Q for You: Do you sew tags in your handmades?

Q for You: Do you sew tags in your handmades?

It seems counterintuitive, really. Tags in the neck or waistband of clothes can be such a nuisance, but then it feels a little odd when you knit or sew your own clothes and they’re just bare back there. Sometimes I think it would be helpful — like with the Big Rubble I inherited — to be able to see at a glance which is the back and which the front. And there’s also a little urge to give yourself credit, right? Or to leave some form of a love note, as it were, in the things we make for others. There are lots of readymade tags for sale, and it’s easy to have custom ones made as well — if you’re inclined. I joke about having some fancy-looking ones made that say “BESPOKE by Karen Templer” But I’ve seen people do such lovely things with hand-embroidered labels, too, like the sweet ones above by Megan of @saltairarts, who hand-stitches her initials and the year into each of her finished garments.

So that’s my Q for You today: Do you put tags (or markings of any kind) in your handmade clothes? I’m sure we all want details, photos, sources if you have them. And if there’s someone whose approach you’ve noted or admired, please share a link!

I look forward to your answers and wish you a happy and relaxing weekend. Thank you for reading, and for your support of all things Fringe! See you back here next week—


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61 thoughts on “Q for You: Do you sew tags in your handmades?

  1. No to tags. They irritate the back of my neck. I take them off commercially made clothing too. For family members who have difficulty telling the back from the front of sweaters (James, I’m referring to you) I weave in a small length of constrasting wool to indicate the back.

  2. I never have before, but just recently, I decided to start sewing in a grosgrain ribbon ‘tag,’ partly for the reasons you mention…it just looks naked in there…but mostly because the styles of tops and dresses I like to make are often identical (or nearly identical) on the front and back, and a tag would be helpful in identifying a back side of the garment. Our bodies wear & tear them differently, and the garment molds a certain way depending on how you wear it, so it makes sense in most cases to wear it the same way each time.

    I LOVE Megan’s practice of signing and dating. I may start doing that as well.

    • I, too, sew in a piece of ribbon. I love picking one out of my hulking collection. Just a snip so that when I pick the dress up off the floor, I can reorient quickly.

  3. I do the same, make a little X with contrasting wool – after noticing that my husband was just as likely to wear his stockinette sweater not only backwards but inside out. I think if I did use labels I’d maybe put them down towards the hem to avoid the neck irritation. Although now that I’m thinking about it, maybe some fancy soft silk ribbon sewed down carefully would work….

  4. I would love to find someone who could make tags for me – anny suggestions?

    • If you google “custom clothing labels” you get a million options, but I’ve never tried any of them so can’t make a recommendation! Hopefully someone will come along who has first-hand knowledge.

  5. I am a sewer. I have always read that you should be proud of your makes and add a label, like quilters add to their quilts. I use 3/4” twill tape and my sewing machine’s decorative stitches (mine has letters) to create a simple label that gets stitched in. I will admit I hadn’t thought about doing it in my knits – I will start doing that. For those without the the sewing machine, there are various places to order labels and they are not the stiff uncomfortable ones added y rtw – I also remove many because they irritate which my twill tape labels never do.

  6. No labels ! But I do like the idea to add something special to sign your garment.
    On a sewn garment, I like to add a few hand stitches somewhere inside, like the hem or a side seam allowance, where it won’t scratch the skin. It reminds me of one of the loveliest traditions in Haute Couture : the seamstress in charge of the wedding dress would make a few hidden stitches with her own hair (in a seam or an embroidery) for luck in love.
    I do not add anything in a knitted garment, I think the wrong side speaks for itself and shows quite well that it is hand made !

  7. I had lovely custom labels made by the Dutch Label Shop. It is online and the website is great. The labels are not scratchy. I sew them into knits that I give as gifts. So far, I have sewn a label into only one of my sweaters. Just have not found the energy to do more!

  8. Always! I have custom labels made every year with my name and the year. The year bit was largely inspired by @beththais, which did it first. I make some clothes for children, who rely heavily on the tags to know back from front. Having them labeled by year is delightful – I can go back in time in my closet :)

  9. No tags here. I cut them out of clothes I buy before I wear them because they drive me crazy. We have a wonderful clothes designer in our little gallery, Teri Jo Summer, and she uses a very simple soft tag with just her name in a simple flowing font. If the top is a delicate silk, she sews her tag on a side seam. I haven’t removed her tags from the pieces I own because they don’t bother my neck at all.

  10. Typically when I give a hand knit away I put a tag somewhere in the garment (a lot of times in the lower bottom of the back), especially in a sweater where you can’t easily tell back from front. Mine usually have that I made it and wash instructions. But I ran out…so I have been super lazy in ordering new ones. LOL

  11. Haven’t done so in the past, but am planning to since I have begun making PJs for nieces and nephews . Going to make my own. Already started with dating quilt tops.

