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.
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.
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!
Each day brings a new opportunity for practice, my confidence is growing and I am actually starting to have some fun in the process!
Stay tuned for progress reports. Now it’s time to go practice!
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.
The second quilt is called “Trestle Nestle” and it is entered in the Handwork category.
The shapes for this quilt were inspired by a local trestle on a trail where I enjoy walking and cycling.
Sleeves and labels were attached, and instructions printed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exhibited quilts at:
AQS Quiltweek, Grand Rapids
AQS Quiltweek, Chattanooga
AQS Quiltweek, Des Moines
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
Retail outlet at Molly B’s Salon, Sequim
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
donated pixelated heart quilt to Quilts for Pulse (Orlando MQG)
donated 2 quilts for Project Linus (Vulture Peak Patchers)
Goals for 2017:
develop free motion quilting skills
learn to use the HQ Sweet Sixteen midarm
practice photography skills
attend lectures at QuiltCon East
exhibit at QuiltCon East
enter new venues
participate in SDA events
limit vending to 2-3 major events per year
explore selling online
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
A confession…I love leftovers, both food and fabric! They give me an opportunity to be creative, I feel virtuous for not being wasteful and sometimes they even save me a little time.
Here are a few recent finishes that began as orphan blocks, trimmings or bits and pieces floating around the scrap bin and design wall.
Some leftover strips became a table runner.
A few orphan blocks became a pillow and a table mat.
And sometimes everything “clicks” and a few units that have been marinating for a long while are the impetus for something that keeps me exploring, and revising, and reworking until it makes me very happy!
So, the moral of the story is… save all those leftover bits because you never know when they will be just what you need to get your next project started!
(The table runner and place mats in the featured image began as some odds and ends from the recent Riley Blake challenge.)
A friend encouraged me to participate in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy of Amy’s Creative Side. I’ve decided to enter one of my favorite quilts, Coral Reef, in the Hand Quilted category. This quilt was completed a couple of years ago, but it will always be a special finish for me. It was made before my blogging days, so this post is an opportunity to share its story.
It began as a pile of half square triangle units created while at a retreat with some local quilty friends. (The nearby Seattle MQG members had recently hosted a bicolor challenge which is what got me thinking about trying a two color quilt.) After much arranging and rearranging on my design floor, I decided on the final layout.
When it was basted, I started machine quilting it, but after a few lines of quilting, I changed my mind and decided it would be more fun to hand quilt. So I dug out all my aqua and orange threads, put it in my hoop and started stitching. It was the perfect canvas for dense hand quilting with a variety of thread types and weights. (It was also a great excuse to buy some new threads!) I took an improvisational approach and made up the designs as I went without marking. It was so.much.fun!
Planning to attend QuiltCon for the first time in 2015, I decided to enter the show, so I worked feverishly to finish it up before the deadline.
It was accepted and I was very excited to have it in the exhibition! What a thrill it was to learn that it had been chosen to receive the Coat’s Award of Quilting Excellence and to see it hanging there at the show. (My husband was even impressed to learn that it was possible to make money with a quilt.)
Coral Reef was exhibited in our local North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival last fall, and is currently traveling to some AQS Quiltweek shows in Grand Rapids, Chattanooga and in the upcoming Des Moines, Iowa event. I’m looking forward to having it back home soon!
This quilt remains one of my favorites, not because it won a ribbon, but because of all the hours that I spent lovingly stitching its layers together. I know many of you have seen this quilt before, but I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about it. I currently am hand quilting away on another quilt, but Coral Reef taught me that I need to pace myself with hand work. Hopefully I will have the new one finished well before any deadlines…we’ll see!
Welcome to the second day of the 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop!
It is so exciting to be part of the block hop, sponsored by Cloud9, and hosted by Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter! There are almost 70 bloggers designing blocks using the fat quarter bundle of lovely organic Cirrus Solids generously provided by Cloud9 fabrics. The hosts chose this palette for the hop, called “Berry Harvest”. I decided to use four of the colors, leaving “Lilac” out this time around.
