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Labelling your patchwork quilts

Congratulations! You have made your patchwork quilt.  It is all sewn together, quilted, bound and this incredible feeling of satisfaction and pride creeps over you.  But wait!  There is still one more thing to do.  Have you put a label on it? Labeling your quilt is very important… both for provenance and in case it gets lost it can be returned.

A very basic label should include your name as the maker, who it was made for and the date it was finished.  You might also like to include the name of the designer,  the name of the quilter (if you have had it professionally quilted),  how long it took to make,  and maybe some contact details. You might also like to include why the quilt was made e.g. for a 21st birthday,  and maybe something personal like a quote or poem.

Label with extra info

 Extra information can add value to your quilt

You might also want to say what sort of fabric you used, e.g. I made one from vintage woolen fabrics that were given to me by a friend, or what sort of batting you used. You might like to include washing instructions if you are giving the quilt to a new bride for instance, or a son who is leaving home. If you are making a quilt from recycled materials, you might like to include the finished cost of the quilt – just to prove patchwork quilting doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Because patchwork quilts often become heirlooms, you might also like to include some current information which might be interesting for future generations, particularly if it is like a memory quilt – like the price of various commodities, petrol, bread, milk, car, house, fabric in the quilt etc.  Imagine your great, great grand daughter inheriting your patchwork quilt, and her reading with interest about what it was like in great great grandma’s day.

Labels can be purchased ready made, or you can make your own.  I have made labels from left-over fabric from the quilt, from doily’s, and you could also use pockets from a pair of old jeans, or a shirt, cut out an animal shape for a child’s quilt, or even use a left-over “orphan” quilt block. Be inventive with your labels.

Purchased ready made label

Purchased ready made label

You don’t have to confine yourself to one label – I once used five doily’s for labels on the back of one quilt. I had too much to say, and the doily’s were all so pretty I didn’t know which to choose anyway.  So I just used them all.

Doily Labels

Left over doily’s for labels

Relevant information can be stitched on the label, or printed on with a permanent pigma ink pen, just make sure you test wash the ink for permanence before you sew the label on the quilt – you don’t want to lose the writing the first time the quilt is washed.

Pigma Pen Label

Label written in Pigma Pen

Or you can type what you want on your label on the computer, and then print out your label on fabric which has been treated for printing with an ink-jet printer.  Easy! You can purchase sheets of this fabric from your local Patchwork Store.  I have to print a label for a friendship quilt with about thirty names on it (and I’m certainly not stitching that one!).

Printed on fabric label

Label printed on fabric and in the shape of a puzzle piece

Another useful idea is to sew the label on the backing before you quilt the quilt.  That way the label is firmly attached to the quilt by the quilting and cannot easily be removed without spoiling the quilt if it is lost or stolen.

I know it’s so tempting when you finish sewing down the binding on a quilt, to move quickly on to the next one which you are just longing to start, but do take a moment to label it before you become absorbed by your next project.

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