The binding is on the quilt; you have carefully observed all the standards for a well-executed binding; the quilt is done! Or is it? What about the label? This is another important finishing step in quilt making: documenting who made the quilt, when and where, and perhaps why or for whom it was made.
The topic of quilt labels will be divided into three parts. This article will discuss the methods and materials that can be used to create a fabric quilt label. Next week, we will look at designing the label itself. Then in part three, I’ll show you some my favorites. Most of my quilt labels were produced by printing onto fabric, so we will begin with two approaches to ink-jet printing on fabric. Then we’ll consider some other options you may want to investigate.
Printing on your own fabric
The first step to printing on your own fabric is to prepare 100% cotton or 100% silk with a permanent bonding agent called Bubble Jet Set 2000. Soak fabric in the solution for five minutes then lay flat to dry. Iron the fabric onto the shiny side of freezer paper and trim to 8-½” x 11″ (or use 8-½” x 11″ freezer paper sheets and trim fabric to fit).
Once the fabric has been prepared, it can run through the printer like paper. Make sure the edge that feeds through first is crisply pressed and free of any loose threads – I have occasionally had difficulties with the initial “grab” and feed of the fabric/freezer paper. I also change my printer settings to “best”. After printing, allow to completely dry for at least 30 minutes. Finally, remove the freezer paper and wash the printed fabric in Bubble Jet Rinse to remove excess ink and prevent fading.
For more information about these products, along with an excellent set of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the wonderful site Soft Expressions.com.
Pre-treated fabric sheets
An alternative to preparing your own fabric for ink-jet printing is to use ready-to-use fabric sheets. The fabric has already been treated, cut to 8-½” x 11″, and fused to freezer paper. At one time only available in 100% white cotton, there are now many choices including natural cotton, silk, organza and more. Again, see Soft Expressions.com or the Quilters Newsletter’s article “Fabric Sheets for Inkjet Printers” (Part 1: Jan/Feb 2007, No. 389; Part 2: Mar 2007, No. 390) that tested and compared the various options available at that time.
Using pre-treated fabric sheets is certainly convenient, but remember that the background color of the quilt label will be the color of the fabric sheet unless it is printed with a different background color. We will talk more next week about designing quilt labels, but this is often my most important consideration when choosing between the two approaches to fabric printing.
Rather than printing directly onto fabric, another option is to transfer to fabric. Again, there are many products available for this including Lesley Riley’s TAP Transfer Artist Paper. Click here for an instructional video on using this product. With this method, images will be reversed so it is important to begin with a mirror-image of the intended quilt label.
Quilt labels can also be printed by hand using Pigma pens or other permanent fabric markers. Look for fabric yardage pre-printed with labels or use stamps to create a decorative frame.
Embroidery can also be used to create beautiful quilt labels. Designs are available for machine embroidery or simply stitch out your own design by hand.
With so many options, there is sure to be one that works for you! After pouring so much time and love into making a quilt, don’t neglect to finish it properly by documenting it with a label.