Open Line Friday-Quilt Labels and “Breaking Up” with a Quilt

Valentine's Day004

Happy Valentine’s Day!   I’m pretty sure all quilters began their careers back in the First Grade on Valentine’s Day…We were sooo happy cutting doilies, arranging heart shape stickers, creating our “Mailboxes” and our Valentines…Flash forward a few years…we’re just doing it all with fabric!

Applique Hearts, Valentine's DayON QUILT LABELS

Last week we had a lively discussion on labeling quilts.  (Read more HERE).  The consensus seems to be not only is it important to label our quilts, it is necessary to secure the labels so they can’t be removed.  In addition, it seems wise (especially if you enter quilts shows) to add your name and address in permanent marker under the label or under the binding for additional proof in case a label is removed.

Two other questions came to light:

  • Is it necessary to acknowledge a long arm quilter on the label?
  • Is it necessary to credit a pattern designer?

I don’t have an official answer, but I would say that you do not have to acknowledge others on the back of your quilt.  If you are entering a competition, there are specific rules and categories for the above scenarios, but I still don’t think it needs to be included on your label.  Any thoughts?

Applique Hearts, Valentine's Day“BREAKING UP” WITH A QUILT

Laura in PA  asks a question I think we all ponder sometimes:  “When is it okay to say…’This is never going to work for me.'”  My guess is that once we ask that question,  we already know the answer…right now.  Some quilts just don’t work!

Set the quilt aside for several weeks or months.  It might be that you just need a break from the quilt.  (Read The Quilt I  Threw Away)–about a quilt  I was so frustrated with that I threw it away and one of my daughters saved from the garbage–and now I love like it a lot!)

Once the quilt has had a good “Time Out”,  re-think it with fresh eyes.  If you still don’t like it…it’s okay to say: This is never going to work for me”.   If it contains workmanship or materials that are no longer your standard, let it go.   One reader, Delaine, points out that there are many quilt groups that are happy to accept abandoned projects to use as charity quilts, so send it to a good home and move on.

From Rebecca Grace from The Cheeky Cognoscenti:   Remember too that an abandoned UFO is never wasted time, money, or fabric if you learned something from it that makes you a better quilter for the next project.

Applique Hearts, Valentine's DayOur two questions on the docket:

  • Who should be acknowledged on your quilt labels?
  • How do you know when it’s time to give up on a quilt?

What do YOU think?  I’d LOVE to hear!

Be mine,


PS…All photos, information and tutorials are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to Pin and re-blog with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For any other use please contact me at  HUGS!




39 thoughts on “Open Line Friday-Quilt Labels and “Breaking Up” with a Quilt

  1. I have donated baby quilts that I have made to the crisis nursery! My first quilts that I learned how to machine quilt were not perfect but I knew that the little ones at the nursery would not care if my stiching was not perfect.

  2. I think the quilter should be mentioned in the label. The quilter put a lot of time into it too. True, in many cases they’re getting paid for it. But it’s still their work. Also, putting their name on it will remind you next time you have a quilt to long arm. Did you like their work or not? How has the first quilt worn? Do you want to go back to that person, or did you not get along with them? If the quilt is going into a show, I think it would be nice advertisement for the quilter. Maybe someone will take their quilt to them and mention you (referral discount?). And I think it may be even more necessary if the quilter donated their time (for a fund raiser quilt).

  3. I only put the information that is pertinent to me in my quilt labels. Usually, my name, place and date. Of course, I usually quilt my own, but unless it is custom quilted in a special way, I don’t note the long-armer. I do often include the name of the pattern or designer. For instance, I recently finished Jinny Beyer’s Moonglow, and I felt she deserved recognition on the label for that gorgeous design.

    I recently bagged up several UFO’s, put a dirt-cheap price on them, and sold them at my local guild’s yardage sale. I knew it was time to let them go because I had absolutely no interest in finishing them. Most of them were started in classes, not from my own inspiration or creative fever. And I think that is an important element to consider – if the project came from our heart, we often just need to give it some time and then go back to it later with renewed interest. But if it was something we started because of a class or a sew-along without any real love for it from the beginning, then there’s a good chance it is ready to be “given up” on! I’ve since seen two of those UFO’s finished by the ladies who bought them, and they love them…. I enjoyed that much more than struggling to finish something I no longer cared about. Life is too short and there are too many quilts out there I love and can’t wait to dig into – I’m not going to waste one minute of this precious life on projects I don’t enjoy.

