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How-Tuesday: Make a Quilt Label

Mar 22, 2011

by Julie Schneider

As anyone who has ever stitched, admired, or snuggled with a quilt knows, quilting has a history steeped in resourcefulness, storytelling, community, and warmth. In honor of National Quilting Month, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, Amy Milne, the director of the Alliance for American Quilts, has penned a how-to project and a call for the importance of labeling quilts (and artworks of all kinds) for the sake of staking a spot in handmade history and taking pride and authorship in your craft. Do you have a quilt that holds a special spot in your heart or family history? Be sure to share your story in the comments below.

Note: On Monday, March 28, we will be hosting a mini-quilt Craft Night with Haptic Lab and the Alliance for American Quilts at the Etsy Labs in Brooklyn, NY, with a QSOS interview and demo on Etsy’s Livestream beforehand. RSVP for the workshop here. I hope to see you there!

I have been working as Executive Director of the Alliance for American Quilts (AAQ) for the past five years. The AAQ is a national nonprofit with a mission to document, preserve and share the rich history of quilts and quiltmakers. I came to the AAQ with a background in fine art and textile design.  I’ve always been a maker of things, including sewing and fiber art. I inherited all of my grandmother’s notions and sewing supplies and count them amongst my most important and memory-inducing treasures. I still have and wear many garments made or worn by my grandmother and even have a memoir she wrote about her life. Amongst her things are textiles including quilt blocks and embroidered pieces that I have no clue about — who made them, when, why and how?

My passion for the mission of the AAQ comes from an understanding that objects, like the one in my humble collection, have an undisputed inherent value. They can tell us (and future generations) about our culture, our communities, our families and our everyday lives, and whenever we carefully record and preserve information about these objects and their makers/users we are reinvesting in our culture and our history. The AAQ and its partners want quiltmakers today to know the importance of documenting their work, because we see every day the gaps and mysteries in available records of quilts made by the generations before us. Labeling your work doesn’t just apply to quiltmakers of course; clothing and other textile works with time are usually separated from their maker and if not labeled, no matter how unique, they drift into the massive author category of Anonymous.

Labeling your quilts is relatively easy, but many quilters still don’t take the time to do it, myself included. Last year I helped my son, Clark, make his first quilt. Since it was a wholecloth quilt (two whole pieces of fabric with cotton batting sandwiched in between, then quilted and bound with bias tape), we whipped it out in two days. Clark was proud and excited and the quilt immediately went on his bed. Now, over a year later, I’ve borrowed his quilt back for the purposes of this demo, with a reminder to myself that I am not exempt from this important last step.

 Join me as I walk through one method of making a quilt label.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Permanent fabric marking pen
  • Two rectangular pieces of fabric for your label:
    • A print or solid fabric that coordinates with your quilt
    • Muslin or light colored fabric (cut ½” smaller than print fabric piece)
  • Piece of freezer paper same size as muslin piece
  • Needle and thread 
  • Double fold bias tape (1/2 yard for a 3” x 5” label)

Directions:


 1. Cut out fabric pieces to size based on how much information you plan to put on the label. (The label in this demo is approximately 3” x 5.”)

2. Iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to one side of the muslin piece. This stiffens the fabric temporarily so that it is easier to write on.

3. Write the information you want to include on your label on a scrap sheet of paper roughly the size of your finished label to practice spacing. Basic information includes quiltmaker’s name, date finished, location made, phone number or email address of owner. For other ideas see below.

4. Use the permanent fabric pen and copy the information to your muslin piece. Remove the freezer paper from the back of this piece.

5. Attach the bias tape to the muslin piece by sandwiching the edge of the muslin piece inside the bias tape and sewing through all three layers using a running stitch.

6. Position the muslin piece on top of the coordinating fabric and sew down using a whip stitch. Now your label is ready to attach to your quilt.

7. Fold under ¼” on all sides of the label, finger press and sew to your quilt using a whip stitch.

A quilt made by the Quiltsy Team for the Etsy office. (More here.)

Label Logic

  • If your quilt is washable, then your label should be too. If you use inkjet printables, be sure to follow instructions to set the ink and keep it from fading or washing out.
  • Some quiltmakers hide an additional washable label inside the binding somewhere on the quilt to add an extra way of identifying the quilt if the outer label were to come off.
  • Historians can more easily decipher quilts that have a name and a date. If you want a minimal label, be sure to include at least these two things.
  • Family members can piece together the family history easier when dates, names, locations and other details remain with the quilt, often a long time after the maker has passed away.
  • Consider recording both the begin and end dates for your quilts so you’ll remember how long it took to complete.
  • Lost quilts are easier to locate if contact information is included on the label.

