Archive for How To

How To Decide What To Quilt On a Quilt Top

I am so excited to be asked to write a guest blog for APQS. It took me a little while to really think about what I wanted to share with you today. I know that I am going to talk about how I decide what I will quilt on a client’s quilt, but it is an involved process.
There are some basic things I go through with the quilt maker before I can begin to generate ideas for the quilt. I thought it would be easier to video my talking about those basics and give you a direction to think about for your own quilts. I hope you enjoy the video.

I have never done a video for my own blog: but think that I will try it again in the future. I had a great time spending time shooting the video and do hope it gives you great ideas.

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T-Shirt Quilt Fixed and Beautiful

Sometimes I get projects from clients that need some tender loving changes to make them into a great quilt. This T-shirt quilt had been started by the girl that is going to receive it for Christmas.

She had cut the logos (roughly) and tried to make a collage out of them. They had been attached to a piece of fleece with yarn. Of course, they were rolling on the edges and the client did not know how to finish the quilt.

I took the logos apart and reframed them with fabric. Some of the logos were cut to close to the edges and I lost part due to the quarter inch seam I needed to add the new fabric. Even when things do not work out as planned, it is still possible to fix them and create a great quilt to snuggle into.

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Quilt Label Tips

Quilted wall hanging

This is a small wall hanging that I made and quilted by hand several years ago. It is in need of a label. It has been too long ago, so it will take me a while to find the information I need for the label for this piece. It is a prime example of waiting too long to document the quilt. Without documentation or labels, the quilt does not have any information to share with the person who has the quilt in the future. My hope is that my quilts will last for many years and my hope is that the history of them will continue with them. Little scarcrow on a little quilt.

Below I have listed some tips for when you make your own labels using permanent ink pens. I hope it helps with your label making.

Quilt Label Tips:

  • Use 100% cotton, high thread count fabric for your label.
  • Prewash the cotton fabric to remove sizing and help the inks penetrate the fabric.
  • Use light colored fabric so the ink will show. White on white fabric is not a good choice. The white is painted on and the ink will not penetrate it.
  • Use permanent ink pens that are made for fabric such as Pigma pens. A fine point pen is less likely to bleed.
  • Always test a sample of the fabric and ink. This will let you know how much bleed will happen between the pen and fabric. I always heat set the permanent ink with an iron and then wait 24 hours. After waiting for 24 hours, wash the sample and you will have an idea of how well the label will hold up and whether it will bleed after washing.
  • Use freezer paper to stablize the label. You can draw equidistant lines on the freezer paper to give yourself guidelines for writing on the label. Iron the freezer paper waxed side to the fabric’s wrong side with a hot, dry iron.
  • Practice writing slowly. Use a lighter touch so the ink flows into the fabric and you can control the letters easier.

Wall hanging quilt named Little House in the Woods

So this is the last post for January 2012. I have met my goal for January. I completed 3 OMOS (One More On the Stack). I have not completed documenting and labeling 4 quilts this month but I think January does not count since I did not add this goal until the end of the month. Maybe I will be able to catch up during February.


“What I give to you, what I make with my hands, I share with my heart.”


Ways to Label Quilts

     Here is a quilt that is hanging in my sewing studio.  It is one I made a few years ago and it is on the list for a label.  I just need to think about what I would like to have on the label and then decide how I will make the label.  The name of this quilt is “Grapevines and More”.

Quilt named Grapevines and More.

     A label can be very simple or as elaborate as you would like to make it.  At the very least, it should include the name of the maker, the name of the quilter, the date, and the name of the quilt.  You should always have a name for your quilt.  You spent the time on it, give it a name.  Information to include on the label, especially if you want the infomation to stay with the quilt might be:

  • Name of the quilt
  • Name of the maker (Be sure to use full names.)
  • Name of the quilter
  • Name of the owner
  • Date quilt was made
  • Where was the quilt made
  • Why was the quilt made
  • What pattern was used or was it an original design
  • Techniques used in making the quilt
  • Additions – size of the quilt, personal message, poem, quote, photo, clip art, brief story of the quilt

     I think the more information you place on the label, the better it is for historical reasons, but even if you only write your name and the date, it will provide information for yourself and for others who might someday own the quilt.

Quilt named "Rooms Can Be a Jungle".

     There are several options for a label for your quilt. 

