all about labels


One of my favorite parts of starting my business a few years ago was the planning stage. Truth be told, I’d been thinking and dreaming and planning for a long time, probably since my college days. After the paperwork is filed, domain name acquired, and business plan combed over for the zillionth time, there’s time for a little fun. Arranging the studio, ordering fabrics, sewing samples, customizing a website–all my idea of a good time. I get asked quite often about where/how I had labels done, so I thought I might suggest a couple things. Whether you have aspirations to launch your own line one day or if you just love designing and sewing for yourself or your favorite people, I hope this is helpful. I’m definitely in the “sewing for myself” camp these days, and I’m very happy about it!

There are plenty of options when it comes to having labels made.  A lot of places were eliminated right off the bat because they were done overseas or had huge minimums. I knew labels–of all things, sheesh–could be made somewhere in America, with minimums that didn’t make my eyes pop out, and at a reasonable cost. Enter, New York Custom Labels. This place offers a ton of design options, as well as woven or printed labels (mine are woven cotton), and a number of different styles (Manhattan fold, custom cut, center fold), and low minimums. I ordered a few thousand and it didn’t break the bank.


So, now let’s talk about the care labels. These can also be ordered the same way the garment labels were, but I knew there would be too many style numbers and sizes available for that to be realistic. I would have loved woven care labels or even just a woven label with just the size on it, but it simply wasn’t in the cards. Remember when you order these things that every line of text adds more to your overall cost, as do multiple colors or bigger sized labels. For the first couple of years I was in business, I offered my line in three size ranges: missy, petite, and plus. That is a ton of sizes. (Eventually, we eliminated petite sizes, and later plus. It was overwhelming when it came to pattern grading, and petite sizes were almost never ordered.) Needless to say, the best thing for us to do was to print them ourselves. Once designs were finalized and fabric chosen, someone (usually me) would create the new labels with the design name, size, fiber content, country of manufacture (always the USA, baby!), RN number, and care instructions. It took some time to type everything out correctly, print them, and then cut each individual label and attach it to the garment label. Sometimes, the garment label was sewn onto the bodice lining, and the care label was sew into the side seam of the skirt lining, a common place to put it.

JoAnn (and other places) sells printable fabric paper. This is your golden ticket to label-land. Even if you’re sewing at home for yourself it’s a good idea to have a care label in your garment in the event that your take things to the cleaners. Plus, it looks polished and professional.


Printable fabric paper.


I’m almost out of labels, so it’s time for me to come up with a fresh design and order more this fall. I’m always open to suggestions–if you know of a great label place, let me know!

Happy Wednesday!


  1. Kathryn McBride | 24th Mar 17

    Hi, Emily! I’ve devoured every post you’ve created since finding your blog! It’s wonderful! Quick question: do you ever find the corners of your labels to be stiff and/or rub & itch you? I’ve started making my own lingerie because my super irritable skin (excema, etc) would completely freak out against ready-to-wear. I love the idea of my own cute labels, but I remember the sick pleasure I used to get in ripping out RTW labels as soon as possible and worry I won’t be able to find customizable labels that are soft enough…

    • Emily | 24th Mar 17

      Hi Kathryn! What a nice comment, thank you! I’m so glad you’re here! Great question about the labels. Like you, I have sensitive skin, but these labels don’t usually bother me. On most garments, they’re sewn down all the way around the label to keep those pesky corners from irritating my skin. My labels are 100% cotton, which helps, but you can also find labels in satin or other materials that might be a better option for super sensitive skin. I believe you can also have labels made on jersey materials which would be another great option. Keep me posted on what you find! 🙂

  2. Maria Sanchez | 24th Jan 17

    Hello Emily! thank you for sharing this info. What is the RN number and where do you get it?

    • Emily | 25th Jan 17

      Hi Maria, the RN number is for businesses only. If you’re just sewing for yourself or others and you’re not selling products, it’s not necessary to have on your labels. The care labels I use in my garments are left over from my business days, which is why that number is there. It’s called a Registered Identification Number, and it is issued by the FTC to US businesses that manufacture, import, distribute, or sell products covered by the Textile, Wool, and Fur Acts. Hope that helps!

  3. Nana | 7th Sep 16

    Labels are so very important! Thank you so much for sharing this! Hmmm I just may have to remove petite out of my sizing as well haha!

    • Emily | 7th Sep 16

      My pleasure! I’m glad it was helpful. Are you a designer too? I’d love to see your line! 🙂

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