Category Archives: squircles

For the Love of Squircles

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!

arranging the squircle blocks

I began piecing the blocks just before heading to Nashville for QuiltCon and finished piecing mid-April.

piecing the squircle quilt

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!

preparing to baste For the Love of Squircles

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.

squircles quilt hand quilting, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts

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.

last day of quilting For the Love of Squircles by Marla Varner penny lane quilts

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.)

For the Love of Squircles by Marla Varner penny lane quilts

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!

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.