Why I Label My Quilts

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My custom quilt labels I ordered last year.

Last year, it dawned on me that I should label the quilts I make with custom-made labels. This realization came in the form of hearing a statement about how a handwritten label on a newly installed breaker box in our house would indicate that the electrical work was shoddy. That is, a neat and tidy label shows that a professional did the work, and that the person takes pride in their work.

I immediately made the connection with creating quilts. Shouldn’t the person using or viewing my quilt know who made it? Some might still think that my skills are shoddy, but I do take pride in my quilting–ha! Adding a label feels like a signature. You wouldn’t sign your name to something you didn’t believe in, right?

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On the back of my chicken wall hanging.

Combing the internet, I finally landed on a site that allowed me to order customized labels in a small quantity. (I ordered 30.) This kept the cost down.

The labels simply say “T-Bud Co. Quilts Made By Theresa Budnik Combs.” Seeing it laid out in 3 lines, I think it becomes clear exactly where “T-Bud Co.” comes from (it’s an abbreviation of my name—a nickname). If I remember correctly, the font is Times New Roman, which is my go-to.

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On the back of my Ohio Star Quilt.

Here’s an aside: at the portfolio school I attended, there were many areas of study. I was in copywriting, but design was definitely the darling and most populated track. Although I was a writer, I still had to design my own portfolio—without all of the design training the designers received in the two-year program, of course. After dabbling with a couple of fonts, I decided to use Times New Roman because at the time it was the default font in Microsoft Word, my most-used tool. I figured instead of trying to look like I knew anything about typography, I would just be who I was: a writer with minimal design knowledge. Now, if I have the option, I always pick Times New Roman (and it’s no longer the default in Microsoft Word!).

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On the back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch quilt.

Anyway, it’s very satisfying to finish a quilt and stitch on a label. One thing I’ll be playing around with is how to stitch it on. I wish my stitches were smaller. On my Ohio Star quilt, I used the same thread I used to stitch down the binding, both for aesthetics and convenience as I put on the label after I completed the binding. I’m thinking I’ll own the stitches and maybe make them a bit more noticeable with a signature color or thread. I’m thinking fuchsia.

I’m a bit curious, how do you feel about labels? Do you buy into the idea that adding a label shows you take pride in your work? Or do you let your work speak for itself? Have you purchased custom labels before or do you label them in a different way, say with a fabric pen? I’m curious to know!

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Custom quilt labels–having them should also serve as motivation to finish more quilts!

Reasons Why I Love Using Muslin for Quilt Backs

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Back of My Ohio Star Quilt

I love, love, love using muslin for the back of a quilt. I know, it’s not on-trend and I’ve even read a bit about a quilter who wasn’t interested in making quilts until she saw one WITHOUT a muslin back. But there are a few reasons why I personally love muslin quilt backing.

First, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to disassociate the art of quilts from the function of quilts. I believe quilts are meant to sleep under. They go on your bed. Quilts are meant to keep you warm. You need to stay warm to survive! Okay, so we can buy comforters and mass-produced blankets and quilts at a variety of brick-and-mortar stores and online sites. I don’t need to make a quilt in order to sleep comfortably. And, yes, I have, and will probably again, make a quilted wall hanging. Maybe I’ll make a quilt I love so much that I won’t want to have it on a bed every day and have it eventually wear down. (Yes, quilts wear down and get holes in them—they’re not invincible if you use them!) But, I will always sleep under a quilt (or two), because I believe in the functionality of quilts and I want my quilts to be beautiful and comfortable. Good muslin fabric is light and soft. It feels fabulous. It’s perfect for sleeping under. There’s a reason you can find muslin swaddle blankets (FOR BABIES)—it’s a soft and comfortable fabric.

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Detail of the back of my Ohio Star Quilt

Another part of my function reason is the cost of muslin. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other quilting cottons. There’s a sense of economy when making your own quilt for use. I know, I know. Those mass-produced blankets/quilts/comforters are waaaay cheaper than making your own quilt these days. But, for me, there’s a nod to being fiscally efficient when I use muslin backing. If you’re a garment sewer, you may make test garments out of inexpensive muslin. You “make a muslin” before you cut into your really nice and expensive fabric.

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Back of Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

My second reason for loving muslin for quilt backs is the aesthetics. A “blank back” provides visual relief from a well designed and pieced front. If a quilt is a piece of art, the viewer’s eye gets a break when they take a look at the back—nothing to see there! Or, maybe the quilting is highlighted by the solid color of the fabric. The focus remains on the front of the quilt. All the meaning can be stitched there, without being confused or misunderstood by another side. In contrast, a patterned or pieced back can add another level of meaning and overall style to a quilt. Muslin backing, like any other fabric, patterned or pieced, is an artistic choice.

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Detail of the back of Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

I know better than to say “never,” but for now, I’m content on using natural muslin for my quilt backs. And, I love it.

