All posts by pennylanequilts

Unique handmade quilts. Modern with a hint of vintage.

Interview with Pat Sloan, American Patchwork and Quilting Podcast

It was so much fun chatting with Pat Sloan on her podcast today! I appreciate her enthusiasm and love listening to her weekly interviews.

We briefly discussed a wide range of topics including my quilt making journey, the sewing machines I use, dyeing fabric, hand quilting and my business, Penny Lane Quilts .

Listen to the podcast now to learn a little more about what I do here on Penny Lane.  I hope you enjoy the show and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Many Minis

Mini quilts are such a wonderful way to try something new! I have made several over the past few years, participating in guild challenges, swaps and magazine submissions.

When I discovered Curated Quilts, I was immediately drawn to one of their features . Each issue has a challenge to make a mini quilt with a specific palette that fits a certain theme. Their second issue’s theme was “Log Cabin” and this was the palette.

You can go here to see all of the wonderful minis that were submitted. I love the log cabin block, so that wasn’t too much of a stretch for me, but the colors were definitely a different combo. I decided to explore some of the improv ideas that began in workshops with Maria Shell @talesofastitcher last summer. Here is the mini that I submitted and I was very excited to have it included in the magazine. If you haven’t seen a copy of Curated Quilts, yet, check it out! It is definitely a quality, no advertisement publication.

Summer Cabin, mini quilt, Marla Varner
Summer Cabin (14′ x 14′), machine quilted

The past two years I have participated in the MQG swap and I love the #makeaminimakeafriend concept. Check out the hashtag on Instagram to see many of the quilts that were created and swapped.

A fun feature of this opportunity is that you have the option of swapping in person at QuiltCon. Last year in Savannah, I received a wonderful mini from Sandra Kaye @sandieloves2quilt . That mini started her on a whole new “Happy Dance” adventure and she made a larger version which won a big prize at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena!

Sandra Kaye with her two versions of Happy Dance, QuiltCon 2018 Pasadena

This year I made “Confetti” for my new friend, Jules @julesquilts, who said she liked pink! You can see the design is a continuation of the ideas I used in Summer Cabin.

Confetti, mini quilt for MQG swap 2018 Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Confetti, MQG swap 2018, machine and hand quilted

It was so fun to meet her in person. She made a beautiful mini for me using her hand dyed fabrics and it is quilted with her elegant stitches.

How grateful I am for these two new quilting friends! I love all the little quilts that I have received from friends over the years. They decorate our home and are daily reminders of our friendships.

Today I am working on a mini for the Bainbridge Island MQG’s annual challenge. The theme this year is “Log Cabin” and it is a good opportunity to finish up an idea that has been languishing on the design wall since last summer.  (And it’s another project where I can practice my free motion quilting skills.)

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a mini (or two) in your future. They are small, but they might lead to something big!

 

 

Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

How exciting it was to receive this book in the mail! Each day I spend a little time enjoying the quilts and thinking about their makers.

Modern Quilts: Designs of a New Century is a beautiful, hardcover book that celebrates modern quilting in the context of the Modern Quilt Guild. It was curated by Riane Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton and Heather Grant. The retrospective includes over 200 quilts, a brief history of the modern quilt movement and descriptions of characteristics found in modern quilts.

MQG book with quilts

Two of my quilts were selected for the book: Coral Reef and Trestle Nestle. It’s a bit of a thrill to have them included and to see them in the company of so many quilts I admire.

Coral Reef appeared at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin,  the first major quilt show that I entered or attended. What a surprise it was to win the Quilting Excellence Award that year! All those lovely hours of hand quilting make this one of my all time favorite finishes. You can read the rest of the story about Coral Reef in this post.

Double Elvis, Luke Haynes and Coral Reef, Marla Varner MQG book
(The American Context #68) Double Elvis by Luke Haynes (left), Coral Reef by Marla Varner (right)

The large format of the book allows the quilts to take center stage.

Trestle Nestle was selected to go to Savannah last year for QuiltCon East 2017. Improvisational piecing and hand quilting, my favorite techniques, are used in this quilt.

