Backwards Friday: Ribbon Border Block

What does Backwards Friday mean?

It means I am going backwards in time to play with quilt blocks of times gone by.

Each Friday, I will introduce a new block from some of the old magazines that I have laying around. I have a few hundred of them, so it will be fun to find new blocks for each Friday.

I will research the block. I will write it up, the best way I know, using “modern” methods. Then, I will post the block here for y’all to play with. If you make it, please let me know. You can share pictures on my Facebook wall if you are unable to do so here.

  • Block: Ribbon Border Block
  • From: The Quilter’s Newsletter
  • Issue Date: May 1974
  • Description: Here is a border pattern which may be used for any quilt. It is called the ribbon border block because our grandmothers pieced it of ribbons on a background of changeable silk and considered it the finest of borders. The modern quilt maker may use it in many different patterns, using the prevailing color of the quilt in the large pointed border and the complementary color in the three small colored blocks. Make the background either white or any color which your particular quilt calls for by its pattern. The Star’s quilt fans may find this border useful in making a striped quilt. Piece several long strips of border design and set them together with plain strips the same width and length. Any experienced quilter will find uses for a border pattern. (Reprinted from the Kansas City Star, 1929.)

What a useful block! You can make a quilt out of the block and use it as the focus of the quilt or, if you wish to add a fancy border to a quilt, this one is perfect. The originally set it up as a pieced block. I have recreated it using HSTs – a lot easier than cutting the templates, in my opinion! Of course, that is the point of this Backwards Friday thing – set old patterns to modern methods.


I recently created a quilt top. The goal was a king sized quilt. I was thinking of making this for a friend who is getting married next spring. The picture above shows the original intent of what I was doing.


I set out my design, as above, and quickly changed my mind. I wrote up the design you see up above and changed from this to …




My original intent was going to recreate my current favorite quilt as you see above.


Then started sewing the 9-patches. I sewed every one of them before I placed them on my wall to see how they looked. That was when I realized that I had miscalculated and my 9-patches were not 13.5″ square – they were 14.5″ square. I stared at it. There was no way to stretch the solid pieces another inch so I had to get creative.




I had seen the Disappearing 9-Patch several times. I had played around with making one and didn’t really see the point. In fact, I created my own version of the Disappearing 9-patch in the quilt you see above. I started with 9 9-Patches and created 18 “Disappearing 9-Patches” by sewing diagonal with a solid piece of fabric and then chopping it up. That made sense to me – a 9-Patch that disappears behind the chevron! Not a 9-Patch that gets cut up and sewn back together.


Or, maybe it does make sense? I did it with the 9-Patches I created that were one inch too big. When done with the Disappearing 9-Patch, I realized that it does make the 9-Patch disappear and the resulting block you get is rather neat and cute. Since I had a cream colored background in the 9-Patch, it created a really unique and fun look to the quilt top I was creating. When finished, I had to trim 1/4″ from the block to make it match the 13.5″ blocks but it was well worth it.


I had a great looking quilt top! However, my original goal was a king sized quilt to give away to a friend. This was turning into such a beauty and it wasn’t king sized, so maybe I could keep it as a throw quilt for myself!


I need a border, though. Something to finish it off. I looked around and found the “Ribbon Border Block” in the same magazine I have been using for the other Backwards Friday blocks. If you look at the picture, you’ll see how they link together perfectly, when finished. They use piecing, though and I wanted to create it as a block – with HSTs.


I took what I had of the Downtown Abbey fabrics and set about making the Ribbon Border Block for the quilt. When I finished two of the blocks, I noticed that the quilt was growing in size. I lay it out on my bed and, I’ll be damned, it was growing to a queen sized quilt with the Ribbon Border Block!

I didn’t get the entire border finished, as I had hope to do before today. In fact, you’ll notice this post is coming out late. My fabric stash of Downtown Abbey is getting rather thin and it is going to be difficult to finish this the way I want. I’ll keep you updated as things progress and what I decide to do with this quilt as I work.


For now, though, isn’t the Ribbon border Block a perfect addition to a quilt? And, at 12.5″, it can definite stretch a quilt that is just a titch too small into almost anything!


Now, for the instructions:

  • Color 1 (purple): (4) 3 7/8″ x 3 7/8″ (for HSTs) and (4) 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • Color 2 (blue): (4) 3 7/8″ x 3 7/8″ (for HSTs)
  • Color 3 (white): (6) 3 7/8″ x 3 7/8″ (for HSTs)

Considering how the pieces are less than 5″, you could use a charm pack for this. Mixing and matching, creating your own border look or, if you want to get really creative, using the entire charm pack to create a scrappy Ribbon Border Block as the main part of the quilt.


Cut out your pieces and set together the HSTs as we’ve done in past weeks. Yes, I know I do a lot of HSTs but they create such wonderful quilts! I am not an expert at HSTs but I try really hard and my long armer does great in hiding my little mistakes.


Lay out the block and just start sewing together. Four rows of 4 blocks each. It doesn’t take very long – as long as you aren’t distracted by children and friends of your children. I did not get my border done on my Downtown Abbey quilt but I will keep you updated on its progress.


Create the blocks, test them on your border and then have fun! Simple but beautiful addition to any quilt – especially one you need to make bigger.


My friend Julie tested my pattern for me this week. She used her own colors and this is what she came up with.


I sent her a picture of the pattern but did not tell her what it would be when she was finished. She had to wait until today to find out what this block is used for.


She reversed her blue points – they are “upside down” as far as the original goes. However, I like it and it could create a really neat look to the block when they are done and put together. I just looked at my original drawing and it looks like I reversed part of mine, as well. I do like how both blocks came out and I hope that you have as much fun as I did creating them!

As always, any questions, please ask. Otherwise, enjoy another “Backwards Friday” block!


Categories: Quilting | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Backwards Friday: Ribbon Border Block

  1. Pingback: Backwards Friday: Garret Windows | The Pen & Plow

  2. Pingback: WIP Wednesday | The Pen & Plow

  3. Pingback: WIP Wednesday | The Pen & Plow

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