Category Archives: MQG

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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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

an invitation

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“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild put out a request for quilts. “The goal is to gather enough quilts to help not only the victims who survived, but the families of victims who perished, as well as first responders, nurses, police officers, etc.”

For additional updates and information, follow the Orlando MQG on their blog.

On Instagram, check out #quiltsforpulse to be inspired by the many quilts being created.

“Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

rainbow pixelated heart, Marla Varner, pennylanequilts
I started with a Kona Snow and a Moda Grunge charm pack , then added from stash.

The weight of tragedies can be overwhelming, particularly when the tragedy is the result of violence. My hope in participating in this project is that the tangible outpouring of love sends the message that there is much more love than hate in this world.

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” Henry David Thoreau

While creating this quilt, my thoughts were with those affected. My sincere hope is that this gift from a stranger will give some small comfort. I hope that the recipients will be reminded that they are surrounded by people who care.

orlando-top-pieced
The top is pieced and ready for quilting. I plan to invite a friend to help me finish it.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” John Lennon, Imagine

Follow the links above to see how you can contribute. Or, find another charity who gives love and comfort through the making of quilts and share a little hope.

English paper piecing (EPP)

Last night, while watching a wonderful MQG webinar featuring Anna Boenish, I was reminded of the many benefits of English paper piecing.

photo courtesy of Anna Boenish
photo courtesy of Anna Boenish

First of all, it’s portable. I keep my kit ready to go and it’s the project that I throw in my bag when I know I’ll have spare moments waiting for an appointment, riding a ferry, watching a ball game or being a passenger on a road trip.

English paper piecing kit of Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Ready to go: paper pieces, fabric strips, scissors, thread, thread conditioner, clips, needle book, thimble and a pouch by @sew_fantastic

Secondly, because you only need  a few materials and hardly any space, it’s ideal for stitching in any location. Indoors or outdoors, you can literally use this technique anywhere!

plus units for epp plus quilt laid out on the sofa of our horse trailer
Starting my epp plus quilt, viewed here on the sofa of our horse trailer while camping in Arizona

Another great benefit is that EPP, like other handwork, lets you be social and visit with friends and family while still making headway on your project.

EPP is also a slow process. Now this could be seen as a benefit or a drawback, but in my opinion, slowing down is often a good thing.

If you have a design that requires precise or intricate work, EPP is definitely a way to accomplish this. It is also well suited to fussy cutting.

i-spy-web
My “I Spy quilt”, still a work in progress

I had never really thought about it until I listened to Anna’s talk, but another thing that appeals to me is that you can begin without a plan. In fact, some of my traditional quilts were actually improvisational using this technique.

English paper pieced star quilt by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Star quilt English paper pieced with 30’s reproduction fabrics, pieced in the 90’s, hand quilted and finished in 2011

I often make units and just keep putting them together until they morph into something.

stack of epp plus units by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Stack of plus units ready to assemble

That’s how my current project is evolving. The template pieces for my epp plus quilt were created by Mollie Johanson and she provides a free template and tutorial on her blog Wild Olive. Check out  #eppplus on Instagram for photos of folks using this pattern. You might even see pics of me basting in the truck while heading over Snoqualmie Pass.

Getting ready to add some more plus blocks
The current state of my epp plus quilt,  May 20, 2016. Getting ready to attach more plus units.

If you are interested in learning how to English paper piece, just do a search of the topic. There are great resources and tutorials available.

And, if you’re a MQG member, but missed Anna’s webinar, log into the Community section of their website. Under the Resources tab, you’ll find a list of all the past webinars available. Just one of the perks of being a member! You can also find her work, and the unique ways she uses English paper piecing on her website Quilting Queerly or follow her on Instagram @quiltingqueerly.