Who knew that playing around with computer-generated quilt labels could be so much fun? Well, not everyone’s kind of fun, I suppose. But I was delighted to learn from comments on my last post that my accidental method of making labels with fusible-backed fabric worked for other quilters using different fusibles and printing their labels on different computers. As promised, I will work on a tutorial for my website to show the method step by step.
One quilter, Marge, noted that she starches her label fabric and sends it right through the printer. No interfacing, just one layer of fabric. Of course I had to try it! I decided to make a new label for Ramblin’ Rose, another kaleiodoscope quilt from 2009 that needed more information:
I’m happy to report that Marge’s method worked beautifully. Marge did say she “starches the heck” out of her fabric so I made sure I did too. As a matter of fact, I spent more time starching the fabric than I would have just fusing interfacing to fabric. You really have to iron the fabric after each application of starch until it’s completely dry. The weight and feel of the “page” of starched fabric felt almost identical to the fused layer I experimented with earlier.
Unfortunately, when I printed my starched page I realized that the top line of the label was too close to the top of the page, not allowing enough room to draw around a compact disc for my preferred round label. I had to prepare a new one. Instead of starching a new piece of fabric, I went back to my method of fusing interfacing to the label fabric.
Here’s the old label still on the quilt and the one I just made:
In my last post I described how I used a piece of quilter’s cotton for the back of my label. My friend Arden suggested I try using fusible interfacing instead. That’s what I use for my label backing when I make hand printed labels. With those I have only two layers: the label fabric and the interfacing used for the backing instead of fabric. With a computer-generated label, though, I have three layers: the label fabric fused with interfacing and the second piece of interfacing used as the label backing. Would two layers of interfacing plus the label fabric make the finished label too stiff, I wondered?
Worth a try. Yes, the label did feel a little stiff and I found it very challenging pushing the needle through the layers when I hand appliquéd the label in place. I’m wondering if washing the quilt would soften the label a bit. Ramblin’ Rose has been displayed on a quilt rack in my sewing room for over a decade so it could probably use a trip to the laundry room. I’ll toss it in the washer and dryer and report back.
By the way, here’s a look at the back of Ramblin’ Rose (with the old label still in place — and the hanging sleeve so it could hang in a quilt show):
A quilt I made over 10 years ago has an updated label, thanks to a mistake I made the other day creating a computer-generated label for my latest quilt, Uptown Funk. The label pictured above is the fourth one I’ve made using my computer and inkjet printer — and I may never go back to printing them by hand. (The smaller label on the left is the one I removed from the quilt so I could sew the new one on.)
For the first computer-generated label I made, created last fall for Give me the Simple Life, I followed a tutorial that called for label fabric to be fused to a layer of freezer paper and run through the printer. I had to use two layers of freezer paper before I was successful. Even then, the freezer paper rippled a little bit so it took a couple of tries (i.e. the printer jammed and I had to start over) before I got a label I could use.
On my second label, made for All You Need Is Love, I wanted an extra layer under the label so the print on the backing fabric wouldn’t show through. As an experiment I fused interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. There was very little rippling of the freezer paper. It went through the printer easily and I got a useable label on the first try. That in itself was serendipitous. Little did I know there was more serendipity to come!
To make label #3 for Uptown Funk, I decided to follow the second method. Three layers: label fabric, fusible interfacing, freezer paper. I made my preparations and trooped from my sewing room on the second story of our house down to the basement where the computer and printer are. Once there I realized I had only two of my three layers. I had fused the interfacing to the label fabric and trimmed it to size but had forgotten all about the freezer paper.
Arghh!! Did I really want to climb two flights of stairs to my sewing room to complete the freezer paper step? Or should I take a chance and run the fabric through the printer without the freezer paper? The worst that could happen is the printer would jam, right? So I tried it with just the two layers . . . and it worked — beautifully!
Was it just a fluke? Or have I stumbled onto an important discovery?
I decided to test my inadvertent discovery today by making a new label for a quilt I’d made in 2009. Back then my standard label information consisted of the name I had given the quilt, my name, and the year completed. At the time I didn’t appreciate the importance of providing additional information, such as the the designer of the quilt (if it wasn’t me) or the name of the person who quilted it for me. Nowadays I make it a point to include all that information on my labels.
