easy DIY custom clothing labels

Monday 6 September 2010
Thanks for all the lovely comments on The Dress - if everyone loves it as much as you guys do that fabric prize will be mine! I'm already mentally picturing what I'll buy, nothing like a bit of positive thinking.

I did forget to show you all one detail though - I made some custom labels to sew in to the dress since this one will be going off to live in someone else's wardrobe. Actually I've been meaning to order some labels for a long time, since I saw the simple but stylish labels that Lindsay T had made. But like a lot of things, I left it too late to order them in time for this dress, so I came up with a quick and easy DIY option:

I also used a decorative stitch from my machine along the seam where the facing and lining meet - it looks all puckered in this photo but it looks quite nice in real life. I never usually bother with making the inside as pretty as the outside of a garment, but maybe I should because it looks so much more professional and "finished", even if I'm going to be the only one that can see it.

These labels turned out really well, and I made 48 of them so this will be a suitable interim measure until I decide on a design to get made. These were so easy, and cost at most $5 to make so I'd thought I share how I made them with you all in case you want to do something similar.

1. Gather your supplies:

  • Ribbon - I used white satin 25mm wide ribbon, but you could use narrower if you wanted smaller labels. You can also used coloured ribbon, just buy the right transfer paper.
  • T-shirt transfer paper - you can buy these from any office stationery supply store
  • An inkjet or bubblejet printer (NOT a laser printer, the paper will stick to the drums and stuff up your printer. Trust me, I know this.)
2. Design your labels

I used Microsoft Publisher to create text boxes with my name in the French Script font that comes with the program, and put a dashed line around the box that looks like a sewing stitch. You could do a simple text only in Microsoft Word or similar word processing program, or get even fancier by downloading special fonts and graphics if you like, or use a specific label maker program. Go wild, the options are endless.

Because t-shirt transfer paper is fairly pricey, I crammed as many text boxes onto the page as I could, like thus:
3. Print out your labels

Because of the way you iron the labels face down, your text needs to be mirror reversed. If you're lucky, when you go to print you get an option to select t-shirt transfer paper as the paper option and it will print out the labels mirrored reverse automatically for you. Brilliant! I only discovered this after spending almost an hour trying to figure out how to mirror reverse text (to do that you need to save the text as an image and then you can rotate it).

4. Cut out your labels

Cut around each little label using your paper scissors (not your fabric scissors for heaven's sake!), so you end up with little rectangles.

5. Iron your labels onto the ribbon

Follow the directions for the particular paper you've bought, but all I had to do was iron the paper onto the ribbon using a very hot iron on a hard surface and 10 seconds later it was well and truly stuck down.

And you're all done, told you it was easy!

I left mine on the ribbon roll because otherwise I would probably lose them, and all I did was cut a label off the ribbon roll, tuck the raw ends under and sew it onto the facing of my dress.

I've seen some interesting tutorials recently on how to screen print labels, stamp labels or use a printable fabric, but the iron on transfer method is the easiest and quickest I think. Plus these stand up to multiple washes (just don't iron the surface of the label). And for a few dollars, if you don't like the look of your label you can easily do some more!

Note: these labels were made for my own personal use, if you intend to sell your made pieces check what other labels you legally need such as fibre composition, country of origin and sizing etc.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial on making labels. very ingenious.

  2. OOOOH I as so using this method from now on to make my kid's name labels for their clothes. Way better than the crap iron on labels(burn your clothes getting them on).

    THankyou so much for this little lesson. You are definately getting my vote for the tessuti awards honey!!

  3. I have been contemplating buying some labels, but I think I will do this instead. Brilliant idea! Thanks

  4. Your labels look very professional - great idea!!!

  5. Ooohh! What incredible fun. I have been wanting some labels but didn't want to go to the trouble of ordering such a small number. Thank you for the tip.

  6. Very nice! I found a similar tutorial a couple of years and and tried it, too. I believe it used twill tape though... but same concept. :)

  7. You are soo clever! For cute...
    Way to make your own.

  8. Thank you so much for this truly inspired idea! I love it!

  9. What a great idea! I was just about to buy some labels from Etsy, I think I'll try this instead :)

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  11. Wow! I have been trying to think of ways to make labels, never thought of using transfer paper! That is just awesometastic! Thanks for the idea!!

  12. Wow,this is a great tutorial! Thank you for sharing. I'll try it.

  13. What a brilliantly simple idea. It looks so professional too!

  14. thank you so sos sosososososo much for this post, very helpful!

  15. I love it!! thanks soooo much!!

  16. incredible! labels are so expensive to order, these are a perfect idea! :)

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