It’s been exactly a year since my last blog post on January 4, 2020. As much as I would like to fast forward to the present, I decided to document some of my projects from the past year. In future posts, I’ll give more details on some of the quilts which are still in progress.
In January, I began a 100 day project, creating one letter per day.
Over the course of the year, I participated in three swaps and created mini quilts using these little freeform “junction” blocks.
It was an honor to receive the “Quilting Excellence” award at QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. (To read more about “For the Love of Squircles” see my last post.)
“A Squircle a Day” went on a road trip to the southwest in late February, and was my hand quilting companion until its completion in August.
Many masks were donated to our community and given to keep friends and family safe.
A couple of patchwork baby quilts gave me the opportunity to practice some free motion quilting.
I participated in the “littledrunkmonday” sew along hosted by Leslie Jenison @leslietuckerjenison and Michele Muska @michelemuska making little “curvelets” using Jen Carlton-Bailly‘s @bettycrockerass templates. This is all hand pieced and is a long term project. The final size and shape is yet to be determined.
Since early March, we have spent all of our time on the farm with occasional trips to town for groceries and supplies. We are so grateful to have such a beautiful space to call home.
Also among my blessings are the people who encouraged, motivated, inspired and comforted me through the events of the past year. I am eternally grateful for your support and friendship.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness in the year ahead.
First of all, I’d like to welcome the new readers to the blog since my last post. This quilt was largely responsible for my long absence! I am just adding a label and preparing to ship to Austin, so it is time to tell its story.
The quilt began as a daily project in January of 2018. After piecing my first squircle quilt using print fabric in 2017, I decided to repeat the process with solid fabrics. This time I pieced the background of each block before using needle turn applique to attach the squircle shapes. All of the fabrics came from my scrap bin, and were pieced and stitched randomly, with no particular design in mind.
At the end of the year, I had my 365 blocks plus the 13 extra to again bring my array to 18 x 21. Unlike the previous quilt that was assembled as I went along, this time I had 378 blocks to arrange on the design wall. Looking back through my photos, it looks like I arranged and rearranged them for over a month!
I began piecing the blocks just before heading to Nashville for QuiltCon and finished piecing mid-April.
By the middle of May, it was basted with a fluffy Hobbs Tuscany wool batting and an extra wide peppered cotton backing. I loved the way it felt once it was basted and couldn’t wait to start hand quilting!
Fortunately, I had stocked up on WonderFil Eleganza perle cotton #8 while I was at QuiltCon.
My goal was to have it completed by the December 2 deadline for submissions to QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. Here is my hoop on the first day of quilting.
After quilting for a few days, I estimated that I would need to quilt an average of three hours a day to make that deadline. That seemed doable! I worked on it steadily throughout the summer and tried to make up for lost time when I was away from home on other adventures.
By September, it became obvious that I had miscalculated, and I began quilting all day every day. This is not something I would recommend, as it takes a toll on the body. I tried to consistently take breaks, do hand and shoulder exercises, change chairs and positions which all helped to keep me stitching. I also listened to a LOT of audiobooks. There were many days when I abdicated all but the most pressing of daily responsiblities. And here is my hoop on the final day of quilting.
Late November found me trimming and attaching the binding. Trying to get good photos on gray, rainy days was a stressful part of the submission process. A goal for this year is to improve my photography set up.
My diligence paid off and the quilt submission was in before Thanksgiving…a new record for me! Many thanks to Audrey Esarey @cottonandbourbon for suggesting the name of the quilt to me. (She is a rising star in the modern quilt community…I highly recommend you check out her amazing work.)
It was so exciting to get the news that it was accepted to QuiltCon and I am looking forward to traveling to Austin again. Maybe I’ll see you there!
The summer adventures brought new experiences, challenges, skills…and awards!
In July, my husband and I traveled to Sisters, Oregon for Quilter’s Affair and the annual outdoor quilt show. We enjoyed a week of relaxing, camping, hiking, exploring and volunteering.
