Thursday, January 09, 2014

Label Label Label!!!

squiltz: Quilt labels -cute ideas for them

How important is labeling your quilt?


I can’t say it enough. 

As a passionate lover of antique and vintage quilts, how often I come upon a beloved quilt in my travels with “maker unknown” attached to the price tag or the display information ---who were these unknown quilt makers?

While here at my Dad’s we started talking about things we remember.  He’s got a quilt I made him over 20 years ago.  HUGE variable stars –I recognize scraps in it from early early on in my quilting life – some of them being from clothing I made when I was first dating The Hubster – so I can safely say this quilt is between 1985 and 1990.  I can pinpoint in my mind the house I lived in and where I sewed when I was making it.

It’s not a great quilt.  It was before I really knew better, assumed broadcloth meant cotton – and  ended up with a poly/cotton backing on it that was a nightmare to machine quilt on what I am guessing at that time was a $100 Riccar ---

There is no label on this quilt.  ***hangs head in shame*** At the time I didn’t think it was important enough, that it would be used up to shreds and leave nothing for anyone to remember anyway –but the next time I come I am going to label it.

I have three quilts that have come down from my Grandmother’s side of the family --- and when she gave them to me, even SHE didn’t remember at the time who made them, whether it was her grandmother, her aunt or whoever ---within just a couple generations the history is lost.  I never knew the quilters-past who made the quilts that now live in my collection.  I only know that those who came before me, ahead of me in the family line of quilters, appliqued those leaves, pieced those squares and triangles, quilted that cross hatching by hand ---and left no label.

Maybe they thought their quilts would be used up until there was nothing left and it wouldn’t matter.  But it does to me.

So here I am with some label ideas for you!

MarksQuilt 015-001

The first one here is my go-to label.  I don’t even have to know what I’m going to write on it….It is just a square of fabric, any size square will do depending on how much info you want to write on it ---this one I believe is 6-1/2”.  Simply fold the square in half. pin it in to the corner of your quilt, and sew it into the binding on two sides. 

Only one side needs to be hand stitched down, and that is easily done while you are stitching the binding down.

I keep a stack of folded and pressed squares near my machine --- when I’m putting a binding on, on goes the label.  This is the label that went on the back of Mark’s healing quilt. More info on that in this post HERE.

And then I went searching – to see what other ideas I could find that might inspire us all to LABEL!!

Word play quilt back - Fun idea - could be embroidered on

Scrabble Letters!  How awesome!  I have to say I really hate pinterest links that don’t link to the actual post you are looking for – this one only lead to the main address of http://www.cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.com/  I’d link to the post where she talked about the quilt label if I could find it, but the link only took me to the most recent post at the top of her blog.  But isn’t this a great idea?

Quilt label idea

Curved Bias Quilt Label by Seams Likely!

This is a really cute idea, and less obtrusive than the folded triangle label I showed above.  It has cute possibilities!

Handicrafty Sisters: More Boy Quilts - quilt label idea

Denim Pocket Repurpose from HandiCraftySisters!

LOVE this idea!

Labels - Love this idea

Dress up a label with mini blocks and parts!

These adorable labels are found in Like Mother, Like Daughter: Two Generations of Quilts by Karen Witt and Erin Witt, published by my own publisher, Kansas City Star!

Think about what you can do with leftover blocks and units from the quilt itself –use them up in creating a one of a kind label!

It doesn’t matter WHAT you do – in a pinch, and when the backing is plain enough to show the writing, I’ve written directly on the quilt back itself…there is no removing the label that way!

Even if you think your quilt is “not good enough” to worry about a label….

Even if you think that it will be used up with the loving and there will be nothing left for future generations to worry and wonder about….


I’m off to the airport shortly.  My journey home begins.  I’ve had a wonderful two days with family, so very important.  Now I’m ready for my own bed, my own kitchen, my own place!

North Carolina, I’m coming home!

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  1. Safe trip home! Thanks for the great label ideas!

  2. Have a safe trip, glad you had the family time. I have only completed 2 quilts but didn't label them. I have now printed labels and will hand stitch them on to the quilts one when I visit my MUM, she got the second quilt my DH got the first (to take with him when he works away so he is always wrapped in my love). They may not be masterpieces but they are important to record!

  3. You converted me to the importance of labels a few years ago. Your "go-to" label is now my "go-to" label. I have a stack of squares in various sizes, always ready to grab and stitch in with the binding. They may not be fancy, but they do the job without a bunch of fuss. By the time I get to the binding, I am usually through with fussing. : )
    Safe journey to you!

  4. I make labels with Printed Treasures. I use Microsoft Publisher to "typeset". I put in usually one or two photos and the words in between. With 1 small photos on each end they usually end up 2" X 4" or 5". I always include in the wording washing instructions in a one liner, pattern name, maker name, who for, date, city and any other relevant information.