Fiesta was quilted for me by the late great Lee Fowler, and I have been wanting to update the label information to acknowledge that for a very long time. I’ve actually been meaning to go back and remake several of my older labels but have always found an excuse to put it off. Creating labels by hand can be onerous and time-consuming, even when the results are pleasing. But now, thanks to the ease and speed of making a computer-generated label, my procrastination may be a thing of the past.
Here, very briefly, are the steps I took to make this label:
First, featherweight interfacing is fused to the label fabric. (I used Pellon 911FF.) Both pieces are cut slightly larger than a standard sheet of paper, 8½” x 11″:
Second, the fused fabrics are trimmed to 8½” x 11″ exactly:
Third, the two layers are fed into the inkjet printer and the label is printed from a file created on the computer. I tried two different sizes of type since I had room on the page for two labels:
Going with the smaller type, I decided I wanted a round label 4″ in diameter. (Labels can be any shape but I like the look of a round label.) My standard pattern is a compact disc measuring 4⅝” in diameter but it seemed a bit large so I made a trip to the kitchen to find just the right size to trace around. This small blue bowl is exactly 4″ across:
The larger circle drawn around the label was made with a compact disc, the smaller with the blue bowl.
I traced around the blue bowl on the wrong side of my label backing fabric so that when I held both layers up to the light I could position the top layer properly:
I don’t have a light table so the window had to do.
After being stitched and turned inside out, my label was ready to sew into place:
I chose to appliqué mine by hand but on another quilt it might be machine appliquéd if the stitching lines wouldn’t be distracting on the right side of the quilt.
My labels were printed on an HP OfficeJet Pro 8620. I know that all inkjet printers are not created equally. There must be wide variations between brands and models. I can’t help but wonder: with two successful labels behind me made with the new combo of label fabric + fusible interfacing + fabric for the back of the label, how transferable is this method of printing computer-generated labels?
Ah, that’s where you come in. If you are the least bit intrigued with my accidental discovery, would you be willing to make a test label? If this method works with different brands of printers — and different brands of fusible interfacing — I would be willing to create a tutorial for my website with detailed instructions and a lot of photos. I thank in advance any quilter who decides to go for this.
Before I sign off, here’s a look at Fiesta, the first in my series of kaleidoscope quilts, front and back:
Yes, I need to get a new photo of the back with the updated label!
I made a serendipitous discovery today when making the label for All You Need Is Love, my latest quilt. Before I explain, let me show you a few photos of the quilt taken outdoors this afternoon. The photos are so much better than the indoor shots I showed you in my last post. I’m especially loving the contrast between the red of the quilt and the green of the grass:
Did you happen to notice the label in the lower left corner in the photo above?
No? How about in the photo below, showing the front of the quilt with one corner turned back?
It’s not very noticeable, is it? That was my goal!
Here’s a close-up:
The label contains important information: the name of the quilt, who designed it, who made it, where it was made, who quilted it, and the year it was finished. But I wanted the label to take a back seat to the message on the back of the quilt.
To achieve that I did three things: printed the label from my computer so that I could use smaller letters than I can comfortably write by hand; used red ink, which blends into the background better than black ink would; and reduced the size of my circle pattern from my usual measurement of 4⅝” in diameter (the width of a compact disc) to 3¾” in diameter . The quilt finishes at 38″ x 44″ so a smaller label was definitely called for.
This is my second experience printing a label using my inkjet printer. The first time was a few months ago when I made the label for Give Me the Simple Life. The procedure was pretty straightforward. You start with label fabric and freezer paper that are both cut larger than a standard piece of paper, press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the label fabric, and trim the result very carefully to exactly 8½” x 11″. You create a label on your computer, determining the font and point size based on the desired finished size of your label. You insert the fabric/freezer paper combo into your printer and print the label.
When I tried this the first time I found I had to use two layers of freezer paper to get my printer to accept the combo and even then it was a bit temperamental, jamming my printer a couple of times until I got the the result I wanted.
I would have followed the same procedure this time but for my concern that the bright little flowers on my background fabric would show through the white label fabric. I was using the same white fabric for the back of the label but I wanted an extra layer in the middle to make sure those bright little flowers stayed hidden.
I decided to try fusing featherweight interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. I’m so glad I did! The interfacing gave the fabric just the right amount of body to feed smoothly through my printer. Serendipity!
I previewed my label first on paper using two different shades of red:
The bottom red was a better match with the red in the quilt. Next I printed the label on my fabric/interfacing/freezer paper combo:
The ink on fabric wasn’t quite as bright as the ink on paper but would certainly be fine for my purpose.
