quilt history

How to Label Your Quilts

Labeling your quilts is a wonderful way to document the details of your quilt both for yourself but also for the sake of broader quilt history. Putting a label on a quilt can be quick and easy, and it’s an important habit to build into your quilting practice.

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How to Make Quilt Labels with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

I get it— by the time you get to the binding and stuff, sometimes you just want to be DONE. But labeling your quilts is important for your own records, for the recipients of quilts you give away, and for the sake of broader quilt history (think of all the times you’ve seen a quilt from a thrift shop and wondered how it ended up there, but there’s no label with information). When labeling your quilts, include your name, the date, your city and state, and, if applicable, the recipient of the quilt. Other information you might add includes: pattern name and designer, longarmer’s name, fabric collections used, special techniques used, or the purpose/ occasion for making the quilt. Of course all of these details are up to you as the quilt maker, but these are all bits of information that you (and maybe someday others) may find a useful reference in the future.

(For more information about the importance of quilt documentation and how you can get involved in encouraging others to label their quilts too, check out The Quilt Alliance)

Knowing WHAT to include on a quilt label, but it still leaves a crucial question— HOW can you label your quilt? Well, honesty moment (surely you saw this coming if you’ve been around here for a hot second?)— the easiest way is to just write on your quilt with a Sharpie or fabric pen (clutch your pearls, ladies, you read that right). And, yes, this is an honesty moment because I do this. This is kind of an aspirational blog post for me, I guess— I believe in quilt labels and they are useful and important. But I’m usually very D FOR DONE by the time I get to that stage of a quilt. I want to become more consistent about labeling my quilts, so let’s talk about the ways I (and you) might do that:

How to Make Quilt Labels with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Corner Labels

When I do have my act together, this is my go-to way to label my quilts! It’s so simple— cut a 6.5 inch square of light fabric and fold in half on the diagonal. Sew the two sides that form a right angle onto the lower corner of your quilt as you attach the binding. This ensures that the two raw edges are encased when you stitch the binding down. If desired, you can blind stitch across the diagonal, but I often leave it loose as it’s handy for hanging the quilt for photos (and could totally be used as a snack pocket!). Simply write on this label with a fabric marker or pen, set with heat, and you’re good to go!

Note bene: written labels are not as permanent as embroidered or printed ones, but a label is better than no label!

How to Make Quilt Labels with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Printed Labels

Homemade: As I’m sure you know, if you have an inkjet printer, you can buy special printable fabric like this that allows you to design a label on your computer, then simply print it out. For designing, consider an online software like Canva, then save your design as an image, then simply print the image, cut it out, and go!

Ordered: You can also use a service like Spoonflower to print multiple labels at a time. You can use Canva to design these, too, but leave areas blank to fill in the details like the quilt’s name, your name, etc. This allows you to order a larger quantity of personalized labels that can still be customized for each quilt.

For what it’s worth, with all kinds of printed labels, I recommend hitting them with an iron (heat set the ink), then soak for a few minutes in cold water to rinse away any excess ink, air dry, then hit with an iron again. It just helps make sure that the ink is as fast as possible and won't bleed or fade when you wash the quilt.

Printed labels can be added to the back of the quilt with needle turn appliqué, raw edge appliqué, fusible web, etc.

Embroidered Labels by Kate Toney of Tough Kitten Crafts -- How to Make Quilt Labels with HollyAnne Knight of String & Story

Embroidered labels

The loveliest, most permanent, and most labor of love intensive label of all is the embroidered label. Because the details of the quilt can be stitched out, they will not fade as the quilt is washed. These gorgeous, miniature works of art add a truly special flair to the quilt.

Another honesty moment, though, I don’t have an embroidery machine, so I have very limited experience with embroidered labels. Fear not, though, I asked my friend Kate Toney of Tough Kitten Crafts to share her expertise with us, and you’ll find her wonderful tips and insights HERE.

There you have it three (well, four if we count writing on the quilt LOL) ways to label your quilts to make sure all those gorgeous details about your amazing work are preserved for many years to come. One last tip: make your label early on in the process. That way, when it’s time to bind, you’re ready to roll and don’t skip the label because you’re just ready to be done already! A few years from now, when you’re trying to remember what the pattern was called or exactly when you made that quilt, you’ll thank your past self for taking the time!