Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Art of Quilt Labeling

Now I am by no means an expert at making quilt labels, and I frequently opt for the easy-out approach to labels. For years, I gave quilts and didn't bother with a label. I was like Wendy, barely finishing the bindings before the quilt needed to be gifted and wrapped. A label seemed out of the question, or at the least unnecessary. It has only been since I have been making a ton of quilts and making quilts for shows that I want to label them, if only to document what year they were made. But labeling does so much more.

A label on a quilt is kind of like a head stone in a cemetary. It gives credit to who made the quilt for future generations. Sure, you are not likely to forget that you made the quilt, but will your daughter's daughter always remember? Being a lover of all things old and cherished, I hate that my daughter may not remember who made her crocheted & embroidered dresser scarves. She never knew her great-great grandmother. Heck, I barely did. These items were on my mother's dresser when she was young, and to me, that is really neat.

Anyhow, off track as usual...sorry. The point is the same though. As creaters of art (yes, quilts are art!), we should all try to label each quilt, and include at the very least a few basic pieces of the quilt's history. I include the following...a name for the quilt (not critical, but for shows it is required), my name (and if a different person did the quilting, include their's), where I am from, and the date when the quilt was finished. Beyond that, much is up to the individual.

One quilt I included a saying and a photo. The photo is special to me because it is my daughter, who the quilt was made for, at age 2-1/2, wearing a dress I started kindergarten in.
Another example of a quilt label is here. I actually (gasp) put it at the center of the quilt's back because I had had a little bit of thread tension issues there, and really wanted it covered up. I designed the label to blend into the style of the quilt front, even adding a few crystals to the points of the star. It is printed on my computer, and hand appliqued from the batiks used on the quilt.
In retrospect, it looks kile it belongs there, and was not a band-aid treatment!

For a recent quilt I completed, I chose to create a label with a scrapbook software, and have it printed onto a fat quarter of fabric at Spoonflower. This is an economical way to create several labels (as many as you could fit on a FQ, for a mere $11. The printing is good quality. This particulare label is a little simple, but more because I printed the label before I knew what the backing fabric for the quilt would be. I didn't want to use purples and have them clash. It gives only the pertinent information about the quilt and it's maker.

My Seaglass quilt (below) is off to a show next month and it received its label just a few days ago.
This is one of those quilts that adding the label proved more of a chore than a creative burst of wonderfulness. I was out of time to have a label printed. I have tried, however, to keep the label in the same design feeling as the quilt. I have hand written on a piece of aqua batik the quilt's labeling information. I actually traced something I printed off the computer so that the text was mostly legible. And then cut it out in the shape of an oval -- a pseudo piece of sea glass. It's not great, compared to other labeling efforts, but it relates to the quilt top.

The last label I will show is probably my favorite. It is from my Postcards from Venice quilt. For this label, I used the scrapbook software to design a postcard. I used an actual photo that I took in Venice 10 years ago, and labeled the top of the postcard with the English translation "Postcards from Venice". The overlay is what would be the part of the postcard that you'd handwrite. I have transcribed a postcard that my then fiance sent home to me (even though we were in Venice together) to receive in the mail. The Italian "Cartoline da Venezia" and my name and place are in the address, while the stamp over the postage contains the completion date of April 2011. Pretty clever if I do say so myself. I had this printed at Spoonflower. To date, it's been covered up at every show :-((

So, even though that gorgeous and creative quilt label you make for your show quilt will be covered up so that nobody can admire your craftyness, put it on anyways. Someday, someone will be curious enough to wonder "Who made this quilt and when?"


Emma has given her approach recently on quilt labeling too if you are looking for another quilter's perspective. Unfortunately, living in theUS, I don't have access to the Australian magazine!

1 comment:

Emma said...

I love that postcard label! AP&Q is available in the US, but it's a bit behind, and you probably have to hunt! I do know that eQuilter sells it.