Entry from AAQ’s 2010 “New From Old” contest

Variations and alternatives:

  • Write your information directly on a coordinating fabric, turn under the edges and sew to your quilt.
  • Write your information on a piece of muslin then position a ribbon, rickrack or a row of buttons over the raw edges and sew to the quilt.
  • Buy inkjet printable fabric sheets to print your labels and either sew or iron onto your quilt.
  • Write your information on a wide, light-colored piece of twill tape and sew to your quilt.
  • Embroider your information onto a fabric label and sew to your quilt.

More Quilt Label Examples:

By Robin Smith (my mom) for my birthday

Entry from AAQ’s 2010 “New From Old” contest

By Whimbrella from the Quiltsy Team

Quilt label with 2006 coin by Jane Jellyby

 


By Pamela Quilts from the Quiltsy Team. Tutorial here.

 

Make a Mini-Quilt | More How-Tuesday Posts | Quilts on Etsy

Tell us your quilt story in the comments below!

116 comments

  • shop1848

    shop1848 said 7 years ago

    Such gorgeous craftsmanship!! Adorable labels!!

  • ShibaNgDesigns

    ShibaNgDesigns said 7 years ago

    What a nice idea to draw attention to the quilt labels. My mum is an avid quilter and she always puts love into the label and message for the recipient. I'm lucky to have several quilts from her and this detail on the back is the best part! Thanks for sharing this story.

  • AllysAntiques

    AllysAntiques said 7 years ago

    Great tips, thanks!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 7 years ago

    I have a quilt that's about 100 years old - wish it had a lable. So glad people are adding name and dates - makes it very special. Beautiful.

  • NotYourGrandmasAttic

    NotYourGrandmasAttic said 7 years ago

    I love to make quilts, and I usually embroider my name and the year in a corner. These are great suggestions for labels. Thanks.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 7 years ago

    So cute!

  • BobbinsandBalms

    BobbinsandBalms said 7 years ago

    iv never labelled my quilts before, love these ideas so gonna start from now on.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 7 years ago

    love this! clever quilt labels. :)

  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink said 7 years ago

    Great post! my mom is a quilter and I have many quilts from her. One of my favorite parts of the quilts are the labels she puts on them.

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 7 years ago

    fab! i adore quilts! i'll have to get onto making a patchwork one soon! :) xox

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 7 years ago

    Great tutorial. Thank you.

  • jdavissquared

    jdavissquared said 7 years ago

    Love this! We have a special quilt that was my husband's as a baby. It has his name, birthdate, weight, etc stitched on it. Makes me so happy to think about our future babies snuggled up in it!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 7 years ago

    Love the hang tag!

  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages said 7 years ago

    These are great

  • Whimbrella

    Whimbrella said 7 years ago

    Thank you for a wonderful article highlighting the importance of quilt labels! Just a reminder to those selling quilts in the United States that there is additional information required by law that needs to be included on your quilt labels. Read about it here: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus21-threading-your-way-through-labeling-requirements-under-textile-and-wool-acts

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 7 years ago

    Great article. Thanks for the information included in this article.

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 7 years ago

    Great article. Thanks for the information included in this article.

  • SailThouForth

    SailThouForth said 7 years ago

    Great tip! I love quilts. I have two that my Grammie made for me... Wish she had labeled them, but at least I know she made them.

  • luluhopping1983

    luluhopping1983 said 7 years ago

    Quilts are amazing, I love the way they become heirlooms for generations to come. Must remember to label mine from now on x

  • clubaloha

    clubaloha said 7 years ago

    Very article!

  • btaylorquilts

    btaylorquilts said 7 years ago

    Love this story! It's important to provide a history for your quilt masterpieces. Every quilt has an important story to tell and it's maker should be noted. It would be a nice addition to have a space for owners names to be added to the label, perhaps. Hmmmmm. Thanks for the story again, and happy National Quilt Month :)

  • NeedlesnPinsStichery

    NeedlesnPinsStichery said 7 years ago

    Great article. I try to remember to sign my quilts also. How many times I have completed the quilt and said to myself....."darn forgot to sign it"! Thanks for the info!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 7 years ago

    What a beautiful work ! Thanks !

  • PreppyPeasant

    PreppyPeasant said 7 years ago

    I love the idea of marking a spot in handmade history. Thank you for the beautiful examples of labels and lovely quilts!

  • TerryAskeArtQuilts

    TerryAskeArtQuilts said 7 years ago

    Thanks for a great article. It's so easy to skip this step at the end of a quilting project, but you've identified several reasons why it's so important to do. Thanks also for featuring the Etsy banner made by the Quiltsy team for the Etsy office, and for featuring members of our team.

