20 June 2013

Quilt Labels

I have always believed adding a quilt label to be of great importance. The most important reason being so that future generations can know the provenance of the quilt.

Have you ever been to a presentation by a quilt historian, and listened as they described the pieced-together information that could be gleaned by fabric type and print style and maybe even where and when, but they cannot tell who made it. What every historian and descendant wishes for is a label on the quilt.

Everyone feels the ache of lack of knowledge, the void, where information could be captured and shared. Imagine your future family members pondering the quilts you lovingly made, and knowing everything about them- and a little about you too. 

Adding a label also helps with identification should the quilt become lost, misplaced or stolen; adds to the value should you wish to have your quilts valued and can inform to whom the quilt is intended for when left in a will 

If you will be entering your quilts in shows, travelling with them, or sending them by post or freight you should include your name, address and phone number on the label! 
A quilt label should include at least the name of the quilter, name or pattern of the quilt, date finished, and the city and state or country. 

Additional information is charming to read and helps place stories in future minds. Why was the quilt made? Is there a story behind the colours, blocks or technique used? Was anything special going on in the world at the time this quilt was made that influenced you?
If it is a gift you may want to include the name of the recipient and the reasons for making the quilt. This quilt was made for me by my mother for my 40th birthday. It’s not very easy to see, but she has hand embroidered a message in black embroidery thread – which includes my first name and the date of the birthday – but not her name, sadly, for future information.

a sentimental message
If you are gifting the quilt to someone who is not so savvy in the laundry you may wish to include washing and care instructions. In my case, it would be fairly simple – gentle machine wash, tumble dry or hang on the line. (I hear a collective gasp, not only from historians – sorry people I am a little non-precious about washing conditions, and make my quilts to (hopefully) withstand some degree of wear and tear.)

It’s sad, but true, that quilts get lost or stolen. If this concerns you consider putting your name in a hidden area that could be uncovered to prove the quilt is yours. Conceal it in the area under a hanging sleeve or along the seam allowance under the binding. Use a Pigma© pen to write your full details onto the fabric. 

You can buy labels already made or make your own. Generally a label is stitched/appliqu├ęd in place on the back of the quilt. To ensure it stays in place for as long as the quilt’s life, secure it with double-sided fusible web before the quilt is quilted.
Design a label in a computer program such as EQ. Use a permanent marking pens in your own handwriting or make it fancy and try calligraphy. You can hand embroider or machine embroider. 

Photo tansfer certidficates and photos
Photo transfer is handy for including information that is already printed elsewhere such a wedding certificate! I adhered mine to the centre back of the quilt, along with a photo and a spare block, before the quilt was professionally quilted. 

This labels on two quilts entered into the 2012 Guild Quilt Show were meant only for purposes of identification should the quilt be misplaced during the execution of the show – but clearly lacks the type of information of interest to future generations! 

name and address label
Lastly, I found a quilt made by Mary Pettway of Gees Bend. In this case, the details on the back add a LOT of value and credibility to the quilt for now and future generations. 

A valuable signature and label
Finding quilts in my house is normally pretty easy – on the bed or in the linen closet. At the moment many are packed in boxes as my new linen closet gets built. Of the dozen or so I did find only FIVE had labels.  My wedding quilt, the quilt made by mum for my 40th and the two quilts I entered into the 2012 Guild Quilt Show.  I am sure that none of the other ones have labels at all. Facing this fact is quite sobering, I must create labels for my quilts!

Oh, there is one more, somewhere in a box, that was a gift to my daughter when she was born, from mum (granny) – it has an embroidered message similar to the one shown on my 40th quilt above.  

I think it’s time for a NATIONAL LABEL DAY! Check your quilts, are they labelled? Let’s get that info recorded – maybe you and your quilting friends/group/guild could have a Label Day. ..

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