What quilt backing can you just not get enough of?

April’s Sewing Goal: Make Zipper Pouches with Repurposed Clothes

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Thrifted shirts (one from my closet) and zippers destined to become pouches.

It’s time for April’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

My sewing goal for April is to make more zipper pouches (at least 3) using clothes that I’ve purchased at the thrift store (and a shirt I pulled from my own closet). Last Christmas, I tried my hand at making zipper pouches as gifts. I loved making them! So much so, that I purchased 5 metal zippers in February to make pouches with. And, I still have a ton of zippers from the lot I purchased for the Christmas gifts.

Recently, I’ve been inspired to refashion clothing from the thrift store into new things. People donate clothing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes their bodies have changed and the clothing no longer fits. Sometimes their lifestyles have changed and they no longer need a particular type/style of clothing (think someone retiring from a professional job where they had to wear business attire). The clothing you find at a thrift store isn’t all out of style and worn out!

I found two men’s shirts made from really nice fabric that I thought would make nice pouches. I found a 100% silk dress that is too small for me, but I thought may work, too. Then, I’ve had that green shirt with the blue and white flowers since I was in college. Folks, that was around 15 years ago. I rarely wore the shirt when I first bought it and actually never did. Yet, I carried it around with me, never putting it into the donation pile. I think the reason is because I love the fabric too much! Now, I’ll put the fabric into action!

Stay tuned! I’ll share what I make at the end of the month!

The Evolution of an Idea: My Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt has been through quite an evolution. At first, I was going to make a series of single-block mini quilts and tie them with sequins. I know! Sequins and quilts! All the heart eyes! (I did a study, which you can see here.) I started with 3 color combinations that looked snazzy on their own: aqua and teal; navy and pink; lime green and purple. The only thing that links these fabrics is the white print on most of them. Before I had all 12 blocks done (the pineapple block takes a long time), I decided to stitch them together into a single quilt.

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These colors are so much fun in a single quilt, even though I’m not convinced they “go together.”

Once the top was done, I figured I would machine quilt it. I wanted to hand quilt it, but there are a lot of seams and that makes hand quilting pretty difficult. But, once I had it basted, I screwed the walking foot onto my machine and all I got were uneven stitches. I literally didn’t have enough time to fiddle with my machine (I had to pick up my kids), so I set it aside. In the meantime, my mind casually wandered to the apocalyptic: WHAT IF MY SEWING MACHINE IS BROKEN, NEVER TO MAKE ANOTHER STITCH AGAIN?!?! (If you’re me, this is a very rational and logical question to ask after unpicking about 2 feet of uneven quilt stitches.)

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I bound the quilt with fabric from each block to maintain the jumbled sense of colors.

I did my best to think through the problem. Hand quilting was out of the question, but what about doing ties? Like those textural crisscrosses with the tie on the back? Like I did on my Welcome Blanket? Ooooh! I liked it and didn’t look back.

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I left the ties long on the back of the quilt.

On a family outing, I convinced my husband to stop at a craft store where I jumped out of the car, ran inside, snagged more than enough skeins of embroidery floss, put on my blinders and walked straight to the registers, paid, and made it back out to my family in truly the 5 minutes I said it would take. (From this point on, I worked on this quilt with the same sense of urgency: I wanted to get it done, but I needed to get it done.)

As I was tying the quilt, I though, hey, there aren’t too many seams in the sashing. Oh, the gears were turning. I could do a running stitch in the sashing! And so I did. With the same thick embroidery floss I used for the ties. I got the texture I wanted in the beginning when I lamented there were too many seams to do hand quilting.

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Since popping a knot of embroidery floss into the fabric would have been hard while hand quilting, I left the knots on the outside. The knots just look like another tie.

I am so, so, so glad that my sewing machine and walking foot didn’t cooperate! The Quilting Goddess was surely looking out for me that afternoon: it was mean to be. I love how this quilt turned out!

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It’s not done until the label is stitched on!

Side note: this was March’s One Monthly Goal for the link-up hosted by Elm Street Quilts. Hooray! I got it done…and with some time to spare!

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

March’s Quilting Goal: Baste, Quilt & Bind My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt Top

It’s time for March’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

My goal is to finish my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt. I finished piecing the top last October and completing this quilt is on my 2019 to-do list.

I’ll use cotton batting and natural muslin for the back. I’d love to hand quilt this one with some big stitches, but there are A LOT of seams and that makes hand quilting difficult–at least for me. So, I will machine quilt it. My plan for the quilting is to do vertical and horizontal lines along the edges of the blocks and through the center of the blocks. Then, I’ll do diagonal lines to crisscross the blocks and mirror the “X” in each. I’m lucky because I still have leftover fabric from the blocks, which I’ll use for the binding. I want the binding to reflect the mishmash of fabrics in the quilt.

I want to enter this quilt in a non-juried show that has a mid-April deadline, so I’m determined to get it done!

Stay tuned!