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By Wunderlabel on 07/03/2024

How to Attach Cotton Labels

How to Attach Cotton Labels

There are several methods to attach cotton labels by hand or sewing machine, suitable for both DIY and professional applications.  Whether you want to personalize clothing, crafts, handmade items or other products, the right techniques and tools can make all the difference. In this article, we will delve into what methods are best.  But before we get started, let's consider where the label will be applied.

Where Can Cotton Labels Be Attached? 

Just like woven labels, the most common placements for cotton labels are at the neck, side, hem, and sleeves. 

Neck area: T-shirts, shirts, blouses and jackets often have clothing tags in the neck area. This is a highly visible area that is easily accessible when the item is put on or taken off. Brand and size information can usually be found here.

Side seams: Many tops, such as T-shirts, sweaters and blouses, have labels on the inside seams at waist level. These often include care instructions and material information.

Sleeves or cuffs: Sometimes placed on outerwear on the outside of the garment. However, this is less common and is used more for special design requirements.

Waistband: For bottoms such as pants, skirts and underwear, labels are often placed on the inside of the waistband. This is an inconspicuous location that is not distracting when worn, but is easily accessible when information is needed.

The back of the garment: On certain clothing items, such as specialty sportswear or tops, custom labels are located at the top of the back, sometimes at the bottom border or near the hips.

Inside the pockets: For outdoor jackets, coats or pants with pockets, a small label can be placed on the inside of the pocket to be discreet yet easy to find.

How to Attach Cotton Labels

The Different Ways of Attaching Cotton Tags

There are three ways to attach a clothing label or cotton tag made from cotton: Sew on or sew in (by hand stitching or machine sewing), and iron on with heat transfer adhesive.

Find out which method works best for your project! If you need further inspiration, check out the other Wunderlabel tutorials.

Sewing on

Sewing on labels is one of the most durable methods of attaching them and arguably the best way to attach any tag.

This method is particularly suitable for clothing and other textiles that are frequently washed or subjected to heavy wear. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages.


- Durability: Sewn on labels are very durable and can withstand wear and tear, frequent laundering and heavy use. They stay put without coming loose.

- Premium look and feel: Natural and comfortable feel against the skin. Sew-on patches look stylish and professional, which can have a positive impact on brand image. Add a decorative stitch like a zigzag or whip stitch to add a unique finishing touch.

- Breathability: Breathable and contribute to the comfort of apparel by not restricting air circulation.

- Environmentally friendly: Natural and biodegradable material. Sewn cotton labels can therefore be a sustainable option compared to synthetic materials.

- Heat and chemical resistance: Resistant to high temperatures and many chemical cleaning agents, making them ideal for clothes that require frequent industrial cleaning.


Complexity of application: More time-consuming than other methods because the edges fray. You should tuck the label ends under or secure them with a zigzag stitch. It requires precision and can be done by hand or machine sewing.

Design limitations: While cotton labels offer many design options, they are less flexible than synthetic ones - imitation cotton. They may be less suitable for intricate design or small details.

Attaching the label all around on all four sides 

This method is very common. The stitching runs continuously along the outer perimeter of the cotton patch.


1. Place in desired location and secure with pins.

2. Attach the clothing label with a straight stitch all the way around, about 1-2mm from the edge if the ends are folded. If not, use the zigzag setting.
3. Make sure the stitches are even for a clean finish.
4. Trim any excess thread and verify that the tag is securely and neatly attached. 

Attaching the label all around on all four sides 

Attaching the cotton label on all four sides 

Narrow labels on both cross ends

A common method is to attach a label at both cross ends. In this case, the label is used to hang the garment or item, among other things. 


1. Position the label so that both right and left end are attached to the garment. 
2. Secure with 2 pins.
3. Sew the label in place with small stitches at both ends. Make sure the label is straight and flat.

Tips to prevent the sides of the label from fraying:

  • Use an anti-fraying agent or Fray Check.
  • Use a zigzag stitch along the edges.
  • Use an overlock machine.
  • Fold edges over and stitch.

Wrapped, folded around the hem

Many companies use this method to highlight the logo of their clothing line. Brand labels on the border of clothing are real eye-catchers.


1. Iron your item.
2. Fold the label along the centerfold line.
3. Wrap the label around the bottom edge and pin into place.
4. Stitch along the top edge of the label so that the bottom portion of the label is also sewn down.
5. Trim the threads and iron over the fabric again. 

cotton label folded wrapped

Sewing in

Sewing in labels is especially useful when you want to integrate the label directly into a seam. This method provides a seamless and professional look.