    • Teresa, I’ve never considered why, but I have a couple of class quilt projects that I have no interest in finishing. One was a two day mystery class with beautiful fabric provided in yardage and die cut pieces. Easy, no? I’ve kept that fabric together for years, and still can’t get up an interest to finish it. i recently broke up the project fabric and used some of that material in another quilt that I’m very happy with. If the inspiration comes from our hearts, it isn’t a chore to work on.

  4. If my quilt was done in a class using a technique I would not have tried on my own, I credit the instructor and class name. I include any info that I feel is relevant to identify the quilt and it’s history for future reference. I have always done my own quilting of my quilts, but wouldn’t feel the need to credit a longarmer (unless it’s a show quilt) because that was a service I paid for!
    I agree that a quilter always knows in their heart when to give up on a project. I also agree it should be donated to a charitable group who would finish it so it can be loved by someone.

  5. Hello Lori, I know I have had to put a quilt aside. One was for 3 years, til I saw a block pattern that would “fix” the blocks I had already begun. So I cut up the ufo into the block that was different, and then the quilt “worked”. I was able to finish it and gave to a litle girl who drags that thing everywhere……….

  6. My vote is to include the name of the quilter. The quilting is such an important part of the finished piece. The quilting could be even better than the top, making a thing of beauty out of something that is not outstanding. Of course it should be entered in any shows as a two-person quilt.

    If the quilt is going to someone as a gift, I like to include some information about the relationship or event that is being celebrated. If it is a commission, I would include name of the client.

  7. I think only the person responsible for putting the quilt together, using all the resources he/she has, NEEDS to be mentioned on the label. That person CAN mention others if he/she wants

    Something that’s the basis for this thought:
    I live in a house, built by ‘Mr Builder’ He used many other contractors to put the wiring, heating, woodwork, etc together. When asked, I always give Mr Builder the credit, though he certainly did not do it all.

    Though I do the actual quilting on my quilts, I would feel kind of weird mentioning the person who actually did the quilting and not mention the person who grew the cotton to make the fabric.

    • The difference is that no one expects the quilter to have grown the cotton themselves, so you are not misleading anyone by leaving the cotton farmer’s name off the quilt label. However, throughout history, quilts have traditionally been pieced and quilted by one maker, or by a group of women, each of whom has been traditionally credited for her contribution. Think of the many quilts in museums where each block was signed by its maker. If someone else did the quilting and you put “made by me” instead of “pieced by me and quilted by her,” you are creating the impression that you made the entire quilt from start to finish. When some quilts are labeled “pieced by A and quilted by B,” and quilts shown in magazines and in books always credit the quilter if it was not the same person who pieced the top, I think it’s fair to say that an ethical standard exists in the quilting community requiring that you acknowledge the contribution of the professional quilter.

      • I agree 100%. I quilt my own quilts but would feel I was taking credit for someone else’s quality workmanship if I did not credit the person who did the actual quilting. After all, the quilting can make or break an otherwise ugly or beautiful quilt top. If they weren’t separate items of workmanship, why would we refer to one as ‘piecing’ and the other as ‘quilting’? A quilt top is just that – a TOP. Without the talents of the quilter, be it the same person who does it all or not, it wouldn’t really be a “quilt”. To not credit the person who did such an important part of the work is like stealing their work by taking credit for what they’ve done. The fact that you laid for the work is irrelevant. You wouldn’t by a car and say you made it just because you paid for it. By the same logic, if it is other than an old, long accepted design, the designer should also be credited as well. Wouldn’t you like the same courtesy if you were the designer?

  8. I’m still going though my stash and funnily enough, one small project I ditched is the exact same heart applique blocks in your pictures!!

