By Becky Celestini
This Mother’s Day, moms everywhere will be opening up gifts from pajamas and picture frames to preschool pottery projects. But one Bronco Nation mom (@Kathleen from DeSoto, Kansas) recently received the best gift of all: quality time with her son working on a very special project.
It started when Kathleen Webb’s son, Danny, stopped by for a visit. Nothing unusual, as their family all lives near one another. “All our children live within 30 minutes, so we get to see everyone a lot. We gather together for meals often, which makes for a large crowd with lots of happy noise,” said Kathleen. But on this visit, Danny wanted more than a meal. He had a special request for his mom.
“I ask for a quilt most times I am at her house; they are EVERYWHERE,” Danny said. “I saw this fabric at a local quilt shop and thought it was cool. I knew my mom could and would make it into whatever it was going to be. I always challenge her during her projects. It doesn’t matter what crazy idea I come up with … she can make it happen.”
This was not just any piece of fabric. It was a panel full of all the National Park stamps. Kathleen and Danny both love the National Parks, which is why the fabric caught Danny’s eye and why it was going to make this quilt extra special. “I love the National Parks. I can’t wait to journey across this country in the Bronco and see as many as I can with my dear hubby and pup!” said Kathleen. “This idea combined so many things I love: my son, my National Parks dream, quilting, Bronco, and camping. It didn’t take long for his request to morph into my next quilt project.”
The “Happy Trails” Quilt Project
As the two Bronco Nation members discussed the quilt plans in more detail, Danny described what he wanted on the back. “It evolved from ‘Can you put Carhartt material on the back’ to ‘could you just layer some fabrics so that it looks like a landscape?’ It was so fun!” said Kathleen. Suddenly a lightbulb went off and an image jumped in her mind. She went to her office and returned with the 5×7 Bronco desktop calendar that Ford sent out. “You mean, like this?!” she excitedly asked Danny. “It was perfect. I agreed to design a quilt provided he would buy all the supplies to make a quilt for him … and a quilt for me!” And so, the “Happy Trails” quilt project was born.
Making quilts is nothing new to this mom of five and grandmother to seven. She’s been quilting for nearly two decades and has come a long way since her first quilt. She’s made quilts for each of her kids and grandkids, some family members and close friends, and moms-to-be at baby showers. She’s even won some awards for her quilting skills. “Some of my quilts have won Best of Show at our county fair and the Kansas State Fair. My biggest honor was receiving “Rookie of the Year” at the Machine Quilters Showcase 15 years ago.”
But this was the first time Kathleen DESIGNED a quilt. This meant some extra time sketching her design, determining how much fabric she needed and making the pattern from scratch. So in between her job as an IT Implementation Consultant and everyday life, she brought Danny’s National Park/Bronco-inspired quilt idea to life. After she and Danny went shopping to pick out their fabric, Kathleen created her pattern based off the Bronco calendar, cut fabric, and started assembly. “I was surprised how fast it went together. Quilting it was a weekend job. The part that takes the longest is sewing on the binding by hand (the edging that goes around the perimeter),” she said. “By the time it was done, it took me about 3 weeks from start to finish.” This is much faster compared to other quilts she’s made, some of which have taken years to complete.
This was her 91st quilt … but her first Bronco.
Kathleen is a proud first-time Bronco owner. “There’s no missing me coming down the road in Cyber Orange!” she says. She and her husband Joe own a 2021 Outer Banks (2.7L, 4DR soft top, with the Lux package, roasted onyx leather, tow package, upgraded front bumper and bash plates). “When I selected the Cyber Orange color, I knew I would call her Buttercup.”
Kathleen said they jokingly refer to the Bronco as “Mours” — a blend of mine and ours. While it’s her everyday ride, it’s also the family fun car, which they love to take on drives with their pup, Truman. The pair loves towing their camper behind the Bronco to nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds to just unplug and relax. “I’m always on the lookout for hiking trails when we get away, and in my book, there’s nothing better than a camping nap that’s smack-dab in middle of the afternoon.” Kathleen said when she retires in three years, they plan to take Buttercup across the country to see and camp in as many National Parks as they can.
And after spending time at Bronco Off-Roadeo, you can add off-roading to her to do list. “My first exposure to off-roading was at the Texas Bronco Off-Roadeo in mid-April, and I’m hooked,” she said. “I don’t have a favorite spot yet, but I have a book of Colorado off-road trails. And there’s an off-road park, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, about 90 minutes away that we plan to explore this June. Can’t wait!”
Danny loves seeing his mom with her Bronco. “I can’t believe that is my mom driving such a cool car!!!” he said. “I’m so happy for her and excited to show her all the places I have already found … now that she has a way to get there!”
Finishing Off the Quilt at Off-Roadeo
After completing Danny’s quilt, Kathleen was anxious to finish her own. She worked out some assembly kinks and was able to complete hers in less than a week. Part of her motivation may have been her scheduled date at Bronco Off-Roadeo.
“There’s no magic button to get the binding on fast, and that just takes time,” she said. “But I was able to work on it while we drove to Texas for the Off-Roadeo and finished my quilt while in the hotel in Round Rock, TX.” It was a perfect ending to a perfect project. The next day, she rewarded herself with a day on the trails at Off-Roadeo. “We had an amazing time at the Texas Off-Roadeo. Truly, one of the best days of my life.”
A Dream Collaboration
What started out as a simple request from a son to his mother turned into so much more for this dynamic duo. “This has been such a special project to me … we had so much fun teaming up together. The fact that it was Danny’s idea, that he had the National Park panel in hand, and asked me was the best part,” Kathleen said. “I just love, love quilting as much as I love, love my son, my Bronco, camping, and the National Parks. Truly, this was a marriage of so many of my favorite things.”
The similarities don’t end there. They also share a desire to visit the National Parks, which inspired this whole quilt project. Kathleen said she has been to about 10 so far (the Grand Teton is her favorite!) but has many others on her wish list to visit in the Bronco, including Glacier, Zion, Acadia, Theodore Roosevelt, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and, of course, the Grand Canyon. Danny is hoping they can make that happen.
This mother/son collaboration resulted in an amazing keepsake that Danny will cherish. “This quilt means everything to me … I love it! I’m so lucky to have such a talented mother who can create amazing things,” he said. “I had no idea we had so many similarities in the way we worked during the collaborative process.”
“We have talked about a trip to the Grand Canyon, so hopefully we can get our schedules to align soon,” he said. “She bought me a National Parks Passport a few years ago that needs some more stamps … so I’m ready to go!”
Whatever adventure these Bronco Nation members take on next, we hope they enjoy many happy trails together in the future.
Behind the Scenes
Prepping and Planning
“So here is the starting point of this project. I created my pattern based off the calendar, cut the fabric, and started assembly. It was pretty close to the original calendar swag.”
She had the National Parks panel her son had found to use for the back, then Kathleen designed the quilt front with the Ford Bronco calendar, choosing fabrics that pulled it all together. Her son wanted a motorcycle on the front instead of a Bronco, so she modified the pattern slightly for his quilt.
“I may not have a muscle car in my garage, but I have a muscle sewing machine in my basement!” said Kathleen.
Once the pattern was set and all of the pieces were in place, she assembled the quilts. She said she had fun inserting Easter Eggs throughout, including a bucking bronco and a Sasquatch (her favorite).