So, why should you sign and document your quilt? There are several good reasons: First and most important- your heirs and future generations will appreciate it and will know that YOU made that quilt. Also, the quilt world in general needs to know who made it. Collectors of quilts like to know as much as possible about the quilt and it's maker (museums, historical settlements, etc.) The last reason is pure self-indulgence and personal satisfaction. All artists sign their work. Quilters are artists too!
What info should be included on the label, you ask? I suggest you deal with the 5 W's - Who, What, When Where and Why. Who made it - I always include my maiden name as well, as families often repeat names, or you may have a sister-in-law with the same name. What - the design name (eg. Log Cabin) or your name for the quilt. When and Where - I always put the city and province where I'm living at the time, and include the year in which I finish the piece. Why - if there is a special reason why you made that quilt- a wedding, grad, anniversary, or goodbye gift, etc. - this could be included on the label. This makes it more special and again documents it for future generations which may inherit it someday. You might also deal with the "How". How it was made, how you have used special techniques, or how it is appropriate for the recipient might also be added to the label.
There are many methods you can use for a quick simple label - it does not have to be elaborate. Simply writing the info on a square of cotton or muslin will work just fine and will only take a few minutes. I suggest a good permanent ink fine point pen such as Pigma Micron (the lower the number the finer the point). Prewashing the fabric to remove any sizing (which acts as a barrier to ink penetration), and ironing it to a piece of freezer paper to stabilize it will help prevent "drag" when writing with the pen. You can also purchase printed labels with lovely designs, as you can see above. These can be found individually or by yardage. Labels can be printed with your computer printer, or if your sewing machine does script, you can do a label that way. Woven labels can also be ordered- these are usually just one or two lines such as "Made for You with Love by Grammie". You can also make one extra pieced or appliqued block and use it for your label.
Of course you can do a more elaborate label if you have the time and inclination. Cross-stitch, stamping, stencilling, photo transfers, silk ribbon work, beading, painting with acrylics or fabric dyes- these are all techniques which could be used to make a beautiful label for a very special quilt. I often do a cross-stitched label (but never for a bed quilt or child's quilt which will require washing). Here is the one I just completed for "Midnight Dancer". I cross-stitch the label, then border it with fabric and sew to the back of the quilt; in this case I used up leftover binding strips.
I'll leave you with one final idea - attach your fabric label before the quilting process, and quilt right through the label. As people have begun to realize that quilts are valuable, these treasured items have become worth stealing. Make yours less desirable to a thief by making it impossible to get rid of your documentation. If quilted in so that it must be cut out, this will force the defacing of the quilt and therefore decrease it's value, if they wish to hide it's origin. Another good idea is to sign your signature, in permanent ink pen, right on the backing, under the label or sleeve.
I hope I've given you a few good ideas today.... How many of your quilts have labels? Not all of mine do, but I'm workin' on it!!
The artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.