What’s the Scoop on Labels?

I received a note with a great question from one of our long arming volunteers today.  Joanne wrote:

“I received four (very cute!) quilts from Richard yesterday and am ready to get to work.  Now I have a question that I can’t believe I don’t know the answer to.  Richard included the labels for the quilt.  I have never done quilt labels before.  So what kind of pen do I use to put my name on the label?  And do I sew the label on before or after I actually quilt the blanket?  Is the label meant to be sewn on by hand after the quilting is done?  Or do I just sew it on and quilt through it?”

All good questions!  It occurred to me that she wasn’t the only one who has that question, and I’d like to answer it in a blog feature so people can refer to it later.

I think the best way to put your name on  a label with pen is to use a permanent ink Sharpie fine point.  Use a light touch, as it can bleed a bit if you stay on one point too long, and heat-set the label by ironing it once the ink is dry.  Embroidered labels are also very acceptable.

As the long arm coordinator, I think it’s great when the labels have room for the names of both the piecer and the quilter, since both have contributed valuable time and resources to making the completed quilts.   Suggested wording is:

Quilts Beyond Borders

Made for You with Love

By:  ___(Piecer’s Name)____and___(Quilter’s Name)_____

Belongs to:  ____ (Space for Child’s Name)

You can use either your full name, your first name, your group’s name, or however you’re comfortable signing it.

While there are several ways to put a label on the quilt, I prefer to machine stitch the label to the back before I quilt it, usually somewhere on the bottom half of the back.  That way there will be several lines of quilting through the label and it will be harder for anyone to remove it and steal the quilt.  We try to do a lot of due diligence so these quilts will remain in the hands of our intended recipients, the orphans.  Volunteers visit orphanages to get a comfort level that when we provide quilts we aren’t inadvertently providing an unscrupulous staff member an opportunity to feather his own nest by stealing them and selling them on the black market.  That’s the reason we hand-carry them over to Ethiopia in the luggage of volunteers and trusted associates, rather than sending them over in the mail, where they might go astray before reaching the orphans.  Machine stitching the labels and quilting over them gives us one more opportunity to put a safeguard in place.

When we do receive completed quilts with no labels we will attach labels to them, using machine stitching.  We think it’s important that the children have a place to write that they are the owners of the quilts and some of the pictures that have been taken during the trips show that the children think it’s an important part of the process, too!

Thanks for asking, Joanne!




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