Thursday, 1 December 2011

Simple Quilt Label Tutorial

This little tutorial has been prompted by requests at our Bee Blessed meetings.  It's not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, but if you are new to the concept of quilt labels this will get you started.  After that, you can go wild and crazy and be as creative as you like!  This is only the tip of a very large label making iceberg!

This tutorial will give you a simple rectangular label made up in the style of courthouse steps and finishing at 4" x 6".

So without further ado ...

You will need:

  • label centre fabric piece - cut 1:  2.5" x4.5"
  • label border pieces - cut 4:  4.5" x 1.5"
  • label backing - cut 1: 4.5" x 6.5"
  • fabric pen

Assume 0.25" seam unless otherwise stated.

Stitch a border piece to the top and bottom of your label centre piece.

Press the seams away from the centre fabric.

Now stitch a border piece to each side of your label.

Again press the seams away from your centre fabric.
At this stage you have a little rectangular courthouse steps block.  (Obviously you could make this up in any block design/shape you like by recalculating the sizes for cutting.)

Sorry about the shadow but hopefully you can just make
 out the guidelines through the grey fabric.

Next you need to write your label using a permanent fabric pen and set the ink with heat by pressing with the iron (assuming that's how your pen works).  My tip here is to use a guide paper behind your block to provide you with straight lines for writing (akin to the piece of lined paper you used to get when you bought a pad of Basildon Bond letter paper).  This really helps keep your writing nice and straight and level.  Unless, of course, being more random is all part of your design!

Your choice of pen can also be important.  I highly recommend a trial of this stage well before bringing ink anywhere near your lovely label.  Take your pen and follow the instructions to write on some scrap fabric - is it thick enough? does it bleed? When you're happy, set the ink with the iron (if that's how your pen works) and give the scrap tester a wash to make sure it doesn't run or fade dramatically.

What you write on your label is also entirely up to you - it can be a whole personalised message or just as simple as 'To' and 'From' depending on your recipient.  For posterity I would recommend adding a wee date to your label - again the choice is yours.  But remember,  what's really lovely about labels is that they tell a part of the quilt's story, so they are definitely worth the effort, no matter how simple.  

I should also say at this stage that there are many other options for labelling your quilt rather than just writing the label.  Sometimes a wee bit of simple embroidery or the addition of ribbons/buttons can be beautifully effective.  Cross stitch labels can also be effective additions to your quilt.  I've seen many labels stamped too (good news for those of you panicking about your handwriting) and I believe that Versacraft ink (available on ebay) is suitable for this process.  Again, the choices are yours and will make your quilt all the more unique.

Now having written your label, lay your label block and your backing fabric right sides together and pin to hold them in place.

Starting and finishing with a little backstitch, stitch around all the sides leaving a 2" gap for turning through.

Trim the corners.

Pull your block right side out through the gap left in the stitching.  Make sure to push out the corners and seams as much but as carefully as possible.  (I use an old crochet hook for this purpose, which eliminates the risk of the point of my scissors piercing my lovely, newly stitched item.)

Press the label seams out well having also neatly turned under the fabric at the opening left for turning.

Slip stitch the opening closed.

Position your label on your quilt - usually on the back, but there are no rules except your own! - and pin to hold in place if necessary.

Now, using a discreet stitch like invisible applique stitch or ladder stitch, or if you prefer an embroidery stitch like blanket stitch, sew the label to the quilt.

And hey presto, you quilt is all labelled up and ready to donate to your lucky recipient!

Hope this has helped a little (sorry about the shadowy night photos).


  1. Thank you for this lovely and helpful label tutorial!

  2. Fab tute! Can't wait to see Andrew's quilt! Jxo

  3. Thanks for some very helpful hints that I never think of in my usual slapdash manner of doing things.


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