Category Archives: workshops

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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Hand Quilting: Try it, you’ll like it!

What’s not to love about hand quilting?! It’s tactile, portable and you only need a few basic tools and supplies to get started.

squircles quilt hand quilting, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts

I began hand quilting in the mid-90s because I had a quilt to finish. My sewing machine wasn’t  adequate for piecing, let alone quilting, and I liked handwork. Besides, most of my mentors hand quilted. I loved the fact that I could visit while quilting at weekly gatherings with friends. And slowly, but surely, quilts would get finished.

The texture of hand quilting has always appealed to me. There is something about the process of manipulating that quilt sandwich as you pull your thread through it, that makes it so soft and drapey.

Kinetic, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts, hand quilting

Sometimes, just adding a bit of hand quilting seems to make the quilt more personal.

hand quilting detail, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts

A mini for a challenge is another good place to try some hand stitching without committing to a larger project.

Marla Varner, red, white and blue challenge, Bainbridge Island MQG

Two of my hand quilted favorites appear in Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century which I wrote about here.

MQG book with quilts

The MQG has a travelling exhibition of quilts from the book. I am very excited that it is coming to the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington, June 1 – August 25, 2019. One of my quilts, Trestle Nestle, is included in the exhibit.

Trestle Nestle by Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Trestle Nestle (56″ x 51″) hand quilted, white linen and Kona solids

The Whatcom Museum has many events planned to coincide with the exhibition this summer, so if you are in the area, check out all their offerings. If you are interested in seeing more of my quilts or learning about hand quilting, I will be involved in two of the events:

Modern with a Hint of Vintage (lecture) July 27, 2:00-3:00

Hand Quilting Intro and Inspiration (workshop) July 28, 10:00-2:00

If you’re already a convert, what do you like best about hand quilting? If not, I hope you will consider hand quilting as an option on your next project. Try it, you might like it!

 

Kinetic

Back in April, 2017, I learned that my friend Daniela, BlockM Quilts,  would be visiting Seattle (from Germany) and planned to take a workshop with Katie Pedersen , SewKatieDid. I jumped at the opportunity to join Daniela at Katie’s studio for the Psychedelic Baby Quilt Block/Modern Improv Strip Piecing Workshop.

After viewing many of Katie’s wonderful quilts using this block, we each came up with a plan and began creating strip sets.

beginning strip set penny lane quilts

After the strips were pieced, we cut blocks from each set.

Daniela BlockM Quilts working on psychedelic baby quilt blocks
Daniela arranging a new strip set
psychedelic baby quilt blocks
When the blocks are cut, they create lots of “waste” triangles as seen in the center of the photo

Back home, I created a few more blocks and decided on a layout for my quilt.

psychedelic baby blocks 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.

detail of hand quilting, marla varner, penny lane quilts

detail of hand quilting from the back side of Kinetic, Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
detail of the quilting from the back

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.

hand quilting during port townsend studio tour Marla Varner, penny lane quilts
Stitching and enjoying the view at Egg & I Pottery during the Port Townsend studio tour.

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.

binding detail using 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.

label for Kinetic, Marla Varner, pennylanequilts

Kinetic, by Marla Varner, Penny Lane Quilts
Kinetic (43.5″ x 58″)

Kinetic view of back Marla Varner, pennylanequilts

Love this view with the sun shining through the layers. I think it looks downright psychedelic!

sun shining through Kinetic, Marla Varner

Now that this one is finished, I am free to start playing with those leftover triangles…

leftover triangles from Kinetic