Many of the requests we get are for little techniques that make finishing your quilting or sewing project a lot easier; not a job but a joy. One popular request is how to make a quilt label.
When you’re making your quilt label, you want to create what you want to say. Then you want to decide what to put your message on. There are lots of alternatives out there. There are pre-printed fabric labels on which you can write or copy your message.
Your quilt is your piece of art so you want to make sure that you designate the provenance of the quilt in your label: when you made it, how you made it (pieced, appliqued, etc.), the pattern name, if anybody helped you, if it’s hand quilted or machine quilted, who did the machine quilting and obviously a lovely message or anecdote. For instance, on a wedding quilt, you might want to start with an anecdote about being married. Perhaps put the message or anecdote in icons like balloons or hearts. I tend to make my labels their own little story so that it says something about the whole process and the person I’m giving it to. I type and format what I want to say on the computer and then I print it off.
Now find a piece of fabric that you want to use, something that doesn’t have too much going on in the background because you’ll be surprised at how distracting and difficult it is to draw on and to read in the end. So best with tone on tones or textures but definitely give it a test drive first before you make your whole label because you may not like the finished result. Cut a piece of it and use your archival pen to write some words and see if you like the result. Alternatively, you can use a preprinted fabric label.
Cut the fabric down to a workable size. To stabilize the fabric, iron freezer paper onto the back of the fabric, with the shiny side of the freezer paper on the fabric. Put this on top of the paper that has your printed label information, making sure the paper is centred as you would like it, under the label. Tape in place, fabric facing out. (We will call this your “label sandwich”).
To write on the label, you want to use an archival pen because the ink doesn’t bleed and it doesn’t have acid in it which causes yellowing later. The pens come in different colours and different thicknesses. I like the 01 thickness because it is quite fine and you can do a number of things with it.
Now get yourself a light board of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a fancy light board; you can use a glass top table and put a light underneath it, or you can go up to your window and tape the “label sandwich” on the windowpane and let the sun shine through. All you’re going to do is carefully trace the letters onto the label, using the archival pen. You can do the lettering freehand if you prefer. I like tracing what I printed out because it will be centred correctly, and properly spaced, and I don’t have to worry about running out of room.
Now that you’ve written everything on the label, remove it from your light box and carefully pull your freezer paper. You can save the freezer paper as it is reusable.
(You can skip the tracing completely by using treated fabric sheets such as EQ Printables which you can run through your computer printer. Please make sure you print a sample of the label on regular paper first because the sheets aren’t inexpensive. Check on the package to see if you need to use an inkjet or a laser printer then follow the package instructions to print your label.)
Your label is ready to go. How are you going to put this on your quilt? Well, you’re going to take a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing, the lightest weight you can find, cut to the same size as your label. Put it, fusible side down, on top of the right side of your label and sew all the way around. Then trim off your corners.
Cut a little slit in the interfacing and turn the label right side out. If you have one, use a point turner to carefully push the corners out and smooth along the edges. DO NOT IRON because now your fusible side is facing out.
Place the label on one corner of your quilt. Everybody has their own preference of which corner; there’s no right or wrong! Press in place. Don’t pin because you’ll get distortion. Finish off by sewing the label in place with a blind stitch all the way around. Your personal and professional looking quilt label is now done!
Don’t forget to photograph your quilt AND its label. I like to tuck them away in my “Done” binder.