A crucial part of the quiltmaking process that often gets neglected is the labeling. Sometimes you have struggled with a project and you just don’t want to mess with it anymore. Sometimes you are behind deadline and you need to send it off. Often though, you just don’t know how to make the label and so it gets left off. I have never regretted taking the time to label but boy, have I kicked myself when I look at a project years later and find that I DIDN’T take the time to write down the date of the project at the very least.
Labels can be fancy or low tech but get your name and the date on your work at the very least. Through the years I’ve tried several different methods.
I own an older embroidery machine so I stabilized a piece of muslin and then was able to machine embroider the image and then use a Pigma (indelible)pen to write the pertinent information. After I removed the stabilizer, I pressed under the seam allowance and then hand-stitched it to the back of the finished quilt. Some embroidery machines can be programmed to stitch strings of words and make a beautiful label.
These label stencils have the advantage that they are reusable. You can stabilize the label material by ironing it onto freezer paper and then use pens to draw in the design. I would use a chalk pencil to put in the lines for type or leave them out entirely.
Fabric companies know what a pain it can be to make labels so they make panels that you can buy. Cut out the one you want, stabilize it and put in your info. One panel will have several designs so it’s a nice way to get a variety for your stash.
The newest way to make labels is to design the label on your computer and then print out the label on special paper that is fused to stabilizer and will go through your printer. This is the same type of material that people use for photo transfer quilts. I show an example of one I made several years ago that has never been washed. I’ve found that the colors did not last on quilts that I made years ago that have been washed. I do think that the technology has improved considerably in the intervening years. Still, it’s sad to see that I can no longer see the date on my projects that have faded.
These presewn labels are a great addition to a quilt project especially if the quilt is going to someone that may not know how to take care of their gift. I gave out quilts to my daughters’ friends and put these labels on all of them. They are made similar to a manufacturers label and they won’t fade. You can see them here; Gorges Quilt Care Labels I also added personal labels to the graduation quilts that I had designed on the computer.
Labeling is important to document your work and also give credit to the quilter if you have had it quilted by someone else. If you put a quilt in a quilt show, they will want it to be identifiable. It is also important for those that will come after us and enjoy the work we left behind. I own several antique quilts that are not documented and it would be wonderful to know who worked on the quilt and when it was made.
Be kind to future generations and put a name on it!
Being a quilter of a certain age, I like to have print resources on hand to look through and get new ideas. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you in case you want to build your own library.
These are two great resource books. The authors are wonderful and they break down patterns for you and provide useful tips and techniques. I’ve made several quilts from them and they do a great job.
I love quilt magazines and have a very hard time getting rid of them. McCalls has a nice range of projects for different skill levels and beautiful photos. The other item pictured is a quilt book that has nice simple projects. There are tons of books out there and it can get very expensive buying all the ones you want. A nice compromise is going to your local library and checking out books from there. I love the library! No risk and no money lost and supporting an indispensable part of our community.
Speaking of community, it’s more fun to quilt with other people. Check out local guilds for like minded individuals. Often they will have classes and/or guest speakers. Show and Tell is a great way to see what other quilters are up to and show off your own finished projects.
Another community support system is your local quilt shop. If you are lucky enough to have one in your area, they are ready resources for answers on techniques, problems and the inevitable question “Do these fabrics work well together??”
Another term for your quilting dictionary – Shop Hop. This is a weekend where the quilt shops in an area coordinate and each shop has a little free giveaway and quilters travel from shop to shop and visit and buy fabric and spend the day glorying in the fun of quilting.
Next week is a surprise (mainly because I’m not sure what I’m doing!)
In past posts, I showed an easy 4 Patch block so this time I thought I would show you how to do a more complicated block. My local guild makes blocks that get made in to quilts for the military and this is one of the blocks that we have done.
**The fabric requirements below are for one block only. ** You will need three high contrast fabrics. For the purposes of these directions, I will assume that the background fabric is white and the other two are red and blue.
- white background 6 1/4″ square
- red 6 1/4″ square and 2 – 4″ squares
- blue 6 1/4″ square and 2 – 4″ squares
Take the three 6 1/4″ squares and cut twice on the diagonal as shown. To do this, lay out your ruler, diagonally and cut once across the entire piece of fabric. If possible, turn the cutting mat and cut the opposite way. It’s more accurate if you don’t disturb the fabric and just turn the mat. Carefully layout the block pieces before you begin construction.
Next week I will have a few resources that you might want to purchase or look at to further your quilting knowledge.
Once the quilt top is finished , the backing fabric has to be chosen. Since this project is going to be a baby quilt I want it to be nice and cozy so I wanted it to be flannel. I had this fun underwater fabric in my stash so I used it on the back. The backing fabric needs to be bigger than the quilt top. On a bed sized quilt, the usual advice is add 6″ to each side. Since this is much smaller and I’m quilting it on my home machine, I only added an additional 3″ on each side.
Batting is the next consideration. Once again, the idea is to consider the use. I chose a polyester batting because a baby quilt is usually going to be washed repeatedly and needs to be able to stand up to a lot of use. Polyester gives the finished quilt a bit of poof or loft which I like in a baby quilt too. Batting can either be purchased in a package as I did or on a roll in a fabric store.
Now you have a quilt sandwich. Basting it all together can be a problem. Some people pin it with safety pins. Other people baste it with needle and thread or on their sewing machine. For this small project, I used a spray adhesive. The trick is to lay out the batting, spray it and then roll out the backing fabric over it. You can smooth out the wrinkles as you go. After that, you flip it over, spray the other side of the batting and roll the quilt top over it. Be sure to spray the batting and not the fabric. After the quilting, I will wash the quilt to get the adhesive out of the quilt.
Once the quilt sandwich is assembled it is time to quilt it on the machine. The best way to do this is to use a walking foot as shown in the photo. I know it looks strange but the bottom of the foot has a tread on it and this reduces drag on your project as you sew it. If you don’t have one of these (and they don’t always come standard with a sewing machine) you can use a regular foot but watch out for the fabric bunching up under the foot.
You also want to set your stitch length to a bigger stitch. I set my machine to 3.5 or 4 length. For this quilt, I just stitched in the ditch or along the seam lines. It makes the blocks ‘pop’ out and secures the quilt top and batting and backing together. ** The standard rule is to quilt no more than a handswidth apart.** This prevents the batting from separating and bunching up after repeated washings.
So here is the finished project. This photo shows the binding on but not sewn down to the back. I will do a future post on binding quilts.
Next week, however, will be a video that I filmed about how to put a more complicated quilt block together.