Quilt Labeling

By Ruthann Assaid

  • Quilt labels not only give important information about a quilt – who made it, how long it took, as well as for whom it was made and the occasion – they also provide a link to the owner in case of loss and hopefully a visible deterrent to potential thieves.
  • Quilt labeling our quilts is something that many of us are pretty haphazard about. I know when I started making quilts, after I finished that was the LAST THING I wanted to do – was make a label. Oh “I’ll remember that” was all I could think. But as time has gone by I realize I don’t remember that!
  • If you have had the opportunity to examine antique quilts, you know “back in the day” they didn’t make labels for their quilts. They were mostly utilitarian and didn’t think it was important to put their name on their quilts. What I would give to have my mother’s name on a quilt she made!
  • If you know Neva Hart, she goes to great lengths to try to date quilts and give them a value. It would be so much easier to appraise a quilt if it just had a label.
  • Quilts carry stories about our history and about needlework and provide a rich insight into women’s lives.
  • More and more today we are faced with the unpleasant reality of quilt theft, not to mention the accidental misplacement of a quilt. The increase in the theft of quilts in recent times has added a whole new dimension to the labeling issue.

It is very easy to remove a label, leaving no proof of ownership. Theft can occur anywhere and any time and thieves do not necessarily target only well-known quilters. I was Program Chairman for Lake Quilters one year and we had Debby Kratovil as our speaker. She told me she lost a whole suitcase of quilts at a quilt show. Someone just walked out with it. As far as I know, she never found them.

There is even a web site: where people show pictures and details about when they lost a quilt. You can also get a form “Quiltmaker’s Documentation” on this site.

It is a good idea to get in the habit of making it more difficult to unpick the label in the first place.

One method is to sew the label into the seam when you attach the binding, leaving only two edges to appliqué.

If you piece the back of the quilt, you can incorporate the label, or at least a lighter fabric that you can write information on later. While this cannot be removed easily, it does come with its own problems. Writing details on the quilt after it is finished could result in an accident with the permanent pen. Also, it is hard to write on a piece of fabric with batting behind it.

Quilting through the label remains one of the most secure ways of identifying a quilt.

Some methods to add identifying features to your quilt include incorporating your initials and a date in the quilting in some inconspicuous place, or sewing an identifying mark into the binding itself, which is then hidden when it is slip-stitched at the back.

These methods are good to identify the quilt if it is relocated.

Another thing we should be doing is documenting the progress of each and every quilt, both by taking a picture of the quilt and writing down when you made it and other details about it.

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