Category Archives: patchwork

Baby Quilts

When I first began quilting, many of my projects were baby gifts for family and friends. They remain one of my favorite items to make. I think the attraction lies in the fact that they are small and will get lots of use, so there is no pressure to be too fancy or difficult. For me, fun color combinations, simple piecing and quilting make them relaxing and satisfying projects. Here are two that I recently finished.

red, white blue

The first one is for my niece’s  son. Dad is in the Navy, so I decided to go with a red, white and blue theme. I used my favorite design, a simple charm square quilt with a wonky star.

The charm squares came from a variety of different fabric lines and I supplemented with a few fabrics from stash.

Since this quilt had quite a few white fabrics in it, I used a Hobbs bleached, 100 per cent cotton batting.

It is quilted with straight lines half an inch from the seam lines  using 40 wt Aurifil cotton thread. The star block was the perfect spot to add a bit of hand quilting with some 8 wt Wonderfil perle cotton.

hand quilting around star on baby quilt

For the label, I just folded a charm square in half diagonally and stitched it in with the binding.  It is such a simple way to create a nice, durable label that will stand up to lots of washing.

label on ba

Before gifting, I like to wash the quilt in a fragrance-free detergent so it is ready to use. This also  allows me to make sure that there are no problems such as color bleeding and it  removes the sizing since the charm squares are not prewashed before piecing.

The second quilt combines freeform plus blocks and charm squares. The plus blocks were made using the same method that I used in my “At the Junction” quilt, but this time I squared the blocks up to five inches to match the charm blocks.

baby quilt plus blocks and charm squares

It is quilted with a wavy grid using an aqua 40 wt Aurifil cotton thread and has Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 blend inside which gives a nice soft loft and drape.

charm squares and plus blocks

I used visible stitches with perle cotton to do the hand side of the binding. Next time I am definitely going to attach the binding by machine to the back of the quilt so the hand stitches will show on the front. (Unless I forget, of course!)

binding on baby junction, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts

 

 

 

Advertisements

Community

Our quilting community is so generous and supportive. I came home from QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville  inspired and energized (well, after I recovered)! Two long-standing projects had been inching towards a finish, and both were completed this week. Hooray!  I’ll share one quilt in this post and the other in a separate post soon.

The five highlighted projects at the top were carried over from previous years.

The first quilt’s humble beginnings began more than four years ago as a way to get my multicolored print scraps under control. Amanda Jean who blogged at Crazy Mom Quilts wrote a post about her Scrap Vortex quilt in 2013 that inspired me. She also hosted a quilt along in 2015, so if you are interested there are lots of photos and instructions available. Occasionally, I would piece a slab or two, but the piecing was never high on my UFO priority list.

scrap vortex quilt on design wall
On the design wall, April 2018

In January, I won an edge to edge quilting during an Instagram giveaway from Lilo Whitener-Fey with Trace Creek Quilting. Her company specializes in t-shirt and memory quilts, as well as longarm services. We decided to have her quilt a top and we would donate it to a charity.

I looked around for a top to finish and my scrap vortex came to mind. Lots of little scraps were used and I love to remember how each piece has been used in past projects. Of course, the quilt somehow didn’t diminish the scraps in the tub, but that seems to be the way with scrap quilts. The good news is I can make another one (or two or six)!

Lilo provided the batting and quilted the top with a pattern called Geometric Path. Her turnaround time was very quick, she communicated efficiently and I appreciate her generous donation of time, batting and even return shipping. Check out Trace Creek Quilting for pricing and details and follow her on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about their quilts and services. All I had to do was trim it up and attach a binding and label.

scrap vortex, Marla Varner
Finished size (51″ x 65″)

Since this quilt is so cheerful and has lots of prints, we decided to donate our joint project to Quilts for Cure. Their mission is to provide “quilts full of hope, love and smiles to kids fighting cancer”. I met organizer, HollyAnne Knight at a previous QuiltCon and have participated in her annual “Operation Smiley” project which is happening now. Maybe you would like to contribute, too? There are lots of ways you can help this organization. Donate a quilt, donate quilting or donate money to help pay for materials and shipping. My hope is to donate at least one quilt each year to their cause.

back of scrap vortex quilt, pennylanequilts
A beautiful Alexander Henry butterfly print made a colorful backing

The quilt has been washed in a fragrance and dye-free detergent per instructions and will be mailed tomorrow. I sincerely hope it brings a bit of cheer to a child facing the challenges of cancer.

Squircles

In 2017, I decided to try another daily project. (I once tried the 100 day project, but only made it to Day 10…!) Inspired by some wonderful circle quilts by Sophie @lunalovequilts, I thought I could commit to creating one squircle a day for 365 days. I’d always wanted to try needleturn applique, so this seemed like a simple shape to practice that skill.

It was through Sophie  that I also found the #quilty365 page on Instagram, and a little more research lead me to this post by Audrey of Quilty Folk.

I decided to make it scrappy, and since I have over 25 years of scraps, I tried not to duplicate any fabrics. It was very entertaining to pair up interesting and unlikely fabric combinations for each block. (The background squares were cut at 4 inches, and the squircles were made from a 2.5 inch square.)

small design wall filled with squircles, Marla Varner
squircle blocks filling my small design wall

Each month I sewed the blocks into nine patch blocks. I didn’t want to have all of them to assemble at the end of the year! When the small design wall was full, we made a larger design wall.  Now I was able to lay out the blocks the full width of the quilt and I began to assemble the nine patches into rows. (Even though I wasn’t doing much manipulating of the blocks for design purposes, I needed to have the blocks up so I could see which fabrics had been used.)

For the most part, I completed a squircle a day. There were a couple of times that I got behind, like when I left my hand sewing kit in a hotel in Nebraska on our road trip to Paducah! But whenever I got off track, I tried to catch up as soon as possible.

My goal was to have the top assembled by midnight on New Year’s Eve and I am proud of myself for finishing with a few hours to spare! To make my layout (18 blocks x 21 blocks) work, I needed to make 13 extra squircles. That makes a total of 378 squircles x 2 background fabrics = 756 different scraps used. (Ooops, subtract 2 because a couple of duplicates sneaked in when I wasn’t looking!)

squircle a day top, 2017 Marla Varner, pennylanequilts

2018 brings an opportunity to do something new with squircles, so stay tuned to see version 2.0, using solids and pieced background blocks. So far, so good at completing a squircle a day in this new year.

tiny squares

What can you do with your smallest scraps?  Sometimes I cut them into 1.5 inch squares that I’ve found  to be useful for lots of projects.

business card holders

card holder display

pouches

pincushions

patchwork pincushion

checkbook covers, coin purses (and a card holder)

gift set

Someday, who knows, maybe I’ll make a postage stamp quilt out of these cute little squares!

2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop

2016 New Quilt Bloggers

This is the last week of the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. Be sure to check out these folks from the Sewcial Network:

button created by Beth@Plaid & Paisley

Blog Hop Week 4 – July 18th
Jennifer @Dizzy Quilter
Seven @The Concerned Craft
Mary @Made By Marney

Amanda @Quiltologie

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.