Tags of Humanity: Creating Quilted Tags Out of Paper and Fabric Scraps

Happy Wednesday friends!


Tiffany here again and sharing with you my take on Ubuntu. Since we’re working “tiny” this season, I’ve decided to work in a small tag book journal. Since each of my pages will be on a tag, I’ve decided to do my entire tutorial on these small tag pages, so you can get an idea of how my tutorial can work on a tiny canvas. At the same time, I think a lot of the techniques I’ll be sharing in this tutorial can be used on any type of canvas too.


So my first take on what Ubuntu means is unity. We as a people are all the same. We feel the same things, often think the same way, and generally want the same things. You and me; we are the same. Like wise old Shylock says in The Merchant of Venice:

“I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”


Replace “Jew” with anyone of any race, gender, creed, etc. and it all still applies. That is what unifies us within humanity.


I then thought of all the ways we are alike and what really stood out to me was all of the things we all strive for in life. Granted not everyone will agree on these things, but for me, I like to think we all as humans want the same basic “inalienable rights,” and I’m not just talking about the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Tags of Humanity: Creating Quilted Tags Out of Paper and Fabric Scraps


So for this tutorial, I want you all to think of things that you believe we as human beings all want. For me, what comes to mind are things like peace, love, hope, happiness, unity, etc. These are the ideas I want to work with and express on my “quilted” tags, because these are the things I think that tie us all together like a patchwork on a quilt.


In the following videos, I’m going to walk you through ways you can express these human ideals by making “quilted” page that I’m calling Tags of Humanity. I will primarily be using paper and fabric scraps, along with machine and embroidery stitching.



  • Paper scraps
  • Fabric/ribbon scraps
  • Embroidery floss/thread
  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sewing Machine (optional)
  • Any other mediums you wish to use to embellish


Now, you don’t have to create tags. You can easily apply any of these methods to whatever tiny (or not tiny) journal you are using by simply creating your own version of a quilt. I’m just applying this to how I’m keeping my Season of Ubuntu journal.


For this first video, I’m going to show you two ways you can create a quilted tag using your paper scraps.


If you’re not creating tags, you can definitely get creative with these two paper “quilting” techniques. If you’re working in a regular journal, you can piece small bits together as accents to your page. Definitely check out Ashley’s paper weaving tutorial where she creates a half weave in her journal using magazine images. Also consider adding fabric or ribbon squares to your simple square quilt or maybe even a ribbon weaved through paper for your weaved quilted tag.


Now in this second video, I’ll show you how to collage paper and fabric scraps together to create fun patchwork tags. I like the look and feel of these patchwork tags because all of the different elements coming together on the tag represents us as a people coming together to become one fun patchwork world. Like the texture of fabric and lace and the smoothness of paper, we are all different. And yet when you join and layer us then bind us together–as with stitching–we create a beautiful quilted tag rich with color, texture, and dimension.


In the video, I share with you a tag made this way using machine sewing and then go through a few embroidery stitches in order for you to add stitching to your tags by hand as well.


You can see that my personal favorite stitch is the French Knot. For this project specifically, I like how the knot represents the idea of coming together. Definitely think of these stitches in that way. When you create X’s, yes it’s to combine two pieces together in a stitch, but also think of it as a hug–as two different pieces of material (or two different people) coming together and embracing each other in a loving way.


Remember, the embroidery stitches are easier to do on fabric, but the backstitch is possibly the easiest to do on paper. You can also combine stitches to create different images and patterns onto your tags, which give another dimension to your patchwork “quilts.”


In the last video I will show you how I’ve used the backstitch to create my word titles and my process of finishing up my tags.

I especially wanted to use that weaved quilted tag for the word Unity because of what the weaving signifies. To weave is to come together and while some of my other words also have that coming together aspect to them as well (for instance, Peace), having it associated with Unity is very powerful because when we unite, we become one much like those strands of paper become one in a weave. I used a backstitch on some canvas fabric to spell out the word Unity only to add a bit more texture to the tag.


I did the same backstitch wording for the the word Peace. Yet this time I layered a white doily behind it before adding it to my square quilted tag. I like how the doily not only adds texture to the tag, but it’s also circular and evokes the peace sign in a way.


Tags of Humanity: Creating Quilted Tags Out of Paper and Fabric Scraps


For Love and Happiness, I was mostly drawn to the colors and patterns I used on the layer tags to associate the word with the patchwork tag. For Happiness, the yellow of the flowers in the paper I used really drew me to use that tag for that word. For me Happy is always yellow. The soft pink and mint pastel colors of the Love tag is what made me choose it for the word. Also the mint ribbon fabric I used has these beautiful soft red/pink roses on them, and roses are always a symbol of Love.


So definitely think about your colors and materials in this way when creating these quilted tags. Every element (color, pattern, texture, shape, stitch) can hold meaning to the words you choose that speak Ubuntu to you.


Tags of Humanity: Creating Quilted Tags Out of Paper and Fabric Scraps

Action Steps

Create your own “quilted” tags of humanity. If tags aren’t your thing (or if they don’t fit into your tiny journal), use the different “quilting” and stitching techniques on your journal page and journal about some words that for you are universal to all.


Tiffany is an artist of many trades living in New York City with an absolute passion for documenting her everyday life. A traveller to the core, she loves documenting her various journeys around the world in thick handmade travel journals bursting with photos, memories, and travel ephemera.