Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Whether it is to brand your finished work, to personalise it, to provide care instruction, to tell a brief story, or simply to make it look more professionally finished - the fabric label is an easy, versatile and very affordable solution!
Brand Name or Logo
Who says you have to be running a business to own a brand? Tailors, seamstresses, sewers - whatever you call yourself, if you are producing creative work, you are essentially an artist. You can express your pride for your artworks by easily marking them with fabric labels - like artists' signatures on paintings!
It can be a logo, your name, an image or a symbol that you feel resonates with your identity. If you don't have a logo that represents your brand (remember, you don't have to be running a business to own a brand), why not create one? I am no graphic designer and I have no knowledge whatsoever on illustrator software, but for my basic and leisurely purpose, the Microsoft Powerpoint delivers just fine (that program does way more than just creating presentation slides!).
Imagine you are making a baby quilt as a gift to a parent or parent-to-be, who had just proudly announced the baby's name. Imagine his/her glee when you present him/her with your beautifully handmade baby quilt, that in addition to being absolutely unique, bears a dainty mark of the baby's name. So much love in one gift!
On a more pragmatic side of things, your toddler's clothing items may be forever getting mixed with those of other children at the daycare, and you realised the numbers of socks and handkerchiefs in your child's closet are fast dwindling. Instead of just marking your child's clothing items with some ambiguous stitches, and as an alternative to getting it embroidered (which is costly if you had to outsource), you could sew on fabric labels printed with your child's name.
Care Instructions / Materials Used
Just like store-bought clothes, your project may be made of certain materials that require special care. Care instructions such as Dry Clean Only, Do Not Bleach, Cold Wash Only, etc. can be printed on fabric labels, which can then be easily sewn or ironed onto your finished project.
It may also be useful to the end-user to know the type of fabrics used. Especially if it is made of luxurious materials like pure silk, genuine leather, or high-grade linen, they can better appreciate the handmade item (and work out the appropriate care methods if you have not already included the instructions).
Tell a Brief Story
There may be an interesting story behind your brand or the item you were making. It could be a brief of how the idea sprouted, what motivated you to make them, a special source where the materials came from, or perhaps just a little indulgence in self-introduction. Whatever the story, if tastefully written (and positioned), the end-user will likely appreciate the extra information they have about the handmade item that makes it all that more precious.
Where and How to Buy Fabric Labels
While fabric tapes (typically cotton) bearing the word "handmade" or containing some generic images may look pretty, they go no further than simply making your finished project look more, well, finished.
If you, like me, want something custom-made, it is actually so easy to order your own fabric labels online. I got mine through a local online shopping platform. There are many types of fabric labels available in the market - some more expensive (but have nicer finish) than others. Browse and read descriptions to learn which type is most suited to your needs and budget.
Once I have selected mine, all I had to do then was select the dimensions and quantities, provide the merchant with a JPEG image of my logo, and make payment. Less than a week later, I had my fabric labels delivered to my doorstep.
Review of the Fabric Labels
What I have ordered are some of the cheapest solutions available - perfect for my amateur purposes. Despite the affordable price tags, the colours and print quality (on both the sew-on and iron-on types) turned out very nice and vibrant, although I have not tested any of it in the washer and dryer (the merchant claimed that they will withstand).
I recognised the iron-on type as similar to the iron-on school badges I used to have on my uniforms in my school days. As I recall, they tended to fade after many washes. Technology may have improved, but to be on the safe side, I will try to use these iron-on labels on items that will not be subject to frequent washing such as bags, cushion covers and curtains.
How to Apply Iron-On Fabric Labels
Heat up iron to medium heat. Use an iron without steam, or turn off the steam function on your iron.
Carefully peel the label off its backing sheet. The instruction leaflet said to use a needle, but I find that it damages the label (which is VERY soft and delicate after peeling off). My fingernails worked much better.
Position label on fabric (facing up, with the adhesive side in contact with the fabric) and place the grease paper on top of the label.
With the protective layer of grease paper, apply pressure with iron on the label for about 10 to 15 seconds, until the fabric grains become visible on the surface of the label.
Examine the label to make sure it is completely adhered to the fabric (pay attention to edges and corners). Do not wash for the next 24 hours.
The first thing I labeled with the iron-on label was the patchwork tote bag that I made for my husband. So far, I am very satisfied with the outcome, but as I said, let's see how it lasts through time, washing, and drying.
As for the sew-on label, I first used it in a shirt I was making for my husband. Initially, I was worried that the fabric label may irritate the wearer of the shirt (haven't we all had that awful experience before?). Thankfully, when my husband tried on the shirt, he did not even feel the label on his back.
I swear it was just coincidental that I have used two articles belonging to my husband to experiment with the fabric labels!