  5. Thank you for such a timely reminder and showing so many ways to accomplish this important task. So glad you were able to snuggle under the quilt you made your Dad 20 years ago, visit with Mark and be with family. Safe travels home and relax with a cup of Licorice Spice tea. Pinkie up!! Hugs, Allison

  6. I am guilty of not labeling on quilts that I know will be "loved to death." I always wonder what type of pen to use that will stand the test of time. Will a pigma pen do it or should I use something else?

  7. Myra McFarland11:23 AM EST

    Guilty as charged, your honor. I have labeled only a couple of "special" quilts that I gave as wedding presents. I will do better. Really. Promise.

    I couldn't find a photo to share, but I have seen labels on the binding. These were made with the alphabet function available on many modern, computerized machines. No need to attach anything separately. Unfortunately, my circa 1955 Singer 306W isn't this smart.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  8. http://www.cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.com/2012/09/11-months-later-larss-drunken-dragons.html

    HEre is the scrabble tile one!! I love it!

  9. Marge Krempl12:14 PM EST

    Thanks for some neat ideas for labels. Labels seem so easy so then why do they seem like a pain at the end of making a quilt? Will do better this year. Glad you spent time with your brother and dad. Hope you feel rested after your marathon here in Dallas area.

  10. Thank you for this! I'm horrible at labeling mainly because I don't like the way they disrupt the back of the quilt, and I don't like writing on the binding either. I love, love the bias strip curve label, and will definitely have to adopt that wonderful idea.

  11. I need to make labels for my older quilts. I put them on ALL my quilts. I take pictures of the labels on the quilts too. Handwritten is ok and I put all the stats on the inside and date and recipient on the front of the Triangle. I learned this when I was on the STASHBUSTERS Yahoo group. Travel home safe!

  12. Thank you for the wonderful ideas. On my older quilts I used to write directly on my quilt backing, with a permanent pen. I have no idea whether they have stood the test of time, as many were given away. But I am taking the time to make labels now. I do still write my name and year on the back somewhere, in case the label should come off from washing :-)

  13. Anonymous2:26 PM EST

    With the first quilts I have made, rather than making a separate label, I have simply quilted my initials and the dates into the design. The most recent one also has a 'posh' label, but I have decided to keep with the quilted initials for all of them.

  14. Bonnie, a couple years ago I went back and labeled every quilt that I failed to put one on. I also documented the quilt in a notebook and listed the location of the quilt or who I gave it to. If you make alot of quilts like some of us do, it would be real easy to forget about one until you go to look for it and cannot find it. Also, if you have multiple homes and a business this also helps.
    You can also purchase quilt labels from the local quilt shop and ebay has them.
    Paula in KY

  15. Anonymous5:52 PM EST

    Like many other quilters I've been haphazard about making labels for my quilts but I think I will look at it differently now and here is why. Our son adopted his fiancee's five year old son this year. I gave our new grandson a quilt to commemorate the occasion so I added a label with the adoption date, his new name and signed with love by Nana and Grandpa. We've been told that he insists on sleeping with his quilt every night with the label by his head so he can read it. Sometimes the smallest things have a big impact!

  16. I'm guilty of a few quilts with no labels. Didn't realize how important it is at the time.

    How about making a label for your quilts from grandma with that information not sure if it's from this one that one or maybe this relative. They're all in the family and at least you have a starting point of family instead of no clue at all. It's all from the family and still in the family. That's a story right! Good luck and Save travels!!

  17. Thank you for sharing these really neat labeling ideas! I always have a hard time coming up with a label for my quilts, and up until a couple months ago, never used to label my quilts. This is so informative for me, that I shared a link to it on my personal FB page as well as my business FB page. I just LOVE these ideas! I've tried Googling quilt label ideas, but never find anything that really sticks out to get my attention. I am so glad that I'm a follower via email and got this post in my inbox this evening. Again, THANK YOU!

  18. Great labels! I like to make my labels part of the quilt backing and quilt them into the quilt - makes it a bit more permanent! I love using extra pieces from the front for the label. Safe travels home!!!

  19. Irony.

    I posted tonight about Labels on the blog as well while sitting and thinking about all the quilts around the house that are "getting used," but are lacking labels.
    And now after catching up on my daily blog reads...with a little chuckle, V'iola! Here's your post too!

    I'd love to say 'great minds think alike' -- but I don't know if I can ever come near to the pedestal I place you on. THANKS for being amazing!!!

  20. I like to label my quilts as well. That being said I ran into a sad set of circumstances this Christmas. I was giving kids quilts through our local community 'angel tree'. Although they wanted washing instructions on them, I wasn't allowed to put my name on them as the maker, nor the child's name that it was going to, not together mention I wasn't to even know who got them! I will be speaking with the coordinators and see if this can be changed before next year. If not I may have to rethink my labels and somehow get more info onto them or find another place to give through. Safe travels home, Bonnie.

  21. I, too, have learned to label every quilt I make plus I added labels to the one and only quilt my mom made back in the mid '30's and also labels to the quilts of my grandmother's that were made mid 20'-30's. Wish they could talk and tell stories of the times.

  22. Thanks for writing this post on labels. One thing I was wondering is whether people also label quilts that they donate. I am planning to make some charity quilts this year and was wondering about this.


