Tag Archives: hand quilting

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!

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

 

introducing: penny lane quilts

Welcome to penny lane quilts, where I’ll share my creative process and give you a peek inside my studio.

I love piecing on vintage machines,

1946 electric Singer 201

cutting fabric into little pieces,

2015-05-07 16.13.25

hand quilting,

varner.marla.Coral Reef. detail

and looking out my window.

the view out my window

If you find something that interests you, I hope  you’ll stop by often and leave a comment now and then.