How to make an Equestrian Ribbon Quilt

I’ve wanted one of these for a long time.

I mean, you don’t even need to be a horse person to think that the quilt/wall hanging to the right is really, really pretty – not to mention creative!  If you haven’t seen or heard of one of these, it’s a quilt made entirely out of horse show satin ribbons.  I’ve done different kinds of horse showing all my life, and have secretly been lusting after one of these.  However, there were a few problems with me acquiring a ribbon quilt of my own:

  1. I am really cheap, and they are not.  It’s a ton of work, so they’re (rightfully) expensive no matter who you order one from.
  2. I have strange horse show ribbons.  The show circuit I used to show Elvis at had a rainbow stripe down the middle of their ribbon, and they liked to do “fun colors” for Championships instead of the traditional blue, red and yellow (the best ribbons I ever got from that show series were light purple, and black orange and red).
  3. I don’t have tons and tons of ribbons to make a really impressive quilt yet.  What can I say?  I was an amateur shower at best!

So after showing model horses (hold your giggles) for a year and a half while I lived in MA and had affordable access to real horses, I collected quite a lot of model show ribbons.  They moved to Texas with me, and were just hanging out on the wall looking very juvenile.  Since these were ribbons I won with fake horses (again, hold the giggles) they didn’t have a ton of sentimental value like my Elvis ribbons – so I decided to try and make my own ribbon quilt.

Step 1 – Cut your fabric, hack apart and sort your ribbons.

I have about 25 rosettes to make this quilt out of, and I knew that wasn’t a ton of ribbons so I decided to keep the size at about 3′ x 3′.  Measuring isn’t my forte, sot he final quilt is more of an interpretive size… but that’s what I cut my original fabric at.  I then cut the rosettes off of all my ribbons (this part was a little painful) and sorted the satin strands by color.

Step 2 – Pin your design onto the fabric

I went for a simple pattern of 5 squares in co-ordinating colors, surrounded by matching (as closely matching as possible, I was working with a lot of funky colors for these ribbons) ribbon color backgrounds.  I then was going to frame the entire quilt in yellow ribbons.  So I basically eyeballed (again, not a huge fan of measuring) my design and then just pinned it onto the fabric with regular sewing pins.  The pattern of 5 squares ended up looking like this:

Step 4 – Sew Ribbons onto the Fabric (and oh my god step 4 takes FOREVER)

It sounds really easy, just sew the ribbons onto the fabric, but there are some tricks to make it a lot easier that I discovered and will share with you in hopes they make your quilt turn out a bit more symmetrical than mine.

  • Start with the “background” first, and then sew the squares.  When you sew the squares, sew the middle part first and work your way out.  That way your design will have some depth and the most prominent squares will be get sewed on top.
  • Change your thread color to match the satin ribbon.  Brown thread on a yellow ribbon looks ugly.  It takes more time to change the thread, but it’s worth it.
  • Make sure you stretch the fabric flat while you’re sewing the ribbon.  If not, you’ll end up with rippled satin ribbon and bunches of fabric sewn together under the ribbon.  My quilt doesn’t lay 100% flat because of this issue.
  • Measure stuff.  Eye balling is not 100% accurate, let’s just say that.

After you seq all your ribbons down, you can choose to bind your quilt with quilt binding or not.  I did because my edges were uneven.  If you want all ribbon and no cotton fabric showing, you could probably fold a ribbon halfway over to get the same effect.  I also used my binding to sew two little fabric “hooks” so I could hang my quilt to the wall.  You can do the same thing with ribbon as well.

Step 5 (the easy step) – Hot Glue on your Rosettes

If you look at the picture above of my sewn quilt, you’ll notice that a lot of corners don’t meet evenly.  That’s okay, because I knew that my rosettes would cover a lot of imperfections where my squares met.  So I saved my cut rosettes from earlier, and just hot glued them in place on the quilt where I wanted them.  I put one in every square, and then at every corner of a square… but you can do as many or as little as you want.

And voila!  You’re done :)

It’s not remarkably hard, but it does take A LONG time – and this was a really simple design I chose.  This project took me about two weeks working off and on.  A nice sewing machine is a definite plus with a project like this.  I don’t think gluing the ribbons or sewing by hand would be an option.  Just remember, you should probably measure when you make your own quilt!

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