    Mine are on red squares, but still. Same hearts, different prints. 🙂

    • Here’s the thing about not crediting the quilter, when you only made the top and you paid someone else to quilt it. It feels dishonest to me, because 50+ years from now when people look at your quilt label, they will assume that the one person whose name is on the label is responsible for the whole thing. If a quilt label says “made by Sally,” a reasonable person would understand that to mean that Sally both pieced and quilted the quilt. “Pieced by Sally and quilted by Jane” is much more honest and truthful. What’s even more disturbing to me about the practice of leaving the professional quilter off the label is the fact that especially with a custom-quilting job, the longarm quilter’s skill is often way more advanced than the skills of the person who pieced the top and wrote “made by Sally” on the label. I have seen many very simple, straightforward quilt tops that were transformed into masterpieces by very elaborate, highly skilled custom quilting.

      I don’t have anything against quilters who choose to hire others to do the quilting for them, enabling them to focus on the piecing or applique work that they most enjoy. However, I think it’s important to be honest with ourselves and with posterity and recognize that any quilt that is pieced by one person and quilted by another is a collaboration. Sometimes the creative contributions are a 50-50 split, sometimes it’s more like 75% piecing/applique and 25% quilting, and sometimes it’s more like 25% piecing and 75% quilting. If you follow the “I don’t have to credit them on the label because I paid them” logic, you could send a big piece of white fabric to an award-winning longarm quilter, pay them several thousand dollars to do an ultra-custom wholecloth quilt job, and then sew a label on the back that says “Made by ME.” Then some day that quilt might be hanging in a museum next to a plaque with your name on it instead of the quilters. Why not — you paid them, right? Let’s extend that logic even farther. Let’s suppose that you make a custom quilt for someone else who is paying you. Maybe she made some specific requests, like what size she wanted, what colors, and that she wanted a Lone Star quilt with feather quilting. You make the quilt for her and she pays you. THEN SHE SEWS A LABEL ON THE BACK OF THE QUILT SAYING IT WAS MADE BY HER. Why not? Didn’t she pay you for your work? Doesn’t that give her the right to claim credit for it, and put her name on the quilt label instead of yours?

      Another way to look at it is to think of a professionally quilted quilt like a celebrity biography. Just because someone is a famous actor/politician/musician/whatever and their life is a fascinating story does not mean that they have the time or the writing skills necessary to turn that story into a book, so they hire a professional writer — and they credit that person for their writing contributions even though it is their life story and their book.

    • One of my UFO’s is a heart applique on muslin also…I even have the rows sewn together. But mine were wonder-undered on and hand stitched in these hidious big black blanket stitches…I remember thinking way back then what a nice job I was proud of myself. Why I used black..ick!…and I don’t remember thinking they were too big then…I will say my spacing and size was at least consistant! LOL! (Yep…all ugly..LOL!)

  9. I have to admit, I don’t always label a quilt, but am thinking I Need to be better at labeling. I read an article once that if you use a quilt pattern from a magazine, that you should give the designer credit on the label. So, basically, if I show a quilt I will say something like “pieced by” machine quilted by” “designed by”

  10. I think if you are using a quilter and the two of you are collaborating on the quilt where there is no $$$ exchanged (for example a quilt show) then definitely the quilter’s name should be on the label.

    If the piecer is paying a quilter then I don’t feel it has to be there. She paid for it and she owns the quilt. However, it would be nice for later in life documentation if it was needed or wanted by the family or whoever ended up with the quilt to have all the information of the quilt.

    So far I’ve given into one UFO that will never be done and put all the fabric back into my stash or scrap tub. I started making it for someone who has been gone for over 20 years now and was making a pattern that was too advanced for me at the time, I cut some of it wrong in that it had to be mirror imaged and the fabrics were not to my liking any more. Decided it could all be used in the wonderful scrap quilts I love to make.

  11. I think you should definitely credit the quilter. Sometimes quilting just “makes the quilt” and it’s nice to give credit where it’s due and is good advertising for the quilter, as mentioned already. Sometimes I mention the pattern designer and sometimes I do not – it just depends on where the quilt is going and what it’s going to be used for. If it is to be gifted and used on a bed, I want to keep the label as unobtrusive as possible and put the bare minimum on it. If it’s going in a show, I put more information because often times people ask and it’s nice to have that information handy right there on the back of the quilt!