My block, Woven Berry Basket, is an improvisational block based on the traditional basket weave design. It uses a free form cutting technique (a.k.a cutting without a ruler).
The goal of this tutorial is to introduce you to this technique. There are two main principles that I use in improv piecing:
if it is too short, add on
if it is too long, cut it off
Your block will not be exactly like mine, but I will describe a process that you can use to make one that is similar in design.
Tips for improv piecing:
A rotary cutter with a 60mm blade is my preference for free form cutting
Set the stitch length on your machine a little shorter than usual
Cut 4 strips 5 in x 18 in (approx) Here’s your first chance to cut without the ruler!
2. Free hand cross cut strips that vary from about 1 in – 2 .25 in width from each strip
3. Stitch 9 pairs of strips together, varying the colors and widths.
4. Press seams to the darker fabric
5. Add a third strip to each set, again varying the color placement and width of strips.
6. Lay out the 9 units in an alternating vertical, horizontal pattern.
*At this point, you will need to start making decisions based on how your units are sized. I will attempt to describe how I solved the puzzle.
For the first row, I decided to cut the bottom off the middle unit, and add a strip to the third unit.
I followed the same procedure for the second row:
But when the units were assembled, the second row was shorter than the first, and I was aiming to have each row approx 13 in wide so that I would be able to trim it down to 12.5 in. What to do? Add on!
To assemble the rows, I trimmed the top edge of the second row, then overlapped it onto the bottom of the first row (right sides facing up). Using that cut edge as my guide, I trimmed the bottom of the top row to match.
Follow the above procedures to assemble the third row and attach.
If your block is big enough, just trim to 12.5 in square and your block is complete. If it is too small, improvise! You might add some strips to form a frame, and then trim.
Here is my finished block:The thing I like best about improvisational work is that you are engaged making design decisions throughout the process. *Warning: this may be addictive! As I work, I find myself asking lots of “What if?” questions:
What if I cut the strips wider (or thinner)?
What if I used 5 colors?
What if I only used 2 colors?
What if it was scrappy?
What if the units were smaller and I made a 4 x 4 grid?
I hope you will give this a try, and that you will enjoy the process as much as I do. If you make a block, I’d love to see it! For those on Instagram, tag your photo @pennylanequilts and use the hashtag #wovenberrybasket.
Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have.
And don’t forget to enter the Giveaways! Visit each of our wonderful hosts for the chance to win 3 separate fat quarter bundles of beautiful Cloud9 Cirrus Solids.
Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the hop. You’ll be glad you did!
The past few weeks I have been focused on preparations for a local studio tour that was held the last weekend in August. Here are a few pictures of our set up at the beautiful home studio of Diana Cronin and her Egg & I Pottery in Chimacum, Washington during the Port Townsend Studio Tour.
We enjoyed chatting with all the visitors, and their interest and support were much appreciated!
This week I’ve been busy recovering from the tour. There were a few custom orders from the show to complete, the remaining items to sort and inventory, as well as cleaning up the studio after those weeks of furious making.
In the process of cleaning up, I purged lots of old magazines, books and yes, even some fabric!
This week’s main goal is to write and test a tutorial for a block to be presented next week as part of the New Block Blog Hop sponsored by Cloud 9 and featuring their wonderful organic Cirrus solids. This is my first attempt at a tutorial, so lots of learning opportunities for me! Here’s a hint: it will involve improvisational piecing, and will be written for people who are new to improv, so be on the lookout for that post one week from today.
There are about 70 participants who will be presenting a pattern or tutorial for a 12 inch (finished) block made with the beautiful Cloud9 fabrics. On September 12-14, be sure to check in at each of the hosts’ blog posts for a list of blog participants and a chance to win a bundle of Cirrus Solids! At the end of the hop, the featured blocks will be collected and assembled into charity quilts.
