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(From The Painted Horse Journal)

“Horse Show Ribbon Quilts” created by Diana at DISTINCTIVE DESIGNS BY DIANA appeal to equestrians young and old, male and male and female as a wonderful way to showcase their achievements whether they are from a show season, campaigning a particular horse, wrapping up junior years, or making a memory of lifetime achievements. These have made excellent gifts for trainers, owners, and any and every relative who is a devoted rider. Diana has created custom quilts, pillows, and tote bags, for clients from New York, Florida, California, Hawaii, Canada, and the UK and everywhere in between including Georgina Bloomberg, the well know equestrian daughter of the mayor of New York City. A number of years ago, Diana’s first client advertised in the CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE looking for someone to create a quilt for her daughter. She was disappointed to find no reply but saw Diana’s award winning quilts at a show and convinced her to create one for her daughter. At that time, Diana could not find any information from her many horse professional contacts nor the internet since no one was making them. She has worked out the design and construction that result in the most attractive and best horse show ribbon heirloom that can be found. On her website, you can view testimonials who share their enthusiasm for Diana’s work.

Diana advises anyone who wants to have something created with their horse show ribbons to seek a professional. After all, these are irreplaceable and serious thought should be given before handing them over to someone who claims that they can make horse show ribbon items. Diana has gotten calls and e-mails from people sharing their sad experiences when they have tried to make their own horse show ribbon quilts, sent their ribbons and money to someone to create a quilt only to the disappointment of never getting a quilt, ribbons, or their money back, to quilts that are not really quilts, but just ribbons sewn together, some that received quilts that were of very poor quality, and some that are still waiting to find that their quilts are sitting along with a lot of other boxes of ribbons waiting for someone to get around to them. She actually spoke with an international horse show judge who after answering all of her questions, had a quilt made by someone else thinking about the money she would save. Diana heard back from her after she was disappointed with what she received. Remember it cost you money to earn these awards and if you are working within a budget, that is part of the information that is needed to create your quilt. If it is not currently affordable for you, save your ribbons and your money until you can afford it. You are not going to remake it if it is not made as you had hoped, so if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. This is definitely the time to speak to a professional.

Diana recommends checking her website, www.distinctivedesignsbydiana.com <http://www.distinctivedesignsbydiana.com/> where one can not only see a lot of her work, but read that she is not only a horsewoman but a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where she majored in the field of design and textiles and worked as a fashion designer by day and rode at night. Diana uses her knowledge of fabric construction to create an heirloom quilt of beauty as well as top quality construction. All projects are created one at a time in the order that they are commissioned to give complete focus to that project. There is no one else handling and cutting your valuable ribbons as Diana treats each project as she does her award winning quilts that are exhibited and judged where she is invited to juried quilt shows which are also featured on her site to show the quality of her work. These quilts are judged with a test sheet which Diana, a former judge’s scribe, can be compared to a dressage test having certain criteria which bears a grade and comment. In 2010, she was awarded a quilt scholarship from THE SMITHTOWN STITCHERS, one of several quilt guilds that she holds membership with. Each is personalized with custom embroideries which have included horse’s and rider’s names, equine quotations, which are featured as part of the design of the quilt or pillow and can also have a special message on the back if it is given as a gift. The blocks are created using a foundation method and each seam is reinforced with beautiful golden decorative stitching which enhances each ribbon without having the quilting stitches “scribbling” across all of the important imprints from each award. The photos are all professionally cropped, enlarged, and transferred since printing products for home use just aren’t acceptable for these special pieces. She has been featured on FIOS (a television network), HORSE DIRECTORY MAGAZINE, TODAY’ EQUESTRIAN MAGAZINE, THE LONG ISLAND ADVANCE, SUFFOLK LIFE, and cover of THE CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE.