  12. Lori…really enjoyed reading about the quilt you chucked (LOL) and the ones you made the girls. I thought it sweet she rescued it :). Also thought the secret messages were sweet also…what a fun idea! I like your girl’s names too :). The quilts were just beautiful.
    I had a fleeting “want” while we discussed this labeling the other day to put my name on the 1940s quilt I finished for my elderly neighbor..the one her Grandmother made. I humble quilted it on my domestic machine but it reinforced all the grandmother’s hand sewn seams and that was the point. Now that I’ve thought about it, the look on that sweet old face and the teary eyes when I gave her the finished quilt was all the recognition I’ll ever need. It was my gift to her and I’ll never forget it. I am ok with it if they forget me.
    Competition is one thing but someones’s personal quilt is what ever they feel is right for them. I don’t think a paid service needs mentioned.
    I saw a funny on another blog…her labels said different things like “Made With Love” etc., the usual and then one said Made with Stress and Discontent…LOL!…I could label a couple like that. Kind of your crossing out the Love!…that made me laugh. 🙂

  13. My Grandma gave me a quilt that someone made for her using my Grandma’s scraps of fabric. There are no names on the quilt. So sad. I would love to have the quilter’s name and the name of the lady who did the binding on the quilt. There is so much missing history to that quilt. Therefore, I’m a big fan of documenting all the people whose efforts have made a quilt. The more people, the better! Seriously! It often takes a community to build a quilt, and that is what makes it much more than just a blanket.

  14. I recently purchased a longarm machine and I have quilted by my domestic machine and I have handquilted quilts also. In saying that I have also had quilts done by others also just to get them done quickly..So now I do add who quilted the quilt on my label so my family will know who did the work on that particular quilt. I put as much information on a label as I can without it looking like a book for the label..Reason why? for me is because my husband’s grandmother quilted and they did not put much or any information on quilts back then and I want to know as much about that quilt as I can..She did in later years put her name,date and city on her quilts even that little bit helps now looking at the quilts..Please label your quilts with some kind of info. 🙂

  15. Sorry..I can’t shut up. One of my most favorite things ever was decorating those Valentine’s boxes!!! I loved doing that!!!

  16. Usually my quilts are for family and friends, often to acknowledge a special occasion or relationship. So my labels are mostly To/From labels, like to my niece Mary from your loving aunt Sarah for your graduation from Yale. I may or may not include my last name, just depends on the situation. I feel funny making it sound so formal. So I wouldn’t put a quilter (who I would have paid) or a pattern designer. I would include a date, and I’ll have to think about starting to include a location. These aren’t show quilts, which is a completely different situation.

  17. Some quilt pattern designers allow you to make their quilts for financial gain, up to a point sometimes, and they ask that they be acknowledged as designer. I’d say that’s when it’s important to put them on the label. I’d give the longarm quilter credit too. Because when the time comes that I’m good enough to do the quilting, after having someone else do it for me, I want people to know “I did that one! Start to finish!”

  18. I am currently quilting the first quilt I pieced – over 14 years ago! I didn’t restart quilting for another 10 years. It is tumbling blocks and medallions, or stars in my mind. I am still somewhat okay with the colors. No, after a few years now of regular quilting, I would not choose any of the components again. BUT, it has been a fantastic project to practice my domestic fmq skills, and on a king sized quilt. I still don’t know what I plan to do with it. All of this to say, I can’t see tossing items aside permanently. You never know what the future holds…

  19. I’m leaning towards acknowledging the quilter as you see that all the time in books and it sure doesn’t hurt to give a quilter credit, she may return the favor! As far as not finishing a quilt I have a few recent ones that are in a box for now until I can decide what to do. I have taken a quilt top and it it up and remade it and liked it after. Our guild has a destash twice a year and one woman’s disappointment can be another’s blessing! I also make baby quilts that I donate. great way to use up that fabric you really can’t remember why you bought it and great for fmq practice!

  20. If your label says to Mary from Aunt Bessie Christmas 2014. Then there is no mention of who made the quilt and a mention of the quilter is not required. However, if the label says Made by Aunt Bessie and she did not quilt it, the quilter should be given credit on the label. I’m all for including as much information as possible. I name the quilt, number it, record the piecer and quilter, who it is presented to and the occasion if applicable.

    I have never used a pattern so I have not considered mentioning the designer, although it would be appropriate.

