress are covered in Blackwork. I found this portrait in a great book by Becky Hogg, published by the Royal School of Needlework in their Essential Stitch Guides series.

And moving smoothly (or should that be ‘seamlessly’?) into this week’s links:

I read in the March edition of ‘British Patchwork & Quilting’ magazine that the Royal School of Needlework have published embroidery courses online. Find out more at www.rsnonlinecourses.comย 

Christa Watson has been sharing how she plans out the quilting designs she stitches over her quilts. This is a really comprehensive guide given as a guest post on Amy Smart’s blog, Diary of a Quilter.

Shannon Brinkley loves to talk fabrics and colour. In this blog post she explains the virtues of ‘monochromatic prints’.

Bobbie’s post has lots of handy piecing tips. She shows us how to make the first block in a sewing themed mystery quilt. The first block is a sewing machine.

If you are in the USA and could be inspired to create a quilt to donate to one or other of the charities supported by Hands2Help you can find out more information from Sarah at her blog, Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Bernie gives a moving description of the work carried out by a hospital Palliative Care Team and the use they make of donated quilts.

Happy Stitching!

Allison