Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Catching Up On Quilt Labels - Part 1

The Quilt Alliance Pledge

Meg Cox who bills herself as a "Quilt Journalist" recently talked about labels in her November 2016 email newsletter.  In it she said:

"Even though I'm no longer president of the nonprofit Quilt Alliance but just a regular volunteer, I love to spend part of my time at Quilt Festival volunteering in the Alliance booth. And this year was especially fun because the Alliance was urging all the quilters who walked by to "take the pledge," to literally sign a pledge saying they promise to label ALL their quilts -- the ones they made and the ones they didn't. To keep the story of each quilt ON the quilt, for the sake of both family and history. 

So now, I'm going to urge all of YOU to sign that same pledge. the Alliance website and make this promise: your name will be put in the basket to win some customized quilt labels from Story Patches, whose unique QR codes can take people online to the part of the story that didn't fit on that small patch.  To inspire you further, go to the blog of the Australian quilter (who made a label pictured in the newsletter), to read her post titled Quilt Labels 101. "

Right after reading that, I went to the Alliance website and took the pledge.  As of this year, out of the 85 quilts that I have made in my "quilting lifetime" (aka the last 14 years), I have seven quilts that do not have labels and one that needs  a label for a significant update made to it.  That means I'm batting 90% which is pretty good, all things considered.  However, Lynn Rinehart, a certified quilt appraiser reminds us in Episode 206 of "The Stitch TV Show",  that for non-quilters, quilting is an "overlooked" art form and if the maker documentation or the stories of a how or why a quilt is made is lost, then no credit goes to the artist who made it.  Unlabeled quilts keep quilters as a whole from getting validation for the history of the craft, skill and effort that goes into making a quilt. 

In the episode, Lynn also talked about a museum exhibit mounted by quilt collector Gerald Roy and the Boston Museum where quilts were hung along side modern works of art to showcase how the quilts stood up against other forms of art.  Lynn said that none of the quilts in the exhibit were newer than the 1930s or 40s yet while every piece of  artwork was signed by the artist, NONE of the quilts were!  Special enough to rate hanging in a museum yet the makers of those beautiful quilts are all lost to history!

Other Forms of Documentation

When I started quilting, it was commonly taught that you should label your quilts so I immediately got into the habit of doing it.  In fact, in the very first quilt magazine I read, there was an article about documenting your quilts both by labelling them and by maintaining a separate written record of them. 

After reading that first article, I created a blank word processing "Quilt Documentation" template and for each project I start, I begin by recording information about the quilt:  start (and eventually the finish) date, quilt name (once I decide what it is!), inspiration or pattern used, fabrics, batting and what or who the quilt is made for.  The covers for the binders where I keep this information also make great scrap quilt projects and you can see the ones I've made in these posts.  In addition, that documentation process has evolved into a personal journal that not only records the quilt process but what is going in my life and in the world at the time.  

Convinced You Should Label -- Now What?

Of course when it comes to the actual quilt label (as Amanda the Australian quilter noted) the difficulty we all face in accomplishing this is that by the time we are ready to make it, we are so focused and anxious about finishing the quilt that we're loathe to take the extra time and effort to get it done.  To make that easier, I try to think about how I want to create the label for my quilt as part of the quilt design process or, at the latest, as I decide how I'm going to make the back.  My preference is to usually try to piece a label area into the back of a quilt as part of  the backing.  For instance, a light colored strip or section that can be written on after the quilting:

Quilt:  Sweet Land of Liberty

 ....or to do a corner triangle which can be attached after quilting.   Bonnie Hunter has a great tip for that here or try Pat Sloan's method here.

Quilt:  Fabric Gal

...or monogrammed onto the binding which is also done after quilting.

Quilt:  APQ Reproduction Print Table Topper

I've Still Got Some Labels To Do!