  1. You can buy a ready made label and use a permenant marker or a pigma pen to fill in the information.
  2. There are fabric bolts at your local quilt store that has labels printed on the fabric.  You can buy a half yard or more and have more one than one label for your use.  Again, using a permenant marker or pigma pen works well.
  3. You can embroider a label either by hand or by machine.
  4. You can make an extra quilt block from the front of the quilt and use it to write the information on, using permanent ink pens like pigma pens.  Use freezer paper on the back side to stabilize the block before writing your information.
  5. You can make a simple fabric label with a piece of muslin that is adhered to freezer paper.  The freezer paper will stablize the fabric so it is easier to write on the muslin.  You can add a border all around the muslin piece after you remove the freezer paper.  It can be fabric from the front of the quilt or it could be a “signature fabric” that you use on every quilt you make.
  6. You can use Microsoft Word to make your label.  You can add photos or clip art.  You can use a variety of fonts as well as having the fonts in differnt colors.  It is easy to type the information on your computer and easily print it out on treated fabric such as EQ Printable Fabric or Printed Treasures.

     Quilt made for Kelli's room, Rooms Can Be a Jungle.     There are a couple of computer programs that you can also use to make your labels for your quilts.  I am familiar with three different ones that are easy to use and each provides an easy way to make the label and then print out on treated fabric such as EQ Printable Fabric or Printed Treasures.

     Home Challenge.

     EQ7 (Electric Quilt 7) is a computer quilt design program that can be used to design quilt labels as well.  You can use different fonts, background colors, even a fabric that is in the palette contained in the program.  You can add photos, a block or motif from the front of the quilt, or clip art to really enhance the label.

      There is also a program call the HP Custom Quilt Label Kit.  Computer program called HP Custom Quilt Label Kit.It is the program I used for both of Conner’s quilts and the Tulip, Tulip quilt in my previous post.  It is easy to use and has clip art included as well as a few quotes that might be nice to use on a label. Computer program called Quilt Label Collective

     C&T Publishing is also offering a computer program for labeling quilts.  This program offers 150 original illustrations on a CD that can be used in making your label. 

     Tomorrow, I will share a few more labels with you and give you some tips on making labels using freezer paper or permanent ink pens such as pigma pens.

“May your sorrow be patched and your joys quilted”.



Labeling Your Quilt

     Saw this red ensemble and thought it was perfect for the color RED for this month.  It is a great quilt, unfortunately it is a “store quilt”, but great just the same.  Red is definitely needed for January.  This also shows just how cheery and bright and bold red can be in a quilt.

The Color for January is RED.

     Putting a label on a quilt is usually the last part of finishing your quilt.  I confess that I have many quilts that do not have a label on the back.  I am always so anxious to get to the next project that I do not take the time to make the label and sew it on the back of the quilt. 

     A label on the back gives information about the quilt.  I have some quilts I have made that I do not remember when or why I made that particular quilt.  It would have been nice if I had made the label and documented the quilt way back when.  Then I would not be in the position I am now with trying to remember information about the quilt that would have been much easier to remember right after I had finished the quilt. 

     With my quilts that I have not labeled yet, as well as ones I have that are antique, I do not have all the information and history about the quilt.  It would be great for my children and grandchildren to know the history of the quilts that they will have someday.  Some of the pieces they have now do not have a label so again, the history is not there for the importance of the quilt.  It is important that I get those labels made and preserve the history of each quilt.

     You spend hours making a quilt.  Your tears, laughter, joys, prayers, and hopes are all part of the quilt.  I know that I have my brain processing all the things that are going on in my life as I am quilting.  That quilt needs to have its history. It needs to have the history recorded for others.

Label for the Tulips, Tulips quilt     This is the label I made for the Tulips, Tulips quilt that I have shared with you in previous posts.  It includes the maker, quilter, date finished, pattern used, and a brief paragraph about the quilt.

     There is not a lot of information on the label, however, it does give a bit of the history for the future.  Quilt named Touching Ruby JewellThe documentation I have for the quilt is separate from the label and gives more information about the piece, but the label will help if the documentation is separated from the quilt.

     This quilt is called “Touching Ruby Jewell”.  It is an original design I created for the 2005 Hoffman challenge.  I needed to quickly make a label for this piece so I could get it mailed.  The label still gives information about the quilt even though it is brief.

Touching Ruby Jewell label

     I used pigma pens to make the label.  I did not use a white muslin as I thought a fabric with some color would look better.  I do not always want the label to be a huge white label on the back.

     The information does tell the maker, quilter, date made, and why the quilt was made.  Unfortunately, it does not provide any more information that would add to the history of the quilt.Challenge quilt with Home as the theme.