Modern Quilts book open to Trestle Nestle by Marla Varner
Trestle Nestle (left), Not Easy Being Green by Mary Ramsey Keasler and Homespun by Mary Kerr, quilted by Donna Ferrill James (right)

The motif was inspired by a local railroad trestle on a wonderful walking and cycling trail near my home. Here it is on Christmas day, decked out in its festive finery.

Christmas Day at Railroad Park, Sequim, Washington

It has been so interesting to read the backstories of many of the quilts included in the book. Below you’ll find  links to all the sites in case you’ve missed some along the way.

12/13/17 Amber Corcoran Fancy Tiger Crafts
12/14/17 Heidi Parkes Heidi Parkes Art
12/15/17 Melissa Cory Happy Quilting
12/16/17 Penny Gold Studio Notes
12/18/17 Shruti Dandekar 13 Wood House Road
12/19/17 Amy Friend During Quiet Time
12/20/17 Paige Alexander Quilted Blooms
12/21/17 Angela Bowman Angela Bowman Design
12/22/17 Lysa Flower Lysa Flower
12/27/17 Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill Whole Circle Studio
12/28/17 Jacquie Gering Tall Grass Prairie Studio
12/29/17 Christa Watson Christa Quilts
12/30/17 Heather Black Quilt-achusetts
1/2/18 Kristin Shields Kristin Shield Art
1/3/18 Krista Hennebury Poppy Print Creates
1/4/18 Cinzia Allocca Deux Petites Souris
1/5/18 Suzanne Paquette Atelier Six Design
1/6/18 Yvonne Fuchs Quilting Jetgirl
1/9/18 Ben Darby Hunts Patch Quilts
1/10/18 Nicole Daksiewicz Modern Handcraft
1/11/18 Kristi Schroeder Initial K Studio
1/12/18 Kathy York Art Quilts by Kathy York
1/13/18 Marla Varner Penny Lane Quilts
1/15/18 Brigette Heitland Zen Chic
1/16/18 Stacey Sharman Hello Stitch Studio
1/17/18 Stacey O’Malley SLO Studio
1/18/18 Kim Soper Leland Ave Studios
1/19/18 Steph Skardal Steph Skardal Quilts
1/20/18 Cheryl Brickey Meadow Mist Designs
1/22/18 Shea Henderson Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio
1/23/18 Katie Larson Katie Larson Studio
1/24/18 Katie Pedersen Sew Katie Did

(Thanks to Yvonne@Quilting Jetgirl for sharing this nifty table with all the links!)

When you purchase directly from the MQG, 100% of the profits and royalties of your purchase benefit the Modern Quilt Guild, a non-profit 501(c)3.

This weekend I’ll be at a retreat with my friends from the Bainbridge Island MQG and I’ll be taking my copy of the book so they can enjoy it, too. I’d love to hear your comments and I’ll reply just as soon as I get back home.

Squircles

In 2017, I decided to try another daily project. (I once tried the 100 day project, but only made it to Day 10…!) Inspired by some wonderful circle quilts by Sophie @lunalovequilts, I thought I could commit to creating one squircle a day for 365 days. I’d always wanted to try needleturn applique, so this seemed like a simple shape to practice that skill.

It was through Sophie  that I also found the #quilty365 page on Instagram, and a little more research lead me to this post by Audrey of Quilty Folk.

I decided to make it scrappy, and since I have over 25 years of scraps, I tried not to duplicate any fabrics. It was very entertaining to pair up interesting and unlikely fabric combinations for each block. (The background squares were cut at 4 inches, and the squircles were made from a 2.5 inch square.)

small design wall filled with squircles, Marla Varner
squircle blocks filling my small design wall

Each month I sewed the blocks into nine patch blocks. I didn’t want to have all of them to assemble at the end of the year! When the small design wall was full, we made a larger design wall.  Now I was able to lay out the blocks the full width of the quilt and I began to assemble the nine patches into rows. (Even though I wasn’t doing much manipulating of the blocks for design purposes, I needed to have the blocks up so I could see which fabrics had been used.)

