My Material Life

Another Label Idea

Here’s another option for a one-off kind of label (making more than one this way could make you crazy).  Here we have an inexpensive Target backpack in a multi-colored zebra stripe pattern for a young girl who describes her style as “rock and roll”.  I don’t think that many, if any, of her peers will have the same backpack, but a name label is always in order.  And though this is a distinct-looking backpack that doesn’t need help standing out, it’s always fun to add a bit of individuality and handcraft to a mass market item, so I decided to ditch the Sharpie that I usually use for labeling and try something else.

The label above is made with a dyed twill tape that I purchased for another project (never made).  Though one could feel bad about purchasing supplies and not using them for their intended purpose, it’s a real joy to look in a drawer and find you’ve got just the right material for your current scheme.  The only thing I didn’t have was black embroidery thread that I could separate into strands.  Two or three would have worked for the machine stitching technique I describe here.  So regular black thread would have to do; I used the outline stretch stitch on my machine for a little more visual weight.  I stitched over block letters that I made in pencil on the tape, one at a time.  I left tails on the threads, so I could pull them to the back and tie them off.  Do you know how to do that?  You turn your piece over to the wrong side and lift gently on the bobbin thread.  That pulls up a little loop of thread that is your needle thread.  I used a seam ripper (carefully – I didn’t want to cut the thread) to pull that needle thread to the back so I could tie the bobbin and needle thread into a square knot.  This is the most tedious part of the whole thing.  You really need to take care of these tails as you go or you’ll end up with a real mess. You need to trim them after you knot them too.

It was hard to see just where my needle was going on those pencil marks, but I like the resulting high and low letters.  I think it’s kind of rock and roll, don’t you?  The only problem I had was that a couple of knots on the back of the label came undone and I’d already trimmed their tails so I couldn’t tie them together again. Then I found one of those rolls of narrow fusible material that you can use for hems and what-not and another lighter weight and narrower twill tape (this time dyed pink), so I fused the narrow twill tape to the back of the label to make sure it all stays together.  All that was left was to fold in the short edges and use a running stitch to hand sew the label to the backpack.  This was after 11pm on Sunday night.  It was a bit more work than I anticipated, but I kind of like it.

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