  • gingeraly

    gingeraly said 7 years ago

    i am always in awe of you quilters! lovely lovely works...

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace said 7 years ago

    what a great article and how tos my grandmother had made over 90 quilts in her life before having to give it up because of age. I am lucky to have received 2 of them. My only wish is that she would have labeled them. My family did put together a book of her works though so I guess that documents them too.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    I love how quilts are part of our history. Signing them gives their origin ! Great article

  • JudiPaintedit

    JudiPaintedit said 7 years ago

    I dont sew, but its good to know as my Mother does.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 7 years ago

    What a great idea to be able to create something that might be in the family for years to come, I do love quilts!

  • MooseCarolQuilts

    MooseCarolQuilts said 7 years ago

    Very informative and good article. Labels are an excellent way to document one's work.

  • dirtygirlclean

    dirtygirlclean said 7 years ago

    adorable...

  • HoneysuckleLane

    HoneysuckleLane said 7 years ago

    I have a butterfly quilt that my mom made for me when I was a kid. She made her own templates and hand appliqued all the pieces. I wouldn't trade it for the world! :)

  • CashmereJewels

    CashmereJewels said 7 years ago

    wow! that is amazing!

  • genisepark

    genisepark said 7 years ago

    Thanks for all the information...good to know.

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 7 years ago

    Thanks for reminding everyone of this important step. Oftentimes, hundreds of hours go into the making of quilts (including some of the quilts in our shop). Documenting your quilt with your own label is as important as a painter or sculptor signing their finished work, too. Thank you for sharing!

  • QuiltLover

    QuiltLover said 7 years ago

    Great Article. Thanks for featuring the members of the Quiltsy Team.

  • AsLuckWouldHaveIt

    AsLuckWouldHaveIt said 7 years ago

    I adore this feature! A good quilt will outlive us all & labels are so important to share the history with future generations!

  • Nishale

    Nishale said 7 years ago

    Great Article!!

  • KathyGDesigns

    KathyGDesigns said 7 years ago

    Beautiful quilts!

  • MagpieQuilts

    MagpieQuilts said 7 years ago

    Great article - lovely quilts!

  • TheQuiltingViolinist

    TheQuiltingViolinist said 7 years ago

    Thanks for presenting all the different options for labeling our work!

  • SacredSymbolStudios

    SacredSymbolStudios said 7 years ago

    It's wonderful to be able to see who had a hand in making a quilt and knowing a bit of information about it! Loved the article.

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 7 years ago

    Great information ! Thank you for showing it .

  • DownHomeDesigns

    DownHomeDesigns said 7 years ago

    Great article with lots of good info. Also, even when you use a permanant marking pen, it's a good idea to heatset it after writing your information on the label. Thanks so much for featuring the work of Quiltsy Team on the Etsy banners. It was a fun project and so exciting to see our work hanging in the Etsy offices.

  • brenniequilts

    brenniequilts said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article! Thanks for all the info.

  • SugarCubeVintage

    SugarCubeVintage said 7 years ago

    i have a beautiful old baby quilt my grandmother made me, wish it were signed....

  • makerandmaker

    makerandmaker said 7 years ago

    The label makes all the difference! I can vouch, there's nothing better than a quilt.

  • JasmineLund

    JasmineLund said 7 years ago

    Love those creative ideas!

  • mylovelysunshine

    mylovelysunshine said 7 years ago

    Loved the article! I understand now the importance of the label.

  • ArcSquare

    ArcSquare said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring! Thank you Julie! I'll try that.

  • silversamba

    silversamba said 7 years ago

    love this!

  • robertacummings

    robertacummings said 7 years ago

    Ah quilts! My new favourite thing! :)

  • tanyabond

    tanyabond said 7 years ago

    Thank you for this WIP!!!

  • uniquelynancy

    uniquelynancy said 7 years ago

    Fun and informative!

  • OriginalsbyLauren

    OriginalsbyLauren said 7 years ago

    wonderful, love to see these type of how to's, thanks

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the article!

  • ThoseThreeWords

    ThoseThreeWords said 7 years ago

    I have a handmade quilt that was given to my husband and I as a wedding gift--it's without a doubt one of the most used and cherished gifts we received. The wonderful lady who made it for us didn't put a label on it though--but after reading this tutorial, maybe I should make one and put it on. It's definitely special enough to have one! Thanks for the helpful and inspiring info.

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 7 years ago

    I have always loved quilts and did make one for my parents on their 35th anniversary. I bought material to make one for myself last year and am hoping to find the time to make it before the summer. Quilts go with home and a give a comfort unlike anything else. The tags are a wonderful idea!