Diana spends time talking personally with her clients regarding their projects from the very beginning. It helps to give them an opportunity to ask questions and it begins the process of collaboration. She offers an opportunity for anyone to make an appointment to visit her at her studio if they are within a reasonable traveling distance. Her clients feel involved from the very beginning. After collecting all the data for the design, Diana creates a colored sketch complete with all the details including the cost and e-mails it for approval. Once approved, Diana required a deposit to place a commission in the order that it is accepted to begin work. There are no surprises or hidden extra charges. Technically, a quilt is only a quilt when it contains the three elements of a top, middle batting, backing, and binding. Diana’s quilts are complete quilts and also include a pocket for hanging so it can be displayed as soon as it arrives. The day the ribbons arrive, the client is contacted to let them know that they reached Diana safely. At each step of the project, Diana sends e-mail updates as she completes each step of the process with a finished photo upon completion. At this time, the balance is due to be paid for the quilt to be picked up or shipped.

She does not cut the ribbons up into small pieces to make traditional quilt design blocks for the simple reason that she wants people to be able to read each of the ribbons and revisit that memory. For clients that are fortunate enough to be able to come to Diana’s studio and pick up their quilts, there is always a box of tissues nearby because it is an emotional experience to see the completed quilts and each are moved to tears of joy. Some clients ask Diana to create something from a memory of a special horse; one was of a dozen horses with each name embroidered and a photo of each. One quilt was a collection of ribbons earned by a woman and her son and daughter. She commissioned it just as she sold her farm and while she packed up her home the quilt was being created for her new home. She’s been asked to create a pillow at the end of each season for each pony or horse campaigned by another client. Currently, Diana is working on a lifetime achievement quilt and she just asked her client if she wanted to review the name and date for the centerpiece embroidery. The woman replied that she realized from the inquiry that she hadn’t given thought that these ribbons were awarded over a period of 30 years and that she would like to have her maiden and married name in that embroidery and was happy to have been contacted to make that decision. Over the period of creating these heirloom pieces, Diana gets to learn the interesting stories behind these ribbons that find their way into her studio and at times writes about them which are published with photos in HORSE DIRECTORY MAGAZINE and sends a copy to her client as another cherished memory. Diana just shipped a pillow which she literally squeezed in for Christmas as it was made for a woman’s 18 year old son who is in the Navy and is expected for home for Christmas and doesn’t expect to see him again until fall 2011. The photo is of her son at age 9 aboard his pony, “Captain Nemo,” which is embroidered below his photo. Christmas is in a few days and Diana can’t wait to hear the reaction to his mother’s special surprise, receive a photo of him, and start writing.

Diana has “married” her love of horses together with her talent of design and quilt making so she finds this work of stitching people’s memories together into an heirloom quilt extremely rewarding. She is also an award winning artist and has painted some of her clients horses featured in these quilts and her art is featured on her QUILT GALLERY link.Terrie Bauer wrote to Diana that the quilt not only preserves her daughter’s memories in the show ring, but the memories of the time that she and her daughter spent together at shows. These are not only true works of art but art combined with serious considerations to construction and detail and with personalization which make each completely unique. The decorative golden stitches not only add strength to the quilt, since the satin weave of the ribbons is not the strongest fabrication, but it brings the gold imprints alive on the ribbons. Rosettes can highlight a photo pillow maybe even with the ribbon that the horse is wearing in that photo. Diana only uses large rosettes or combinations of rosettes for pillows when she stitches them onto a finished sash which can be slid on and off in order to view the ribbon awards. After all, Diana wants her clients to revisit those special times so that determines how she designs. Tote bags are great to take along to show off your achievements and show mothers especially enjoy these bags and they are made with a sturdy finished bottom. Once the ribbons are used for quilts or pillows they are put to good use to highlight a tote bag or make an attractive wreath. These are wonderful ways to cherish ones achievements instead of having them hidden away in box packed away and forgotten. It required effort and commitment to earn these awards and Diana has the knowledge, experience, and integrity to custom create that personal heirloom for you.

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