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It’s almost Christmas! If you’ve cruised through the “How To: Make A Quilted Card Holder” tutorial, then you know that the pandemic has put a bit of a squeeze on my gift-gathering this year. I found good gifts for everyone but for some reason they feel like they need just a tiny bit more personality. Enter these cute little quilted gift tags! I whipped up a few paper piecing templates based on classic gift tag shapes that I liked. I wanted a few that were more design-oriented and a few that were going to be great for fussy cutting cute portions of fabric onto. You can download my tag templates for free HERE.
These are SO easy to make. Once you try a few, you’re going to be addicted. So grab your scrap bin and let’s dive in!
The number one rule with this project is going to be to experiment a bit to find what you like best. I finished mine with a quick zigzag edge by using my pinking shears. But you could do a tight zigzag stitch around the edge or glue some ribbon on or… anything you feel like! You can also try different options for your ‘batting’ layer and your backing finishes. As we get to each stage, I’ll go through some I tried and give you some ideas that I didn’t.
One of my favorite parts of this project was digging around in my sewing room for abandoned items and seeing how they’d work. Even though I haven’t had any real problems getting supplies I need during this pandemic, it felt satisfying on a core level to use things I had on hand. I felt resourceful and anything that makes us feel positive and in control of something is good right now, right?
Here’s my list of supplies. I’ve tried to indicate which of these are optional or can be subbed out for something else you might already have.
Supplies for Making Quilted Gift Tags
- Fabric scraps of your choice
- Your printed copy of my free Gift Tag Paper Piecing Templates
- A ‘batting’ material. Some ideas: Actual batting, layers of flannel, part of a cozy sweater you’re getting ready to throw out.
- Pinking shears (if you’re going to do a zigzag cut edge)
- Backing/writing area surface. Some ideas: Fabric, iron on interfacing, adhesive sheets, kraft paper/cardstock
- Strong glue (only if you want to adhere paper or something else to the back of your tag to write on)
- Ribbon or twine for your tag loop (I used some leftover twine from another project and this 1/8″ ribbon)
Step 1: Piece Your Top
If you’ve followed the How To: Make A Quilted Card Holder tutorial, then this bit is going to sound eerily familiar…
If you’re using the free paper piecing templates I made, go ahead and download them, print them, and cut them out. Then choose your fabrics and piece them. If you’re not familiar with paper piecing, there are some great YouTube tutorials and these little tags are almost the simplest project you could choose to try out.
If you’re not using the templates, there are lots of other options. You can sew together some bright scraps, fussy cut a cute section of your favorite fabric, or chop up and repurpose an orphan block. Your creativity is the only limit here!
Remove your paper pieces and press your finished block well. If you have thick seams that you can press open instead of to the side, experiment with that. You want your seams as flat as possible for this project!
Step 2: Prepare Your Tag Loop
For my tags I used some spare twine and ribbon. Cut your piece to 8″ long. Take a little piece of tape and use it to secure the ends of the loop together. We’re going to include this loop in our quilt sandwich in the next step and we don’t want this tape to be in the way so keep it to the bottom 1/2″ or so.
Step 3: Make A Quilt Sandwich And Trim It
I tried some different finishes for my tags but I used the same materials for my actual quilted tag. This tutorial will focus on that process with those materials but take some time to think outside the box if you have other ideas!
You’re going to make a traditional quilt sandwich. To do that, you’ll place your backing fabric on your table with the right (good) side down. Then add your batting on top of that. Then add your top.
Normally you would not trim your quilt sandwich before quilting it. However, because you need to add our ribbon and because this project is small enough that you shouldn’t have much shifting when you add your quilting, go ahead and trim your tag now. Keep in mind that if you’re going to make a zigzag edge using your pinking shears, you’ll end up removing another 1/8″ of so in that process so don’t trim your gift tag too small.
