Category Archives: Exhibits/Shows

Modern Quilts exhibition at the Whatcom Museum

The traveling exhibition for Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century is at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington this summer. They have  partnered with the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum  and the Bellingham Modern Quilt Guild to provide lots of opportunities to explore modern quilting. All the details, including lectures, workshops and special events are on their websites.

The opening reception was a  preview party for members on May 31. I arrived early and enjoyed this wonderful showcase of quilts made by the Bellingham Modern Quilt Guild members lining the hallway of the Lightcatcher Building.

Bellingham MQG quilts at Whatcom

The reception was very well attended and I enjoyed meeting members of the Bellingham guild as well as the staff from the Whatcom and LaConner museums. The highlight was having my sister-in-law and niece join me for the festivities.

family with Trestle Nestle by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Trestle Nestle, Marla Varner and a glimpse of Skewed Symmetry, Katie Pedersen

The exhibition includes 63 quilts from the book, Modern Quilting: Designs of the New Century. The gallery is spacious and beautiful. Just look at the reflections on the shiny floor!

Chess on the Steps, Krista Hennebury; Tessellation 4, Nydia Kehnle; For Tanya, Emily, E.D. Coffey and Miriam C.K. Coffey;  I Quilt, Kathy York
Migration Quilt, Kristi Schroeder and Lee Jenkins; X Quilt, Stacey Sharman; Trestle Nestle, Marla Varner; Skewed Symmetry, Katie Pedersen
The American Context #68, Double Elvis, Luke Haynes; Welcome to Colorful Colorado, Katie Larson; Merge, Kamie Hone Murdock

These are just a few of the beauties on display. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit and see them all!

The Bellingham Modern Quilt guild has a display called Modern Twist and their minis showing modern interpretations of the sawtooth star block.

Ask a Quilter! Guild members are demonstrating techniques and answering questions each Saturday afternoon from 2:30-4:30 in the gallery.

Bellingham MQG members (Breathe, Leanne Chahley; Jumble, Betsy Vinegrad in background)

There are also docent-led tours scheduled each week.

On June 8th, I made the trek up to Bellingham again to hear a panel discussion entitled Material Men Speak. Geoff Hamada, Scott Hansen, David Owen Hastings and Matt Macomber presented a sampling of their quilts and it was so interesting to hear them talk about their work. The event was held in the Old City Hall which is also part of the Whatcom Museum.

There is still lots of time to see the exhibition and participate in upcoming events. Luke Haynes will be at the museum on July 13-14 for a lecture and a workshop. (Rats! I’ll have to miss this one because I’ll be off having quilty fun in Sisters, Oregon.) But, I’ll be back later in the month. On July 27, from 2:00-3:00 I’ll be giving a lecture, “Modern with a Hint of Vintage”, in the Old City Hall rotunda. The presentation will include a slideshow and I’ll bring lots of quilts, too. The following day, July 28, from 10:00-2:00  I’ll share my passion for hand quilting in a workshop. We will learn about batting, needles, thread and ergonomics as well as ways to use hand quilting to enhance your work. This is suitable for any level of experience and I would love to have you join us!

squircles quilt hand quilting, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts

I’ll leave you with one more photo of the gallery. If you live in the area or are visiting this summer, come celebrate Modern Quilts at the Whatcom Museum.

Score for Strings: City, Sherri Lynn Wood; Lawn Diamonds, Sarah Schraw and Krishma Patel

 

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At the Junction

It’s February which means it’s almost time for QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual show and convention. I thought I’d share the backstory of, “At the Junction”, which will be on display in Nashville.

Back in May, I took a Free-Form Blocks workshop from Sujata Shah at Quilted Strait. We explored Sujata’s method of cutting several layers of fabric to construct a variety of unique blocks.  I was looking for some faster improv techniques, as well as to spending  time with Sujata and her gorgeous, colorful quilts. Her book, Cultural Fusion Quilts: a Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions, is a wonderful resource if you want to learn more.

Sujata Shah showing cutting techniques

The first day I used a wide variety of solids to make some of the sample blocks. The second day I decided to limit the palette, thinking I would make a baby quilt out of the blocks I had created in class. (Apologies for the poor indoor lighting, but this is how my design wall looked at the end of the second day.)free-form blocks workshop

However, the block that captured my attention was this one, so when I came home, I separated these out and they became the starting point of a new quilt.beginning of At the Junction by Marla Varner

(Not to worry…all those other blocks found their way into pillow covers, placemats and table runners and they gave me lots of free motion quilting practice, too!)pillows from free-form blocks Marla Varner penny lane quilts

free-form placemats Marla Varner penny lane quilts

I decided to go with the primary colors and kept making blocks (they were rather addictive and I needed some improv therapy time). Before I knew it, the design wall was full. This was the end of September and I began to think it might be possible to make the QuiltCon entry deadline of November 30.At the Junction all the blocks pieced Marla Varner penny lane quilts

At this junction (see what I did there?) I needed to make a decision whether to square these blocks up before assembling or to do my usual  freehand cutting and puzzling the units together. It had grown larger than any of my other improv pieces and I knew it would be a challenge, but my cheerleaders over on IG encouraged me to not take the easy road!

