July 2, 2015
By: Peter Gregory
Are you confused by the different fold options when placing your first label order? You’re not alone!
The label fold decision can seem a bit daunting at first, but the good news is that each type of label fold has a clear purpose. As soon as you understand what each fold type can do, you’ll know exactly which one you need.
In this guide, we’ll give you a quick overview of why woven label folds exist and what they can do, and we’ll help you pick the right fold type for your project.
Most of our new customers are stumped when we ask them what fold type they want. A label is often the last thing that designers think about, and it’s not immediately obvious why a woven label would need to be folded in the first place.
Woven labels are almost always folded, because a fold is the simplest way to hide the back side of a weave. Woven labels have two faces: the finished front side, which is the side that’s meant to be seen, and the rough back side, where any messy structural threadwork is visible. Usually, you don’t want to show consumers the back side of a woven label, so you can either fold it back on itself (e.g. a standard loop fold label), or you can put some kind of backing material over the back side (e.g. a border label). Another way to hide the back side is to stitch two separate woven labels together back-to-back. This is what we do for our woven zipper pulls.
Every label fold fits a specific purpose. For instance, if your business buys in pre-made items and customises them (most of our merchandising and screen printing customers fall into this category), then you’ll need a manhattan (book) fold or a border label to cover up any pre-existing manufacturer’s labels (a process called relabelling).
Different label folds suit different fabric types, too. For instance, if you’re labelling a soft silk blouse, you need a lightweight, flexible label that will move with the fabric and that won’t ruin the line of the garment. A standard loop fold or mitre fold are both good options for delicate flowing fabrics, but they’re not the best choice for hard-to-stitch locations like automotive upholstery. Each-end fold labels and border labels are better options for these hardier fabrics.
For most fashion and apparel projects, the label fold decision usually boils down to two factors: what do you want to put on your label, and where do you want to attach it? A tall logo will fit on a different type of label than a wide logo, for example, and certain labels can be stitched into a seam but wouldn’t look right if they were just stitched onto a flat fabric.
Here’s our handy guide to picking the best label fold for your project. We’ve used a shirt as an example, but the fixing method (seam stitch or flat to fabric) is what really matters:
Click on any of the icons below to learn more about each type of label fold:
The loop fold label is the most popular fold that we produce. As the name suggests, with a loop fold label, the fabric is folded in half to form a loop, then the two ends are sewn into the seam of the garment, usually at the neck or hip. Loop fold labels are fixed very securely to the garment, so it’s a long-lasting, lightweight option that works well for the majority of fashion and apparel customers.
A big benefit of the loop fold for your label is that you can customise both sides of the tag. Your logo and/or contact information can appear on one face, then ancillary information like your registered address, country of origin and so on can appear on the reverse.
The Each End fold label is often wider than it is tall — it’s perfect for text-based labels like brand names, websites and slogans. Each end folds tend to be used on high-end couture and designer garments, purely because it’s a label type that accommodates landscape-oriented and text-based logos so well.
With this type of label fold the seam allowance is folded in at each end, then those ends are stitched flat to the fabric of the garment. Each end folded labels are very secure and they need less sewing than a loop fold, but there’s a trade-off: you’re stitching flat to the fabric rather than into the seam, so stitches will show through on the back of the garment.
Each End folds are perfect for hem tags (a hem tag is where you deliberately allow a label to be seen by wrapping it around the hem of your garment, almost like a mexican taco). Hem tags are a good choice if you’re labelling chunky fabrics or trying to win exposure for your brand, but you need to make sure that your measurements are spot-on
Manhattan is an older, more traditional fold type than its name might suggest. It was the industry standard for neck seam labels for years, but these days, Manhattan (book) fold is reserved for relabelling projects.
Decades ago, when label edge cutting technology was less precise and clean, labels carried a larger seam allowance (the seam allowance is the excess blank woven material that appears at the end(s) of a woven label). With a manhattan label, this extra seam allowance would get folded over the back face of the label, then the whole label would be stitched into the garment. This folding method meant that Manhattan labels carried unnecessary excess weight and rigidity, so it’s no surprise that the loop fold label became the industry standard as soon as technology allowed.
Bear in mind that a Manhattan book fold label may take more time to produce. There are three folds on a Manhattan label, and these usually have to be folded by hand.
This is the only type of woven label that isn’t folded at all. Border labels, also known as ‘flat labels’, are normally found in one-off pieces such as tailored suits and wedding dresses. Traditionally, a label that was sewn on all four edges gave the buyer a clear sign that this was a higher quality garment, because it would cost more, in labour, to stitch all four edges.
Nowadays, border labels usually have an iron-on or self-adhesive backing. This sticky backing can hold the label in position while it’s being stitched, or it can help you get your branding onto hard-to-stitch surfaces like furniture and handbags — it’s up to you. We would not recommend an adhesive fixing alone on garments that will be washed regularly, or on light materials, because the backing glue can break down over time and reduce the lifespan of your label.
When you hang a jumper or a shirt on a coat hook, you’re usually using a mitre-folded label to do it! The ends of a mitre label are folded at a forty five degree angle so that they point directly upwards, then these two label ends get stitched directly into the seam. It’s a great choice for softer garments that need a lot of movement — things like children’s clothing, dresses and shawls — because the two stitching points of a mitre fold aren’t very wide, and there’s no rigidity along the seam between those two points.
All of the folds we’ve just described are popular in the narrow fabrics weaving industry because they have been proven to stand the test of time. As a rule, flat-fixed labels should be glued and stitched to the backing fabric wherever possible, and if you want a long-lasting label, the seam is generally the way to go.
We’d love to be able to say ‘this label type is the quickest and cheapest one to produce’, but in reality, fold type is just one of many factors to consider. The label’s weave, thread count and colour choices will all have an impact on costs and timelines, too.
We promise a turnaround time of 10-14 days on all label types, because in our experience that’s just how long it takes to go from initial enquiry to finished product. Over a two-week period, we first convert your design into a woven label pattern, then we send you a physical proof, then we set everything up on our production loom and finally ship the finished goods out to you after a short period of quality control. That all takes days and days of hard work. What’s more, our service is popular, and we always have a queue of jobs on our production loom.
What we can promise is that we’ll always work as fast as we possibly can for you, and we’ll always give you a fair price. If we can deliver labels faster than 10 days we always do so, and we’re committed to offering all of our customers a fair price.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a bit more insight into how and why woven labels are folded, and has helped you pick the best fold for your project. If you’re still unsure, please please get in touch. We’re a friendly family business and we’re always happy to help!
Thanks for reading!