After determining a circle 3¾” in diameter would work well as a finished label size (based on the width of the longest line), I wandered around my kitchen opening cupboard doors until I found something just the right size to trace around for the back of the label:
In the next photo the fabric for the back of the label is on top of the label fabric, right sides together and pinned in place. You can just make out the printing on the label through the top layer:
After stitching all the way around the circle (taking out the pins as I come to them) and trimming very close to the stitched edge with pinking shears, I cut a slit in the back of the label so it can be turned inside out:
With the label turned, pressed, and hand appliquéd in place, the slit in the back will never be seen. And I’m very happy with the result:
I have a feeling I will be using this method on future labels!
Take a look at my latest quilt, finished late this afternoon:
When you look at the octagonal blocks, do you see bicycle wheels and spokes? I do. That’s why I named this quilt Spokesong, after the play by Irish playright Stewart Parker. Set in a bicycle shop in Belfast, the play is about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the progress of civilization using the history of the bicycle as a framing device. I saw a delightful production of this “play with music” in the early 1980s and it came to mind when I was trying to think of a name.
My quilt is based on the pattern Idyllic by Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts. (It’s the pattern I taught at last month’s Pine Needle quilt retreats on Hood Canal in Washington.) I changed the pattern a bit by simplifying three blocks.
The floral prints are from a line of fabric called “Paradise” designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Fabrics. I ran off in high spirits one day three years ago and bought a lot of fabric from this line. It has made its way into several projects since then, and I used up more of it on the back of this one:
Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day did a beautiful job quilting Spokesong for me on her longarm. I love how the wavy lines of the edge-to-edge design called Serpentine almost make the quilt shimmer:
Did you notice the shape of the label?
Here’s a closer look:
Coco made herself right at home during the photo session:
If she wasn’t on top of the quilt, she was under it:
Recognize the pattern? It’s Mini Mod Tiles from Sew Kind of Wonderful. The aqua and yellow quilt was made with the QCR Mini — the smaller of the two Quick Curve Rulers designed by Sew Kind of Wonderful — and finishes at 34½” square. SKW offers this pattern as a free download on its website.
The bigger quilt? I “supersized” SKW’s design to make a larger block using the original Quick Curve Ruler, resulting in a lap quilt measuring 63″ square. Why two sizes? I had chosen Mini Mod Tiles as the pattern to teach at the Pine Needle’s summer 2017 quilt retreat and wanted to offer my students two options.
Both quilts have been back from the longarm quilter for several weeks but it took me a while to get them bound and then labeled. Now I get to show the finished quilts together.
Let’s start with the larger of the two, named Terrazzo Tiles:
Here it is from the back:
I used every bit of the leftover focus fabric on the back, even piecing scraps to make the ring around the label:
Since the bigger quilt is called Terrazzo Tiles, it made perfect sense to name the mini quilt Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles:
My first inclination was to bind this one with the yellow tone-on-tone fabric you see above, but I had used a different yellow on the back and they just didn’t look good together. The solution was to bind the quilt with the aqua and yellow focus fabric so it provided a frame for the quilt as seen from the back:
The hand-guided quilting (by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day) is so lovely I hesitated to add a label, loving the look of a whole-cloth quilt. But it needed a label — to identify the designer, the maker, and the quilter. Sometimes all three are the same person but more often than not the result is a combination of efforts, and it’s important in my book to give credit where credit is due:
Next week the Pine Needle is planning a reunion for the retreat participants. It will be fun to see the students’ finished projects — both mini and supersized!
One more thing: the talented women of Sew Kind of Wonderful have kindly given me permission to show you how I supersized the mini version. Coming very soon: a new tutorial on my Tutorials page.
I finished binding and labeling Dutch Treat yesterday. The rain held off just long enough for a few shots taken in the back yard:
Red and green look so good together, don’t they?
Here you can see the entire quilt:
The windmill blocks measure 12″ square and the pinwheels in the center of each block measure 4″ square. The block is a variation of the classic Winding Ways quilt block usually made with curved seams. These seams are straight but the overall design of the quilt gives the illusion of overlapping circles.
On the back of the quilt I used leftover blocks:
I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, that’s a lot of leftover blocks.” You’re right — and I didn’t even use all of them. I confess: those extras resulted from a miscalculation on my part. At least I was able to put most of them to good use.
Here’s a close-up of the label:
I made the label round using a compact disc for a pattern (described in my tutorial) and then set the label inside a larger circle of red fabric so it would stand out against the backing fabric.
