Why Quilt Tags Are Imperatives: Elevating the Value and Storytelling of Handmade Quilts
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Why Quilt Tags Are Imperatives: Elevating the Value and Storytelling of Handmade Quilts

I'm on a mission to change opinions and perceptions in the quilting world about a little thing called a "quilt tag."  Many see it as insignificant or optional, while I see it as critical and imperative.  I sometimes see this as daunting, but I hope this article starts a significant perspective shift and a movement to TAG IT!   

When you pick up a book, don't you expect to see the author's name?  A story synopsis, a bio, and a publish date?  Of course, you do!  It is expected!  When you see a painting or a framed photograph, would you not expect to see the artist's signature?  A date, title, or a description on the back?  Of course, you do!  So, why would a quilt be any different? 

First, quilting is an art form.  As a quilter or sewist, you are an artist, a creator, and often a storyteller.  Likewise, every quilt has a story to tell.  Value that story with the addition of a quilt tag.    

Adding quilt tags to handmade quilts is not only a practical step but also an important one for many reasons.  This article will explore why quilt tags are essential and their significance in quilting and history preservation. 

At the most basic level, quilt tags serve as a form of identification for your handmade quilts.  By attaching a tag to your quilt, you mark it as your creation.  This is particularly important if you plan on selling or gifting your quilts.  The tag will provide information about the quilt's creator and add a personal touch to the piece. 

Additionally, quilt tags can help preserve the history and legacy of your quilts.  As time goes by, quilts often get passed down through generations, becoming family heirlooms.  Yes, even that quickie lap quilt you made in haste will be viewed through a different lens as the generations come and go.  By including a tag with details such as the quilt's name, date of creation, and your name as the maker, you ensure that future generations will have a record of the quilt's origin and a small part of the story behind it.  This can add sentimental value to the quilt and make it even more cherished by its owners.   

In the years to come, surviving quilts become much like the faded black and white photographs or Daguerreotypes that captured a moment in time from long ago.  It's regrettable when the individuals or the scenes captured aren't documented with the photo.  I recall looking into the faces of the individuals staring back at me from those photographs and wondering who they were, even if it was just a name.  We have all turned a picture around to see what was recorded on the back, only to find it blank.  Don't let the story of your quilts become a tale sorrowfully lost to time.  

In the here and now, quilt tags can also serve as inspiration and education for other quilters.  When you share your quilts online or display them at exhibitions, having a tag with your name and contact information can allow fellow quilters to reach out to you for advice, collaborations, or even to purchase your work.  You can easily connect with a wider quilting community and showcase your talent to potential buyers or admirers by including your social media handles or website on the tag. 

In terms of practicality, quilt tags can be helpful for maintenance purposes.  When you attach a tag to your quilt, you can include care instructions, such as washing recommendations or any specific precautions that need to be taken.  This ensures that the quilt's recipient or future owners will know how to properly care for it, thus prolonging its lifespan.  Heck, even a store-bought shirt or blanket gets a tag!!  Think about that the next time you consider skipping the quilt tag. 

Furthermore, quilt tags can also be a way to promote your brand or business if you are a professional quilter.  By including your logo or a custom design on the tag, you create a visual representation of your brand that others can easily recognize.  This can help build brand recognition and establish your identity as a quilter in the industry. 

Writing this article reminded me of a powerful experience that brought the critical importance of quilt tags to my mind and made the quilt tag debate something of a passion and mission.  I was attending an Airing of the Quilts event in a historic church where I lived.  I walked in expecting one thing and left feeling fundamentally changed on some level.  I was there to photograph the event for marketing and documentation purposes.   

I walked into the church as a building, but I found myself standing in a sacred edifice that held a tangible reverence and history.  It was an embrace.  A handshake or a pat on the shoulder from something divine.  I remember my surprise as I spoke to myself silently, "God is here."   

I stood in the moment until the push to finish the work for which I was there began to creep back in.  As I took the photographs and admired the workmanship of the quilts on display and the church's beautiful architecture, I didn't realize that I had one more profound moment yet to come.   

Making my way to the front of the church, I stepped up onto the pulpit or altar and turned to face back toward the lined pews draped with so many colorful and artistic quilts.  I looked into the camera's viewfinder to compose the photograph and was confounded by an unexpected rush of emotion.  At that moment, I saw the faces of those who had sat there from the 1800s to the present, where those quilts sat now.  A surreal transposition faded in and out in a microsecond until the quilts alone were seen through the lens.  Then I realized, like those people from yesteryear, each quilt had its story.  Which ones would forever remain strangers to the present, and which could reveal some part of their tale?   

I walked the church looking for the quilt tags.  Who made it?  When was it made?  Was it a gift?  Did it commemorate a special life event?  Who had slept under it during a sickness, and who was comforted during a loss?  Did that quilt embrace someone as they passed from life to death?  Did it ever serve as a play tent where a child dreamed of amazing adventures?  Who had held it when they cried?  Did a soldier carry it into battle, or did a veteran escape their nightmares under its comforting weight?  Did a grieving mother bring it home empty from the hospital?  Who directly got to experience the love from the hands and heart who had sewn it, and who would only know that love handed down through the heirloom?  

It is hoped these examples serve as precedents to the quilt tag question.  Quilts have their own stories and carry the private histories of all those it has touched.  We must preserve, protect, and cherish those stories through quilt tags.  Like a beloved tree that has shaded generations carries the carved signatures of those there before, tags at the birth of a quilt can evolve to the addition of more quilt tags across time.   

Adding quilt tags to your handmade quilts is not only a practical step but also an important one for various intangible and transcending reasons.  Foremost, value your work as an artist and craftsperson and sign your work.  Realize tags also serve as a form of identification, preserve the history and legacy of your quilts, provide inspiration and education to other quilters, offer practical maintenance instructions, and even promote your brand or business.   

So, the next time you finish a beautiful handmade quilt, remember to add a quilt tag to make it truly complete, memorable, and unique, and remind others to do the same.


Megan Shein

Date 12/4/2023

Steve Baker

Date 12/15/2023 9:11:49 AM


Date 1/4/2024

Steve Baker

Date 1/4/2024

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