Saturday, 18 September 2010

Quilt Labels

My first quilts went completely unlabelled. Then I started embroidering my initials and the year into the binding. Then I realised the importance of labelling my work properly, and discovered printable fabric sheets.

My preferred brand is Matilda's Own, an Australian brand which is beautiful quality. Printed Treasures is also excellent, and Electric Quilt do a beautiful heiroom quality Cotton Lawn - although that's rather expensive. If you want a pure white try June Tailor, but I find her sheets a bit stiff, and they aren't cut evenly across the weave, so need to be tugged back into shape after rinsing. In Australia, you'll pay about $30 for a pack of 5 A4/Letter sheets. There are cheaper brands around, at about half the price, but I've found them rubbishy, and wouldn't waste my money on them. You do need to be careful about washing the labels - use a mild detergent, and dissolve it in the water before immersing the quilt.

While you can cut the sheets before printing them, I find it best to work with full-size sheets. Depending on the labes size, I fit anywhere between 2 and 5 labels per sheet, and try to do a whole sheet-full at a time. Always do a test-print in black-and white on plain paper to ensure the labels fit, with a seam allowance all around. The fabric sheets may need help to feed them into the printer - follow the instructions on the packet. Sometimes a strip of masking tape across the leading edge on the back helps feed it in properly.

Since late 2007, all my quilts have a personalised label, printed with my inkjet printer, and invisibly hand-stitched to the back of the quilt. In that time I have increased the amout of information I include, and most labels include:
  • The quilt's name (I started naming all my quits around the same time)
  • My name and location
  • Reason for making the quilt (e.g. swap, recipient's name)
  • Who the quilt is for
  • Personal details, such as the baby's birth date and a personal message
  • The month and year the quilt was finished
  • Fibre content of the quilt (inner and outer)
  • Care instructions
Other details which you could put on the label include:
  • Design details (mine are originals, but you should reference a pattern, for example)
  • When the quilt was started
  • Information about the fabrics
  • Infromation about the process of making it
  • Contact details (address, phone, email or website), should the quilt become lost or stolen
I design my labels in Powerpoint, though many software programs will work - use whatever you're comfortable with. I downloaded extra fonts from the internet; I used Free Fonts.

I often base my labels on a photo - I love to use a newborn photo for baby's quilts, for example. You need a photo of reasonable resolution (probably about 1000 pixels across, depending on the finished size). I often edit my photos in Photo Shop first, making them very sharp and vivid (possibly more than I usually would for regular viewing or printing). The photo also needs to have enough open space for the text - this needs to be plain enough that the words can be clearly read, so a single colour, with minimal variation in tone, and not highly textured.

Inspiration for my quilt names and labels come from the designs, the reason it was made, colours used and other sources. Sometimes it's hard to come up with a name. Sometimes the name inspires the label. Sometimes I even use an image of the quilt (often edited) as the label background.

Here is a selection of quilt labels I have made, with the personal details removed. Some of the quality (especially in the text) has been lost in converting them to show here; they print out beautifully - although this will depend on your printer and the fabric sheets. 

This is a simple label for a small swap quilt, using a 2-colour background to the text box.

Another text-only label, for a quilt for myself.

This label uses a copyright-free image I found on the internet, colour-manipulated in PhotoShop and edited in paint to create space for the text.

The quilt that this label belongs to reminded me of a book, and this image was taken from the book. I pasted it into Powerpoint and added a border and a couple of text boxes.

This label uses another internet-sourced image (inspired by the quilt design), again heavily edited.

This label places a photo next to the text, rather than what I usually do, which is to use the photo as the background. This quilt was for a childcare staff member so I used James and Eleanor's childcare photo for that year.

This label is for a baby's quilt, using a photo of the newborn baby as the background. I always included the baby's name and birthdate on these.

Sometimes I have better inspiration for a baby quilt label. This is for a beach scene baby quilt, and you can see the name of the quilt reflected in the label. The arched widow was drawn (fudged!) in Powerpoint. The image, sourced from the internet, is of the beach near where the family lives.

This is a label I designed, but haven't yet used, for a quilt to sell in my Etsy shop - which is why it includes my blog address, rather than anything personal. It's a photo I took myself, and lends itself perfectly to a quilt label, with it's large open spaces.

Another label using one of my own photos; the photo choice was clearly inspired by the quilt's name.

This label uses a photo of Simon and I, taken by my father. It's for my own winter snuggle quilt. Jindy is the familiar name for Jindabyne, the town used as a base for the New South Wales ski fields, incuding Perisher, where this photo was taken.

I don't always include all the information I should on my quilt labels - sometimes the desire to use a photo which doesn't leave much text space overrides good intentions! I should also point out that I don't have any special graphic design skills or software.

I hope this has provided you with some useful information ind inspiration.


princess pudge said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all that information, I certainly can't wait to try :)

Vicki W said...

I like to print my quilt labels too but obviously I need to step up the design of mine!

Kayscha's Quilting Corner said...

Gorgeous labels!!! Hope you get your coffee at Serges Cafe at the Old Town Centre in Jindi. Serge is my aunty's partner, best coffee in town and he is gorgeous!