  • KathyKinsella

    KathyKinsella said 7 years ago

    Great information for all quilters.

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin said 7 years ago

    adorable great instructions!

  • UniquelyYoursbyCil

    UniquelyYoursbyCil said 7 years ago

    Quilts are beautiful - I love the tags idea!!!

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 7 years ago

    Some great ideas in here, I didn't know there were so many different ways to sign a quilt!

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 7 years ago

    Lovely quilts.

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 7 years ago

    Especially vintage quilts. The newer ones are nice too.

  • MoranArtandQuilts

    MoranArtandQuilts said 7 years ago

    Awesome! And love the quilts!

  • 52chief

    52chief said 7 years ago

    Thanks for posting this, it has inspired me to label my quilts!

  • Marsena

    Marsena said 7 years ago

    wonderful work!!!!!

  • AiliMcKeen

    AiliMcKeen said 7 years ago

    Labels should not be able to be easily removed by unscrupulous persons. I recommend quilting through the label.

  • vail6641

    vail6641 said 7 years ago

    I NEED SOME SUGGESTIONS. I HAVE ORDERED FABRIC PENS/MARKERS, I HAVE BOUGHT THEM AT HOBBY LOBBY AND JOANNS FABRICS. NONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN WHAT I EXPECTED. THEY DO NOT WRITE ON MUSLIN OR ANY OTHER FABRIC THAT I HAVE USED WITHOUT ANY BLEEDING. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT TYPE ARE SOME OF THE BETTER BRANDS. PLEASE HELP.

  • sarah1ashley2

    sarah1ashley2 said 7 years ago

    I made a quilt with my sisters, daughters and niece. We had a picture taken as we worked on the quilt. We printed the picture on material, along with a picture of my Mom. We used this as our label. So future generations will not only know the names of the quilter's, but they will also be able to see who we are. Love the other ideas for labels.

  • dixneuf

    dixneuf said 7 years ago

    Yes, please PLEASE label your quilts! As a volunteer in the curatorial department of the MN Historical Society, I can't tell you how much easier cataloging and curating a piece is when we have a little basic info to go on. A name, a date, a location are all an important piece of a quilt. You never know where your handiwork may end up in a hundred years!

  • JewelsbyTrish

    JewelsbyTrish said 7 years ago

    Awwwww.....so cute!!

  • glusk

    glusk said 7 years ago

    It's touches like these that can make something handmade even more special! One of my aims this year is to give quilting a shot and I'll definitely pop a little label on.

  • picklehead

    picklehead said 7 years ago

    love this! I just recently finished my very first quilt and It never occurred to me to label it, so thank you!! :)

  • stitchingbevy

    stitchingbevy said 7 years ago

    Often our "crafts" are not treated as works of art that they are. You should sign everything...leave your "makers mark" with pride and elevate your handmade piece into ART! Women's work, like quilting, was always looked at as utilitarian; just serving a purpose. These women were artists, so attach a label to an heirloom and give it the status it belongs. Those stitches tell important stories and lessons to be passes along. A great article on Labeling your hard work.

  • HisBlessings

    HisBlessings said 7 years ago

    My mother-in-law and her sisters are blessed with the gifting of quilting. I am so blessed with many beautiful quilts. They all label their quilts, and you are right, this IS very important to do.

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 7 years ago

    awww! So adorable. I love quilts.

  • HoweyHill

    HoweyHill said 7 years ago

    How long does it take you to make a quilt? would love to make one but we're scared it could take years...

  • monogrammedeverythng

    monogrammedeverythng said 7 years ago

    Love it, making one for my son's teacher as an end of the year present!

  • khowardquilts

    khowardquilts said 7 years ago

    Great article and lovely quilts.

  • tabbe

    tabbe said 7 years ago

    oooh! a label is what's missing from my quilts! love the tutorial and all the examples shown! thank you!

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 7 years ago

    I love all the labels, but the tag one is sooooo great!!!

  • Nussotextiles

    Nussotextiles said 7 years ago

    Please call us or email us at batts@nusso.com or you can also visit our website http://nussopillows.com/batting.htm s we will direct you to a distributor of quilt and craft batts in your area.

  • monamivie

    monamivie said 7 years ago

    I was literally just thinking about how to make a quilt label for a gift two minutes before logging on to Etsy and seeing the tutorial! How timely, thanks so much :)

  • KristyLynnJewelry

    KristyLynnJewelry said 7 years ago

    Love the labels, beautiful quilts!!

