To Label Your Sewing Projects, Or Not To?

Last week I finished the binding on a baby quilt—how satisfying! But I wasn’t quite done. When you finish making a quilt or sewing clothes, do you sign your work, label it, or add a small sewn message?

I know some sewists who make labels to put inside the clothes they sew. Others have their own ways of adding a logo or a patch, or stitching a name onto their handmade clothes or quilts.

0020.Charlie

Over the years, when I’ve made quilts for gifts, I’ve probably “signed” about half of them. If it’s for a baby, I’ll embroider baby’s name, and sometimes his or her birthday, plus a “Love Abby” onto a heart. Then I’ll appliqué the heart to a bottom corner of the backside of the quilt.

I like to think doing so will always remind the child, and its parents, that the quilt was made by me, with love. But I haven’t always had time for this finishing touch, and have given plenty of quilts without my appliqué heart.

On a cloudy day last weekend, I spent some time working on an appliqué heart for that new baby quilt. I embroidered it freehand, as I couldn’t find my chalk pencil. Part way through, I stopped, and realized I didn’t love it this time around. I considered abandoning the appliqué heart.

But my husband voted I keep it, saying he thought the personal touch meant a lot, even if I didn’t like how my stitches came out. I walked away for a day, and when I came back, I agreed. Now I just need to finish it with a “Love Abby,” turn the edges of the heart under, and sew it onto my quilt back. (And ponder imperfection on another day….)

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What about you? Do you finish your quilts or clothes with a tag, patch, appliqué, or otherwise sign your projects? Why or why not? I’m curious to hear your take.

 

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Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

22 thoughts on “To Label Your Sewing Projects, Or Not To?

  1. My quilt instructors all thought it important to “sign” my quilts with my name, my city, and the date, which I always embroider or applique on, especially when they are gifts. It is not because I think my quilts are so awesome, but because I SO wish my grandmother had signed all the quilts she made. My husband’s grandmother signed the quilt she made for him and that signature is so important to him now that she is gone. Don’t feel like you are bragging. In the years to come, that signature of yours will mean the world to someone.

  2. It is so important to at least sign ones name on quilts at least. Chances are they won’t be outgrown, seriously ripped, etc. How many quilts do we look at from times past without a name on them and wonder about the woman (most likely) who made it, where she was from, who it was for? It is an art form. Artists sign their names on the most rudimentary of artworks. Why not quilters?

  3. Hi Abby. I label each and every quilt I make. I name them, then I include made by, date of completion, size, and I sign them. I’ve recently expanded into making art quilts. On these, I am also including info about medium and inspiration. Additionally, I have a folder in my computer where I keep pics of completed projects along with a spreadsheet with all the detail of each one including the cost of materials and where the quilt went (if anywhere). It might sound like a lot of extra work, but I don’t mind. I love each and every one of my creations. Naming and labeling them gives me a sense of completion and feels like I’m setting them free. I agree with Suzanne, someday someone will treasure the info on those labels 🙂

  4. I so agree with everyone else here so far – leave your mark on it, however you may choose to. The item was made by you, it’s a part of you, and you’re giving it away to someone else. It’s like giving a little bit of yourself away. And yes, so many times I’ve looked at some beautiful (or not!) old item and wondered, “Who made this? What was she like? What was her life like?” Even a name would give us some connection. I had fabric labels printed by one of the catalog companies and I sew them on or into everything I make: pillowcases, quillows, quilts, plush toys (er…I made a lime green alien plushie that was a little scary…maybe I shouldn’t have identified it as my work!). But yes, by all means, don’t be afraid to say, “I made this.”

  5. I use my embroidery machine to make usually two labels for my quilts: one for the name of the quilt and the other for the name of the person receiving the quilt, my name, and date. I’m finishing one for an old friend named “A Cup of Friendship” and has pretty tea cup and tea pot on that label. Labels go on opposite corners. So enjoyable and adds such a nice personal touch.

  6. Abby,
    I, too, love to add a little reminder of the person and sentiment attached to a handmade gift but don’t always find the time. Probably because I usually wait until the last minute to put something together. Finally, I came up with a solution…I spend some time every now and again to make embroidered hearts with my “Love (insert your name here) labels of various colors, sizes, patterns. They don’t have the intended person’s name on it, but it does let them know it’s from me and how I feel about them. I use up a lot of scraps that are too good or big to just throw away, I make use of “down time” and accomplish lots in relatively no time at all!
    Linda

  7. I have always read that you should sign and date your quilts as well as make an entry about the particular quilt pattern used. To me that gets too lengthy, and if you are giving the quilt to a non quilter it won’t mean much to them. I have used laser printed labels, that I sew onto the back of the quilt, but my favorite way to sign the quilt is to embroider ( hand) my name and the date, and if it is a baby quilt I sometimes add the baby’s name and birthdate.

