How to make an Equestrian Ribbon Quilt

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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!

50 Comments

  • Susan

    Just wanted to tell you your quilt is beautiful. I make them as a part of my blanket washing business and I really like the way yours came out.

    Susan

    • IMovedToTexas

      Thanks Susan! You must have the patience of Job to make these professionally for people, I don’t think I have it in me to make another one of these. Your quilts are beautiful too, I love the pillow!

  • Nikki

    It turned out really nice! I’ve always wanted a ribbon quilt, too, but I don’t have nearly enough ribbons. I just haven’t shown that mch, and probably never will. Oh well, maybe that’ll change when my little girl starts riding…! I can see us now, takin the lead-line world by storm on Junior, lol! ( :

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  • grey horse matters

    I love it! You did a great job and your quilt looks fabulous. I’d love to try and make one of these someday when I have the time. It would be a nice gift for my daughter, she had so many ribbons we have boxes full of them…somewhere? Anyway, thanks for the info and again your quilt is beautiful.

  • Sydney

    Hi!

    I am sooo interested in making one of these, but I was wondering how much time this took you. Truthfully I am not a very patient person so I would probably get really frustrated with this :). But its just I have SOOO many ribbons and I like to display them in my room and im running out of space :) So do u remember how long this took you? Also would it b possible for me to make curtains?

  • Lauren

    This took me about 2-3 nights to do. So not that long. I think you could totally make curtains with it, but I would do something that doesn’t need to move around much – so not a draw curtain.

  • Horsecrazy girl Sydney

    I love this! It’s a great thing to do with horse show ribbons. I’d like to feature it on my site horsecrazygirls.com. May I include your photo of the quilt you made with a link to your post?

    • Lauren

      Thanks for your comments on it! Of course you’re welcome to feature it and use any photos here that you like.

  • Marion Martin

    Just starting a project for my granddaughter—-question on the stitching, should the ribbons be stitched back to back then opened as in regular sewing or should they be layed side by side, flat and then over-stitched? Need a quick reply, PLEASE— ready to start. Of course, she would like this yesterday! Thanks

    • Lauren

      I laid them side by side and over stitched. I’m not sure how well they would hold up with traditional sewing.

    • Jeanette

      Ribbons should not be laid back to back but over stitched and sewn onto a backing. They don’t have the pliable-ness (is that a word?) of fabric so when you sew them back to back and try to straighten them out, they don’t come out nicely at all. Tell your granddaughter that it will be well worth the wait! There is no hurrying a good grandma!

  • L.Williams

    Love ribbon quilts. I am saving up for one because I don’t have the patience to make my own lol.

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  • Abby

    I’m doing one for a customer. I’ve never done one before, but my thought is to cover a piece of muslin with fusible web, fuse the ribbons on, and then stitch around all of the edges.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Karen

      How did you like the result with the fusible webbing? I am starting a quilt for my daughter.

  • Barbara

    Will any kind of show ribbons work? My kids are in 4h and have a lot of ribbons. Do you use a fusible material to hold everything together?

    • Lauren

      I did not use a fusing material, but I think if I were going to make something functional (like a pillow or quilt to actually go on a bed) then I would do some type of sticky backing to make it more durable. Any type of ribbon should work!

  • Paola

    Yours is beautiful! Maybe when I start showing I can make one of those!

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  • Linda

    I can not imagine ever making such a quilt without using fusible web. I’ve made many such quilts and experience has shown me that the webbing not only makes the ribbons stabilized and they hold their shape. I just completed a quilt using all my daughters ribbons and significant tee shirts. Love your quilt but it will display for many more years with a stabilizer. Keep up the good work. The hand of experience.

    • Grace

      Linda, how did you “sew” the ribbons? What type of stitch? Does the stitching show and did the ribbon fray?

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  • Twyla

    I am going to try to make a ribbon quilt for my granddaughter. I am going to use duck cloth for the foundation fabric. Instead of changing the thread color, I am going to use an invisible thread on the top. I am also going to use a serpentine stitch.

  • Rose

    I’ve made quite a few quilts from dog agility ribbons. I simply stitched them into blocks using a 1/8″ seam instead of a 1/4″ seam since most of them are only 2″ wide.

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