Sunday, April 23, 2017

Vogels' Ribbon and Banner Quilts

This is the second time I've gotten to make keepsake award-ribbon quilts for a customer. Last year I experimented on my cousin Emily, and this time, I was honored to be entrusted with the special ribbons and banners from an old friend in Iowa. I knew their kids as small children when I worked as the Director of Activities for the American Shorthorn Association. They were adorable little duffers at the time, and now the youngest one is graduating from high school! How is that possible?? Time marches on!

Mom Kris did a valiant job of trying to save as many ribbons as she could, as the Vogel family showed cattle all over the USA, with LOTS and LOTS of success. In honor of Payton's graduation, Kris sent me some of their most special ribbons. Hundreds of them. More than 400 of them, actually! And those are ONLY the national- and state-level ribbons. By far, most were from the NAILE in Louisville, KY, and the Iowa State Fair. There were also ribbons from Shorthorn and Hereford Jr Nationals, Denver, Kansas City, Fort Worth, and others I'm forgetting now. There were a LOT of ribbons!

I sorted them all by show, so that I could get a consistent variety in each block of each quilt. Kris wanted one quilt for each of her three children. They had plenty! In fact, there were enough left over that I was able to make a small table-topper quilt for Kris herself. By then the main colors of ribbons left were blue (1st place), red (second place), and white (third place). Did you know that in Canada (and other countries in the English commonwealth) 1st place gets RED, and 2nd place gets blue? A little factoid for you!

I used a log-cabin-block pattern to overlap the ribbons, and then zig-zag stitched them in place, on top of quilt batting and the backing fabric. So the quilting happened as the piecing (well, applique actually) was being done.

Kris also sent along several banners that they earned for Champion animals at the Iowa State Fair. She wanted them arranged 3-across. The banners were larger than the small class-placing ribbons, of course, so I felt like they needed extra quilting. Otherwise, I was worried that they would fall apart - the banner (quilt top) would fall away from the batting, which would fall away from the backing fabric.

Some of my favorite class ribbons were actually the really grubby ones - stained, creased, old. I can imagine Kris digging them out of one of the kids' pockets, the morning after pulling in late at night after a show. The kid probably had adhesive or paint or cow snot or MANURE on their hands as they smooshed it into their pocket with one hand, while leading the calf and holding the showstick with the other.

The Vogels always had long show strings - lots of calves entered in a show, so those kids were coming in and out of that show ring all day long. I'd venture a guess that many of the ribbons wound up in a puddle of oil and hair at the bottom of the show box. I'm so sad to admit that most of the ribbons from my own show days were deposited directly into the trash can on the way back to the stalls. Banners and silver platters and cool prizes, like furniture - those were cool to me, but I never thought ribbons or county-fair trophies were a big deal and didn't care to save them. If only I'd had a little foresight!

It's not the actual ribbons in these quilts that matter as much as the memories made, the hard work and money invested, the hours spent, the miles traveled, the friends met, and the bonds formed. Hopefully these quilts will serve as an honored reminder to each of the Vogel kids of the extraordinary childhood they had going down the road.

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