  12. I haven’t done this and I really need to, for both practical and sentimental reasons. My Stopover sweater has a little bit of short row shaping to lift the back but I still occasionally wear it wrong and it annoys me. I should retroactively add tags to the sweaters I’ve made for my kids over the years and they have outgrown. They are all fairly classic patterns, I would like to see grandkids wear them someday and it would be fun to have them see what dad or mom wore way back when. :)

  13. LOL, so funny that this question is asked as I just bought some labels yesterday from Twig and Horn that say “STAY WARM -hand knit-, too wonderful.
    Sometimes I will stamp out (with textile ink) the locations, happenings, etc onto an unbleached cotton square to always remind me of where I was and what was happening while I was knitting my sweaters. I believe that every stitch has a story and if our stitches could talk, oh the stories they could tell.

  14. I often do use some sort of marker for just the reason you mentioned …. being able to quickly discern the front from the back. I do have some pretty tags with my name on them (left over from an old design venture) and I use those for elasticized pants. I just fold them and sew them into the casing seam. For sweaters, I mostly use a small piece of contrasting yarn that is tied into a stitch or two on the inside back of the neck. With washing, it felts into the piece and is almost not noticeable….except to me. I have also used a small button sewn right where a tag would be.

    • How funny, I have been thinking of putting labels in my handknits and I was just looking at these!

  15. I make a lot of shirts Hawaiian style (bright/flowery/etc) shirts for my husband and hadn’t put labels in them. A year or so ago, he came in and asked, “Is this one of yours, or did I buy it?” I started putting a “made with love” tag in them after that. I also started putting “hang loops” in the neck of my things when I started to notice stuff falling off the hook onto the floor of the closet. I’ll probably switch to hang loops for Hubband’s stuff as well, it would be easy to hand stitch “MWL” or just “Love” on the loop.

  16. After a pair of pajama pants that I always have to put on, take back off, turn around, and then put back on, I sew a loop of bias binding in the back of my simple pants as a tag. I’ve also definitely had round-yoke sweaters that were indistinguishable after a few washes despite short rows, so if I ever make another I’ll need to work on some kind of non-irritating marker.

  17. I makes quilted jackets embellished with vintage crochet linens and trims. I sign my name in permanent marker on the inside near the bottom of the left front and the date. These are one of a kind pieces and I consider these textile art.

  18. How lovely it would be to have a gallery of all the special ways we choose to mark our garments.

    I can say that I’ve been tagging my makes since 2010 with certainty, since I have the mittens to prove it: https://www.instagram.com/p/-xk6jvwP5J/?taken-by=beththais On knits, I find a way to stitch in my initials and the date, sometimes hidden inside a hem or pocket, sometimes not hidden at all. I use stranded colorwork or will go back and ‘sign’ on completion with double knitting. A pattern by Adrian Bizilia inspired me to do this originally, as she created space for it in her mitten charts.

    When I sew, I use a tag with my last name and the date. For garments I sew for my children, the last name is helpful so they can be returned if they happen to wander. For my own garments, the same labels serve to document the year and I feel proud wearing clothing with my own name on them.

    I really love Elaine’s (@kosa_arts) method of creating a tag with the fabric’s selvage, especially since the selvage is often so lovely: https://www.instagram.com/p/BajtO-wgLr-NxkcuySsZItXyqtieUJ4IVkjffY0/?taken-by=kosa_arts

    Some of the most beautiful textile signatures I’ve seen are on quilts; what a windfall of information to have the maker’s name, date and city. I sign my own quilts in that manner; it’s a reminder (humbling and elevating) that the things we make with care and thought will outlive us and become a legacy.

  19. I tie a knotted bow in place of a tag on knit garments, just to indicate front/back. I just use matching yarn, and have found it very helpful for both myself and the kids. I have started handing some outgrown things down to non-knitters so would consider tags with washing instructions maybe. My pride in making things is far more tied to seeing them worn and used than to labeling items.

  20. Part of the massive collection of sewing supplies I’ve accumulated over the years is a bunch of labels I got from my former MOL who was a professional dressmaker for decades and also a devout Catholic (still is!). The labels are blessed and are essentially some kind of indulgence/get-out-of-purgatory-free thing because they say, “the wearer of this garment has been blessed for immediate release from purgatory” on them. I sew some of these into items I make, though now that I have fewer and fewer of them, I’m stingier about their use.

