Quilters today are well aware that that they should label their quilts for future generations. But this was not always so. We are often disappointed when there is no way to discover who made the lovely quilt that we found at an antique shop or in our attic. Even with family quilts it's sometimes uncertain who made a given quilt. We have to rely on family stories where memory may be vague or even accept an "I just don't know" from older relatives. The earliest signatures on needlework are seen on occasional sixteenth century tapestries and samplers.
Possibly as a result of this practice we find nineteenth century quilts that were signed or initialed with cross or linear stitches. Some were even numbered to mark the accumulation of quilts they made in readiness for marriage. But such numbers can be uncertain, for example the number 15 might indicate the year the quilt was made or the age of the quilt maker.
Or perhaps it was the fifteenth quilt the young woman had made. Even with names we need to be cautious. Is the name found on the quilt the makers name or the name of the person the quilt would be given to?
Around the middle of the nineteenth century indelible inks that would not damage fabric became available. After that quilts were more frequently signed with ink.How to Make a Simple Quilt Label
This also made possible the popularity of signature quilts as these quilts could easily be signed. Of course this brings a new puzzle in terms of discovering who might have made the quilt as many names would be found on the quilt. In some instances each person made an individual block and signed it. But some were made completely by one person who then wrote the names on each block or had friends sign them.
Yet another method of signing a quilt was that of using a metal die to be used with ink. In the "New York Gazette" advertised the following: As you can see signatures were put on quilts for many other reasons than giving the name of the quiltmaker. We also find great variety in where and how quilts were signed. Today we usually sign or add a label to the back of a quilt. This wasn't particularly true with earlier signed quilts.
In an album quilt the maker may have arranged her name in a decorative fashion within one of the blocks. Sometimes the maker's name can even be found subtly included in the quilting of the layers. Particularly with a quilt made after good colorfast ink was used we might find a wealth of information beyond just the maker's name. The quilt might have writing telling why the quilt was made and the person it was made for. It might even include the date it was completed as well as the town in which the quiltmaker lived.
Poetry and Bible verses were also included at times. Some of the labels I've made have been carefully appliqued to the back of the quilt -- others stitched down to the backing before quilting.
Thimbleberries used to have a quilt panel of labels.
Bottom line, do what YOU think is best. I read a magazine article about this. There are many quilts out there that historians are trying to figure out. They ask that if you make a quilt you put a label on it with the following info.: I put labels on my quilts. I have made labels several different ways using Pigma pens or by machine embroidering on the label.
Usually I make a label. If it is a small piece and the backing is light enough that a pen will show, I write everything in a corner of the backing then heat set it with the iron. Depends, too, how much time I have before I give it away.
Writing on the quilt is quicker than hand sewing a label. My mom has also had me design a block for the front of the quilt with all of the info on it and a small design. It depends on the project if that will work or not. I also make labels for my quilts. I use aida cloth and cross-stitch generally, often adding a tiny cross-stitched motif that suits the quilt or the recipient.
Signing and dating a quilt
But hand or machine embroidery is also a good option or even the pigma pen and hand-writing them. A sample of your own penmanship is also a special gift. Don't underestimate the value of that.
You can buy labels and fill them in yourself check the notions walls and my SIL has a book of label patterns that you can iron onto muslin and then fill in as you wish, coloring with fabric crayons, writing with pigma pens, or embroidering, etc. For my special family quilt, I paperpieced letters and put around the borders on the back all the pertinent information.
Now THAT was tedious! I label all my quilts with the name of the quilt, the recipient, some times a small note, if its for a baptism or birth my name, my town and the date.
Did She Sign Her Name? The History of Quilt Labels
I make a label out of muslin, embroider a design with the main color of the quilt around the edge of the label and then hand write the information on it with Pigma pen. I put the information that cindyg noted in her post. Most of the time, I make a label and hand sew it to the back of the quilt.. I have also done what purrfect-lady does, with the cross stitching..
Then, for kids quilts that may not make it to be "passed down", I simply write on the back with Pigma pen and heat set it. To me, it is really important to label a quilt.. Most of the labels I have done are fully embroidered using my embroidery machine.
One time I embroidered just the label's outside edges and then wrote the personal information with a fabric pen in the middle of the label.
Signing and dating a quilt
That turned out nice too. That's a pretty label, Pam.
You may want to ink your name on the quiltback in addition to a label, in case th elabel is removed. I do think labels are very important with all the information that you can put on. When I have made things for nephews or neices, I also include family names and who is who, years, connection, etc. I many times make a cross stitch also, and make a packet on the lower corner. Inside the pocket I place a few small scraps of material in the quilt, with a small amount of thread that was used.
It has come in handy for one friend that had an accident on the quilt. I would send a private message if someone really wanted a sample. Kid, that is a fantastic idea.
I never thought of including a small pocket with extra fabric and thread. Guess it could come in handy. I have made several baby quilts recently and was in such a hurry in completing them before delivery, that I forgot to add a label.
Does anyone have any suggestions about labeling after you have already gifted the item? What about labeling items with information that you know about the quilter.
I have a quilt that my husbands, great-grandmother made in around , but there is no label, with her name or the block name etc. I do know that it is a log cabin quilt and her name and the approx time period but that's about it. Would you label it, for future generations? I would add a label after the fact on any quilt - especially those made by past generations. I would also make it with a pocket and add the story of the person who made the quilt and how she ties in the family.
I would suggest that the story be printed on archival quality paper and ink - so it would not affect the quilt itself. I was wondering how to make a label also. I have practiced on a scrap of material. It does not seem to write to well