Hello all, Shelly here, and it’s time to make a label for your quilt! I like to do this before I piece the backing because it isn’t my favorite part and I’m trying to make myself do it.
Before I get into the how, to I want to talk a bit about why labels are so important to me. The picture above is a perfect example. My husband’s mom brought over a box of old quilts and handmade afghans to see if there was anything we wanted. Of the 10 or so quilts and afghans I really only had any interest in the two above. Why? Because they had a name on them! I think it’s really important to sign and date our work, not only for whoever ends up with it in the future but because I think that quilters are often something a little different than hobbyists or crafters.
My favorite ever quote about quilting is from Michelle Cain of From Bolt to Beauty during an interview with her that I ran across on Leland Ave Studios. In response to a question about how she sees herself she said “I call myself a quilt maker, but sometimes, when no one else is around, I may whisper artist.”
If you feel like a quilter, call yourself a quilter. If you feel like a crafter, call yourself a crafter. And if you feel like an artist, call yourself an artist (whether you need to whisper it alone in a room or you want to shout it from the rooftops). For any of the above I still think labels are an important acknowledgement of the love, creativity and effort you put into every quilt you make.
This is an example of my go to quilt label but it requires a machine that can stitch letters. If you don’t have this you can follow all the same steps but instead of stitching the letters on with your machine you can do hand embroidery (which I haven’t learned yet) or you can use a Pigma pen to hand write your label (I haven’t tried this so can’t speak to the durability of it). I don’t think you need the stabilizer steps for the hand written option but can’t say for sure on hand embroidery.
Quick and easy and looks really nice! So here’s how you go about it:
- Cut a square out of the fabric you’ve picked for your label. I like to cut mine oversized and then trim it down later as it means I don’t have to worry as much about getting things to fit or lining them up just right. I went with 10 3/4 inches for this one because that was the biggest square I could get from the fabric I picked. (Since I really wanted this label to stand out I choose a color that has a strong contrast to the background I’m planning to work on next week.)
- Press this square of fabric on the diagonal to make a two layered triangle shaped piece.pressed
- Cut a square of fusible tear-away stabilizer about ½ smaller than the square you cut out in step 1
- Cut the square of fusible tear-away stabilizer on the diagonal so you have a triangle shaped piece.
- Unfold your pressed square of fabric from step 2, lay it down according to the directions that came with the stabilizer on one half of the square and fuse it down.
- Using your favorite marking tool you can draw a few guide lines on your triangle to help you keep the lettering straight. I did this by figuring out how many lines I was going to need a spacing them out pretty regular (about one per inch) and making a vertical mark that I could use to line up my starting place.
- This is VERY IMPORTANT, don’t forget to unfold your square before you start stitching. If you do you’ll either have to start over or you’ll have a quilt label with the stabilizer left in (ask me how I now this).
- Pick out and set up some thread that contrasts well with the fabric you choose for your label. I went with black.
- Now you can line up the interfaced side under your machine and start stitching out your letters. I had a panicky moment here where I ran out of bobbin thread but was lucky enough that it was between two words and my eyeballed lining back up worked out fine. So make sure you’ve got plenty of bobbin thread to avoid this.
Tadaa! Since I was using a light colored fabric I used a Frixon pen to draw my guide lines for the lettering. I’ve experienced ghosting with dark fabric so would advise another alternative in that case (maybe blue painters tape or chalk).
I’ll walk you through how to attach this label while you’re doing the binding but the basics are that when you machine stitch your binding down you pin this label onto the corner and just attach it with your binding and then you hand stitch the folded edge down after that.
Yay! Happy label making and quilting this week!
I second all sentiments from Shelly! Labels are so important… and I’m so bad at getting them done! So I definitely agree you should get started early on your label and then you won’t forget or come to the end and be like ‘oh forget it, I’ll label the next one!’
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to sign your quilts! I typically hand stitch mine, so let me take you through how I do it.
I really like the corner label like Shelly describes above, but you can use any size or shape for your label. One really neat thing to do is use an orphan block from the pieced top.
For this label, I’ll just be using one layer of regular cotton fabric. I cut a way oversized square and plan to trim it down when done.
- Mark out with the marking tool of your choice what you want your label to say. You have the option here to use cursive, or otherwise fancy lettering. But remember, anything you write or draw, you have to later stitch! Make sure you use a marking tool that will last for a little while (in case it takes you a few days to get it stitched). To be honest, I almost always use a mechanical pencil or an ink pen. Here used an ink pen.
- Cut an 18 inch(ish) length of regular embroidery floss and separate 2 strands.
- Thread these into an embroidery needle – I do recommend specifically an embroidery needle for this – why? Because the thickness of the needle and size of the eye makes for easier stitching – easier to pull through without too much “popping” it through and also easier to position your stitches.
- Tie a small knot in end of your thread. Or, if you are familiar with other handstitching like cross stitch or traditional embroidery, you can leave a tail that you’ll bury in your future stitches on the back. This is up to you.
- From the back, bring up your needle through the spot you want to start. It’s usually easier to start from left to right, just like you’re writing. I think my brain works better this way!
- Go back down through about 1/8th of an inch away from where you came up and pull it through.
- Now, come back up along that same line another 1/8th of an inch away from where you went down.
- Next, you’re going to go back down sort of next to and slightly under the first stitch you made. Use your needle to push the first stitch over just a teeny teeny bit. When you pull that through, the two stitches will sort of wrap around each other.
- Continue making stitches like this. On straight lines, you can go a little longer with your stitches if you want. You can even do one stitch per line if you feel confident – but note, those may or may not get a little loose over time, just keep that in mind.
- When you come to stitching around curves, the key is the shorter the stitch the better. I suggest going even smaller than 1/8th of an inch – like maybe just a few threads away each time. Here you can see the first few letters of mine.
- One last tip on hand stitching curves, sometimes you need to move the previous stitch over with the tip of your needle to position it into the curve. And then actually go down into the thread of the last stitch. Like this:
Here’s a shot of the first couple words done on my label to show the detail on how to get around curves and when it’s acceptable to do a longer straight stitch (like in the ‘v’).
Hi there. So…a label. When I started quilting, I didn’t label anything that wasn’t going to someone. Fast forward 9 years, and I have started labeling. Most. Not all.
I love love love creating quilts. I love touching fabric and buying fabric and imagining ideas and then building those imagines into an actual quilt, my very own design! Labeling a quilt is at the end, way far back in my creative process. Do I love labels? No. They are like an “ooohhhhh heck this is so boring” category. Do I want to make them for every quilt? Nope! But will I try? Ummmmm, sure! I think it’s a great practice, but at the end of the quilt room, it’s your quilt. Make a label. Don’t make a label. Eat peanut butter and jelly sammichs on it. Wrap your grandbaby in it. Roll your cat up like a taco in it. But do, do, do, make that quilt.