     This quilt was a group project quilt that involved women I had quilted with for many years.  The front center block was made with pigma pens and applique.  Center block on the Home Challenge quilt.I also used pigma pens for the label on the back of the quilt.  The label is quite descriptive and therefore provides a great bit of the history of the quilt and why it was made.Label for the Home Challenge quilt.

      There is not enough room on a label to put all the information so it is important to also write the documentation as well.  I did not place this label on the back in the corner of the quilt.  I wanted it to be placed in a random place as the theme of Home is not always the same for everyone.

Quilt named On the Road     This is a darling panel quilt I made for my grandson.  It is called “On the Road”.  It was so quick and easy to LongArm quilt it after I put borders on it.  I wanted to make sure that it had a label on it for him.  It seems that I always put labels on quilts that I make for others.Label for quilt named On the Road.

      This is a label that I made using a quilt label program.  It made it easy to insert some clip art and to write the information I wanted to have on the label.Quilt made for Conner named Conner's Tractors.  The program was easier and less time involved than the pigma pens.

     This is a panel quilt I made for my grandson as well.  It is called Conner’s Tractors.  It also was an easy quilt to make.  I just added borders and quilted it with Crystal Rose my LongArm Millenium.  She does such a nice job.  Label on quilt named Conner's Tractors.

     This label was also made using a quilt label program for the computer.  It is a very easy way to get that label made right after you finish the quilt binding. 



     Tomorrow, I will visit with you about the information you should include on your label and I will share with you some ways to make your label for the back of your quilt.

“Quilts, like friends, are different, colorful, fun, warm and comforting…You can never acquire enough of either.”


Documenting Your Quilts

Organizing Files. I have been very sidetracked from my quilting projects, as I seem to be drowning in paperwork. End of the year paperwork, preparing for taxes, a little bit of spring cleaning, and filing all the paperwork I did not get to during the holidays. Whew!Random filing I feel like I will never get to the end of the paperwork. I keep thinking the paper should be able to pass through my hands one time. I am not able to do that very well. Seems that the papers want to spend time going through my hands time and time, again and again.

In all the paperwork, I also have pictures of quilts and information to document and label my quilts. Remember, this is one of my goals for this year. I really would like to make sure that all of my quilts are documented and labeled.

More paperwork With stacks of paperwork everywhere, I find that doing anything other than getting ready for taxes is what I want to do. So… I guess that a side trip to try and start on my goal of documenting my quilts is helping ease the feeling of drowning in paperwork.

Do you have mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, or other family members that made quilts in the past? Do you have all the information about those quilts? Who made them? When were they made? Why were they made? As you know, quilts have huge sentimental value. Without information about those quilts, the history and stories of our quilts will be lost. Each of us puts a bit of our lives into our quilts and it is those stories that will mean so much to those in the future.

As you can see, I am behind (lazy, distracted) when it comes to documenting my quilts. I am much, much better when it comes to the label on the back of the quilt. I have always preached to my students that the label on the back of their quilt was critical. I will talk more about labels this week. Today, I just want to focus on the documentation.

There are many ways to document your quilts. Many products on the market look like they would help in the process, but I have not been as diligent about documenting as I think I should. So one of my goals for 2012 is to label and document at least four quilts a month. Wow, seems like I keep adding goals. I just hope that I am successful. Success is achieved through action. Keep moving even if there are mistakes or set backs. Inaction will not get projects completed.

  • I have a couple of samples here to give you some ideas about ways to document your quilt. The first sample is a journal that is labeled Quilter’s Registry. I purchased it from the American Quilter’s Society. (They do have great products). Journal called Quilter's RegistryYou can document 78 quilts in this journal. The inside has a place for a photo. It also has information spaces for you to fill out about the quilt. It includes information such as:
  • Title
  • Design
  • Type of Project
  • Reference/Pattern
  • Constructed by
  • Quilted By
  • Start and Stop datesJournal for documenting quilt.

It also includes other information spaces about the fabric, techniques, cost, etc. It is a start if you are not documenting your quilts yet. The photo area is small but you can still tape a photo to the page after filling out the information. (Remember to use Artist Tape. It is acid free and can be repositioned without ripping pages or photos).