For the most part, I completed a squircle a day. There were a couple of times that I got behind, like when I left my hand sewing kit in a hotel in Nebraska on our road trip to Paducah! But whenever I got off track, I tried to catch up as soon as possible.

My goal was to have the top assembled by midnight on New Year’s Eve and I am proud of myself for finishing with a few hours to spare! To make my layout (18 blocks x 21 blocks) work, I needed to make 13 extra squircles. That makes a total of 378 squircles x 2 background fabrics = 756 different scraps used. (Ooops, subtract 2 because a couple of duplicates sneaked in when I wasn’t looking!)

squircle a day top, 2017 Marla Varner, pennylanequilts

2018 brings an opportunity to do something new with squircles, so stay tuned to see version 2.0, using solids and pieced background blocks. So far, so good at completing a squircle a day in this new year.

to laugh or to cry?

Writing this post feels a bit like a plunge into icy water, but I’m going to break the ice and get back to blogging.

Laughably, my word of the year was “focus”, but my focus only lasted until February! So here goes with a review of my goals for 2017 and a plan for new beginnings in 2018.

Review of my 2017 goals

Learning:

  • develop free motion quilting skills
  • learn to use the HQ Sweet Sixteen midarm
  • practice photography skills
  • attend lectures at QuiltCon East

It was a terrific year for learning.

January: A friend and I went to Road to California to take a couple of classes on free motion quilting from David Taylor. I practiced every day for almost two months. It was just beginning to be fun when I fell out of the habit. This will be a priority in 2018.

February: The lectures at Quiltcon East in Savannah were informative and I appreciate all those who share their experience and inspiration.

March: A trip to LaConner, Washington to view Gwen Marston’s wonderful exhibition was definitely inspirational!

April: I loved taking Katie Pedersen’s (sewkatiedid) Psychedelic Baby block class in her wonderful home studio along with  Daniela (blockmquilts) from Germany. I treasure the time we spent together and that quilt is currently being hand quilted.

July: Maria Shell (talesofastitcher) has a wonderful blog that I have followed for years. When I discovered that she would be teaching at Quilter’s Affair in Sisters, Oregon, I jumped at the chance to take some workshops. Her improv work is so unique and she is a gifted instructor. Marla Varner, penny lane quilts, Maria Shell workshop, work in progressI finished a small piece that began in her workshop and I am contemplating how to use the new techniques in my own work. 

September: At the AQS Fall Paducah show in Kentucky, I was privileged to attend a lecture by Maria Shell and learned more about her journey as an artist.

These were all wonderful experiences, but they may have contributed to my difficulty focusing. The creative part of my brain has been just dancing with possibilities!

Exhibiting:

  • exhibit at QuiltCon East
  • enter new venues
  • participate in SDA events

Two quilts exhibited at QuiltCon East in Savannah, “Trestle Nestle” and “jubilant”. It is an honor to have quilts selected and humbling to see them with all the creative work on display.

My quilt, “Hourglass Bedazzled” was a semi-finalist in the first Fall Paduchah show.marla varner, Hourglass Bedazzled, Fall Paducah 2017 We had always wanted to visit Kentucky, so my husband and I decided to take a long road trip. Our combined love of horses and quilts led us to so many interesting sights along the way. A highlight for me was visiting the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. There I had the privilege of attending a “Behind the Scenes” tour, and met the members of the Lincoln MQG and the regional SAQA group. 

sew day at IQSCM with Lincoln MQG
Lincoln MQG sew day at IQSCM

The Bainbridge MQG had a “Red, White and Blue” challenge to coincide with Bainbridge Island Fourth of July festivities.Marla Varner, red, white and blue challenge, Bainbridge Island MQG

Our local Surface Design Association group had two main exhibitions this year. These innovative artists are such an inspiration and they use fiber in so many unique ways.

Marla Varner, pennylanequilts, Byways, no. 1
Byways, no.1, 24.5″ x 23″

The Port Gamble Fiber Festival and the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival gave me an opportunity to exhibit and to sell my work. Each year I am inspired by the variety of textiles on display and by the innovative work of our local fiber artists.