Sewing in cotton labels


- Durability: Secure and permanent attachment, even after repeated washing and wearing.

- Aesthetics: Sewing gives labels a clean and professional look. The stitching is mostly inconspicuous but can also contribute to the overall look of the garment.

- Versatility: This method can be used for different types of labels and clothing pieces, regardless of material or design.

- Long-lasting comfort: Won't come loose or chafe, which improves the comfort of the garment.


- Time consuming: Sewing takes time and skill, especially when dealing with large numbers.
- Labor intensive: The sew-in process can be labor-intensive for manufacturers, especially in high-volume production.

- Possible fabric damage: Clumsy workmanship can damage fabric, especially with delicate or fine materials.

- Cost: Can add labor and material costs.

Sewing the cotton label into the side as a "loop"

This means that you sew a label into the side seam of the garment during the sewing process. This holds it securely in place without showing any additional stitching.


1. Fold a standard or centerfold label in half to form a loop.
2. Position between layers of fabric, align label and pin in place.
3. Close the seam and sew label in place.
4. Knot or secure the ends by reversing the sewing machine and trimming any excess thread.
5. Make sure the label is affixed firmly and cleanly.

Sew in as a hanger

Sewing in labels as hangers is a convenient way to hang garments. The labels should be folded 90° at the ends.

How to Attach Cotton Labels


1. Select and lightly mark the location for the hanger.
2. Fold each end of the label 90° C at the intended location and mark the stitch lines if necessary.
3. Place the folded label in the marked position and pin to keep it straight.
4. Sew firmly in place at the marked location using a strong stitch.
5. After sewing, check to make sure the hanger is securely attached and that you are happy with the placement.
6. Trim any excess thread.

Iron-on with thermal adhesive

Attaching cotton labels with thermal adhesive interfacing - a thin material that has a type of glue on the back - is a quick and easy method. It is suitable for less textured fabrics, ideal for DIY projects and requires no sewing.


- Easy to use: Easy and requires no special sewing skills. Ideal for beginners and quick projects.

- Time efficient: This method is faster than sewing or attaching. It takes only a few minutes to iron on and saves time, especially for larger quantities.

- Clean look: Using an iron-on patch creates a smooth and seamless surface with no visible stitches. This can be aesthetically pleasing and gives a professional look.

- Versatility: Similar to woven labels with a hot melt adhesive backing, thermal adhesive fleece adheres to a variety of fabrics, making this method suitable for a wide range of textiles, from apparel to crafts.


- Durability: Can start to peel off over time, especially with frequent laundering or heavy use. Durability is higher than stick-on application but usually less than that of sewn labels.

- Heat Sensitivity: Require precise temperature settings. Too high a temperature can damage the fabric surface or iron-on label, while too low a temperature will not provide adequate adhesion.

- Fabric limitations: Not all fabrics are suitable for heat transfer. Delicate materials such as silk or synthetics may be damaged or may not adhere well. We advised that you test on a scrap piece of fabric first. 

- Permanent Fixation: Iron on labels are difficult to remove entirely without damaging the fabric. This can be a problem if corrections are needed or the tag needs to be replaced.

- Equipment Required: An iron, ironing board and baking (parchment) paper are required, which can be cumbersome for some users. In addition, the iron must be set to the correct temperature, which is not always easy.

Steps for ironing on with thermal adhesive 

1. First, cut the interfacing to the size of the label.
2. Preheat the iron according to the instructions on the packaging.
3. Position the tag  and then place a piece of baking paper over it to protect it during ironing. 
4. Press the hot iron firmly down onto the piece of fabric over the label for about 10-15 seconds. Be careful not to move the iron to prevent the tag from slipping.
5. Allow to cool completely before proceeding with the fabric. Make sure the label is securely fused. If necessary, repeat the ironing process.

How to Attach Cotton Labels

Tip: One option that is not widely used is to create a "peel and stick" patch by using double-sided tape. All you need to do is remove the paper backing and stick it to your surfaces!  This is obviously a non-permanent and non-washable solution.

Cotton Labels at Wunderlabel

The history of cotton labels shows that their use and attachment are widespread in the USA.

Custom logo cotton labels can be applied in a variety of ways, depending on the specific requirements of a project. Sewing on, sewing in or ironing on - each method has its advantages and is suitable for different applications.     

The positioning and application of tags requires careful planning. When designing and placing the them, make sure there is enough space around the edge to fold the ends neatly. 

Our label shop provides you with professionally printed cotton labels and many other types of woven tags. You can choose from a variety of materials and printing techniques to display your text, brand name or logo. Easy online ordering, production and fast delivery make it the ideal solution for high quality garments.