I have been designing fabric for my Kristin Nicholas Tea Towel Collection for the past 3 years. I sell them around the holidays and sometimes on-line. The first year I designed, sewed and sold them, it was an experiment. It went okay so last year I designed a few new fabrics. Those did well and I was able to offer the leftovers on-line. This year, I have been designing more fabrics and I am really excited about the new designs - more on them to come.
I knew that I needed to put care instruction labels on the tea towels to be proper. Labels are also a good way to have an "identity." I started looking around on-line to see if there were any labels available cheaply with the proper fiber content and washing instructions. I couldn't find anything and really didn't want to order thousands of ugly little non-woven fabric labels.
After wasting time looking around and checking with some label companies, I decided to design some myself and have them printed at Spoonflower - the place that prints the fabric for my Tea Towels. Once I made that decision, it didn't take me long to get the design together. I cut and folded some fabric to decide on sizing and then opened up Adobe Illustrator. (I could have also done this in Photoshop, but I am a little quicker with Illustrator.) At the end of this post, I have a JPEG template you can use if you want to make a similar label to have printed for items you sew.
I knew I wanted the label to have no raw edges. I wanted to slip the label into the hem quickly as I sew.
Here are what the labels look like on the tea towels.
Here is the backside showing care instructions and country of origin.
Here is the fabric I had printed. The digital file I built was 6 labels up in 5 different colors - 2 labels in off-white, then yellow, chartreuse, turquoise and orange. Having different colors would make the labels easier to cut. I also added black cutting lines to make it even easier for me to cut the fabric.
I purchased 1 yard of the basic cotton and my design yielded 192 labels. The per label cost was 7 cents per label (not including shipping - I ordered during one of their Free Shipping Promos). Next time I order, I may change the black box lines to something lighter but I am pretty happy with them.
Here is my process for readying the labels to set into the Tea Towel seams.
Step 1: Use a rotary cutter and cut a vertical strip of labels.
Step 2: Using a steam iron, turn under each long side of the label strips by 1/4" and iron. No need to sew the seam down - a real timesaver.
Step 3: Cut the labels apart. I use scissors because they are quicker on the small pieces.
Step 4: Fold the pressed labels in half with the long sides touching, wrong sides together and seams inside.
Here are my piles of labels sorted by color - ready to go into the Tea Towel seams. You can also see the backside with the care instructions and fiber content at the bottom of the photo.
Here is a jpeg file which you can use as a guide for designing your own labels. This is my one color version. You can print them in as many colors as you want depending on how you design your digital file. Make sure your file is 150 ppi (pixels per inch) as that is what Spoonflower prints at.
I have been sewing a batch of the Tea Towels and the labels work perfectly. I barely have to slow down as I slip the label under the hem and attach it onto the tea towel. I think they look pretty good. Maybe next time I will try a different one of the Spoonflower substrate fabrics but for now, I have 192 labels to make 192 Tea Towels complete with my own logo.