Selling:

  • limit vending to 2-3 major events per year
  • explore selling online

This year I was a vendor at two major events, but also at three smaller venues. I did not explore online sales, but I did begin selling at the Lamb Farm Kitchen Shoppe in Sequim. 

Creating:

  • dye new fabric
  • improvise a major piece
  • hand quilt a major piece
  • limit items to sell, providing time for personal art
  • keep a better record of finished projects
  • participate in my first mini swap, the 2016 MQG Modern Mini swap at QuiltCon East
  • participate in my first virtual bee: @Molli Sparkles and the Honey Pot Bee

Okay, here’s where all those classes, traveling and vending took their toll. I did not dye any fabric, or finish a major quilt. But by midnight tonight I will hopefully have finished the top for my “squircle a day, 365” project, which has really been fun. (I’ll share more about that in my next post.) I participated in the mini swap at QuiltCon, where I received a wonderful mini from Sandra Kaye @sandieloves2quilt. 

Sharing:

  • post to Instagram and Facebook at least 2x per week
  • post to blog at least 2x per month
  • create some tutorials to share

I averaged posting to IG just over two times a week, but realized that posting to Facebook that often didn’t feel comfortable. This is only my fifth blog post. Yikes! And tutorials never materialized…

Donating:

  • continue to create giving quilts

In February, I donated a couple of blocks to Quilts for Quebec, and I have two quilts finished and ready to donate in the new year.

Finding Balance:

  • schedule time to develop healthy habits
  • balance business and personal creating time

As discussed above…the struggle is real!

So here’s to the New Year and my goals for 2018. Many are the same, but I have cut back expectations in some areas to facilitate more production in the creating department!

Goals for 2018

Learning:

Free motion quilting – Focus on regular practice

Exhibiting:

  • exhibit at QuiltCon Pasadena
  • enter new venues
  • participate in SDA events

Selling:

  • limit vending to 1-2 major events per year
  • continue retail at Lamb Farm Kitchen Shoppe

Creating:

  • start a new “squircle a day, 365” project, using solids and improv piecing this time around
  • improvise a major piece
  • hand quilt a major piece
  • limit items to sell, providing time for personal art
  • keep a record of finished projects
  • participate in my second mini swap,  at QuiltCon West, Pasadena
  • submit mini challenges to Curated Quilts

Sharing:

  • post to Instagram  at least 2x per week
  • post to Facebook at least 2x per month
  • post to blog at least once a month

Finding Balance:

  • schedule time to develop healthy habits
  • balance business and personal creating time
  • use my Quilter’s Planner more effectively this year to help organize and track my habitsplanner page from The Quilter's Planner 2018

I’m linking up with Yvonne (quiltingjetgirl) and her #2018PlanningParty

Thanks to this wonderful, supportive community that encourages and supports each other. I appreciate you all. Happy New Year!

and then it was Spring

You know how it is when you neglect something for so long that it is embarrassing to get started again?  Since my last post featured snow, this one will be a quick recap on some spring activities and hopefully get me motivated to continue blogging on a more regular schedule!

The end of February brought a trip to Savannah and a wonderful time connecting with friends at QuiltCon East.Bonnie and Hans in Savannah

If you missed out on the fabulous quilts on display, Kristin Shields has provided a series of posts highlighting many of the amazing quilts. Check out her excellent recaps by category and enjoy her beautiful quilts, as well.

Besides viewing quilts, I was inspired by the many lectures I attended. It was a privilege to hear long time friend, Anna Boenish @quiltingqueerly share her creative journey and personal insights into leading an intentional life.

It was my first trip to Savannah and I enjoyed the architecture and riverside attractions in this historic city.Bonnie and I downtown Savannah

ferry in Savannah

March brought a visit to the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in LaConner, WA to view a collection of quilts by Gwen Marston. I really enjoyed spending the day with friends and the opportunity to view Gwen’s quilts in an intimate setting.

High Desert III, 2008, Gwen Marston

In April, quilting friend, Stan Green, had a solo exhibit at the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. It was a wonderful opportunity to see a retrospective of his beautiful work.