The next sample I would like to share with you is an envelope that has been punched for a three hole binder placement. It has the quilt documentation spaces on the outside of the envelope. It is also a great way to document your quilt and keep swatches of the fabric used, the pattern, or anything pertinent to the quilt inside the envelope. I like the idea of additional pictures of the quilting design, the display of where the quilt lives, or photos of the person who received the quilt, on the inside of the envelope. It is also a great place to keep any awards, ribbons, or quilt show brochures that contain written discriptions of the quilt. Sometimes, there are those special items associated with the quilt that should be kept with the documentation and the envelope provides for that purpose.Quilt documentation envelope

I found this sample at a quilt store in Spokane, Washington. It does not have any ordering information on the outside. I think you could develop your own form to paste to an envelope and do something similar if you are not able to find it at your local quilt store.

A folder system is another way to organize your documentation. You will need to have a place to store the folders and will need to consider how you will file the folders. (More filing…..I am not sure I am up to this at this time.)

You could also use a ziplock bag or a notebook with a manilla folder attached to the form. I think it is important to have some type of envelope to hold a variety of items related to that particular quilt. Fabric receipts and swatches, sketches, photos of the finished quilt as well as in progress photos, copies of entry forms to shows, ribbon, brochures from shows that might have information about the quilt, pattern used, or anything else that is pertinent to that quilt.

A form of some type should be used to keep track of the pertinent information about the quilt. I have compiled some suggestions of information you might want to include:

  • Quilt name
  • Name of maker
  • Name of quilter
  • Start and finish dates
  • Current owner
  • Where quilt was made
  • Size of quilt
  • Pattern/reference used to make quilt
  • Techniques used
  • Fabric used
  • Batting used
  • A brief story of what was going on in your life while you made this quilt.

I know that there are many ways to put the form together to gather the information on each quilt. Do take the time to write a bit of the story about the quilt. Only you will remember what you were doing in your life when the quilt was made. This is what it means to say “Each of my quilts has a piece of my life stitched into it”. I can tell you where and what my life was about for each of my pieces, as well as the quilts of my clients. Being able to tell you does not help for the future unless it is written down.

There is also a new software program called QuiltAlbum. You can find out about it at It is a technology way to document your quilts and still be able to print off the information and have a hard copy in a notebook. I have decided that this is how I will proceed on documenting those quilts I have not done to this point. I have used the manilla envelope system with the form on the outside to this point. I think this program will be a much easier way for me.

Journal for documenting the quilts This is a journal I use to keep track of the quilting process for the quilts I LongArm quilt for my clients. It allows me to remember what thread I used, how much thread, type of batting, LongArm designs used, and the amount of time it took to complete the quilt. I also include a picture of the quilt in the journal for reference. I take a picture when the quilt first arrives at my studio, and I take a picture when it is finished. As we all know, the quilt isn’t a quilt until it is quilted and the quilting changes the quilt top.Journal to record LongArm quilting.

This side trip should take up a bit of time…at least give me a break from the tax prep stuff. Who knows, maybe I will be on top of things soon and then I will need to find something else to organize!

Tomorrow, I will talk about labeling the quilt on the back of the quilt. This is critical and a must, regardless of any other form of documenting you do.

May you be creative and be able to quilt each day. May it bring you serenity and joy!


Tips for Piecing Your Quilt Top

     A quilt top that has been pieced well, quilts well.  It definitely makes a difference to the longarm quilter when putting a top into the frame, to have it flat, straight, and have the corners matching.

     I use a great little tool to help with my piecing of a quilt top.  Sewing EdgeIt is  called a Sewing Edge, A Reusuable Vinyl Stop by Qtools.  There are five vinyl strips in the package and they can be reused.  You place them on your sewing machine to help you have a perfect quarter inch seam.  This definitely helps with your accuracy.

Rotary Cutter


Using a GOOD rotary cutter (I prefer the Olfa Rotary Cutter), a Good mat (Olfa Rotary Mat), and a GOOD ruler (Omnigrid) also helps in the accuracy of cutting your strips and pieces.   I also use a larger square ruler to trim all of my blocks to the same size.  (They go together better when they are the same size). 

Pressing your quilt pieces and seamsAlways press your seams as you go.  It is important to have flat, straight seams.  I use steam and I PRESS, lift the iron, and PRESS.  I do not IRON.  I want the seams and blocks to be straight.  I can warp and stretch seams and blocks very easily when I IRON, so I PRESS, PRESS, PRESS.  Sometimes, I also use non-flaking spray starch to add a bit of body or crispness to my blocks.

Good intersection points in quilting and piecing.


It is always such a good feeling to have your points meet and your blocks to fit together.  It is worth using good tools, good fabric, and taking your time.  Remember, you are creating quilts not just for today, but also for years to come.

     Let me end with “Watch your thoughts; they become words.  Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become character.  Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”