Making My Own Quilt Labels

Something I did last month was rewarding: I joined a quilt guild again.  I am a member of one for a while, then time or distance or a crazy life overtakes me and I forgot and I don’t go. . . but I’ve joined the Raincross Quilters Guild here in my hometown.  When I attended in February, they were having a Round Robin of tricks and techniques and one of them was making your own labels.  I’ll have to try hers sometimes (she had some really good tips), but here’s how I usually do my labels.

Making a Quilt Label 1

Open your word processing program and figure out what you want to say.  Name of the quilt, your name and who quilted it, the date finished (but sometimes I also add when I began to make the quilt) are musts.  I usually add the dimensions, too.  And often I like to add a verse, or a few words about the quilt, especially if it is made for someone else.  I print this off on my Epson printer, because Epson has the best inks.  The preferred printer would have a straight paper path all the way through, but I was in a hurry last time and forgot to check for that, and now it feeds from the bottom tray making a U-turn into the delivery tray.  I can make this one work, but if you are buying a new one, look for that.

Making a Quilt Label 2

I use light-colored fabric for my label–sometimes I use something with a small print.  I cut a shape about 2″ larger than the “label” and iron that fabric to freezer paper.  I tape it to the same paper I proofed the label on, using three pieces of blue painters’ tape.  That way I know the placement of the fabric so it will come out right.

Printer SEttings

I go into the print settings, choosing what I think is thick paper and high quality printing.  The printer will lay down more ink and will go more slowly, and you have a better chance that it won’t distort the fabric. I feed that prepared paper through the printer, then take off the tape, and the freezer paper.  I use a clean sheet of paper and press the label in between folds of paper, setting the inks.

Making a Quilt Label 3

Trim, lining up the ruler with the printed words to keep it square.  I like a bigger border on top (about 1 1/4″) than on the bottom (although sometimes I goof, like today).  I trim 3/4″ out from the sides of the words.

Making a Quilt Label 4

I sew 1 1/4″ strips on all four sides, trimming them up.

Making a Quilt Label 5

Iron the raw edges 1/4″ under, then. . .

Making a Quilt Label 6

. . . pin to the lower left corner of your quilt.  Why there?  Because when people face your quilt, they always seem to go for the right corner to pick up and check for your label, and you don’t want to disappoint them.  Sew it down securely around all the outside edges, and then I also stitch invisibly around the interior of the edge strips on the label, securing it twice.  That’s it!

WIP: Bits and Pieces

America is a Tune_label

I’m finishing up bits and pieces, collecting bits and pieces, and am covered with bits and pieces of thread (On Mondays and Wednesdays — my teaching days — I’m always worried I’ll stand up in the front of the class with snips of thread sticking to me).  Above is the label, all sewn on, for my recent Schnibbles quilt: America Is A Tune (it must be sung together).  Finished that up tonight.

Carmel Blues Redux in process

This is the Schnibbles from last month all pinned up ready for quilting.

Santa and His Blocks_1

The blocks from the Mid-Century Modern Bee are starting to come in, and as they arrive, I iron them and smooth them up on the pinwall next to Santa.  It’s so fun to see them come in, with their nifty signature blocks (we decided to do a signature block and I’m really happy we did!).

Some Other WIPs:
Lollypop Tree–it calls to me from the guest room closet where it is on a hanger, like a siren song.  I ignore it, for the most part.

Friendship Quilt Blocks–I just need to sew them together.  What is taking me so long?  Our novel for class, Moon Over Manifest, has a signature quilt in the story line, so I took in a few blocks to show the students.  As I looked at the signatures of the women, I thought of each of these ladies.  This will be a gem.  At some point.

Santa (above).  I could start working on the houses and trees, I guess, now that I’ve finished up my Four-in-Art quilt for the November reveal.  (Suppressed squeal of joy)  Come back in a few days and see the gallery.  We have eight total now, so it should be a fun blogging/Flickr day.

Friendship Swap Blocks with Krista–we finally worked out our schedule and are ready to go.

I also have fabric for a Halloween quilt — oops!  Next year.

Not a WIP: finished my novel Light Between Oceans–loved it.  Can recommend it highly.

WIP new buttonLinking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced,
if she decides to run it, as I know she’s been very busy with getting things ready for market.

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope Top unquilted

At long last,  I have finished Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope Front

Here she is on the fence, all quilted and bound and ready to be hung up in our home.  The first picture was merely the top, unquilted, but I like that image quite fine (it’s my home screen pix on my phone).

Kaleidoscope first block cut

Krista got me started on this process and the above is a photo of my first block, blogged about *here* so I don’t need to redo the gory details (just do a search for “EPP” in my search box, if you do want the whole story).

