Monday, January 27, 2014

Love those Labels - Aha! Moment Tip #5

This is a topic about which I am passionate.

Why sew a label onto your quilt back?

It's a record of who made the quilt, where it was made, who for, what fabrics (100% cotton for example) what date it was finished, perhaps the reason it was made (birthday, new home, wedding to name a few).  In short it's the 5W's of the quilt, and invaluable to future generations.

I have one antique quilt I bought years ago in a shop in Dunvegan, Alberta.  From the pattern and colours, it is most likely from the 1930s.  However, there is no label, nothing to go by, so unless I get it appraised, which I fully intend to do ONE of these days, I really have no clue about the history of this quilt.  I feel sad about that; the quilt is kind of a lost soul to me.

On my first quilts, I usually hand sewed labels onto the quilt back after I had completed all of the quilting and bound the quilt
See how the label 'floats' on the backing?  And super-easy to remove without a trace

I then wrote a piece for our guild newsletter on the importance of labeling quilts.  When researching the topic, I found a tip to put them on BEFORE quilting so they get quilted and are harder to remove. In the picture below, you can see that the lines of quilting go right through the label. This is one I hand sewed down onto the backing fabric before I layered the quilt.

Micron Pigma Pens, my favourite tool for writing on my labels
A note about the above Pigma Micron Pens: they really last.  I prefer black, but have used both the brown and blue.  This little runner has been washed every year or more since I finished it 12 years ago.  For this picture, I went over my writing, as it had faded a little.  I'd say that's pretty good results for a long-lasting pen! Your LQS will carry them, but I've also found them at Staples too...and just discovered them on Amazon!
Another hand-sewn down label, applied pre-quilting to the backing fabric

Who would remove a label and why?  Quilts are valuable.  Obviously, to the maker and to the receiver, they are invaluable because of the emotions attached.  However, it is a fact that they are worth a lot of money; fabric and batting are not cheap.  Take a look on Etsy and even baby quilts measuring a mere 48" square can be $150 and usually more depending on the intricacy of the pattern and the quilting.

Today, I have progressed to the point where as much as possible, I sew my label as an integral piece of the backing.
This was a little serendipitous on this lap quilt, as I did not have enough of the red/black check fabric, so I had to create a side strip. I was able to work in my label as a piece of that strip!

This way, if someone tries to remove it, not only will they have to rip out the quilting stitches, but they will also have to rip the label out of the backing, leaving a hole through which the batting will be visible.  This would ruin the quilt back, as well as be a lot of work.

Although it's barely discernible, this label IS pieced into the backing

Finally, I have now also progressed to the level of enjoying creating my own labels.  I still have lots of pre-printed ones, and there are many beautiful pre-printed labels available to purchase off the bolt.  However, I am finding I truly do enjoy this added step in the creative process of quilt-making.  :-)

I believe this was my first hand-created label, made from a leftover square in a square from the top. However, I applied it after the quilting, so this one would be a snap to pick off.

One of my favourites that I've created.
There is also the cat label I created for the back of "Merry Cat-mas" that you can see here.  I don't always set out to make my own label, but sometimes the pre-printed ones just don't go with the character of the quilt.  It can be a lot of fun!


  1. I have labels on all my quilts. Except the ones I borrowed from you.



  2. Wow, I didn't realize quilts are so expensive! Other than all the work that goes in them, I guess the materials needed do add up a lot!
    Don't let your hubby know this....if he's hard up for cash he may just jet a few LOL!


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