  21. Just to add to the discussion. I sew with a group which makes quilt for charity. Fairly often we get given either a UFO or even sometimes a full quilt. These quilts get finished off and quilted, and are given to local nursing homes to brighten the bed of one of the patients. Sometimes they go to a home for the disabled, and sometimes to a charity to raffle to raise money for something. In this way, the original quilter’s UFO is useful, gives joy or raises a lot of money. So next time you have a bunch of old fabric, or a UFO, PLEASE don’t chuck it – give it to one of the groups that sew for charity.

  22. I will echo others here. I think it is unethical to take credit for work done by others. Period. My quilt labels usually say “machine pieced and quilted by Suzanna” because I did both. But when I make a quilt from bee blocks the label says “machine pieced by Suzanna and members of X bee, machined pieced by Suzanna”. If I have room on the label, I’ll name the individual bee members, though I wrestle with including surnames for privacy reasons if the label will be shown on my blog.

  23. I hand quilted a pair of old quilt tops for a client. They had both been hand pieced by the client’s children’s nanny and her mother. When they died, my client was the one who cleared out their house, with the help of her father. She had set aside a large bag of hand-pieced tops–I think she told me there were ten or fifteen of them–and her father took the bag to the dump! When I was finishing up the first quilt, I called her and suggested that I include a label containing the names of the two ladies as well as my name as quilter, and pointed out that labeled quilts are MUCH less likely to end up at the dump. I also included the name of the granddaughter for whom the quilt was intended, the occasion, and her name and home town. (And did the same when i completed the second one.)

    As a long-arm quilter, I also appreciate being given credit on the label, as it increases my visibility. And I must say, I seen a number of quilts raised from “ho-hum” to stellar through the quilting. In that case, it’s only right to give credit where credit is due.

  24. Now that I have a long arm, I love to write on my quilts. Recently for a grandson across the top i wrote – Be warm Feel cozy Know you are loved On the bottom – Happy birthday Ryan, the date, Love Grammy. Under that my full name, and town and state. It would be difficult to remove. before I had my long arm I always embroidered all this along the bottom of the back of the quilt. The few quilts I had “quilted” i did add the quilters name.

  25. If you need something to practice your machine quilting on, sometimes those “not so fun” quilts are pretty helpful. Then after practicing, finish them off and donate them to a local shelter, your local police/fire department or another group that you know does charity quilts on a regular basis. They’ll know exactly where that quilt needs to go. Of course if the work is really sub-par, even those in need, don’t deserve it. Make a thoughtful decision when donating.

  26. Years ago, my dad picked up UFQ at a yard sale and gave it to me to “fix”. It was so crooked and poorly made that it has been packed away ever since. I think it is time to rip into it and come up with something to be proud of in my dad’s memory. Since I have no clue as to who started it, I can’t give them credit, but I plan to put a little story on the back telling how I got it and I will label it with my name and my dad’s. I do my own quilting. I have mixed feelings about labeling. If someone else did the quilting for me, and chose the quilting pattern, they would certainly deserve credit. On the other hand, if I had to have someone else do the quilting, say due to a broken arm or something, but I designed the quilting, I think I might mention them as “assisted by”, or “supported by”. I have just started making quilts to sell and do plan to label them from now on. On a recent visit to my mom I commented on how much I liked a quilt on her sofa. Hmmmm. I had made it for her several years past! Sometimes we forget… so labeling is good!

    • I think it is a fabulous idea to tell the story on the back of your quilt. My husband inherited a beautiful red and white quilt, but there is no label. Maybe I should add one before the little information we have is forgotten? Also, I do agree with you about if you do the design and someone else stitches it.

  27. Years ago, I made a small quilt for my husband in which every fabric represented someone he loves, his heritage, a hobby of his, or an interest that we share. The quilt was the story of his life. It needed an explanation, but the label would have been as big as the small wall quilt. So, I wrote the story on the computer and printed it out on fabric (very new technology at the time.) I sewed a small pocket on the quilt back and put the story in the pocket. This wouldn’t be practical for quilts that are hugged and dragged and washed regularly, but it works for a wall quilt or table topper. And it has become a fun way for our grandsons to learn about their grandad.

    • What a fabulous idea for your quilt! I’m a sure your family will treasure it for generations!!

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