Stan Green with “Taboo”

Spring colors get my creativity flowing and I enjoy watching the plants awake from  winter.new leaves

If you follow @pennylanequilts over on Instagram, you can find photos of my quilting projects during the spring. Now that I have “broken the ice”over here in blog land, I’ll share details on some of those projects soon. Thanks for being patient with me. It is so hard to sit down at the computer when there are stitches to be sewn!

snow day

Our winters are mild, so snow days are a novelty. This week I took advantage of a sunny morning and a lovely, snowy backdrop to take a few quilt photos.

hand quilted by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Zig Zag Chevron (HSTs from charm squares, hand quilted)

One of my goals for 2017 is to improve my photography skills. Of course, this means learning how to use editing software. I’m trying to check out some of those helpful tutorials in the process.

blue and green baby quilt by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
My first finish of 2017: baby quilt made from charm squares + a wonky star

The photo pictured above was edited for Instagram using a mobile app.

Hourglass Bedazzled by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Hourglass Bedazzled, improv piecing, hand dyed fabrics, machine quilted

This quilt was the last one I completed in 2016. It is my most complex quilt to date that uses improvisational piecing, and I hand dyed all of the fabrics. I don’t think I ever properly documented it, but a few photos appeared on Instagram during the months that it was in process.

On another note, QuiltCon is right around the corner! Our newspaper, the Sequim Gazette, was kind enough to write an article about the local quilters who will have quilts in Savannah. They even sent a photographer out to capture me in my own environment. Those of you who are curious and  have bugged encouraged me to include photos of myself on this site, can check it out.

It is snowing again today, so I’m off to curl up with a cup of tea and some hand quilting.  I’m on the home stretch quilting the mini for my partner in the MQG swap.

 

 

confidence

My goals for 2017 include learning how to free motion quilt, specifically on our Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen machine.

A few years ago, a friend and I decided to purchase a used  sit down midarm. Neither of us had much experience with free motion quilting, but we figured we would just jump in and learn on the new machine. For a few months we practiced, watched videos and quilted a few projects and quilts.

However, life “happened”, and our priorities shifted. My friend moved away for a year and I focused my energies on my walking foot, straight line quilting. The poor machine sat neglected and unused for about a year and a half. After awhile, I felt a bit intimidated about getting started again. Would I remember how to use the machine? Could I effectively adjust the tension? Was I willing and interested enough to begin practicing again?

Then we came across a notice from Road to California announcing that David Taylor would be teaching a couple of classes using HQ Sweet Sixteens. One class focused on finding your own tempo and rhythm for free motion quilting, and the other emphasized using a variety of threads , adjusting tension and choosing needle sizes. Just what we were looking for to ease us back into the process.

Road to CA David Taylor class
waiting for class to begin in a classroom full of HQ Sweet Sixteens

David’s classes were entertaining and informative. A series of exercises helped us practice techniques, and the Handi Quilter reps were there to assist with the machines. That quick trip to Ontario gave us helpful hints, experience and confidence to come home and get started again.David Taylor demo

Practice exercise using glitter thread
Practice exercise using glitter thread

My goal is to spend at least a few minutes each day practicing and to start building muscle memory. It is one of the daily quilting tasks that I keep track of in The 2017 Quilter’s Planner to hold myself accountable. As an added bonus, each week the planner features a fmq motif to practice and Stephanie Palmer @latenightquilter is creating short videos to introduce the designs. I was super excited to see that she demonstrates using a HQ Sweet Sixteen!Daily chart for quilting

Each day brings a new opportunity for practice, my confidence is growing and I am actually starting to have some fun in the process!fmq practice

Stay tuned for progress reports. Now it’s time to go practice!

getting ready for quiltcon east

The first week of the new year began with getting a couple of quilts prepared for QuiltCon East in Savannah and getting them shipped. I am very excited to have two quilts juried into the show this year.

The first one is titled “jubilant” and it is entered in the Small category.

"jubilant" by Marla Varner
“jubilant” (28″ x 30″) hand dyed cottons, Essex yarn dyed linen, matchstick quilting

The second quilt is called “Trestle Nestle” and it is entered in the Handwork category.

