After seeing all of the temperature quilts appearing on Instagram, I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun. I love these daily projects that slowly accumulate over the course of a year. Both of my squircle quilts were made in this fashion.
Our weather is rather mild here in Sequim, so when I made my key, I chose to do 3 degree intervals except for our most frequent range where I used 2 degree intervals. Despite living in Western Washington, our weather is drier due to the rain shadow effect from the Olympic Mountains. A neighborhood weather station on Weather Underground gave me a very local source of data. Each morning, my husband recorded the data for me, making it a collaborative effort.
I used my quarter circle templates from Jen Carlton Bailly for the daily units. The convex shape represents the highs, the concave the lows and the smaller curve shows the amount of precipitation. I traced all of the shapes, cut them out with scissors and pieced them by hand. To provide movement to the design, the blocks are rotated based on their relationship to the previous day’s high temperature.
A calendar layout makes it easy to find specific dates. The blocks were assembled by machine each month allowing me to take them down and free up space on the design wall. On January 1st, I had all the blocks assembled.
And then it stalled. I couldn’t decided where to put the key, how to do the borders, etc. Finally this weekend I dedicated some time to do the work I’d been avoiding and I now have a finished top!
Postscript: I had a lot of scraps from the concave pieces that were just the right size to do a smaller version for 2022. I’m using the same rules as last year without the precipitation component. These units finish at one inch and are pretty cute if I do say so myself. Here’s a photo for size comparison.
The quilt I’m sharing today is very different from Tiny Bubbles, in style, technique and process. I’m thrilled to announce that it is also headed to QuiltCon in Phoenix next month.
Crevices began in a virtual workshop with Maria Shell @talesofastitcher which focused on freehand curve and circle techniques. The class was a sampler, but I was particularly intrigued by a technique Maria calls “braided curves”. I pieced a lot of these rectangular units using a controlled palette and began the task of creating a composition.
After about a month of manipulations on the design wall, I decided to edit out many of the units. As I worked, an image of light streaming into a canyon emerged in my mind.
Representational art is not my style and I struggled with how to create the abstract feeling of sunlight on geological structures without it becoming too literal. The palette also felt constrained, so I began adding in new shades as I pieced in additional curvy lines. This exercised my brain in such a good way!
Thread basting is my preference when hand quilting because I don’t like to snag my thread on pins.
The large, curved spaces invited me to add texture by hand quilting. It was so relaxing to stitch these wavy lines using a variety of perle cotton threads.
Originally, I had planned a faced edge, but in the end I decided to go with a pastel binding. I like the way it frames the piece, bringing the lighter shades from the center of the quilt out to the edges. (In real life, the binding is much straighter than the photo would suggest, I promise!)
And what did I do with all the pieces that were edited out of this composition? I created another quilt.
Placing the strips in a horizontal orientation, images of mountains, streams and valleys emerged. For this piece, I challenged myself to work quickly and intuitively, restricting myself to using the leftovers from Crevices. Meander is the result.
Improving my free motion quilting skills is an ongoing goal of mine. I explored some organic filler designs and used many motifs from Christina Cameli‘s book, Step-by-Step Texture Quilting. Lots of thread changes and adjusting the motifs to fit the shapes took all of my concentration. About half way through, it was beginning to feel flat and stiff from all the dense quilting. Adding in sections of hand stitches softened the texture.
And what did I do with the leftovers? I still had lots of odd bits that I was determined not to add to the scrap bins, so potholders to the rescue! I donated these to the Friends of the International Quilt Museum to sell in the gift shop as a fundraiser.
Whenever I take a technique workshop, I feel that it shakes things up in my studio. Since I rarely use strip piecing techniques, creating these large units initially felt very quick and satisfying. However, I found it challenging to shape them into compositions. Every quilt teaches me something new!
It’s been just over a year since my last post and there are a few projects I would like to document here. First up is Tiny Bubbles which began in August 2020 with a sew along hosted by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Michele Muska. We used Jen Carlton Bailly‘s smallest template to create tiny quarter circle units which Jen calls “curvelets”. Each unit finishes at one inch.
With no plan in mind, I liked the idea of hand piecing little blocks from my overflowing scrap bin. (Note to self: if you want to use up scraps, making little units is not a terribly efficient way to do so!) It was the first summer of the pandemic and I enjoyed tuning into the weekly Instagram Live chats with Leslie and Michelle. My process was to make a few units each day, watching them accumulate on the design wall.
At the end of the sew along, I began piecing the curvelets into 4 1/2 inch blocks, forming four circles made up of 16 units. I decided to assemble by machine because I’m not THAT crazy and I still wanted to see how large I could make the final piece before losing interest.
As you can see from this photo, there is some serious shrinkage going on here. The assembly required lots of pinning and careful piecing. Each day I continued to add more curvelets to the collection.
Life continued on in this way until June, 2021, when Jenn McMillan hosted the #100daysummersewalong to encourage any handwork project. I decided to participate and add one 4 1/2″ block a day consisting of four 2 1/2″ quarter circle units. During this time, I continued to assemble the smaller units into blocks.
