Category Archives: blog hop

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.

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2016 Cloud9 new block blog hop

Welcome to the second day of the 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop!cloud9newblockbloghopbutton-700x700

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.color palette for New Block Blog Hop

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).woven berry basket, 2016 Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop, marla varner, pennylanequilts

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
  1. Cut 4 strips 5 in x 18 in  (approx) Here’s your first chance to cut without the ruler!
berry basket weave tutorial, marla varner, pennylanequilts
free hand cut the equivalent of 4 strips approx 5 x 18 (notice the cut is straight-ish)

2. Free hand cross cut strips that vary from about 1 in – 2 .25 in width from each strip

basket weave tutorial, marla varner, pennylanequilts
I like to cut each strip individually, some are slightly angled, but most are straightish

3. Stitch 9 pairs of strips together, varying the colors and widths.

berry basket weave tutorial, marla varner, pennylanequilts
chain piece 9 sets of strips, no need for pins, just go slowly and align the edges as you go

4. Press seams to the darker fabric

berry basket weave tutorial, marla varner, pennylanequilts
variety of widths and color combinations

5. Add a third strip to each set, again varying the color placement and width of strips.

woven berry basket, marla varner, pennylanequilts

6. Lay out the 9 units in an alternating vertical, horizontal pattern.

woven berry basket, marla varner, pennylanequilts
To end up with a 12.5 unfinished block, we will aim to have each unit be at least 4.5 in on each side before assembling. (I trimmed the ends to even up the units.)

*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.

row 1 piecing
If it’s too long, cut it off and if it’s too short, add on!

I followed the same procedure for the second row:

second row assembly
a strip added to the middle unit

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!

second row
I used the cutting mat measurements to see if the overall width was about 13 inches

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.

assemble rows
*use the ruler to stabilize the edge, but do not use it as a cutting edge

Follow the above procedures to assemble the third row and attach.

Can you see how I am cutting along the edge of the row, not along the ruler edge?
Can you see how I am cutting along the edge of the row, not along the ruler edge?

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.

trim block to 12.5 in
Success! Trim to 12.5 inches and you’re finished.

Here is my finished block:finished blockThe 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!

September 12, 2016 hosted by Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl

 

September 13, 2016 hosted by Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs

September 14 hosted by Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

2016 New Quilt Bloggers – Blog Hop

Welcome to week three of this year’s blog hop!

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.

view of the Olympic Mountains from my studio windows
the view of the Olympic Mountains from my studio windows

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.

handcrank Singer sewing machine
Singer 201 hand crank

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.

Detail from All the Colors in the Box

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.

detail of quilt Coral Reef by Marla Varner
Coral Reef and ribbon from QuiltCon 2015

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.

Spring Frames
“Spring Frames” exhibited at QuiltCon2015

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!

card holders
business card holders

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.

Many thanks to our son, who created the blog's new header!
Many thanks to my son, who created the blog’s new header!

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!

Host: Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

button by Beth@Plaid & Paisley
button created by Beth@Plaid & Paisley

I hope you’ll visit the fellow bloggers from our hive this week, and show them some encouragement, too!

Blog Hop Week 3 – July 11th

Sharon @Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Amanda @This Mom Quilts
Laurel @Quilts By Laurel

Marla @Penny Lane Quilts

Here are the other bloggers in the Sewcial Network:

Blog Hop Week 1 – June 13th

Amanda @Gypsy Moon Quilt Co.
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Tish @Tish’s Adventures In Wonderland

Melva @Melva Loves Scraps

Blog Hop Week 2 – June 20th

Carole @Carole Lyles Shaw
Anne @Said With Love
Beth @Plaid and Paisley

Jennifer @RV Quilting

Blog Hop Week 4 – July 18th 

Jennifer @Dizzy Quilter

Seven @The Concerned Craft

Mary @Made By Marney

Amanda @Quiltologie

Many thanks to our mentors  who gave us so much valuable assistance and guidance!

Visit the other hosts to find the rest of the new bloggers and the chance to win some great prizes on their sites, too!

Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs
Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Comments are welcome and appreciated!