Trestle Nestle by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Trestle Nestle (56″ x 51″) hand quilted, white linen and Kona solids

The shapes for this quilt were inspired by a local trestle on a trail where I enjoy walking and cycling.

Railroad bridge trestle
Railroad Bridge trestle on the Olympic Discovery Trail, Sequim, Washington

Sleeves and labels were attached, and instructions printed.

labels for trestle nestle and jubilant by Marla Varner

It always seems to take me longer than I expect to prepare for shipping! The first hurdle is finding a box the correct size. In the past, I have been happy with a box that I was able to purchase at the UPS store, but they didn’t have any in stock this time around. (The recommendation by shows is that you put the quilts in a new box because boxes can become weakened when used.) Since I wasn’t able to locate a new box, I ended up reusing a box, but I reinforced it with a LOT of packing tape.

Then there is the plastic bag to keep your quilt safe from the elements. Recently, I have been using XLarge Ziploc® bags. They are sturdy, reusable and measure 2 ft x 1.7 ft.xlarge-ziploc

It always makes me a little nervous when I drop that  package off at the post office. I sent it with a signature required, so I will be tracking it today and making sure it arrived safely!

It won’t be long before I will need to get myself ready to travel to Savannah.

going_to_quiltcon_2017_zpsdlm8kkng

out with the old, in with the new

I wish I didn’t have to begin another post with, “it’s been awhile…”, but it surely has been a long dry spell without a post! I managed to have more commitments than time this fall. The outcome was that I accomplished a lot, but some of those deadlines were a bit stressful. So, I have been setting priorities and goals for the coming  year in hopes of avoiding that particular pitfall.

quilters-planner
Thanks to Jennifer Strauser @DizzyQuilter for The Quilter’s Planner and extra goodies!

In reflecting on my work and personal habits, I see that deadlines help me create a sense of urgency and actually get things finished, but I need to allow enough time and flexibility in my schedule in case life throws me a curve ball. The Quilter’s Planner is the tool I’m using to help me get organized. I’m very excited to have something so beautiful to track my projects, quilt show deadlines, learning opportunities and business events.

It was helpful to look back at this year and to see what was accomplished.

2016 Recap:

Exhibited quilts at:

  • AQS Quiltweek, Grand Rapids
  • AQS Quiltweek, Chattanooga
  • AQS Quiltweek, Des Moines
  • NOFAF, Sequim

Vendor at:

  • Irrigation Festival Arts & Crafts Fair
  • Port Townsend Studio Tour
  • Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Pop Up Art & Craft Fair
  • Jamestown Annual Holiday Craft Fair
  • North Olympic Fiber Arts Market
  • Opulent Evening

Retail outlet at Molly B’s Salon, Sequim

Blogging:

  • participated in 2016 New Quilt Bloggers group
  • took a class on WordPress at the community college
  • wrote a tutorial for the Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop

Giving quilts:

  • donated pixelated heart quilt to Quilts for Pulse (Orlando MQG)
  • donated 2 quilts for Project Linus (Vulture Peak Patchers)

Goals for 2017:

Learning:

  • develop free motion quilting skills
  • learn to use the HQ Sweet Sixteen midarm
  • practice photography skills
  • attend lectures at QuiltCon East

Exhibiting:

  • exhibit at QuiltCon East
  • enter new venues
  • participate in SDA events

Selling:

  • limit vending to 2-3 major events per year
  • explore selling online

Creating:

  • dye new fabric
  • improvise a major piece
  • hand quilt a major piece
  • limit items to sell, providing time for personal art
  • keep a better record of finished projects
  • participate in my first mini swap, the 2016 MQG Modern Mini swap at QuiltCon East
  • participate in my first virtual bee: @Molli Sparkles and the Honey Pot Bee

Sharing:

  • post to Instagram and Facebook at least 2x per week
  • post to blog at least 2x per month
  • create some tutorials to share

Donating:

  • continue to create giving quilts

Finding Balance:

  • schedule time to develop healthy habits
  • balance business and personal creating time

Now my goals are public and I aim to hold myself accountable! I’m linking up with Yvonne@quiltingjetgirl and her 2017 Planning Party.

2017-planning-party