The past couple of weeks have found me busy creating inventory for an upcoming studio tour. For those of you in the area, it is the annual Port Townsend Studio Tour , and I will be located at the Egg & I Pottery studio in Chimacum, thanks to my talented friend, Diana Cronin. For more information about the tour and to see Diana’s colorful ceramic pottery check out the links.
I thought it would be fun to have some items that would coordinate with Diana’s pottery, so I have been busy making coasters and mug rugs.
I played with bright scraps of fabric and improvisational piecing to create these colorful accents for the home. Some improv, straight line quilting was added for the finish.
If you have been thinking about trying some improvisational piecing, or if your scrap box is overflowing, you might want to give a small project a try.
Now I’m off to work a little bigger and make place mats. With any luck, I’ll have those to share by the end of the week. Hope you have time to play this week, too!
And then visit Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl to enter to win some amazing prizes. Tomorrow, July 21st, is the last day to enter. (My apologies for the late posting, but I had a major computer crash this week.) Continue the fun by meeting the other new quilt bloggers. Links available at Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs and Stephanie @Late Night Quilter.
My name is Marla Varner, and I’d like to introduce you to:
penny lane quilts “modern with a hint of vintage”
Last summer, I decided to start a small business to sell hand made, quilted items and Penny Lane Quilts was born. (I live on Penny Lane, hence the name.) At this point, I sell at a few arts and crafts fairs, some local shops and I do some custom work, as well.
My tagline, “modern with a hint of vintage” refers to creating modern quilts and products on vintage machines. I’ve been quilting for over twenty years, so I guess I’m a little vintage, too!
I live in beautiful Sequim, Washington. The Olympic mountains greet me each morning and the nearby waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are all that separate us from Victoria, B.C.
My quilting adventures began over 20 years ago when a friend suggested taking a class at our local quilt store. That shop has long disappeared, but my love of quilting has only grown. Over the years I learned a variety of skills as I created traditional quilts. During this time, I also collected vintage Singer sewing machines including a few treadle and several hand crank machines.
But a few years ago, I began creating improvisational quilts and dyeing my own fabrics and my quilting took on a more contemporary look. I joined the Modern Quilt Guild in 2013 to connect with other quilters interested in taking a modern approach to their quilting.
At QuiltCon2015, I was so excited to be attending my first big quilt show and convention. I was doubly thrilled to have two of my quilts juried into that show and to see them displayed in the company of so many wonderful quilts. I was shocked, thrilled and a little overwhelmed to discover that my quilt, Coral Reef, had won an award.
I missed last year’s show, but I’m registered and excited to be attending QuiltCon East in Savannah next February!
Baby quilts are always fun to make and I try to keep a few on hand to sell or donate. The size is just right for machine quilting and I enjoy simple patchwork piecing. Here is one of my favorites.
There are lots more photos of my projects in the galleries, including household items and personal accessories. Go to the menu and check them out!
If you are interested in following along here, I’ll share my process, my current projects and maybe even some helpful tips.
Speaking of helpful tips, here are a couple in honor of the blog hop:
Blogging tip: For technical advice, do an internet search. It works ALMOST every time! When that fails, ask family and friends. The advice and feedback that I received from my hive mates and mentors was invaluable! I am so grateful to you all.
Quilting tip: There are MANY ways to achieve your desired result. Do some research and then discover what works best for you. Maybe you will come up with an original way that works best of all!
A few fun facts:
I can play the accordion, although I don’t very often.
Flamingos seem to collect at my house.
Sometimes I live in a horse trailer.
A question for you: I love hand work…quilting, applique, English paper piecing, etc. Do you love to slow stitch, too? If so, what’s your favorite type of hand stitching? If not, I’d love to hear your favorite technique.
PRIZES!!! The blog hop is supported by our wonderful sponsors, with lots of giveaways each week.
Visit our wonderful mentor and host, Yvonne, to enter!