How to Make a 4-H Ribbon Pillow


A while back, daughter #1 walked into the kitchen with a large box containing all her 4-H ribbons. She said she was planning to throw them away.

Tears came to my eyes as I had a bit of a “mom moment.”

“You want to get RID of your 4-H ribbons?” I was thinking, you’ve only been out of 4-H a year. You worked so hard to earn those ribbons.

“I have the memories and the things I learned and made,” she said sensibly. “That’s what’s important. Not the ribbons.”

Well, I couldn’t argue with that.

And yet. To me, it was what the ribbons represented.

Indiana State Fair 4-H

To me, each ribbon was a memory. The thrill of walking … almost running … into the 4-H building on the first day of the fair, and then seeing a big purple ribbon on a project. The annoyance of earning a red ribbon — WHAT was the judge thinking???!!! Making cakes and cookies and muffins just right in the kitchen. Sewing skirts and pillows and American Girl dresses. And on and on and on …

“But I still have MY 4-H ribbons!”I said, and then I thought about it. My 4-H ribbons were in a box, in the basement, where they were rarely if ever viewed. Was that really any better than being thrown away? Not much.

So I decided to do something about it.

4-H ribbons

I located the ribbon box in the basement (I should say that this was no small task in itself), pulled out all my ribbons, and sorted them.

Online, I had done some searching for an idea for something to do with the ribbons. Just search for “4-H ribbon ideas.” There are many neat ideas out there. Beautiful quilts and wall hangings — and yet I didn’t really want something that large. I decided on a pillow.

Making a 4-H Ribbon Pillow

Once I’d chosen some ribbons to use, I arranged them in an order I liked and decided on a size. I ended up planning an 18″ pillow. I cut a square of cotton fabric 18″ square to use as my background. It really doesn’t matter if the fabric is solid or print since it won’t show anyway.

4-H ribbon pillow

Here’s what my finished pillow top looked like. First I sewed down my top row of ribbons onto the cotton fabric beneath. Word to the wise: on this first row, I sewed down the left side of that first blue ribbon. Then, I slightly overlapped the next ribbon over the blue one and sewed with one seam. MISTAKE — with the stress of later turning the pillow right-side out, some of the overlapped ribbon edge popped out. For the bottom row, I sewed down each side of each ribbon. Good idea.

So, I sewed down my top row of ribbons. After that I sewed down the bottom row, I chose a blue fabric to sew across the center. Then, I cut an 18″ square of the blue fabric to use as the back of the pillow. I placed this piece and the ribbon piece right sides together and sewed around 3.5 sides, then turned right-side out.

4-H ribbon pillow

I stuffed the pillow and added 3 of the “rosettes” from ribbons across the center strip.

I am happy with the 4-H ribbon pillow and even happier that now I can enjoy my ribbons in a tangible way.

How about you? Do you have a special way you enjoy bits of memory from your past?






6 thoughts on “How to Make a 4-H Ribbon Pillow

  1. What will you do with the pillow? Is it displayed prominently somewhere in the house?

  2. Your pillow is so precious. What a great idea! I have saved medals from when I was in the band. They are just lying in a small chest. I’ve never done anything with them but could never part with them since I worked so hard to earn them, mainly from solo and ensemble contests from 6th grade through high school. Several years ago, I took small pictures, calling cards, arm patches, etc. from my husband’s time in the Seabees (Navy), police officer in D.C., and CIA career and arranged them in a single frame. Had it professionally matted. Turned out great and he was so surprised and very pleased. It’s hanging in his “man cave” now.

  3. That is such a novel way to show off your prized 4-H Ribbons! I am proud of you for the stellar job you did joining them into a beautiful pillow top and then adorning them with the special ribbon!

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