I pieced it in sections, adding a “safe zone” around the edges so that I wouldn’t lose any of the blocks when I trimmed up the finished top. At the Junction in progress Marla Varner penny lane quilts

Of course, that became harder as the sections got bigger. The final few seams required crawling on the floor, all my cutting mats and some painter’s tape to hold the pieces in place. (In the bottom left corner is a laser square that was a valuable addition to my tool chest!)cutting the first long seam at the junction Marla Varner penny lane quilts

By the middle of November, I had the top pieced, basted and ready to quilt. This was the largest quilt I have machine quilted and I had doubts about tackling it on my domestic machine. Originally I planned to quilt it about half an inch apart, but before I knew it, I started quilting much closer than that!At the Junction Marla Varner penny lane quilts

It was a lot of wrestling and wrangling, and some long hours at the machine. It took almost seventy hours to quilt and I used ten different colors of Aurifil 50 wt. The thread colors graduate and overlap from lighter to darker shades.At the Junction Marla Varner penny lane quilts

The dense quilting made blocking essential and the laser square was a big help during this step, too. Soon the binding was attached and all I needed was a sunny day for photos! Well, that didn’t happen, but I did get my entry submitted.

That looming deadline sure helped this quilt get finished! It was challenging and I spent way more time on the floor than was good for this old body, but it helped my skills evolve. I love this quilt and it really felt good to finish a large quilt…it’s been awhile.

I’m looking forward to attending QuiltCon, meeting up with friends and being inspired by all the modern quilts on display. Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

 

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.

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!

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

Coral Reef (Hand Quilted category) Blogger’s Quilt Festival

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.

Coral Reef by Marla Varner

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!

Coral Reef, detail, by Marla Varner
The texture created by the quilting is my favorite feature of the quilt.

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, Marla Varner, QuiltCon 2015

That prize money was used to start a small home business, penny lane quilts. To see my current projects and upcoming events, you can also find me hanging out on IG at pennylanequilts and on Facebook at penny lane quilts.

penny lane banner

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!

The backing fabric is a beautiful floral from Amy Butler's Lark collection.
The backing fabric is a beautiful floral from Amy Butler’s Lark collection.

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!

quilt-bloggers-festival-fall-2016

time to regroup

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.

Gail Hustedde and Diana Cronin
It was so fun to spend time with Gail Hustedde and Diana Cronin during the studio tour!
Gail Hustedde pottery
Some of Gail Hustedde’s beautiful pottery on display and an explanation of her soda firing process
Diana Cronin's colorful pottery on display at her home studio, Egg & I Pottery
Diana Cronin’s colorful ceramic pottery on display in her Egg & I Studio

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!cleaning-up

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.

color palette for New Block Blog Hop

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.

Off to the drawing and cutting board!

small improv projects

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.

Art PT poster

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.

stack of mug rugs and coasters

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.

bright mug rug and coaster set

mug rug, coasters

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.

mug rug, coasters

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!

it’s been awhile

After a long hiatus, I am working on this blog and intend to post more often! Here are a few of my quilting adventures from the past eight months.

Last fall, the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild hosted their 3rd annual Bainbridge Quilt Festival. This is a one day, outdoor show, which takes place on the second Saturday in September  in downtown Bainbridge. The festival is a celebration of quilts and quilters, and if you’re from our area consider joining us this year!

Bainbridge Quilt Festival 2015
Quilts by Stan Green and Melissa Carraway displayed along Winslow Way during the 2015 festival

In October, the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival held their 10th annual exhibition and three of my quilts were on display. The festival includes a Fiber Extravaganza that celebrates the fiber arts with workshops, demonstrations and a fiber arts market in addition to the well-curated show at the Museum and Arts Center in Sequim.

penny lane quilts booth
Penny Lane Quilts booth ready for customers at NOFAF fiber arts market

 

fiber artists demonstrate their skills on a beautiful sunny day in Sequim
Fiber demonstrations during the 2015
Fiber Arts Extravaganza

Our winter was spent camping in the desert in Arizona with our horses. Lots of horseback riding, reading, hiking and sightseeing filled our days.

4 horseback riders and saguaro cactus
Sunny and dry, but not always warm!

But with my trusty Featherweight and some hand stitching to occupy my time, I managed to complete a few projects.

stitching on a featherweight outside of my horse trailer
Stitching outdoors at the Silver Bit Ranch

My membership in the Arizona Quilt Guild and the Vulture Peak Patchers allows me to participate in their events. This year that included a bus trip to the AQS QuiltWeek – Phoenix show, volunteering at the Desert Cabelleros Western Museum, participating in the guild’s show and attending an annual three day retreat called Sew Wickenburg.

vintage quilt from the collection of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum
vintage quilt from the collection of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Now that we’re back home, I’ve been busy in the studio with lots of new projects in the works. Stay tuned for updates. I promise it won’t be eight months until my next post!