I am busily putting the finishing touches on Christmas presents, including one quilt that needs a label before it can be given away.
I thought I would share how I make my quilt labels. This is not the only or best way to make a quilt label; this is simply the method I use.
When I started quilting, I did not label my quilts. I am a recent convert to the idea of labelling what I make, so much so that I went back and sewed labels for any quilts I had sitting in my cupboard. I would not make a quilt without a label now.
To make a label like mine, you need:
- a computer and a printer (optional)
- a small piece of fabric, either to blend in or contrast with your quilt back. I often use white scraps
- a small piece of very lightweight fusible interfacing (optional)
- a lightbox or a window (optional)
- a fabric marker, 2B pencil or Frixion pen
- embroidery thread and embroidery needle
- regular sewing thread and the usual sewing supplies.
I cut out a scrap of fabric a bit bigger than the finished size of my label and iron a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing to the back. The interfacing is very much optional. It makes the embroidery a little easier, but it does stiffen your label (and, therefore, your quilt). If you do use interfacing, make it the lightest weight you can find.
Step 1: write the text
I start by deciding what I want the label to say and typing it up on my computer. My handwriting is not the neatest, so I like to type the text in my computer, using an attractive font, and print it out to trace it onto the fabric. I then follow the traced lines with my embroidery. If you have neat, elegant handwriting, unlike mine, you will not need the computer.
I usually include the bare essentials in a label:
- the quilt’s name
- the maker’s name
- the year it was finished
- who it was made for.
You can add as many details as you like, such as where it was made, the special occasion it was for, etc. I keep my labels simple because every extra word is embroidered, which takes time! I really like the idea of adding washing instructions, for example, but I have not the patience to sew all that.
Perhaps it is because of my day job, but too often I see spelling and apostrophe mistakes. Get a second pair of eyes to read the text before you trace and sew it. We all make boo-boos, but it is such a shame to realise it only after you have spent ages sewing a label.
Step 2: trace
Once I have the text printed on paper, I use my lightbox and trace the design in 2B pencil, figuring that the embroidery thread will cover any lingering pencil lines. If you have one, a proper water-soluble fabric marker or similar would probably be more sensible. A Frixion pen can also work.
Step 3: embroider
I use two strands of embroidery thread and a small backstitch to sew my labels. You can use any stitch you like.
I learned a clever trick to start your embroidery neatly when using an even number of strands. Instead of cutting your embroidery thread the length you need and separating out – in this case – two strands, cut it twice the length you need and only separate one strand.
Then, fold the thread over double and thread it through the eye of the needle, with the loop or fold as your ‘tail’ end.
Starting from the back of your work, push the threaded needle through the label, leaving the tail loop on the back. When you push your needle to the back again, catch the thread in the loop, securing the end. How easy is that!
Step 4: trim and turn
When the embroidery is finished, trim and neaten your labels so they are ‘square’. Then, turn under a narrow hem for a neat edge.
Step 5: sew the label in place
I use matching thread to sew the labels down. You could use embroidery thread and add a decorative embroidered border to your labels as you sew them on.
Strategic placement of your label can hide a boo-boo on the back.
Of course, you could just grab a permanent fabric marker, write a label and sew it on. That would be sensible and much simpler. Saying that, it is surprisingly quick and easy to embroider a label. Which method do you use?