Making Quilt Labels
Review our tips for labeling quilts before you get started. If you wish to make a quilt label block, scroll down to find two ideas.
Quilt Label Tips
Preserve the heritage of your quilts for future generations while expressing your creativity with labels.
Here are some ideas for what to include on the label:
- who made the quilt
- the quilt pattern name
- date and place where it was completed
- whom the quilt was given to
- the occasion, such as a graduation, retirement, or anniversary, that prompted the making of the quilt
- care instructions
Here are some ideas for making a quilt label your own (see more here):
- Draw or embroider the words and add embellishments, such as vines, flowers, or French knots.
- Incorporate one or more extra blocks from the quilt top into the label.
- For a framed finish, bind the label edges like a mini quilt. Sew leftover binding from the quilt around the label edges, then turn the binding over the edge to the wrong side. Hand-stitch the bound label to the backing, taking care not to stitch through to the top.
- To ensure a label can't easily be removed from the quilt, stitch the label to the backing fabric and quilt through it.
Printing by Computer
To print a quilt label directly onto fabric using your computer, look for printer fabric sheets, which feed into an ink-jet printer, in fabric and quilt stores. Or prepare your own fabric using a fixative, such as Bubble Jet Set 2000, to ensure the printing will be permanent.
First print the label on paper to ensure the design and words appear as desired and there is room for seam allowances. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for printing, peeling off the paper backing, and setting; then trim the label to the desired size.
To create a custom label design, use word-processing, desktop-publishing, scrapbooking, or label-making software to combine text, photos, and clip art.
Tracing by Hand
Make sure the design you want to trace is dark enough to show through your fabric, or locate a light box or bright window on which to work.
Lay a piece of fabric over a paper printout of the label. With masking tape, anchor the fabric and the paper to your writing surface so they won't shift.
Using a fabric marking pen, trace slowly, drawing a steady line. Darken the lines by tracing over them again, or add color with permanent-ink pens or brushes.
Here are 8 tips for writing on fabric:
1. Choose a smooth-surface, 100%-cotton fabric. Permanent ink pens perform better on all-cotton fabrics than on blends.
2. Select fabric in a color that allows the ink to show. Avoid white-on-white prints because the pattern is painted on the fabric rather than dyed into it.
3. Prewash your fabric (cotton fabrics usually contain sizing, which acts as a barrier to ink penetration).
4. Purchase pens that have permanent ink and are made for use on fabric. A fine point (size 01, .25 millimeter) writes delicately and is less likely to bleed as it writes. Lines can be made thicker by going over them more than once. For larger letters or numbers, a size 05 (.45 millimeter) pen works well.
5. Test the pen on a fabric sample, then follow the manufacturer's directions for setting the ink. Wait 24 hours for the ink to set, then wash the sample as you would the quilt. The extra time it takes to run such a test will pay off in years of durability.
6. If you don't care to use your handwriting or just want to ensure nicely spaced letters, type your words using computer software. Adjust the size and spacing to fit your label size; space out letters a little more than normal to allow for the width of the marker tip. Print out the words onto paper and trace.
7. Practice on fabric scraps first. Write slowly and with a lighter touch than you would normally use when writing on paper. This allows time for the ink to flow into the fabric and lets you control the letters.
8. Stabilize the fabric and create guidelines for words with freezer paper. To do so, cut a piece of freezer paper bigger than the label. Use a ruler and a thick black marker to draw evenly spaced lines on the freezer paper's dull side. Press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the fabric's wrong side with a hot dry iron. After marking on the fabric, peel off the freezer-paper guide.
Add a Quilt Label By Machine
Jody shows you a quick and easy method to sew a quilt label on when you sew on your binding. See a video of this technique here.
Make A Signature Quilt Label
This 6" block is a great way to incorporate favorite fabrics from your quilt top into a customized quilt label.
From solid white, cream or tan, cut:
- 1--2x4-3/4" rectangle
From print No. 1, cut:
- 1--3-7/8" squares, cutting it in half diagonally for 2 triangles total
From a print No. 2, cut:
- 2--1-7/8x4-3/4" rectangles
- 1--3-7/8" square, cutting it in half diagonally for 2 triangles total
From freezer paper cut:
- 1--2x4-3/4" rectangle
Create Signature Strip
1. Center shiny side of a freezer paper 1-1/2x4-1/4" rectangle on wrong side of a white, cream or tan 2x4-3/4" rectangle.
2. Use a black fine-point permanent marking pen to sign and date fabric side of prepared strip, making sure you don't write in the seam allowances, to make a signature strip. Remove freezer paper.
Assemble and Finish Signature Block
1. Sew print No. 2 rectangles to opposite edges of signature strip (Diagram 1) to make a block center. Press seams toward print. The block center should be 4-3/4" square including seam allowances.
2. Referring to Diagram 2, sew print No. 2 triangles to side edges of block center. Press seams toward triangles.
3. Sew print No. 1 triangles to top and bottom edges of block center to make a label block (Diagram 3). Press seams toward print No. 1 triangles. The block should be 6-1/2" square including seam allowances.
4. Turn under 1/4" seam allowance on each edge. Hand stitch label block to quilt back.
Make A Foundation-Pieced Quilt Label
Even if you only have bits and pieces of fabric left from the quilt top, you can make this 4" square label block to personalize your quilt. Download the Foundation Pattern here.
From solid cream, cut:
- 1--3x5" rectangle
From assorted prints, cut:
- 6--3" squares
From downloadable pdf (here), cut:
- 1--Foundation Pattern from paper
Assemble Foundation-Piece Block
1. For one block you'll need one solid cream 3x5" rectangle (signed, if desired); six assorted print 3" squares; and a foundation paper.
2. With wrong sides together, center area No. 1 of a foundation paper over a 3" square (Diagram 1). Remember, this and all subsequent pieces should cover the area within the lines plus 1/4" beyond them. Hold fabric piece No. 1 in place with your fingers, a pin, or a dab from a glue stick.
3. With right sides together, place a second 3" square under first square, aligning raw edges (Diagram 2). With right side of foundation paper up, stitch on line between areas 1 and 2, beginning and ending a few stitches beyond ends of line (Diagram 3). Trim seam allowance to a scant 1/4". Press second square open, pressing seam toward area No. 2. Trim pieces to about 1/4" beyond lines around areas 1 and 2 (Diagram 4).
4. With raw edges aligned and right sides together, position a solid cream 3x5" rectangle under first two pieces. (Signature on solid cream rectangle should be upside down and facing right side of first two prints.) Stitch on line between areas 1, 2, and 3 (Diagram 5). Trim seam allowance and press solid cream piece open. Trim solid cream piece to about 1/4" beyond lines around area No. 3. Add remaining assorted 3" squares in numerical order, trimming and pressing as before, to make a block (Diagram 6).