A printed quilt label adds a high-end touch to any quilt. It may seem difficult, but if you follow the steps here, you can print your own quilt labels on fabric using a home ink-jet printer.
The Letters Quilt includes a printable quilt label in the pattern! Grab your copy here!
You can follow this method to print any quilt label on fabric.
What you’ll need
- Quilting cotton fabric (I recommend a light neutral solid)
- Freezer paper (not parchment paper…yes, they are different things…yes, I had to learn that the hard way my first time!)
- Rotary cutter/mat/ruler
- Ink-jet printer (Laser will not work)
- Mixing bowl
- Vinegar or dye fixative
- Air-soluble marking pen
- Oil based pen (such as Sharpie)
- Embroidery thread and needle
- Fusible interfacing (the same size as your quilt label)
- Pinking shears
Steps to Print:
- Choose or create a quilt label on your computer.
- Cut a rectangle from both your fabric and your freezer paper about 9.5” x 12”.
- With the fabric right side down and the freezer paper shiny side down on top of the fabric, align edges and corners, and iron. Press until the freezer paper sticks to the fabric. It will appear slightly bumpy. Resist the urge to pull it apart to check. Err on the side of ironing more, but don’t scorch the paper. I’ve done this many times and never scorched my paper. Basically, just don’t hold your iron in one place and forget about it. Keep it moving!
- Trimming a bit off of all four edges, cut to exactly 8.5”x11”. It is very important that you trim off all four sides. Trimming will get your fabric and freezer paper more perfectly aligned than you ever could by eye and hand. So do not simply align the 8.5” and 11” marks to one of your corners after ironing and trim only two sides. That’s fine when you’re cutting fabric to sew, but not fine when you’re trying to trick your printer into thinking this is a regular sheet of paper!
- Empty your printer of any paper. Check that your ink supply is good. There’s nothing worse than finding out it’s low by printing on your fabric. You only get one chance! If it’s too light, you’ll have to start over with new fabric and new freezer paper.
- Place trimmed fabric/paper combination in your printer. Mine goes in fabric side down so that it will print on the fabric side. Your printer may be different. Models vary. If needed, print a test page and watch which side your printer prints on before attempting to print your label on fabric.
- Print your label. In the Letters pattern, you’ll want to be sure you are printing at 100% and only print the single page that the label is on.
Cross your fingers!
Sometimes the top edge will be finicky from the printer pulling at the edge. That’s why my label in the Letters pattern is positioned toward the bottom of the page. Don’t panic if the top edge gets folded or slightly separated.
If you’ve followed the steps to the T and ironed and trimmed to size exactly, everything should work out.
However, you’re not alone if your first shot doesn’t come out perfect. It took me a few times to get it right, but I learned where the problems were and wrote this tutorial so that hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and get it right on your first try.
Set your expectation that you may need to try this 2-3 times before it works out and if you nail it on your first try, that’s great!
If you do need to try again, get new paper and new fabric and repeat the steps above.
When you are satisfied with your printing, gently peel away the freezer paper.
To avoid frayed edges, wait until after the vinegar wash to cut your label out.
- If you choose to sign your name with an oil-based pen, such as a Sharpie, do so now.
- If you are embroidering, wait for that step until after the vinegar wash.
Steps to Fix Ink:
There are lots of opinions about fixing the ink out there. No matter what you choose to do from here, let your ink dry first–for a few hours, or even a day, to be safe. Many people iron over their ink to set it. Some rinse with water. Some add vinegar or both to the water. I choose to do a combination of these because they’re simple, they don’t hurt, and I want to do what I can to make my ink permanent.
- After allowing the ink to completely dry, iron your label without steam.
- Submerge it in a bath of 1:1 vinegar and water. Let it sit just long enough to penetrate the fabric.
- Lay flat to dry completely. If you lay it outside, make sure it’s in the shade.
- Once your label is dry, cut it out. You can use pinking shears for added fray protection, if you like.
- (Optional) If you choose to embroider your name and date, apply fusible interfacing to the back of the label first, draw what you plan to embroider with an air-soluble marking pen, then embroider as desired.
I like to embroider my labels because it adds one more special handmade touch.
Steps to Apply the Label to Your Quilt:
- You’ll need to stitch your binding to the front of your quilt first.
- For the label included with the Letters Quilt pattern, you’ll fold your square label at the dotted line. Press.
- Then, align the raw edges of the label with the raw edges of your quilt. Pin in place.
- As you stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, the label will be fixed in place, too.
- (Optional) You can stitch the folded edge of the label down if you want, but it’s not necessary. If you do, you can use the dotted line as a guide to keep your stitches even! I like to do a big stitch for this, but you can make an invisible stitch if you prefer!
You can also use this method to add labels to quilts that are already bound, including antique quilts. Just turn the edges of the label under on all sides and hand stitch to the back of the quilt. This is a great way to document quilts that are passed down without a label so that the maker’s information will always be known. You can even get detailed and include the location, the occasion for which it was gifted, any relevant stories, or even the fabric collection used.
I hope this tutorial was helpful. To save the steps for later, download my quick reference guide here. It's also available in The Stash.
Remember, the Letters Quilt includes a free, unique label right inside the pattern!
Read more about the Letters Quilt pattern here. It's 20% off through Sunday 7/24!