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 7 years ago

    so nostalgic ;)

  • forgottenstore

    forgottenstore said 7 years ago

    I love it!

  • LaventimeDreams

    LaventimeDreams said 7 years ago

    Wish my old quilts had labels too!

  • SensoryFelteds

    SensoryFelteds said 7 years ago

    Thanks for this tut - I'll put it to good use!

  • CinfulOldies

    CinfulOldies said 7 years ago

    Wonderful. Love these Quilts!

  • JoJosArtisticDesign

    JoJosArtisticDesign said 7 years ago

    I've been looking for ideas on label making. Thank you so much for providing these lovely examples. The quilts are simply exquisite.

  • ByBethany1990

    ByBethany1990 said 7 years ago

    The bunny on the scooter is classic!

  • AnotherPersonsView

    AnotherPersonsView said 7 years ago

    I can’t wait to attempt to start on my adventure into this side of art form of comfort, and what to me would be a great way to make something to family wouldn’t expect. I have quilts that have been passed down all the way from my great great great grandmother. It is amazing how well they preserve if kept correctly, and the stitching in the few I have from my great x’s 3 and 2 mother are so detailed.

  • AnotherPersonsView

    AnotherPersonsView said 7 years ago

    Stitchingbevy I agree with you heavily it is an art from and a skilled craft. It’s odd how people slide what you do, learn, or enjoy into a male or female section. I attended Cosmo school so that I could add to my credentials for photography. It was quite the experience at first, but after they figured out I have a son I’m raising it was ok. It’s paid off in photography for hair style, cuts, color, make-up and the best of all don’t get caught up in gender only side of things.

  • catiques

    catiques said 7 years ago

    Great learning experience and tips. Beautiful work.

  • RomanceCatsAndWhimsy

    RomanceCatsAndWhimsy said 7 years ago

    Love the labels!!

  • ApplewoodHandwovens

    ApplewoodHandwovens said 7 years ago

    Great information... Thanks!

  • AlphabetCityStudio

    AlphabetCityStudio said 7 years ago

    I'm just getting started on quilted and it didn't even come across my mind to label quilts. Thanks for the info and suggestions!

  • CreativeZen11

    CreativeZen11 said 7 years ago

    That's such a cute idea...thanks!

  • tweetysnest

    tweetysnest said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the info. Beautiful quilts and labels.

  • KnitADream

    KnitADream said 7 years ago

    Those are really pretty labels. They are as artful as the quils!

  • IndianMoonmoth

    IndianMoonmoth said 7 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • jiang888

    jiang888 said 7 years ago

    I inherited all of my grandmother’s notions and sewing supplies and count them amongst my most important and memory-inducing treasures. Microsoft Office 2010 Professional

  • jiang888

    jiang888 said 7 years ago

    Amongst her things are textiles including quilt blocks and embroidered pieces that I have no clue about — who made them, when, why and how? Microsoft Office 2007

  • PoetryofObjects

    PoetryofObjects said 7 years ago

    The green star quilt is just gorgeous! I love the color and the complexity of this quilt. The labels are exquisite...show off worthy! Nice story.

  • IfThreadsCouldTalk

    Jackie OBrien from IfThreadsCouldTalk said 5 years ago

    I have an Etsy shop where I make custom machine embroidered quilt labels, check me out at If Threads Could Talk

  • Susiartquilts

    Susi Soler from Susiartquilts said 5 years ago

    Thanks to Amy Milne for keeping "label your quilts!" in our faces. We often forget. To those who commented that they wished Grandma had labeled their quilts...do it now...at least put a label with grandma's name and where she was from on the back of your heirloom. Its too easy to lose photos and journals documenting the quilts. If they are labeled (and I now put a second hidden label on mine) they are right there with the quilt. Join the Quilt Alliance--great group to belong to and they have an amazing quilt contest every single year that anyone can enter!

  • QuiltNutz

    Treese Pflum from QuiltNutz said 4 years ago

    I have been advocating quilt labels for years and just recently saw and article on using QT codes on labels to link to the online story/history of a quilt. Since I photograph all my quilts and often the process, this is worth looking into for future projects. I also use my HP printers to make custom labels....love the new technology! Keep the ideas coming.

  • My Homepage said 4 years ago

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  • My Homepage said 4 years ago

    ... [Trackback] [...] There you will find 70880 more Infos: blog.etsy.com/en/2011/how-tuesday-make-a-quilt-label/ [...]

  • jlmmom3

    Jamie Peschka from DragonflyCraftings said 3 years ago

    Cute ideas!! Thanks!

  • jlmmom3

    Jamie Peschka from DragonflyCraftings said 3 years ago

    Cute ideas! Thanks!

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