    1. I label mine, if they let me. (see my post above). Personally, I would think it beneficial to label with makers name, date, etc. as well as a line that says "this quilt belongs to______" where the recipient can add their name with permanent ink. Also it's nice too include the reason for the quilt, i.e. after anatural disaster, for Christmas, etching. These are my thoughts, afterall these quilts are just as important as any others we make.

  23. I have to admit that I never label my quilts, I keep a log and pictures and even a scrapbook with all the information. I have made several New Year's resolutions to go back and label all the quilts that I know where they are, but have never done it -- maybe this year I can at least start with the ones I finish this year and start working backwards ...

  24. Thanks for the reminder to label our quilts. I'm guilty like others of not labeling my early quilts. Sometimes I use a Pigma pen and write the info on the actual backing fabric of a table runner or baby quilt or the inside of a quilted bag. If the backing is scrappy sometimes I will print out the label on the inkjet printer, go over the info with the Pigma pen, and insert the label as a part of the scrappy back.

  25. This is so wild! I actually came to your blog today to find some label ideas for a quilt I designed that has now become the logo for my business!!
    How do you identify the quilts you have designed, to differentiate them from the thousands of duplicates that we make from your patterns?
    Thank you for your inspirations.

  26. Anonymous10:13 AM EST

    Just a suggestion, belonging to a Quilt Study Group, we come across a lot of quilts with no names or Mrs.So-n-so. By putting your maiden name on the lable, This way researchers have a familey to start with. example-------Jane Smith Doe.

  27. Loved this posting. I sometimes use my machine's lettering capabilities to just add my name and the date on simple things like table runners and pillows.

  28. Want some good looking fonts? They are on our computer already!!!!

    My on fabric hand writing is terrible. When you use the fonts, type out the label in WORD 9(r even an email to yourself) and print it out. Trace OVER the printed "label" onto whatever fabric you choose. Works very well, honest.

    Smiles, JulieinTN

  29. Love that bias stem label. Funny thing is I tend to label quilts I give away, but not the ones I keep :)

  30. Anonymous11:17 AM EST

    Your blog has put the "life" back into my quilting time. Thank you so much.


  31. I label ALL my quilts - who I made it for, why, where they live, when I made it, my name, my city and state. I use iron on fabric and my ink jet printer. Sometimes as add a photo or a relevant picture. The quilts I labeled with perm pens I noticed the labels are really fading. What pens do you all use?

  32. I know I'm late to the party (God, how I miss Blogger's Reader!) but I came across the link to this post fom the one you did about the lost Round Robin Quilt. I am fortunate in that I started quilting late enough that I read about doing quilt labels in one of the first quilt magazines I subscribed to so have always believed it to be a "must do".

    I'd add one other label option: piece a light colored "blank" (or tone-on-tone) strip into the backing for your quilts that can serve as "the label area" and you can write on later when the quilt is done and quilted. As you have observed, the label can be considered another place to add a little creative touch to a quilt. Have fun with it!

    Even though I always intend to label my quilts, the only ones still not done are the ones that needed to have a label attached afterwards. The good news is that is currently only 5 out of almost 60 quilts made to date and is something I want to complete before this year ends.

  33. Wow -- I'm so honored that you chose to include my Scrabble label in your post! I actually embroidered additional "label" information, including my full name and date, on the front of the quilt (that post is here: http://cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.com/2012/03/machine-embroidered-quilt-signature.html) and I posted about how I did the Scrabble label for the backing in this post: http://cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.com/2012/02/invisible-machine-applique-check.html. I appliqued it to the backing prior to quilting, and then used a bobbin thread that matched the Scrabble fabric when I did the machine quilting. By quilting through the label, no way it can fall off or be deliberately removed. And I used a black Pigma pen to make the off white thread disappear where it crossed over the black Scrabble lettering. Thanks again for including my quilt in your post, and for sharing so many other great ideas for quilt labels!

  34. Just wanted to add one thought to this discussion. Quilt theft is an unfortunate reality, especially for those who ship their quilts off to shows, or to college students in dorms, military, etc. If you put your label on the quilt PRIOR to quilting, it deters theft because the label cannot be removed from the quilt without ripping out all of the quilting stitches in that area. If you applique the label to the quilt AFTER quilting is completed, it's much easier for someone to remove the label intentionally. Of course writing directly onto the fabric of the quilt backing with permanent ink is another way to ensure the label information remains with the quilt forever.

  35. I was involved with a quilt documentation project a few years back that was a horrendous task. Many of the quilts had the potential to have come to the area via covered wagons, etc, but there was no way to know for sure unless they were labeled. So sad to see so much lost history. Labels aren't for the present, but to provide history for the future.

  36. I know this is a really old post, but labels are important. I was looking for some help about applying a label after the quilt is bound and found this one. I did a search and found the original post for the scrabble letters on the back of Lar's quilt that you shared and wanted to post it for anyone who is interested in pursuing it.


    It is a clever way to add a label. Thank you for all of your label suggestions.


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