Kaleidoscope first block begin

I liked how I could sew bitsy pieces together into a new design and they could become something else.

Kaleidoscope more1

I finished my first block in February 2012, wrote about it *here,* using the completion as a sort of a milestone capping off a cancer experience.  While I do like the quick quilts that sew up in a month, or whizzing through a bee block, there’s something gratifying about a longer quiltmaking experience, as it serves as a thread through many experiences and days and months and weaves in and out of other quilts.

Kaleidoscope block 3

I liked how every block was a puzzle, a mystery, waiting to be figured out, laying out the pieces to see what it should become and how to sew it together. I liked that it was portable, going to many doctor’s offices, on a road trip, and certainly while making my way through three seasons of watching Downton Abbey.

Kaleidoscope on computer lid

One center laid out on a computer laptop one night.

Kaleidoscope on a trip

Photographed on a hotel chair, pieced while on a road trip to San Francisco.

Kaleidoscope block another

The way I cut and laid out the pieces was like a twist of the wrist on a childhood kaleidoscope viewing toy, the glass pieces tumbling into another design, another shape.  So I started to think of the blocks as visions through a kaleidoscope.  I didn’t know how many of these blocks to make–it was one of those things I just kept working on and I figured I would know when I was done.

Kaleidoscope three blocks

There were three.

kaleidoscope six

Then there were six.

Kaleidoscope trying out background

And then seven, and I was trying to figure out what to do.  I ordered more fabric (bless the manufacturers who don’t yank their lines so quickly!).  The small bits in the lefthand lower corner didn’t work.  So I went with bigger triangles, trying to let the seven kaleidoscope shapes rise to the top.

Kaleidoscope background ready to sew

I labeled and sewed those together by hand as well.  Then onto the existing top.

kaleidoscope feb 2013

It sat on my pin wall and I just didn’t know what to do–wasn’t really sold on it.  Then I thought about the border, chose the bright lime, auditioned it for placement: large medallions going down the middle of the border, or small ones?  Again, trying to make the quilt center the star, I went with the latter.

Kaleidoscope borders on

Sewing the top to the borders–the only time I used machine piecing on this quilt top. I decided to leave in the papers until it was all sewn, so they could stabilize the edges.  One thing about the edges in this quilt–none were placed with regard to straight of grain, so the top was very flexible, and needed careful handling.

Kaleidoscope Top unquilted

Once those borders were sewn on, the whole top began to sing together again.  And now the next puzzle–how to quilt it?  I let it sit some more, until I worked up the courage to move forward.

kaleidoscope backing

Cut and sewed together more of that second batch of fabric, trying to match medallion to medallion.  It worked well enough.

kaleidoscope pinned

I stretched out the back on my living floor, taped it down, then the batting, then the quilt and pinned it all together.   Still didn’t know how to quilt this thing, so it sat for another spell.  Finally, I realized it was never going to get done if I didn’t get going on it, and I had three days free–all in a row–so found the perfect thread in my bag from the last run to Superior Threads and got going.

Kaleidoscope quilting1

I like to sew on my dining room table.  I put down a placemat for my sewing machine and notions, and let the quilt slip-slide all over as I work.

458547_sk_lg

To grip the quilt because I’m not a fan of quilting gloves, I use that stuff you can buy at an office supply store on my fingers (one brand is SortQuik–don’t know what mine is).

Kaleidoscope evaluate quilting

After two and half days and sixteen bobbins of thread, I wanted to be done.  Really, I did, but the border was a little ripply, so it needed some more.  Final tally?  Seventeen bobbins of thread.  The quilt is 53″ wide by 54 1/2″ long, so that’s fairly dense quilting.  I used a polyester thread with little bit of sheen for the top, as well as Masterpiece, a cotton thread.  I used Bottom Line for the bobbins–it holds more; I did loosen the top tension to get the stitch balance correct.

Kaleidoscope detail 2

Kaleidoscope detail 1

Kaleidoscope Back

The back of the quilt, with the two colorways of the medallions.  I came to really love this fabric: Michael Miller’s Gypsy Bandanna.

Kaleidoscope quilt label

I had decided I didn’t want a narrow border to show on the top, so went with a faced binding.  This label was the last thing to be sewn on, last night as I lay in my bed with my foot propped up on two pillows, recuperating from another surgery (this one not life-threatening, a planned event).  But still, for those of us who like to keep busy, like to be doing, this forced idleness is really hard to deal with.  I plan to try to figure out how to do some quilting this afternoon, my good foot on the sewing machine pedal and my gimpy foot propped up on a pillow on a drawer.  I figure I can get 30 minutes in before I say “uncle,” and head back to bed.

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This is the 116th quilt I’ve made in my life, and the quilt is also part of the Finish-A-Long, quarter two.