Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bus-y Words - A quilt for my Dad.

My dad turned 60 a month ago. Around christmas I decided to make him a quilt. The inspiration for that quilt was obvious. My dad loves his old Volkswagen Bus. A Limited Edition Bus. In 1992, VW offered 2500 Busses in two colour ways: red and blue. Many owners of those “Last Limited Edition” Busses meet regularly. It’s kind of a fanclub that you can only be part of if you own one of those 2500 busses. Here’s a photo of their meeting 2006 in Berlin:

Or 2011 in Prutz, Austria:

He is kind of crazy when it comes to his Bus.
So this blue Volkswagen Bus was the theme for his birthday quilt. I needed a proper sketch of his bus so I could trace it onto fabric. I found a technical drawing online:

Bulli Skizze

The only thing I had to re-design were the alloy rims, as he had soon decided that the original ones were too small (o: I searched for a photo of his bus to trace his light-alloy rims:


Then I started fusing fabric on double sided fusible web, tracing, cutting, sewing and applique-ing.

Papas Quilt Bulli

The next thing was the Limited Number. VW produced 2.500 Busses for this Last Limited Edition. Here is the number of my Dad’s Bus and the special sign for this Edition:

Papas Quilt (1) Papas Quilt

And this was the worst part: Cutting all these tiny letters and numbers…

Snipping away

And then I had to fuse the letters to the background and attach them with a zigzag stitch.

Papas Quilt Applique

Here is “his” number: 134:

Papas Quilt Limited Number

And without further ado, here comes the quilt I made for my Dad’s 60th Birthday:

Papas Quilt Outdoor

This is a close up of all the appliqued parts.

Papas Quilt Close Up

It took some time to get this amout of applique done and the best was yet to come! I tried some new free motion quilting! Instead of making a label on the back, I wrote the entire message all over the quilt top! It is hard to see but the entire background is quilted with words. To make it visible I used the flash of my camera:

Papas Quilt FMQ before washing

To spread the words evenly over the quilt it took lots of planing and preparations and I ended up pre-marking the words.

Papas Quilt Detail of FMQ and Binding

Above you can see the pre-wash state with the chalk-marked letters.
And below you see the post-washed state.

Papas Quilt Quilting after washing

In case you wondered WHAT I wrote all over the quilttop: A congratulation to his birthday, an enumeration of all the ways he used his VW Bus (shuttle for kids and their friends, bus for our athletics’ group, camper, wedding-“carriage” at my sister’s wedding,etc.), and an enumeration of all the countries he visited with his bus (most parts of Europe) and of all the places he visited with his the “fanclub” (and my faithful mother).

I attached the binding with my preferred triple zig zag stitch and squeezed in my nametag:

Papas Quilt Binding and tag

The backing is made of the same fabric as the background of the top – and the same as I used for my mother’s quilt. So when they are folded up they look identically.

All that applique-ing and marking and quilting took very long but it was easy to persevere as I was sure I had chosen the right gift and was looking forward to his joy in receiving it.

However, I didn’t finish it in time for his 60th birthday, I was 3 days late. But as his party was sadly cancelled due to the severe and high-feverish influenza he had caught, nobody noticed. When they returned from their holidays, I drove over with the kids and I gave him his quilt. And I’m happy to report that he really liked it and stated that he’d probably never get a better gift than this quilt.

The end (o:
Happy Quilting everyone!


  1. Oh, what a lovely quilt and story! My M&D had a (much older) VW van for many years so I totally understand this:-)

  2. What a wonderful special gift!

  3. Absolutely fantastic. All the work is brilliant, but I love the wordy quilting. Clever girl!

  4. Wow, was für ein tolles Geschenk!!! Hoffentlich bricht er nicht in Tränen aus... das ist wirklich soo schön!!

  5. What a wonderful thoughtful gift. That quilting is an awesome idea.

  6. What a great quilt for your dad, I'm sure he loved it!

  7. AMAZING!!!! It feels just great when you make a quilt for someone so dear and close to your heart. I made one for my dad's 70th birthday too, except the theme was 'golf', its so special and I'm sure he loved it too! Well done!

  8. It's a really lovely quilt, just perfect, and I love the use of words as the quilting :o)

  9. Awesome. Excellent idea to use the technical drawing too, gives such an exact finish to the design. Love it!


  11. What father wouldn't love such a thoughtful, awesome gift. I really enjoyed reading the story behind it. Your quilt is wonderful! Nice work!

  12. What an amazing quilt!. All that work-just awesome!

  13. Truly a beautiful labor of love and I teared up at the end of the story.

  14. Wow, Christine, such a special quilt! You did an amazing job creating a one-of-a-kind heirloom!! Whoop whoop!!

  15. This is just the best quilt and the best story. Your dad sounds like he is great fun and surely this quilt will be perfect. I hope he takes it along in his bus, it would be great for sitting outside to visit with the other bus owners.

  16. Wow, that's pretty special! The applique looks great and the quilting too.

  17. That is beautiful and cool and a wonderful present and, and and. He is so lucky. I love the quilt and have loved reading your story about it.


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