    Aside from that, I try to label the things I sew in one way or another–I usually add a date, maybe my name, and then some kind of info about the materials used, just to remind myself how to care for them. This is where I think buying a bunch of ready-made labels would be best.

    I’ve been meaning to add labels to sweaters, too, but Ravelery kind of obviates the need–I’m only on my fourth year of knitting and I’m slow at finishing things, so I remember everything I’ve made, but if I end up forgetting what yarn went into something, I can just check it out on Ravelery.

  21. I recently made several pair of Sonya Phillips’ Pants #1, the backs and fronts of which look almost identical after being sewn together. If you flat-fell the back seam as she suggests, there is that seaming detail to tell them apart but it’s not easy. So I bought a long length of orange grosgrain ribbon with small white polka dots, and cut a small piece of it with the polka dot in the center and sew it to the inside of the back waistband. The cost is nominal, and I end up with a cute, personalized tag that let’s me know which side is which!

  22. I never have, partly because the stuff I’ve made generally has some kind of design feature (split hem with longer back, front lace panel, is a cardigan) that makes the front easily distinguishable from the back. I associate labels so strongly with commercial brands that I can’t really imagine putting an actual label in a garment unless I were selling it. But the idea of knitting something a little distinctive inside the back collar is appealing.

  23. I remember reading somewhere that in couture garments they embroider two or three x’s in the front of a garment. I thought that was neat. In the past i’ve put pieces of some really soft elastic lace as a little tag or sewed on a selvedge square below the neckline like you see in some RTW.
    My dream was to do my name or initials and then garment number. But I don’t know if I should start at 01 now or try to count the garments i’ve sewn this far.

  24. Great question! On knits I sew for family members I use the tshirt transfer paper to print out little sayings/funny pictures (e.g “don’t let the muggles get you down”) – for hopefully a smile as they put it on. They have worn quite well, too!

  25. Oh yeah! I just designed some cute little tags on Canva and had them made by someone on Etsy. I guess tags don’t bug me too much. I just had a new baby girl and have been sewing her a bunch of cute clothes. I guess I am hoping she holds on to these and can pass them on. This is a pic of the labels. https://photos.app.goo.gl/5hK2fXh1PnWPQ3b57

  26. I had custom ones made. It wasn’t easy since I knit for sisters, nieces, grandchildren, daughter, daughter-in-law, husband, sons….. Obviously, Love, Mom or Love, Grandma won’t do it. So I had ones made that say “love, Janet”. I usually make shawls or hats for people, so the tag isn’t a nuisance like it is in clothing. That said, I had to remove the tags I used for my sisters’ shawls because the pattern was too lacey. I love the touch of a little tag to show you care!

  27. Yes, a lot I do, especially garments that perhaps I won’t wash with every wear (kimonos, cardis etc) as I then use them as hanging loops on a wall rack I have for clothes that don’t quite need a wash yet. And for telling front from back.

  28. I have in the past, when I was making baby clothes for my brothers’ and friends’ babies, but I haven’t in years.

  29. I always add three herringbone stitches to my me-mades (picture can be seen on my IG account belekeck) as my “trademark”. If you translate the German term for it literally, it would be “witch stitches”. I love the little hint, that making your own clothes can be somewhat magic. Besides, I just love to stitch herringbone stitches…

  30. I put care labels in the children’s clothes I make as gifts for friends. No laundry mysteries for them! Also, useful for wool items, as some might be allergic. I get mine from ananemone on etsy. I don’t put any tags into anything that stays in our house though!

  31. I have put labels on some of the children’s sweaters I’ve knit but I hand sew them into the side seam. Stays out of the way, no neck itch.

  32. I recently started sewing size labels in my granddaughters’ hand-mades. I need to add care labels to knits and special occasion dresses. My daughter takes lovely care of everything I make her girls and plans to save them for her granddaughters. I love the idea of easily identifying sizing and care for future generations.

  33. I love the cork tags I ordered from All This Wood (my review on 3/25/18 has a pic of the tag – https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1405779805). I’ve attached the tag to the hats that we donate to the food bank where my mother volunteers. The recipients are free to remove them, but I think it’s a fun reminder that the items are hand knit and the tags have care instructions on the reverse side.

  34. If it’s a me-made garment I sign the selvage edge with a Pigma Micron pen. I’ve used them for years on my quilt labels. The ink doesn’t wash out.

  35. I haphazardly use bought tags in my knitwear. Last fall I made three shawls/scarves for my travel companions on a cruise, and sewed little metal hearts on each of them. They were symbols that I had made them with love, and were the only common part of each item. It was probably more important to me than to any of the gift recipients. There have been a lot of good ideas for tags here. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

  36. Pingback: Q for You: Would you rather knit the sleeves or the body? | Fringe Association

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