Label Me Surprised

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:

Fiesta, 54″ square (2009)
Back of Fiesta (2009)

Yes, I need to get a new photo of the back with the updated label!




This entry was posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Label Me Surprised

  1. Arden Shelton says:

    Hi Dawn…..That’s a great idea. Although, instead of using a fabric for the label back, I would sew the label to fusible interfacing, fusible side to right side of the label, turn it and then fuse it to the quilt which stabilizes it for the applique. This is the same procedure Eleanor Burns uses to turn her pieces for machine applique.
    Lovely quilts, as usual…..Arden

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Arden. That’s what I do when I make a label the old fashioned way (by hand): label fabric backed with fusible interfacing. But since I used fusible interfacing on the back of the label fabric in order to run it through the printer, I thought another piece of fusible for the back of the label might make the entire thing too stiff. But maybe not! I’ll give it a try.

  2. Christine Swanson says:

    Just tried a label using the fabric from the design and Smart Flex. Worked great! My printer is an HP Office Jet 3830…Now for all those labels I haven’t been doing!

  3. Diane says:

    While the technicalities of this labeling procedure are beyond me, what really captured my imagination was the inspiration for this new innovation of yours – namely avoiding going back up two flights of stairs. Now that was stark raving, hysterically, all time funny and totally made my day! You just gotta love it.

  4. Glenna Denman says:

    I tried your technique today after finishing the binding on a small quilt. I have a Canon TS9120. It worked like a charm! I did insert it in the rear tray, where one would put photo paper or other special papers. I set the type on BOLD, and it is very clear. I pressed it with a hot iron to set the type, which you had mentioned in a previous blog post. I found it much easier to sew than purchased printer fabric, which I usually frame with quilting fabric because it is hard to sew through the printer fabric, so that is a time saver. I also think it will have a better hand, it is not as stiff. I like that you used your pinking shears to trim yours, I am sure the seam will be less visible. Thanks so much for this idea, I would not have tried it on my own but you gave me the courage to try it.

  5. Marge Nix says:

    I’ve used my printer to make labels for years, I use washed fabric to remove all chemicals, over cut the 8.5 x 11″ and starch the heck out of it, I mean stiff, trim to exact size, print on the opposite side and it makes great labels,

    • Dawn says:

      That’s clever, Marge! I’ll have to give that method a try. Do you heat set the ink with a hot iron and then wash the fabric to make it soft and pliable again?

  6. Christine says:

    Correction: I used Pellon Shape Flex (SF 101)….not “Smart”…
    Guess I was so excited that I had done a label I posted before checking the facts…
    Will do better next time!

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