Introduction: Simple Fabric Tags
When I started making cat hammock covers for our local animal shelter, sometimes the volunteers had a hard time distinguishing quickly between the small and large covers.
Adding tags to the covers that indicated size seemed a logical step, so I looked into ordering custom tags. They were very nice, but they were also expensive.
I decided to figure out something simple using material I already had - the scrap T-shirt fabric left over from the hammock covers.
Step 1: Fabric
All that was really needed was something simple that would quickly indicate size. I designed 1 style using scrap t-shirt material left over from making hammock covers and another using cotton twill tape.
Knit t-shirt material is a great fabric for tags because the cut fabric will not unravel, like woven cotton material will. I sewed some decorative lines along the vertical edges, to make the tag more stable and a little prettier, but it’s not required.
I used the fabric from the middle of the shirt, making a “looped” tag with wrong sides together.
I also chose to use fabric color to indicate size, in case the ink lettering wore off; white indicating small, red for medium and blue for large.
Step 2: Ink
The ink used on the fabric would have to stand up to frequent washes in the shelter environment.
I tried a few different things, and by far the simplest that I found were fabric safe markers.
I also used a solvent ink, with simple rubber stamps. Some solvent inks have a very specific note on the back of the stamp pad saying that it is not recommended for fabric, but so far, it has held up very well. I figured I could use the markers to re-trace the stamp if the ink ever wore off.
The rubber stamps are inexpensive alphabet stamps that I found at my local craft store. It was very easy to tape letters together to make words.
I also tried fabric safe paint, and that has held up well. But painting is not my talent and even a simple letter “L” didn’t look great from my hands. I liked the look of the stamps and markers much better, but those more skilled at painting may prefer a painted look.
Step 3: Using Part of a T-Shirt
The raw measurements of this tag is 4” tall x 3” wide. But this can be easily adjusted.
I chose the width by taking the width of the stamps that I wanted to use and adding a little space on either side. The stamps are about 2" wide, so I cut the fabric 3" wide.
Step 4: Using Part of a T-Shirt Steps 1 & 2
1. Cut the fabric in multiples of 4” tall x 3” wide.
This piece of fabric is 8” tall x 9” wide.
2. Along the width of the fabric, make little dashes every 3” along the top and bottom of the fabric.
Step 5: Using Part of a T-Shirt Steps 3 - 6
3. Using a sewing machine, sew a vertical stitch from dash to dash.
I like to use twin needles and a triple stretch stitch.
4. Go over to the next dash and sew another vertical stitch.
5. Go over ¼” - 1/8” and make another vertical stitch.
This stitch needs to be far enough away from the other stitch, so you can cut the tags apart with scissors.
6. Repeat so every tag has a stitch along both edges.
Step 6: Using Part of a T-Shirt Steps 7 - 8
7. Cut tags apart.
8. If your piece of fabric is taller than 4”, or 1 tag, cut each tag to 4” tall.
Step 7: Using Part of a T-Shirt Steps 9 - 10
9. Create your tag using fabric safe marker, paint, or ink and rubber stamp.
10. When sewing the hem for your project, sew the tag right along with it. Create a loop with wrong sides together.
Step 8: Using Twill Tape - Steps 1 - 3
The other label is made with cotton twill tape. (My daughter noticed that they look like flat shoelaces.) I have found this sold by the yard at fabric stores, or you can buy an entire spool.
1. My little rubber stamps are just under ½" tall, so I used ½" twill tape.
2. Cut the twill tape a little longer than the stamp being used.
3. Use the rubber stamps and stamp the twill tape.
Step 9: Using Twill Tape - Step 4
4. Place the twill tape label on top of the right side of the fabric. Pin in place, or use scotch tape.
Step 10: Using Twill Tape - Steps 5 - 7
5. Using a twin needle, sew the twill tape onto the right side of the fabric. On one needle, use thread the same color as the twill tape, on the other needle use thread the same color as the fabric.
If you don't have a double needle, you could use a single needle and use a zig zag stitch instead.
6. Sew along all 4 sides of the tape.
7. Use Fray Check to secure any possible fraying areas.