Step 4: Add Your Loop And Secure It
Next, you’re going to insert your ribbon. To do that, you need to decide which side of your batting fabric you want your ribbon to be on. I put my ribbon between my batting and my top fabric because my top fabrics were darker and my ribbon wouldn’t show through. However, if you’re using light top fabric, I’d put it between the batting and backing fabric and maybe use an extra layer of backing fabric to keep it from showing.
Whichever side you chose, peel back your fabric on that side and center your ribbon on your batting so that the taped portion is tucked inside and at least 1/2″ away from the edge and your ribbon itself is hanging over the top edge of your batting. See my picture for a better idea of what that looks like.
Now place your fabric back where it was so that you only see the part of your ribbon that will be sticking out in the end.
Set your sewing machine to a nice long stitch length that will be easy to remove later. I used 3.5 because on such a small project my longest stitch (a 5) would be a little too long.
Sew along the top edge of your tag with a slightly-more-than-1/4″ seam allowance. This seam should lock your loop in place.
Now pull the fabric up and trim off the taped portion of the ribbon so that it doesn’t end up inside your gift tag. Put the fabric back in place.
Step 5: Quilt Your Sandwich
Quick your tag however you’d like. For most of my tags I kept my quilting minimal and just used it to highlight the edges between fabrics or around a particular design I liked.
Step 6: Add Any Extra Tag Backing Material That You Want Secured By Your Edge Seam; Add Edge Seam
You’re going to finish your tag off by sewing a 1/4″ seam around all the edges. Before you do that, you need to add any backing materials you want to have secured by that seam.
Several of my tags just have the fabric backing that you’ve already added in prior steps so I didn’t add anything in this step.
If you’d like to add fusible interfacing to the back with or without a printed message: I had some scraps of lightweight fusible interfacing around from other projects (and not-so-fancy handwriting). First I cut a piece a little smaller than a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. Then I used an iron along the outer 1″ to secure the interfacing to the paper (don’t forget to use a piece of fabric between your interfacing and your iron! You do NOT want interfacing residue on your iron. Trust me on that one…). Then I ran it through the printer and printed the “To” and “From” messages you see in some of these photos. I cut a piece around the printed part that was larger than my tag, centered it, and ironed it onto the back side of my tag. Don’t bother trimming for the moment.
Another option would be to add cardstock to the back. However, I know from prior projects that I don’t really like the look of cardstock once it’s been needle punched around the edges so I didn’t try that. Instead, I glued cardstock to the back AFTER adding my security stitch around the edge. I’ll go over that a bit in the next step!
Once you’ve added any materials you like, set your stitch length to whatever you normally use (mine is 2.5) and sew a 1/4″ seam around the edges.
Remove the long (basting) stitch that you used to originally secure your ribbon to your tag.
Step 7: Add Any Backing Materials You Didn’t Want Secured With Your Edge Seam; Trim Edges With Pinking Shears
You could finish your project with a traditional binding or some ribbon or… anything you can dream of. Personally, I like to finish it off by trimming a zigzag around the edges with my pinking shears. It’s fast and festive. Did I mention fast?
If you’re going to add additional backing materials–like some cardstock or a sticker sheet–do that before you trim the edges. First, cut a section that is larger than your tag. Then adhere it. When I used cardstock, I used a permanent glue stick and made sure that I coated the cardstock and especially the places where my edges would be. You might be tempted to set the glue with a warm iron. Be careful if you do. If the heat is too high, your cardstock will curl and warp your tag!
Finally, use your shears and cut off the edges of your projects. You don’t want to cut off your loop so when you get to the top of your tag where it’s sticking out, you’ll need to trim the layers on either side of the loop separately. To do this, I tucked my loop and front fabric to the side and trimmed the batting and backing layer together. Then I tucked the loop the other way with the batting and backing fabric and trimmed just the front layer. As you’re trimming all your edges, make sure that you stay on the outside of the security seam you added in the prior step.