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Necessity is the mother of invention Necessity is the mother of invention

This project actually started out as a name quilt. A friend from work saw the one I did for my nephew Kyle, with the chains and other hardware sewn onto it, and asked me to make one for her nephew, Christopher. However, as we got into the early stages of laying it out, we realized that because Christopher's name has so many letters in it, the finished quilt was going to be extremely long, and proportionately just wouldn't look right. We would have to go in another direction.

My friend mentioned that her nephew likes motorcycles, so we started exploring ideas for making a motorcycle quilt, instead of using his name. She mentioned that he specifically loves HARLEY-DAVIDSON motor cycles, and I immediately thought of their cool logo, and wondered if he might like that? She said he would LOVE it, and we went on a search for potential images to inspire our design. A short search brought us to the one at the left, and we knew this was going to be Christopher's quilt!

However, because this logo is a registered trademark, I wanted to get permission to use it in the quilt. So I fired off an email to HD's licensing division, describing my project and asking their permission.

Shortly after, I received an email reply granting permission to use it just this one time, for this one project. They added a few very reasonable conditions, and I was on my way!



How it was made
  I enlarged the image to the desired size, which is about 33" wide x 45" tall, and printed it out in tiles. I traced the images of each component onto the back of a sheet of "WonderUnder". This is a brand name of a two-sided fusible interfacing with a paper backing made by Pellon. I'm sure you could use any brand, but MAKE SURE you get the kind with the paper backing. Pellon does also make a two-sided interfacing without the paper backing called "WonderWeb" which is great for other projects, but is not as helpful in this particular application. WonderUnder is an essential tool in creating these applique quilts and I couldn't make them without it!!!

Once a component was traced, I ironed it onto the back of the appropriate fabric. For example, the white letters for "HARLEY-DAVIDSON" were ironed onto the back of white fabric. The light orange "MOTOR" and "CYCLES" and flames were ironed onto the back of light orange fabric. The dark orange border pieces and flames, onto the back of dark orange fabric, and so on. Then, each individual piece was carefully cut out of the fabric.

Once all the pieces were cut out, the paper backing was removed, and all the pieces were carefully laid out where they belonged, on the black background fabric and ironed in place. This is where the WonderUnder really comes into play - it holds each piece in position until you get them sewn down permanently. This creates the quilt top. A quilt "sandwich" is then made from the quilt top, a layer of batting, and the quilt back. The layers are smoothed out as flat as possible and then pinned together. At this point the individual fabric pieces are stiched in place. I chose to use a clear nylon "invisible" thread to tack down all the pieces on this quilt, using a zig-zag stitch in a free-motion setting. I used an open-toe spring motion foot, but you could use any free-motion foot you like.

For the background quilting, I continued the "flame" theme by stitching in a flame pattern using free-motion. I started with yellow thread at the top and bottom, near the applique flames...

... then switched to orange, then red, then black as I moved toward the center, closer to the logo.

The finished product
Here is a closeup of the logo in the center.

And here is the whole finished quilt.

Note that I used a traditional binding, of the same black fabric that I used for the background and on the back. I used leftover binding strips to create hanging loops on the back.

My friend was thrilled with the finished look, and says she's so excited to give it to him she might not be able to wait until Christmas! Either way, I hope he loves it.

Harley's official version Harley's official version

Update 9/15/09 -- it appears that the Harley-Davidson company agreed that this image would make a great blanket! About a year after I contacted them asking for permission to use that graphic in a quilt, my Mom saw this ad in a magazine for the same graphic on a fleece throw. I can't say whether they already had this blanket available when I made mine or not, only that I swear I hadn't seen their version when I came up with the idea for mine! Perhaps as they say, great minds think alike?

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