Monday, May 26, 2014

Labeling Your Quilts: Vintage (1 of 2) - EZ Method

Having documented, studied and appraised vintage quilts for many years, I am very aware that most are anonymous. We don't know who made them or where they lived.  Though we can make an educated estimate about when a quilt was made due to clues in the quilt itself, it is still just a guess.
Knowing these things about a quilt contributes greatly to not only the study of quilts themselves, but to the history of textiles, women's history, dyes and much more.

That being said, while recently preparing for a new lecture I discovered that a few of my vintage quilts had not been labeled as I acquired them over the years.

In this two part series I'll share some of the ways I label the quilts in my collection; both vintage and the ones I've made. I use an EZ method for all vintage quilts. I know it's primitive but the important information is there and it requires minimum time or talent resulting in it more likely to be done!

EZ Method:

Press a piece of muslin or other fabric to freezer paper.

I use my wavy blade on the rotary cutter or a pinking shears to keep the edge from raveling.

 I will not be turning this under...that wouldn't be EZ!

I  cut various sizes in a variety of fabrics. Neutrals that allow the writing to be seen are good as are solids especially if the backing of the quilt is white. Look for stripes that might be interesting - giving you lines to write on.

I made a bunch while I was at it!

Use a fine point Pigma pen or Identipen to hand-write this information and press with a warm iron to set. I like the Identi-Pen. It has a different size tip on each end. The Pigma pens come in colors, though, and varying nib sizes.

The information on a vintage quilt label will be different from that on a quilt you've made. I want it to be clear that I own it; that I am not the maker.

 Here's what I include.
  • 'Name of quilt' - this can be a simple description such as Stars, Spools, Floral Applique or a published name
  • Estimate a circa date (an approximation covering a twenty year period)
  • Property of::    I use my name, city, state and phone number. I take my quilts out a lot and if I misplace one it will be easy to contact me.
  •  ID# -  I recently assigned at ID# to each vintage quilt in my database so I am adding that to the label. (V = Vintage with VC designating a vintage crib quilt) 

Then simply baste the label to one of the back corners. I like to use contrasting thread - I don't worry about knots showing. I know this is easily removed by someone with ulterior motives but I am not worried about that. I just want the label to adhere securely and be visible.

**Here's an update to my post as I was reminded by a reader of the case of a vintage quilt handed down through the family. I have only a few such quilts but on this one, a double wedding  ring top, here is what that label looks like. Customized but still simple. Informative labels may very well lead to increased respect and appreciation of the piece by  family members in years to come.

I keep a database of my collection on my computer including other pertinent facts about each quilt, such as where and when it was purchased, price paid, description, photo and more. For this reason the label ON the quilt is quite simple. It is designed to help someone get it back to me if it goes missing and will also help my family know what they have once I'm not here and to easily match it up with the database document.

The front of each example:

Next Week:  Labeling the Quilts You've Made