At Quilt Camp in November, one of my main objectives was to actually FINISH a pile of quilts by finally affixing labels to them. This is always the last thing to do, and because it involves a bit of hand-sewing, I tend to put it off and procrastinate. All these years, those quilts have had an index card pinned to the back with the label info. Tacky, but it preserved the info -- until they get ripped off (which happened to at least one of them, proving that hack is not ideal).
A year ago, I acquired a color printer (the pigment ink type) that would allow me to print to fabric for things like Quilt Labels. Previously, I always wrote them by hand. And although my penmanship is not bad, they just didn't look "professional." But that leads to the next question : What fabric to print on?
Quilt Rat's Recipe for DIY Printing to Fabric
Jill Buckley over at The Quilt Rat blog offered a recipe to prepare your own fabric for printing.
2 T alum
2 T Soda Ash (the kind dyers use, not washing soda)
2 cups hot water
Let your fabric soak in this for 20 minutes. Save the "brine" and reuse it again at a later date.
See Jill's excellent instructions for the full explanation / tutorial.
This would be great for printing quilt labels and perhaps someday even some of my own texture photography. It's expensive to purchase the printer sheets (averaging about $3 per page). And I normally have the fabric and soda ash and alum on hand for hand-dying anyway. There are other recipes out there for DIY Bubble Jet Set, but I trust Jill when she says this works. So far, so good!
I printed out several labels on several types of fabric with the idea to test and see what fabric would become the standard. I thought it would be Dharma's sandwashed cotton (which is no longer available), however, once it washed up, it no longer had that nice finish, nor the sizing. In truth, the nicest fabrics for printed quilt labels were the most easily available :
Dharma's Mercerized Cotton Print Cloth
Taking it Lightly Flying Geese.
I realized that I could add some of the fabric from the quilt top as a frame around the label and hold it down with some fancy stitches as a hem. I also discovered that I didn't need to hand stitch all four sides of the label, where just two sides would do the trick. That saved me some time!
Here are a few other labels from the productive weekend :
Just simple text with this one, finished way back in 2011.
Usually when I do quilt labels, I include the following info (at the very least) :
1) Quilt Name
2) Date it was completed
3) My name as the maker
4) Place it was completed
I've also heard that it's a good idea to write this info directly on the quilt, or even sew it into the quilt. A label can be ripped out, and credit to the maker is lost.
I got a little fancier with this one, adding additional info about the inspiration for the quilt, including song lyrics and referencing the blog post where you can read more about the making of this particular quilt :
For this one, I suddenly remembered, my printer can do color, and I wanted to further test the fabric sheets. This one uses a purchased fabric printer sheet :
Because this one was heat set (not rinsed in water), it retained whatever stabilizer was in it.
Read more about the making of this quilt at Mama Let You Lick the Spoon.
This one used one of the sheets I made with Quilt Rat's recipe above. The colors are reasonably bright, but the fabric lost the nice finish it had before it was rinsed. Still a success, in my mind, but I don't think I'll be using Dharma's sand-washed cotton sateen for this purpose.
Spark in the Back of My Mind.
How do you do your quilt labels?
Do you write them by hand?
Do you embroider them?
Do you stitch them?
There are many options ...