I have some great news! My work has been accepted to be displayed and sold at the Barholm Arts and Crafts shop in Creetown, not far from my home in south west Scotland and I am delighted! I took in four different pieces, two with Scottish theme, one humorous, and one Indian. All of them were in frames. On Friday I heard that there is an envelope waiting for me at the gallery and that means I have sold something but I don’t yet know what. I have wanted this for so long but couldn’t imagine anyone liking my designs enough to want to buy one and use it in their home. When I began this journey about nine years ago, my dream was that one day some of my quilts might decorate homes in different places across the country and bring people pleasure, or make them smile. This coming Thursday I am going to take a few more quilts into the gallery. This time none of them are framed, most are smaller and a few have a Christmas theme.
Since I was invited to take work to the shop I have been madly sewing labels on to my stack of quilts. There is a lesson here. Please add a label to the back of your quilt each time you complete one, because sewing on close to a hundred all at once is not fun. Labels look much neater sewn into the binding, rather than stitched on like an afterthought.
When something has taken you hours to make it is important to put your stamp on it as being your work and no-one else. Also, all of my quilts have names that make sense of the pattern on the front and give them personality. I want my label to display that name, where there were made, who by and when. Who knows, one of them could be discovered a century later and still bearing your name. I’m all for the immortalisation of quilts. That said, I still find myself wanting to avoid doing them.
I have made some observations about labels this week. I began by buying labels because I didn’t know how to make them. Some fabric designers do sets of them in panels though there is not often much room between the images to allow for a decent seam allowance. They are often black and white but sometimes they are coloured. Some have vines and flowers around the edges that you can colour in with a coloured marker.
I would avoid the more sentimental ones with ‘Made with Love Just for You’ or ‘To a Special Person’ type wordings if you want to sell your work and go for plainer ones, which are harder to find. Other designs available (often on eBay) have blank centres and coloured edging which can be useful but are often too large for mini quilts. They could be cut smaller though.
It’s taken me a long while and a lot of “meh” labels to realise that the best labels are ones you make yourself. The best fabric to choose for a label is the one that best fits the colour and style of the quilt it is attached to. The best fabric designs for labels are tone on tone fabrics that read as solids, or just simple solids in not too dark a colour, because these look good as well as clearly showing the writing on the label (either in permanent pen or in stitch). Embroidered labels are more do-able on large quilts; with smaller ones it is easier to stick to a waterproof permanent marker with archival ink that won’t run or fade. If you hate your handwriting you can trace a font that you like online. For more detailed information on the making of labels, see my previous post on “An Easy Way to Label your Quilt’ in October 2020.
Another very good reason to add your label before completion is that a triangle shaped label fits well into the the corner of a quilt with the ‘ears’ of the triangle disappearing neatly into the binding at either edge. If you sew the label on afterwards, it is a devil of a task to hide those ‘ears’ by folding them inside the triangle points. Too big and the point looks bulky, but cut away causes them to fray.
The photo below has been magnified so that you can see the difficulty with the corner on the left hand side, where there is so much bulk with the ‘ears’ turned in that the stitches struggle to close the gap.
In the photo below you can see how much better the label looks sewn into the binding (and it’s more difficult to remove, too). However, remember to leave enough space to add the binding at each side, or some of your writing may be covered up, as in the example below. Luckily this one is not for sale.
I think I may have another solution for the added-on-later label, an idea that popped into my head a few nights ago when I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t tried this yet but I think an EPP fabric hexagon with the print facing front, its backing fabric folded over the front and stitched down, and a slim piece of interfacing inside between back and front, would make an attractive label that could be appliquéd on and would avoid all the previous problems I have encountered. It is actually what’s called a Quilt-as-you-go hexagon and looks like the ones in photo below. The centre area would hold the writing, ideally on a paler background. I will give the idea a try and let you know how I get on.
So, enough about sewing on labels. However, because I have had to sew so many lately, I have not managed to complete any EPP work in the past month. However I have made a little progress with the piecing of three separate quilt tops, all larger than my usual mini quilt size and intended for frames. I bought the fabric years ago when I was just starting out but wasn’t brave enough to try anything that big. I had just moved here and fancied some Scottish hand made fabric pictures on my wall.
They are both Lewis and Irene patterns and fabric. The first is ‘Country Life.’
I really wanted to like this one but I am not a fan of triangles and getting a whole bunch of them to meet in the middle is asking for trouble. They are all supposed to nest together at the back and they do, sort of, but not very neatly and they are still uneven at the front. There are five pieces to each block and once these were sewn together to make four separate blocks, I then sewed one block to another going around the quilt in a clockwise direction. I think this is where the mistake occurred. It seems to me that sewing the top right and left block together first, then the bottom left and right, and then sewing the top and bottom strips together straight across the middle would have avoided this problem. I am considering picking it apart and re-doing it. Oh joy.
The second is another Lewis and Irene pattern and fabric, ‘The Glen’. I have joined the grey centre to the on-point red triangles and joined the smaller pieces that make up the large corner triangles,. Now I have to sew it all together.
The third is a quilt that you will have seen in an earlier post when all the pieces were laid out on the table, ready to sew together. This is what it looks like now. I called it ‘Once Upon a Chicken’ at first but have changed that to ‘Once upon a Hen’, in memory of a much loved golden brown hen called Speckle that I once had as a pet.
The octagon in the centre is not right but it will be easy to redo that. It’s just appliquéd on. I have found some fun fabric for the back, with more hens!
The clocks have changed overnight and now, at not quite three o clock today, there is very low light and it’s beginning to rain. Despite the wetness though, there is some lovely colour in the garden. Many of our trees are changing, tor red and gold, there are still a few flowers lingering in the greenhouses and some black grapes coming along. For October it is surprising warm and but a very long dry spell, there is now a lot of rain. I am hoping to spend next week in the garden pruning trees and shrubs, weather permitting. Covid is still lurking about the place in Scotland but there is always plenty I enjoying doing at home so I’m happy to stay home.
If you have any ideas for posts you would like to see here or have a question, please leave a comment. If there is anything you want to ask about specific quilts or something you want to say that you prefer not to share in the general comments, you can reach me via the ‘Got a Question’ page on this site or via my business email address firstname.lastname@example.org
So, until next time….