So why do I still have unlabeled quilts?  In almost every case, it's because I've come up with an idea for an elaborate quilt label.  Now on the one hand, quilt labels are another opportunity to get creative with my quilting projects.  However, it also usually means that whatever the idea, it requires additional extensive design or production time.  If (when?) that gets done, then it usually needs to be added by hand after the quilt is quilted.  Until recently, hand work  in quilting used to be a danger zone for me --- the surest way to make sure that my label DOES NOT get on right after the quilt is finished!   

Fortunately in the last few years, I've become more comfortable with the idea of doing hand work.  In fact, having recently restarted a hand work project and planning to participate in the "Slow Sunday Stitching" linkup at the Kathy's Quilts blog, I realized that getting those labels done is another hand work project for that forum.  Since it would be nice to get all the outstanding labels done before the New Year, I'm trying to work on those as part of my recently announced "Holiday Quilt-A-Thon"

The first two to work on: 

1.  The quilt that is currently hanging up:

Quilt:  Flying For Cover

I had collected information about Geese  when I made this but never organized what I had into a proper label.  Well actually, I had ideas about what I wanted to do but now I've decided to "dial it back a bit" in the interest of getting it done!  So I've worked on the layout and prepped some muslin for putting through the printer:

 Next up, print it out and sew it on!

2.  The one that should be headed up (couldn't bear to hang it up without a label):

The pieced label for this has been finished since March but needed the red circles (berry) appliques stitched down and needs to be quilted itself:

As of this writing the berries are all stitched.  Onto the quilting!

The Special Edition "Get It Done!" Labels List:

Flying For Cover (2010)

High Strung + 2 (2016)

Spontaneity: Lincoln/Obama Update (2016)

Vintage Treasures (2010)

Brrr! (2013)

All Spruced Up (2011)

Tribal Scratch (2010)

Merrimac Dresdens (2013)

My label journey continues in Part 2!

Need More Label Inspiration?  Check out these links:

For one of my favorite link ups, Val's "Tuesday Archives" had the topic of labels back in November. See it here.

More from Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville on other label ideas that she loves.  In her post, Bonnie talks about a "Scrabble Letters Label" she found on a Pinterest board that didn't link to the actual post --- you can find the details about it on Rebecca's Cheeky Cognoscenti blog here and here.

Deanne Eisenman of Snuggles Quilts did another great post about labeling your quilts that you can read here.   I agree with Deanne that it's sad that so many of the wonderful antique quilts are listed as "maker unknown".  We all can appreciate the work and love that went into making them so it's unfortunate when the maker herself is lost to history!

The folks at  Generation Q magazine linked to a post by Katy Jones at I'm A Ginger Monkey  on the label topic. 

I've also read about this topic on many other blogs like Debbie's Stitchin' Therapy blog, or the editors of Quiltmaker as part of their "Block Friday" series, at Martingale Publishing's "Stitch This!" blog here and here,  and on the American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine website here and here.

Edited 2/19/17 To Add:
During a web search I discovered the blog of Eric Wolfmeyer, a quilt artist who has many of his quilts finished by Amish hand-quilting groups.  He wrote a great blog post showing his unique quilt labels and also discusses why labeling is important.

Edited 3/18/17 To Add:

Dawn, blogging at First Light Designs has a simple circle label idea using CDs and is attached with fusible web!!  Check it out here.

Edited 6/5/17 To Add:

Check out another great post by Handi Quilter on the basics of labeling!  They offered a great "new to me" tip in their post:  An embroidered label (attached after the quilting) that is made from the same fabric as the backing makes it look like the information was embroidered right on the back. 

Check out the rest of the posts on this thread for more label ideas!

Edited 10/24/17 To Add:

Here's another great post on the basics of labeling by Shasta Matova on the Felt Magnet site and also check out her Pinterest Board with some great examples of label ideas and designs!


Debbie said...

Wow, this is an excellent post, full of details and info. I just took the pledge, even though I always label and consider it very important. Thanks for the mention, too. I really enjoyed this post.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Thanks for the links!