Quilt Documentation

One of the big things that quilt historians and appraisers are always concerned about is accurately dating quilts.  Dating of quilts can be inferred by the fabrics and the style of the quilt and the quilting, but a date added to the quilt is a wonderful thing.  Examples of quilts with known dates are used to compare with non-dated quilts to assign an approximate date.    Quilt collectors and historians also love to know who made a quilt.  So many beautiful quilts are sadly anonymous, and we can only wonder who made them.  Adding a label to your quilts is one way to ensure that future quilt historians and collectors know that you made it and when.

I have made several quilts and I must confess that I am not very good about adding labels.  It is always something that I say I will do one day soon.  In an effort to make that no an issue I am starting to add the information into the quilting.  I quilt my name and the date right into the quilt.  This way I know that it will always be there (no label to be later removed)  and I won’t forget to do it.

I have also embroidered my name and date into some quilts where it seems to fit better than quilting it in.  here are a few examples.

2011_0413Jeans-Quilt0007 2011_0318Log-Cabin-Quilted0005

Here are a few where I quilted it in

Remember to sign your work2010_1203pineapple-signature0003

I recently finished a whole cloth quilt that had very dense quilting in some areas.


I wanted the name and date to be in there but not stand out ( you have to look for it) so I did it in contrasting thread.

here it is as I was adding it


I like that way of doing it so I did that yesterday on the quilt I am currently working on

wholecloth-signature 001

This section of the quilt is what I worked on yesterday and it represents about 10 hours of quilting.  I did use contrasting thread on this  and in the right light it does show up

wholecloth-signature 004

I hope that my quilts will be around in 100 years and that someone will be glad to know who made them.  I have about 20 more that still need a label ….I need to get that done!

But I want to work on this one again….I can’t seem to stop.  here are a bunch more pictures of the progress (click to enlarge)

Happy Quilting


26 thoughts on “Quilt Documentation

  1. njquilter24 says:

    I love the idea that your hand quilting your name and date right into the quilt. I have seen antique quilts like this and ones with just initials , your right sometimes you don’t notice it the first look at the quilt but when your studying a quilt I tend to start looking for things like this!
    the quilt is just beautiful , 10 hrs in a day I am so impressed I don’t know how you can handle 10 hrs a day hand quilting!!!! your progress pictures are just amazing, thanks for sharing

    • timquilts says:

      thanks Kathie…..10 hours is a bit much, but my hands have gotten pretty strong from doing it…
      I also love to see an antique with some info quilted in…I think it makes it more special…and that is the inspiration for me to do it on my quilts (at least on some of them)

  2. I used to label all my quilts, but now I only label special ones. Your handquilting is beautiful!!

  3. Regan Martin says:

    Another blogger and I recently discussed labeling and taking pictures of quilts in progress. Our thought was that we need to get more pictures of the quilter while making the quilt. What a treasure for the folks we’re ‘expecting’ to keep these quilts, to have the quilt and a pic of their ancestor making it! Wouldn’t those pics be our treasures now, if we had them with our antique quilts?

    Just a thought……but you need to be in some of these pics with your masterpiece quilt in progress! :o)

  4. Trina Schellhammer says:

    I just started quilting a little butterfly on each of mine (my daughter is STILL looking for hers on her quilt I just finished!) and signing & dating it. Sure wish my last name wasn’t so long, because I’d like to embroider it like yours. I really think it’s important we don’t forget to do this, so thank you so much for the reminder!

  5. audrey says:

    Very unique label. I like the fact that it’s embedded into the quilt forever.

    • timquilts says:

      that is what I like….I worry too much perhaps, but I think a sewn on label will wear out or be removed and this seem like it is forever (and it takes forever too)

  6. Kristen says:

    Good, I’m very glad you’ve done this now, and I do hope all this positive feedback will inspire you to go back and sign all your quilts. I’ve always thought that a Tim Latimer quilt is going to be special not only to your heirs but also to many other people in the future. And I hope all the other quilters on this thread do as well — there is so much of you in your quilts, your signature brings it all together for that person holding that piece of your personal history.

  7. Cathi says:

    While I love making labels that relate to the quilt design, this post has really made me think — and I think I shall, from now on, find a way to add my name and date to each quilt in the quilting as well.

  8. threadlore says:

    Hi Tim,

    As a museum curator, I am expected to do research based on our collections. Two and a half years ago I decided to research the history of quilting in the province of Alberta. With so little information written about Alberta quilters at the turn of the 20th century I decided I should begin by documenting what Alberta quilters are doing in the 21st century. This has been quite a journey with so many incredible stories. One story really speaks to why labeling our quilts is so important.

    An Alberta quilter made a quilt for her adult son who was living and working in Louisiana. When hurricane Katrina hit, this young man had lost everything. He returned home to Alberta only to go back to Louisiana to help with the clean up. Unfortunately he became ill with a lung related disease and died. Some time later, someone found a quilt in a plastic back. Because is was labelled it was returned to the grieving mother. I have many quilts in our collection. Very few have a name or date on them. We always have to keep in mind that in 50 years or 100 years, people will want to know who made all these beautiful quilts. And your quilts, Tim, are so very beautiful. Keep labeling.

  9. Quilt documentation has been a passion of mine for years! So glad to see someone else advocating this!

  10. Lorij says:

    I’ve made quilts for my grandchildren. The one I made for my grandson this past Christmas has a block that is 9 block done by my grandfather, grandmother, and and mother sometime between 1918 and 1935. When my aunt passed away at age 89 in 2010 I discovered 26 of these blocks. I put one in my oldest granddaughter’s quilt I made for her birthday last October. Both quilts are queen size and hand quilted. On each of them I embroidered history and my name. My grandson wanted his mother’s name included on his so, I wrote family history on his finished quilt in permanent ink also. He is totally estatic! My goal is to make sure each of them have a quilt with this block in it. I have a top hand made for my daughter at home in NC, I’m working on a back for it. In the back I will place 10 of these blocks. 2- my grand-mother/father, 1-my mother, 1-my aunt, 1-me,1-her, 1-my son who passed in 2001 with cancer, 3-1-for each of her children. She is the only granddaughter and was the first grand child of 4. At this time I’m visiting with her family. I’m so excited that I’ll be able to do this quilt for her. My grandchildren love quilts and the girls are showing interest in learning. You have really encouraged me in not being concerned about quilting by patterns but doing like I’ve been doing and making just what I like.
    Many blessings, Lorij

  11. Lorij says:

    Also my aunt helped do the 26 blocks. I left that out when I was writing this. Mother was born 1918 and Auntie was born 1920. My grandfather was burned between 1 9 3 0 /3 and the blocks eye made before and between the time my mother was born and before my grandfather was killed. They were sewn on a singer treble sewing machine. My grandmother still had out when I was growing up.

  12. Moz says:

    Your tree wholecloth is amazing! And what needle did you use to hand quilt through that denim quilt. I love this blog…you’re an inspiration.


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