Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last Two

The last two blocks from my grandma's vintage quilt top have now been redone.  Again, the "before" is above the "after" photo.
Elizabeth sent me a scrap from her stash of this apple green dot fabric (below), and it was perfect.  Thanks, E.!
I just need to add the last 4 strips and I'll have the top reassembled.  Here is a glimpse of the sashing/border fabric.  Fun, huh?  Somehow, it seems to tie all the disparate blocks together.  At least, to me it does.

It reminded me of the artwork of Piet Mondrian when I saw it.  But as I worked with it more today, I realized I could have been channeling something else I'd been reminded of recently, during the 50 Years of Freedom Machines gathering I attended a couple weekends ago.

Did you know John Deere, in 1969, made lawn and garden tractors in other colors?  They were known as the custom color line, or patio series. Perhaps not so ironically, that's about the time grandma was making this quilt I'm redoing.

This is the stuff I grew up around.  Dad worked for Deere in the sales department, parts department, and as a supervisor.  He brought home miniature toy versions of these tractors for us kids to play with back in the day.  I loved them!  Unfortunately, Barbie didn't really fit on it, but we imagined she did as we drove her around with her long rubbery legs angled up over the hood.

Unfortunately, the custom colors didn't last long before it was back to trademark JD yellow and green.  If you've got one of these, or one of the toys, you've got a collectible on your hands.

On a base of Dogwood White, the patio tractors came in Sunset Orange, Spruce Blue, April Yellow, and Patio Red.  Reading these old ads, they were obviously marketed toward "the ladies."  I guess whatever it took to get your wife to mow the lawn!  "Freedom Machines" indeed! 
I can't help but imagine the "Mad Men" of advertising coming up with this campaign.

Seriously, though, 50 Years of Freedom Machines was quite an event.   Since Dad was one of a handful of salesmen to introduce the first JD lawn and garden tractor to dealerships across the country (he had the Ohio region), he spoke at a special retiree session about his experience (on the far right below).  Interesting stuff!
JD Retiree Sessions - 50 Years Celebration
They made only 1,000 Model 110 tractors in 1963, the first year of production.  At the 50th celebration, there were just shy of 200 of those tractors on display from all over the country.  That's almost twenty percent.  Phenomenal.

Back with quilt talk and a finished top soon!


  1. That border fabric is perfection!

  2. Glad to see your blocks finished. The border fabric will definitely pull out all the colors from the block. Good Job!

  3. That collection of John Deere stuff is pretty darn impressive isnt it?

    Rocking the vintage blocks P- Im so excited to see this quilt top together !

  4. Your blocks are great! That is a super cool pattern, so retro

  5. These are great too P! How cool about your Dad! I hadn't a clue John Deere lawn tractors came in any colors than......John Deere green???? LOL COOL!

  6. Those blocks are awesome and I'm so glad to see the green dots worked. I love what you did with them.

    Also, that fabric you picked for the sashing? Fabulous! Can't wait to see it.

    John Deere in color, huh? I'd need the whole collection because I couldn't pick just one. I loved reading the history and that's cool about your dad!

    xo -E

  7. I love the John Deere story...I had no idea!

    The apple green fabrics really brighten those blocks.

  8. I love the blocks you are working on and the fabric. John Deere story is very very interesting.

  9. OMGoodness! How could I grow up in Wisconsin, and not know about these? I cannot wait to show Hubby! Your dad gets cooler every time you mention him.

  10. Love how the blocks have been "re-born" . . . looking forward the quilt top assembly!

  11. As is consistently the case, I am behind the times. It is so cool you are re-doing your grandmother's blocks. That black and white gingham with the strawberries fabric makes me think of my great grandmother. Thanks for the memory! :)

    So cool about your dad speaking at the John Deere event!


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