A Comprehensive Guide to Quilt Labels

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Do you sign your quilts? On the front or the back? Not at all? When reviewing the 2000+ responses to our quilt label survey we learned things about labels we didn’t even know to ask! 

Some feel a quilt label is a record preserving the legacy of quilting, the history of a family, the journey of a quilter. Others feel the quilt must leave the hands of its creator and make its own way in the world with no mention of how it came to be.

Quilters use labels to tell the quilt’s story, remember loved ones, include a prayer, share words of wisdom, instruct on quilt care, and so much more.

The information included here shares the ideas of these quilters, their advice, experiences, and ideas. 

The preferred methods for making quilt labels beginning with the most popular:

  • Use scraps left over after piecing the top
  • Fabric framed muslin
  • Purchased labels
  • Photo transfer
  • Corner pocket labels

Most top three most popular ways to mark quilt labels:

  • Hand written
  • Machine embroidered
  • Computer printed

Other favorite markers mentioned:

  • Sakura pen
  • Thread painting
  • Fine Point Sharpie Permanent Marker
  • Micron pen
  • Pigma pen
  • Dewert colored pencils

Top information to include on quilt labels:

  • Date
  • Quilt maker’s name
  • Name of the quilt
  • Name of the recipient
  • Name of the quilter
  • Location made
  • Occasion quilt made for
  • Personal message
  • Name of the pattern
  • Care instructions

Looking for care information to include on a label? Take a look at these ideas.

Other ideas to include on quilt labels:

  • Maker’s initials
  • “The best kind of rest beneath Heaven above is under a quilt handmade with love.”
  • “Covered in prayers, wrapped in love.”
  • “Sending love to the one who receives it.”
  • Number
  • Name of the pattern designer
  • Scripture
  • Who, what, where, when, and why
  • Size of the quilt in inches
  • Hours it took to make and quilt
  • Cost of the quilt
  • Appraisal value
  • Teacher or workshop if applicable
  • Type of batting
  • Fabric content
  • Fabric line and designer
  • Maker’s address, phone number, and email address
  • Story of the quilt
  • Logo
  • Maker’s age
  • Impetus and methods used in the creation of the quilt
  • Name, date of birth and death, birth place, and other info about person being memorized in a memory quilt
  • Why the quilt was made
  • Quilt’s date of birth
  • Inspiration for the quilt
  • Guild project name
  • Attribution
  • The end
  • This day in history
  • Competition rules
  • Recipients hobbies
  • Monogram
  • Brand, like a cattle brand
  • Prayer
  • Acrostic
  • Collage of photos
  • A little story of thoughts for the recipient

Embellishment ideas:

  • Cats (lots of cats were mentioned!)
  • Stamp designs
  • Sequence
  • Flowers
  • Birds
  • Dragonflies
  • Embroidery
  • Doilies
  • Crochet trim
  • Hand embroidered heart
  • Thread paint
  • Charms
  • Buttons
  • Cows
  • Dogs
  • Doodles
  • Beads
  • Yarn
  • Ribbons
  • Paint
  • Findings
  • Couching
  • Crayons
  • Trim
  • Applique shapes
  • Clown caricature
  • Miniature applique
  • Zentangle
  • Pink the edges
  • Embroider frames, headers and bases
  • Cutwork designs
  • Scalloped edging
  • Scroll work
  • Flower vines

Most popular position for labels:

  • In the corner, with two sides of the label under the binding.

Safe keeping:

  • Write the label information behind the label as well in case the label wears off.

Ideas for quilt labels:

  • Write or embroider the quilt label information on the quilt backing before quilting.
  • Photo transfer a picture of the quilt onto the label and tell its story.
  • Design a label commemorating the reason for making the quilt.
  • Include aspects of the quilt design in the label.
  • Buttonhole stitch the label to the quilt back.
  • Trace text with fabric markers.
  • Cross stitch on Aida cloth to make a label.
  • Finish the edges of the label with rickrack or ribbon.
  • Bind the label the same as the quilt.
  • Embroider the label using a motif from the quilt top.
  • Write down the information to include on the label and give it to your quilter.
  • Print two copies of the label, one for the quilt and one for your journal.
  • Freemotion quilt the label information directly onto the quilt.
  • Use iron-on transfers to decorate the label, then color them.
  • Include an American flag on the label, made in the USA.
  • Embroider an angel in the corner.
  • Write on the hanging sleeve.
  • Embroider information on a ribbon or twill tape and sew it to the quilt.
  • Use a signature block.
  • Write on the back of the binding.
  • Write on the back along side the binding.
  • Hand write on vintage hankies and linens.
  • Use fusible appliques to make a scene.
  • Commercially print them through companies like Spoonflower.com.
  • Use a left over quilt block for a label.
  • Make the label from a fabric napkin.
  • Make label in the shape of a musical note and add a song title or lyric fitting to the occasion.
  • Make label from an old t-shirt.
  • Make the label in the shape of a diaper pin.
  • Make a Dresden plate with a half circle sewn into the bottom for the label information.
  • Trace the shape of your hand and make into a label.
  • Paper piece quilt fabrics in wacky directions around the center label.
  • Make quilt labels for old quilts with the ancestors information.
  • Order premade labels from nametagsandlabels.com.
  • Use a UPC that plays a message when scanned.
  • Use Susan Branch labels.
  • Use interfacing on the label to give it stiffness.
  • Make the label look like a postcard.
  • Use Fray Check to seal the edges of a small unsewn label.
  • Scan antique postcards and print out for labels.
  • Print a fabric copy of the appraisal and stitch it to the back.
  • Use the label to make a pocket to fold the quilt into.
  • Have family draw designs or pictures and put their name beside.
  • Put the label diagonally in the corner before binding the quilt.
  • Make the label a corner hoodie for a baby quilt.
  • Make a large label and frame it.

What to store in a quilt label envelope: 

  • Color catchers
  • Washing instructions
  • 5″ fabric squares
  • Bookmark with label info
  • Hide maker’s name inside
  • Stuffed animal
  • A coin in the recipient’s birthday year and a coin for their state

Quilt label advice:

  • Connect the front of the quilt to the back.
  • Make a memory for the person you made the quilt for, make it personal and loving.
  • Have fun with the label and make it unique.
  • Try something new for each label.
  • Use freezer paper to stabilize the fabric for writing.
  • Practice on a piece of graph paper to center the various lines, then transfer to the label.
  • Make the label before finishing the quilt.
  • Design the quilt label when you design/plan the quilt.
  • Make labels in batches.
  • Make it legible.
  • Always put something personal in the message.
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Kerry D

Thanks for all those ideas. I certainly picked up some new ones.

Nann

I use the business card template to print 10 generic labels at a time. (My studio (business name), name, city.) When I label a specific quilt I add details (quilt name, date) with a Pigma pen. I sew the printed label to a rectangle of fabric to make a small frame, then sew that to the back of the quilt.

Thanks

Another option I have used is to stitch the label information (using the monogram function on your sewing machine or an embroidery machine) onto what will be the back side of the quilt’s binding. I read about this on another quilters blog who said she learned the technique from Sharon Pederson’s book “Reversible Quilts”. Sometime later I also saw it referenced in a reader letter in the May/June 2008 issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting. This is another way to apply a label that can’t be removed (at least not without completely replacing the binding!) and can be… Read more »