I’m so pleased with the quilting of longarmer Debbie Scroggy. You can see close-ups of Debbie’s quilting in this earlier post.
Dutch Treat (named for the windmill-shaped block)
48″ x 60″
Adapted from the pattern A Mid-Winter’s Night by Cottage Rose
Fabrics: a mix of reds and two light background prints, all from my stash
Quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC
To read older posts about the making of Dutch Treat, click on the category “windmill block” at the bottom of this post.
Thanks for stopping by. It’s always fun to share a finish!
Dragonfly Kisses measures 50″ x 59″, a good size for a throw. The design is a variation of Chic Diamonds by Sew Kind of Wonderful.I believe this is the seventh or eighth quilt I have made using the Quick Curve Ruler, also made by SKW.
Here’s a close-up of the label, made with my favorite method using a compact disc for a pattern:
See that dragonfly just to the left of the label? There’s one in the lower right corner, too. That fabric is one of six I used from the “Dance of the Dragonfly” fabric line, due in quilt shops this month. The fabric line was designed by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas Studio in association with Benartex. (Something tells me I need more of this fabric, which comes in an equally beautiful plum/olive green colorway.)
Just yesterday I showed you pictures of WanderLust, the king-size bed runner I picked up on Wednesday from longarm quilter Coleen Barnhardt of the Quilted Thistle. The bed runner needed to be bound and labeled — and that’s been done.
Are you surprised I got it bound so quickly? It would have taken me hours to stitch down the binding by hand. Confession: I took the easy way out and fused the binding in place in a matter of minutes with Steam-a-Seam-2, a double-stick fusible web.
I use Steam-a-Seam-2 occasionally on wall hangings and other small pieces that won’t get washed. It should be just fine for this bed runner that will be laundered but not as often as, say, a baby quilt. (Actually, a fusible web should never wash out or come undone if applied properly. I used it on this quilt because I was in a hurry to get it done; my preference is for a binding stitched down by hand.)
The label is a bit unconventional. In fact, it’s not a label at all. I mentioned yesterday that this quilt is reversible so I didn’t want to attach a label as I normally do. Here’s what I did instead:
Can you see where I wrote “WANDERLUST, DAWN WHITE, 2016 PORTLAND OR” in permanent ink? It’s hard to see (my plan) but it’s there. I like to include information on my labels about the patterns and designers but I skipped it in this case. Let this post be a permanent record that WanderLust was based on the pattern Spinners by Heather Mulder Peterson. Spinners is one of several delightful designs in her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014).
My new cat Coco must really like this quilt. She photobombed it:
Remember this quilt? I was working on it back in February (you can read about it here) when I learned that my brother’s son and his wife were expecting their first child, due in August. They didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until it arrived. In the back of my mind I was thinking that if the baby were a girl, this might become her quilt.
At the end of August, their daughter was born. I was still considering this quilt for her but didn’t decide for sure until it came back from long-arm quilter Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting. Then I knew it would be perfect for a sweet little girl. Nancy quilted a sunburst motif in the center of each kaleidoscope block and a tessellating clamshell design in the background. Take a look:
On the back I put a big strip of the hydrangea focus fabric and converted a leftover kaleido block into a circle:
On this detail photo of the back you can get a better look at the quilted sunburst:
The label was made using a compact disc (described in my tutorial here):
The photo above, which gives you a better look at the tessellating clamshell motif, was taken after the quilt was washed, giving it that soft puckery look.
Lyra’s quilt — #7 in my series of kaleidoscope quilts — will soon be on its way to her. I hope she likes it!
Compact discs are permanent fixtures in my sewing room. I listen to music all the time when I’m sewing. Sometimes the radio is on, set to an FM station that plays oldies, but most of the time I listen to songs I’ve compiled myself on CDs, eclectic mixes of everything from folk music to jazz to country to the Great American Songbook.
What do my musical tastes have to do with quilt labels? Simply this: CDs do more than just produce beautiful music. These slender silvery discs, measuring 4⅝” in diameter, make great circle patterns for quilts and home sewing projects. They’re lightweight, portable, and very easy to trace around. And they’re the perfect size for quilt labels.
I use fusible interfacing as the backing fabric, so the labels actually get fused to the backs of my quilts. Labels can be made just as easily with a non-fusible interfacing or other lightweight fabric and then appliquéd to the back of the quilt by hand or machine. Either way, they are easy to make and give the back of the quilt a nicely finished look as well as added visual interest.