  8. I have always read that you should sign and date your quilts as well as make an entry about the particular quilt pattern used. To me that gets too lengthy, and if you are giving the quilt to a non quilter it won’t mean much to them. I have used laser printed labels, that I sew onto the back of the quilt, but my favorite way to sign the quilt is to embroider ( hand) my name and the date, and if it is a baby quilt I sometimes add the baby’s name and birthdate.

  9. I do not make quilts but clothes,sometimes I customize some too, and i knit and crochet.
    I found that if it is a present, a hand made piece gets much attention if there is a label with your mark/name or else, and it can also suggest it is unique for people who are not into any craft : one might forget in these times of fast consumption that there are still personnalized items that cannot be matched in the shops…
    For knits and crochet, I had labels printed as a patterned yardage on satin cotton through spoonflower website , i just have to cut them individually .
    For customized clothes, because i love to give them to my friends or show i think of them, i make a very small double sided card attached with a ribbon which shows the before and after. Therefore i think they can appreciate the work, and that feels good Lol
    It has happened for baby knits that i embroider a label with the baby name and mine with a heart attached meaning “with LOVE”, which is i think the message we all want to send when we give away a nice piece, it is a bit of us too!.

  10. I make stuffed animals and dolls for my great nieces and nephews. If I do not not sign them my relatives are upset. Do sign and add the year. It will be appreciated.

  11. I always try to label my gift projects. most often using the alphabet stitched on my sewing machine. I do believe the receiver appreciates the touch. I note after a quick look @ the gift, they take time to read the label & make a comment on what it says. SB

  12. Hi Abby!
    When I first started quilting, I did not always add a label. Now, I do. And I add a Road To Oklahoma block in one corner. What state am I from? I bet your hand stitched heart was really cute.
    Linda

  13. I make tags for most of what I do since it is recycling material or upcycling totes or canvas. The tag has me with a smaller tag explaining fiber content and washing instructions. I also hand sign the bottom of all my purses/totes/bags and art I create. I think the signature reminds people it is usable art and also a one-of-a-kind piece. Great post!!!! Rasz

  14. YES< LABEL YOUR QUILTS!!! I think it is imperative. I make everyone I teach make a vow to label. It can be as simple as writing with a fabric pen on the back of the quilt, but please document. The label should include, name or type of quilt pattern, whether it is hand or machine or a combo of those, when it was made, what city and state, and for whom. Later, after the person you gave the quilt to passes, it will be clear what, where, whom. How many times have you found or seen a quilt with no documentation? It is so frustrating. Thanks.

  15. Thanks for all the comments – I think you’re all right about labeling. I have one of my Nana’s quilts, but I have no idea its history or if she made it or someone else did. I like the idea of including the year, too, and other information about the quilt. Thanks also for all the ideas on different ways to sign/label your quilts and garments – great ideas!

  16. I recently finished a quilted baby blanket and I signed it with the date, baby to be’s name and my name. I did it because I’ve inherited a dozen quilts from my husband’s family and I would love to know the history behind them. Most are quite old, I have two done by sisters, we think, of the same pattern but quilted differently and although the design is the same and for the most part the fabric is the same each is stamped with the quilters unique personality. The sisters in this case would be my husbands grandmother and her sister. No one in the family has any information and a signed quilt would be wonderful.
    Kathy

  17. I made labels on gross grain to use for items I produce to sell as they advertise for me. For quilts, I’ve started to use the embroidery stitches in my machine and a blending thread to put the quilt’s name, my name and the year on the binding. This way my quilt has its provenence, but it’s not glaring – in some cases it blends so well that the only way to find it is by feeling the binding.

  18. Hi Abby! YES – I sign anything I make for a gift or commission. My sewing machine has a programmable alphabet, and the italic “font” is really beautiful. I use this alphabet to make labels for my works!
    Paula

  19. Hi Abby, I have just started working on a layette for my grandson….everything from washcloths to receiving blankets, wall hangings and sleepers. I am going to put labels on the two larger blankets ,the sleepers and the wall hangings. They aren’t personalised…but say “made with love”. I’m thinking that it will add a special touch.

  20. Dear Abby…A few years ago, my brother brought me the quilt my mom had given him when he went off to college. It turned out to be a log cabin quilt that was made by my great-grandmother. How did i know ? She signed it, and then put the date and my mom’s name on one of the corners. I am currently trying to restore it, piece by piece.

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