Roger’s Tractor – A Design Process

I have been needing to say a HUGE Thank You to someone in my town that has had a huge influence to my community over many years, well before I moved here nearly 13 years ago.  I had been wrestling with how to say thanks that was meaningful.  I have been thinking about it for a while now.  It finally hit me – make him what I love, something from the heart and quilted, of course!

I knew it would be a tractor, John Deere of course.  So I Google searched John Deere tractor images.  There were SO MANY!  I needed to narrow this down.  I do have a spy on his payroll and called her to find out what his favorite tractor was.  She told me he has a Model D.  So I searched that and found this image that I printed on 8 1/2″x11″ paper.Roger's tractor - inspiration

I decided to try to make this design that I would draw from this image onto freezer paper.  Then I could cut it, iron it on the fabric and cut out the shapes.  It would be raw edge applique – my style!  So I came out with this:Roger's tractor - pattern

There were a few pieces that had multiple layers.  I wasn’t sure how I would make those work but cut it out and ended with this tractor that measured about 12″ across.  It does not show well but there are three different fabric colors to this tractor at this point: John Deere green (or as close as my fabric stash can be), gray and black. Roger's tractor - fabric cut & size

I needed to pick the background next and had these two options.  The sky colors are different.  Even though I had cut the “corn-like” background it just did not work with the green of the tractor.

I finally found what I was happy with and attached it all together.  Much better looking!Roger's tractor - attached to background I made it into a quilt sandwich and used my quilting marker to draw on the tractor details.  I planned on thread painting the details of the tractor.Roger's tractor - ready to quilt

It took almost an hour of just thread painting but here is how it turned out: WOW!Roger's tractor - tractor quilted

Next came the tire details – they were complex.  A John Deere has a very specific tire treads, both the front and back.  My quilting marker does not show through onto the black.  I would have to just “wing it” while I was in the middle of quilting.  ACK!  This is how they turned out – not super happy with the tread of the back tire.  However, the spokes and yellow detail of the front tires really POP!Roger's tractor - tires quilted

I was starting to reach my limit of quilting details but wanted to deliver it today.  Still more to finish.  I tried a straight line quilting with breaks for the gray base.  Not sure if it is the same as in my head – but it worked.Roger's tractor - road quilt detail

I knew the sky needed to be windy.  It is very windy in Othello, especially today!  I may have gone a little overboard with the wind though.Roger's tractor - sky quilt detail

At this point I just wanted to be finished and seriously thought about just leaving the field as is.  The design department (AKA the Hubs) said “NO WAY!”

I decided to take a break and ate lunch.  I tried to think about other things and distract myself but ended up drawing this while eating.  It was the PERFECT design for the field!  Is it corn, plants, not wheat, what?  It could be interpreted into almost anything and we grow just that in Othello – almost anything.Roger's tractor - plant quilting idea

Here is a detail of how it turned out, I LOVED it.  Glad I had lunch.Roger's tractor - plants quilt detail

Now for the HARDEST PART – picking a binding!  I had picked one out while finding the fabrics, a green plaid; thought it would be great.  Not so sure now,  I also pulled out these others and had binding auditions.Roger's tractor - binding auditions

Of the four options shown, none really said WOW.  The design department (Hubs to the rescue) helped me realize that the green would be the best.  I did have a near catastrophe with it though, so close.  Would I ever get this thing finished?Roger's tractor - binding problems

Finally complete and I even included hanging tabs!  I have a dedication label that I have written out, just need to attach – but you do not get to read that.Roger's tractor - finished!

I needed to be REALLY brave and call him to make an appointment to deliver it.  Not today, Wednesday.  That works just fine!

Who do you need to say Thank You to?


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