Our horse trailer (with bikes this time instead of horses) was our home base at the city’s Creekside campground. It is conveniently located to restaurants and we confess to starting each morning with a walk to the Sisters Bakery for coffee and a treat. I may have eaten a scone every morning and tried all the flavors. The marionberry was hard to beat!
I attended two classes. The first was with Jen Carlton Bailley making blocks with curved piecing using her acrylic templates. This was a totally new skill for me and Jen had lots of helpful hints for achieving accuracy.
In the other class with Sarah Fielke we created improvisational letters. Both of these classes really made me think! I haven’t had time to continue these explorations, but I hope to soon.
We volunteered to hang and take down quilts for the one day outdoor show. It takes lots of people to pull off this event!
The day following the show, the ladders were out again and we helped hang and take down Carolyn Friedlander’s quilts over at the Five Pines Lodge. She was the featured quilter and gave a lecture and guided tours along the peaceful paths. It was special seeing her wonderful quilts all together in this setting.
Upon returning home from Sisters, I finished the preparations for my lecture and hand quilting class up at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. These events were in conjunction with the Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century exhibition at the museum which I wrote about in my last post. The museum staff was absolutely gracious and so supportive.
I admit to being nervous as this was my first foray into speaking and teaching, but I really enjoyed meeting new quilting friends, talking about quilts and sharing my love of hand quilting.
Look at these dedicated hand stitchers!
In August, I found time to focus on my own hand quilting. I have some show deadlines that will require daily stitching progress.
And speaking of shows… in August, my quilt “At the Junction” placed first in the Modern category at the American Quilter’s Society (AQS) Quiltweek show in Grand Rapids. (If you want to learn this quilt’s story, I wrote a post about it here.)
This week I learned that “At the Junction” had also placed first in the Modern Category at the AQS Fall Paducah show. What an honor and thrill! This contest has a unique feature. It takes the first place quilts from each of the fifteen categories and lets the public choose the top seven awards, including the $20,000 Best of Show. There was only a 24 hour voting period.
You can imagine the excitement when the results were posted and I learned my quilt had placed “4th Overall” and won a major award. (There may have been some happy dancing here on Penny Lane.) Many thanks to all of you who voted and supported this quilt! I am very grateful and would like to thank all the sponsors who make the awards possible.
If you are curious, the complete awards results are listed here. AQS also put the award ceremony with Victoria Findlay Wolfe on their QUILTTV YouTube channel if you’d like to see all of the award winners in each category as they are announced. For those unable to attend, it is a wonderful way to participate virtually. I am so inspired by all the wonderful quilts and the amazing attention to detail by these talented makers.
“At the Junction” will travel on to the AQS Charleston Quiltweek , September 25-27, for one more show before returning home.
After all the excitement, I am ready to get back in the studio to explore new ideas and focus on some hand stitching!
After viewing many of Katie’s wonderful quilts using this block, we each came up with a plan and began creating strip sets.
After the strips were pieced, we cut blocks from each set.
Back home, I created a few more blocks and decided on a layout for my quilt.
After deciding to hand quilt, I gathered my perle cotton threads and began the lovely, SLOW process of adding texture to the quilt.
I tend to hand quilt in spurts, here and there when I have time. It is the perfect portable project. This quilt has traveled on long road trips and made an appearance at several events. Every stitch helps move the project along.
When the quilting was eventually finished, I decided to use yarn dyed linen for the binding. I tried something new (for me) and did some visible stitching to attach the binding on the back. It was fun to change thread colors as I went around the quilt using 8 wt perle cotton.
All it needed was a name and a label and just like that (lol), a finished quilt almost two years in the making.
Love this view with the sun shining through the layers. I think it looks downright psychedelic!
Now that this one is finished, I am free to start playing with those leftover triangles…
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.
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.)
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.
(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!)
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 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.
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!)
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spring colors get my creativity flowing and I enjoy watching the plants awake from winter.
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!
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.