Monday, March 9, 2015

Classic Cars - a Photo Finish

This week I warmed up my FMQ skills with my Classic Cars strip quilt. First, I did simple stitch in the ditch around each square. I used the straight edge of the Handi Versa Tool to help me stay on the seam lines for the stitch-in-the-ditch work.  My practice with that specialty ruler on my December Day Tree Table Topper (my January 13th post) helped me stay consistent and straight. Then, in the light colored squares of the checkerboard I added four arcs. I left the darker squares without the arcs so they would puff up and be more prominent. Plus, I will admit, I was a bit afraid that crooked arcs in a contrasting color thread would show up too much and detract from these squares. I did the arcs free hand and I did get progressively better as I did more of the red-gridded white squares. The quilt had eight checkerboard rows of ten squares each, so after forty white squares, or 160 arcs, I learned not be so locally focused and mesmerized watching the needle penetrate at each stitch. Rather I adapted to setting my sights over a wider area as I completed each arc and visualize how I wanted it to look. They came out much smoother this way without little zigs and zags. They also approached having a more common size.

For the feature fabric of the strip quilt, I chose not to quilt over the cars or their titles. My stippling and meandering is not very good so far, but I still wanted to depress the area among the cars so they would stand out. I went with a predominantly horizontal meander pattern much like the ripples in calm pond water. I was trying to imitate how in all the fancy car commercial, the pavement beneath is often wet so it is shiny and shows off the car. Also, with this pattern, I had only one direction to deal with in avoiding getting trapped, and so it was a bit easier for me to execute than a true meander. It also kept the stitch density low so the quilt will drape more in use and be softer. Here is a section quilted. I used black thread on black. The quilting is subtle but I know it is there. I only crossed the silver lettering twice and I may go back and pick out those stitching lines if my eye keeps finding those little glitches.

Slowly but surely I am getting better on my HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen. I had not fully appreciated the field of view advantage a longarm has over a domestic. The hopper foot is a much smaller obstruction around the needle and moves so quickly it is like it is not there. It is the same phenomenon as looking through the pickets of a fence as you speed by in a car and they seem to disappear. Plus with the higher and wider throat space, I am able to scan the bigger picture as I sew. I am becoming  more appreciative of the creative freedom my HQSS gives me and less intimidated now that I am actually using it.

Next up was my binding selection. I considered black as shown on the left in the next photo. It was too graphically distracting and too somber. Both options reminded me of black arm bands – too funereal and mourning. I wanted the quilt to be more light-hearted.

So I tried the orange/red/blue route as shown to the right in the next photo and I could truly see any one of the three as a viable option. The colors were all very complementary. In the end, even though the binding is a narrow border, I went to the least graphic and least distracting so focus would be on the cars. I chose the red-orange on the bottom. I like the way the white on red-orange picked up the plane and suitcase travel icons of the inserted bands bordering the car print.

Classic Cars had its beginning in my post of August 3, 2013. I added a label with the quilt's name and a label showing my initials and its completion year as 2015. I'd embroidered them on grosgrain ribbon with my Pfaff and placed them diagonally in the two lower corners of the quilt back. That is why each end is trimmed at a 45° angle.

Here is the pieced back. The labels are at the two lower corners with their edges tucked under the binding. I put them on before folding over and hand-stitching the binding in place

And finally, after two years in the making – or rather two years in the stalling, car pun intended –  is the photo finish of the completed 40" by 57" Classic Cars quilt. I took this photo upstairs, near the door of my sewing room, under our hall skylight. I am glad I had a sunny day to try this indoor location and it seems to have worked lighting wise. Also I did not have to contend with the wind. Maybe this quilt has in its future a picture with a background of lush greenery once our northern California drought abates. Better yet, I hope someday it will have a photo of a Bouncing Baby Boy on it.


  1. What a sweet quilt! I can picture a darling baby boy loving that quilt. And beautiful work, as always. Your quilting is very well done. I always love seeing what you're playing with.

  2. Thanks Tami. This was a fun one, quick in the piecing but way long in the finishing.

  3. How exciting! I love the quilted arcs, and I am sure it is nice to get that finished! It turned out great.

    1. Glad you like it. Give you three guesses as to its intended recipient... 1) B 2)B 3)B

  4. That quilt looks amazing. I wish I could learn how to do something like that, although I'm sure there are videos online to learn. I would love to make one out of my daughter's old baby clothes or make one for my son. The car idea would be good for him since he loves watching the cars driving past our house.

    Diana Hayes @ Baldwin Subaru

    1. Thank you for your kudos. Comments like yours really lift my spirits! You could learn to sew a quilt like this. The pieces are large and all the shapes are rectangles or squares. It is an excellent beginner's quilt.
      You can see my beginning efforts on this quilt at and at both posts back in the July/August 2013 time frame. It is tweaks on the pattern Check Me Out by It's So Emma available from the Fat Quarter Shop at I chuckled when I saw your signature. My husband has just begun car shopping and Subaru is a contender. My daughter and son-in-law just bought one.