Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remember Me


Wouldn't it be great if we knew more about the women who made some of the antique quilts we love so much? And wouldn't it be nice if we were also remembered through our quilts? You don't often see labels on old quilts. And, even when you do, they don't always offer much information. It's more common to see signatures.
                             
  

                               

                                      

                                                          

Labeling my quilts is always an afterthought and something I know I need to do more often. Do all of you make labels for your quilts? I know some of you take the time to create wonderful labels. I labeled many of my early quilts very simply, usually because I was in a rush to meet a deadline for a book and felt lucky to get them finished at all, much less have time to make a  fancy label. I don't do it too often now and I'm embarrassed to say that my favorite method involves slapping a piece of fabric onto some Steam-A-Seam, cutting it out and writing my name and date on it with a permanent ink pen and then ironing it onto the back of a quilt. Well, I figure it's better than nothing. The thought of making pretty or fancy labels for almost two hundred small quilts now is a little overwhelming so if I ever do label the rest of them this may be the way I do it - simply.


 

Primitive, yes, but at least it's something. Some of these were made for trunk show quilts I sent to shops across the country and Canada. They needed something on the backs in case they got misplaced or lost. This will sound crazy but, after making the original quilts for a book, and after a book was published, I would go on to make 3-4 copies of several of them to send to quilt shops so they could display them with my books. That's 16-20 additional quilts I had to make when I was promoting a book. Sheesh. Sometimes I had a little help. So pretty labels were not necessarily a priority when making quilt samples for shops. But it helped to have even a primitive label when I needed the quilts returned to me. With the exception of one, I got all the quilts back intact that I sent out. It's never fun to lose a quilt you put so much time and thought into creating, even if it was a small quilt I could easily create again. Thankfully, I had labels. 

I'm really impressed by those of you who take the time to make pretty labels for the backs of your quilts and would love to see the really special ones that many of you put so much time into designing and creating. If you have any that you're willing to show me, send me a photo and I may do a Show and Tell here. I'm sure this is something many of us struggle with when we make things.  I would love to be inspired so show me your labels! I vow to do better with mine in the future.


I could always just sign some of this ribbon tape . . . .

Here's an article I found that you may find interesting - it gives tips and encourages quilters to make labels for their quilts. We all want [our quilts] to be remembered.

                                   


12 comments:

  1. seems to me for the quilts you have taken the time to make labels is a good thing fancy or not. Most times I do make labels for my quilts, I find if I don't make a label at the time of attaching the binding I never do! Some of my customers ask for me to make label for them, some fancy some plain. Some ask me to attach before I quilt them, so they are permanent.

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  2. I have aways struggled with making labels for my quilts. I know we should but to let future generations will remember our name. When looking at antique quilts I often wonder who sat by the fireplace when the house was quiet and they had just a few minutes to put in a stitch or two. I have three early ones I will send to you and then one made this year after instructions.

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  3. I am so bad about adding labels to the quilts that I know I am keeping for myself. If I'm giving it to someone the label goes on as soon as it is done. I once gathered all my little Kathy Tracy quilts on a Sat. and it took me the whole day to make labels for them. Now I have another pile to do. Bad Girl!!!

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  4. I'm really bad about labels too, but lately, I've taken Bonnie Hunter's advice and cut out a square (size depends on the size of the quilt and how much space you want to write on), fold it in half to make a triangle, then sew it right in when you sew on the binding. Then there is only one side to hand stitch down and your label is there to stay.

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  5. I do as Me and My Stitches mentioned, except I leave the one side open, so you flip it to see the label. I embroider the letters by machine and thought this might protect the label from wear. I've also put a triangle on another corner and slipped a dowel in, to hang it on the wall.

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  6. I became so curious about the signatures on a 1893 quilt in our local museum that I spent two years researching the names - and found out at least a birth year and a little information on each one of the 34 of them. In July I had a small book printed and made a presentation about the quilt at the museum. With all the information now on the internet, it's possible to find out who some of the long-ago quilters were. It was a fun project. And yes, I do at least put my name and the year on the quilts that I make.

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  7. What a great post! You're so right, I always wonder about antique quilts and the story of the women who created them. It's so true, making the label for the back is usually an after-thought, but so important for the history. I need to do labels more....

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  8. Hey Kathleen,
    I'm in a group called Finishing Touches here in SC. Our group tries to finish UFO's and there has to be a label on our quilts to get a "bead." These "beads" are plastic, silver, etc., trinkets that are awarded when a quilt is finished. Everyone in the group donates "beads" once a year. What everyone will do for one of those plastic "beads" is quite funny!!! We also made name tags and we all attach our "beads" to our name tag. DJ

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  9. On the label I put my entire name, DOB, austin, Texas and date finished...perhaps in 100 years they will be able to find something about me!!

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  10. I used to be really good about making labels now sometimes it is six months later before I finally remember to make one - I include the name of the quilt, my name, the year and washing instructions. Sometimes if there are a zillion pieces in the quilt I put down how many pieces are in the quilt and how long it took to make it. I always include if it is hand pieced, hand quilted, machine quilted ect.

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  11. I like to think of the label as another creative design opportunity when making a quilt. If I think about how to incorporate (preferably piece) the label (or even simply a light colored blank square or strip) into the quilt backing, I'm more likely to label the quilt when it's done because it's already there and all I have to do is write it up!

    A label is also a great place to add or use up extra blocks (or even block parts) left over from piecing or some extra applique bits that didn't get used on the front. If you think of it as another attempt to whittle down those scraps (to make room for new stuff) it may seem like less of chore and can even be an excuse to buy more fabric!

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Let me know what you're thinking . . .

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