Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Sign of the Times

So I'm sorry that I have been a bit out of touch. I seem to have been out of town on Tuesdays for the past few weeks and don't have the photos I wanted to share on the "out of town" computer. A lame excuse, I know, but anyway...

One thing I wanted to mention to you is about "signing" your masterpieces! You did that for my Christmas present quilt and I'm glad! That's one that I will treasure and keep and I want everyone to know who made it!! I really wish I knew a little more about the maker of my antique quilt. It would have been nice if she had signed hers too! I'm hiding behind my hand as I tell you to sign your quilts, because I don't sign all of my quilts. Truth be told, I am more apt to sign the ones I sweat over, ones that I think may last the test of time, and ones that I think need an explanation for their coming into being.

A quilt that fits into all three categories is the one I made with my quilt group when we lived in Germany. It took a long time for me to finish it (more on this in a later posting) and many friends helped along the way. I had everyone who worked on it, both in the quilting and the piecing of blocks, sign a piece of muslin that I eventually attached to the back of the quilt when I finished it. I almost ran out of room for signatures because people rotated in and out of the group as they moved away to new assignments. There were many who stitched on it. Appropriately, I call this one "With a Little Help From My Friends"! It sure is a nice way to remember the friends from that chapter of our lives! Reading the list of names transports me back to a Wednesday morning meeting! For the label, I took a scrap of the muslin that I backed the quilt with and lightly penciled lines for signatures. I provided a fine line fabric marker to use and also another scrap piece of muslin that they could try out the pen on before signing the actual label. When I finished the quilt (years later!) I blind stitched the label on the backing by hand.

I did the same sort of thing for Grandmom and Grandpop B.'s 60th anniversary quilt because it was a special one that needed recognition for the event that prompted its making.

For Grandmom and Grandpop L.'s 50th anniversary quilt (shown above) I did something a little different. Since each item on the quilt had a special significance that wouldn't necessarily be apparent, I made a label with the date, event and quilt maker on it, but attached it to the back like a pocket. I then typed up a page which identified each object and explained the reason for including it and tucked it into the pocket. That was a fun quilt to make. I even managed to get a wedding photo to include without giving away any hints as to why I wanted it! Surprise quilts are so much fun, don't you think! :)

There are muslin quilt labels that you can purchase, fill in the data and attach to the quilt. There are also woven labels like you'd see in the back of garments with sayings like "Made with Love for You" that you can buy. You can also have these kind personalized. Beware with these, though, if you try to add a date to the label with a fine line fabric marker, the ink will bleed and it is not very attractive. This brings up a good point....if you use a marker, try it out on the fabric first to make sure it prints as you want it. (That is one reason I, generally, will not mark on the quilt proper. Having said that, I will write my first name and the date made on the back corner of a charity quilt...) Computer software is available to make your own labels...have not tried this yet, maybe someday.

Ciao for now!


  1. Dori, they also make "sew-in ink jet fabric sheets" that you can print on your computer, set with a dry iron and sew onto your quilt. After being not-completely-satisfied with a couple of ladies making Embroidery-machine labels, i've gone this printer-label route. Next i'm thinking about trying to iron some fusible web (like Wonder Under) on a piece of fabric & see if this will go through my printer... I'll let you know if it turns out.

  2. Wendy, that’s a great idea! I used the ink-jet fabric sheets several times in the 50th anniversary quilt shown above. For the German stein I “scanned in” the stein, that is, held the stein at the right angle on the scanner bed while the scanner did its thing, and then printed out the image on the fabric sheet. For the college mug I had to find the appropriate image, print it out on regular paper, double-sided tape it to a white mug and scanned and printed it. I was pretty jazzed with the way they both turned out! All that to say you can be really creative with labels! Think pictures, maybe? I would be careful not to put personal photos on labels that you use for charity quilts (I am a little sensitive of privacy issues) and you certainly want to be careful of copyrighted images (no Mickey or Winnie the Pooh!), but you could use sketches of teddy bears and butterflies…you get the picture! And if you use the purchased ink-jet fabrics sheets, a caveat…they can be a bit pricy so try making several labels at one go to keep the costs down. One more thought…Wonder Under would be great if you plan on fusing the label. I have heard that fusing the fabric onto freezer paper to stiffen it and printing on it works too. Check out these links for some instructions.
    Anyway, good luck and let us know how it turns out!