Here’s a tutorial on how I make quilt labels using a compact disc. For this demonstration I’m making a label for a little quilt called Wonderful Town that I made a couple of years ago. (It’s in my Quilt Gallery, about halfway down, if you’d like to take a look. You’ll notice it doesn’t have a label yet.)
Supplies Scratch paper
Pencil with a fine point
Scrap of freezer paper about 6½” square
Piece of cotton about 6½” square for the label
Piece of light to medium-weight fusible interfacing about 6½” square
Temporary marking pen or pencil (I recommend the Frixion erasable gel pen)
Fine point permanent marker
1. Start with a piece of scratch paper and a pencil with a fine point. Trace around a compact disc and put a dot in the center. Draw a line across the dot to establish the baseline rule.
2. Decide what your label will say and how many lines it will take. Write the label information on scratch paper first to make sure it’s what you want. Center each line, just as it will appear on your label. This is good practice before you record the same information on fabric with permanent ink. Using a see-through ruler, draw lines ⅜” apart in the circle.
In my example, I drew two lines above my baseline rule and three below it, for a total of six lines. If I were making a label with five lines, I would have drawn two above the baseline and two below.
3. Using a hot dry iron, press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the label fabric. This keeps the fabric taut, making it easier to write on with a pen. Press from the front to make sure the fabric is flat with no bubbles. The freezer paper will be removed later.
Note: many quilters use cotton muslin for their labels. I usually choose a cotton fabric that was used in my quilt top or one that goes well with it. Here I am using a scrap of light gold fabric that picks up the same shade in the quilt.
4. Center the compact disc on the right side of the label fabric. Trace around it with a temporary marking pen or pencil and put a tiny dot in the center. Draw a baseline across the dot. As with the scratch paper version, draw lines ⅜” apart above and below the baseline.
I absolutely love the Frixion erasable gel pens by Pilot. The ink vanishes at the touch of an iron. Frixion pens come in a rainbow of colors. Here I used green ink, pressing lightly to get just enough of a line to see where I needed to write.
Option: Instead of drawing the rules on the front of the label fabric with a temporary marker, you could draw them on the back of the freezer paper with very dark ink so that they show through from the right side.
5. Tape the label to your work surface with painter’s tape. Test the permanent marker on a corner of your label fabric to make sure the ink doesn’t bleed. Carefully write the information on your label. Don’t worry if your lettering isn’t perfect; mine certainly isn’t. The label just needs to be neatly written and easily read.
I used aSharpie Ultra Fine Point here but you may prefer an archival quality pen such as the Pigma Micron, which uses an acid-free pigment-based ink.
6. Remove the tape and peel the freezer paper off the back of the label. On the right side insert a pin at the spot where you marked the center of the label. Is the writing centered in the circle? If not, adjust the pin.
7. Turn the fabric over. Center the compact disc over the pin and trace around the disc with the pencil (not the permanent marker). The line you traced is your stitching line.
8. From the right side press the label with a hot iron. This sets the ink of the permanent marker and removes the Frixion ink, if you used it. If you used some other type of temporary marking pen or pencil, you may need to remove it before applying heat to the label.
9. Place the interfacing on a flat surface with the fusible side up. Lay the label fabric right side down on top of it. Imagining the circle as a clock, insert four pins at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Place the pins across the seam line, with the tips pointing toward the outside edges; this helps keep the two layers flat. Insert four more pins evenly around the circle.
10. Using a small stitch (about 12 stitches to the inch), sew completely around the circle, gently turning the fabric as you sew to keep the curve line smooth and removing the pins as you come to them. Stitch beyond your beginning point by five or six stitches (no need to knot). Clip threads.
11. Using pinking shears, trim closely next to the line of stitching.
12. Gently pull the interfacing away from the label fabric and make a small slit in the center of the interfacing. With scissors extend the slit to about ¾” from the stitching line on either side.
13. Carefully turn the label inside out through the slit. Insert your fingers through the slit and gently run a fingernail around the edges to smooth out the circle shape. Fusible interfacing tears fairly easily, so be gentle.
14. The label is now ready to be pressed to the back of the quilt. Remember that the fusible side of the interfacing is on the outside. Be sure to position the label exactly where you want it before following the manufacturer’s directions for fusing. After the label is attached, you can stitch around it if you wish to give it that appliquéd look.