One morning I came into the studio and the wind had blown over my portable design wall. My friend, Sarah Hibbert @quiltscornerstone thought it looked like they were trying to say something. I decided to put them back on the board and spelled out this “HELP” message. (It’s been a long two years of trying to entertain myself, what can I say?!)
At the end of the summer I decided it was time to reassess and come up with a plan. Looking back at my photos, it looks like I rearranged and added more blocks for about a month before I actually completed the top. Those poor little blocks were about worn out from all the action!
Basting time! I used a gray peppered cotton for the backing which is nice for allowing the quilting to show.
A straight line grid was quilted using the walking foot on my domestic machine. Then I hand quilted around the larger units using perle cotton thread.
Tiny Bubbles was accepted into QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix and I am happy that people will be able to see it in person to appreciate the scale of the small units. This is the description that I sent with my entry:
Quilted during the pandemic, these tiny bubbles kept me occupied while isolated in my own small bubble. All of the quarter circles were traced from templates, cut with scissors and pieced by hand. The curved units were then assembled by machine.
It’s been exactly a year since my last blog post on January 4, 2020. As much as I would like to fast forward to the present, I decided to document some of my projects from the past year. In future posts, I’ll give more details on some of the quilts which are still in progress.
In January, I began a 100 day project, creating one letter per day.
Over the course of the year, I participated in three swaps and created mini quilts using these little freeform “junction” blocks.
It was an honor to receive the “Quilting Excellence” award at QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. (To read more about “For the Love of Squircles” see my last post.)
“A Squircle a Day” went on a road trip to the southwest in late February, and was my hand quilting companion until its completion in August.
Many masks were donated to our community and given to keep friends and family safe.
A couple of patchwork baby quilts gave me the opportunity to practice some free motion quilting.
I participated in the “littledrunkmonday” sew along hosted by Leslie Jenison @leslietuckerjenison and Michele Muska @michelemuska making little “curvelets” using Jen Carlton-Bailly‘s @bettycrockerass templates. This is all hand pieced and is a long term project. The final size and shape is yet to be determined.
Since early March, we have spent all of our time on the farm with occasional trips to town for groceries and supplies. We are so grateful to have such a beautiful space to call home.
Also among my blessings are the people who encouraged, motivated, inspired and comforted me through the events of the past year. I am eternally grateful for your support and friendship.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness in the year ahead.
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!
I began piecing the blocks just before heading to Nashville for QuiltCon and finished piecing mid-April.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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!
The summer adventures brought new experiences, challenges, skills…and awards!
In July, my husband and I traveled to Sisters, Oregon for Quilter’s Affair and the annual outdoor quilt show. We enjoyed a week of relaxing, camping, hiking, exploring and volunteering.
Our horse trailer (with bikes this time instead of horses) was our home base at the city’s Creekside campground. It is conveniently located to restaurants and we confess to starting each morning with a walk to the Sisters Bakery for coffee and a treat. I may have eaten a scone every morning and tried all the flavors. The marionberry was hard to beat!
I attended two classes. The first was with Jen Carlton Bailley making blocks with curved piecing using her acrylic templates. This was a totally new skill for me and Jen had lots of helpful hints for achieving accuracy.
In the other class with Sarah Fielke we created improvisational letters. Both of these classes really made me think! I haven’t had time to continue these explorations, but I hope to soon.
We volunteered to hang and take down quilts for the one day outdoor show. It takes lots of people to pull off this event!
The day following the show, the ladders were out again and we helped hang and take down Carolyn Friedlander’s quilts over at the Five Pines Lodge. She was the featured quilter and gave a lecture and guided tours along the peaceful paths. It was special seeing her wonderful quilts all together in this setting.
Upon returning home from Sisters, I finished the preparations for my lecture and hand quilting class up at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. These events were in conjunction with the Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century exhibition at the museum which I wrote about in my last post. The museum staff was absolutely gracious and so supportive.
I admit to being nervous as this was my first foray into speaking and teaching, but I really enjoyed meeting new quilting friends, talking about quilts and sharing my love of hand quilting.
Look at these dedicated hand stitchers!
In August, I found time to focus on my own hand quilting. I have some show deadlines that will require daily stitching progress.
And speaking of shows… in August, my quilt “At the Junction” placed first in the Modern category at the American Quilter’s Society (AQS) Quiltweek show in Grand Rapids. (If you want to learn this quilt’s story, I wrote a post about it here.)
This week I learned that “At the Junction” had also placed first in the Modern Category at the AQS Fall Paducah show. What an honor and thrill! This contest has a unique feature. It takes the first place quilts from each of the fifteen categories and lets the public choose the top seven awards, including the $20,000 Best of Show. There was only a 24 hour voting period.
You can imagine the excitement when the results were posted and I learned my quilt had placed “4th Overall” and won a major award. (There may have been some happy dancing here on Penny Lane.) Many thanks to all of you who voted and supported this quilt! I am very grateful and would like to thank all the sponsors who make the awards possible.
If you are curious, the complete awards results are listed here. AQS also put the award ceremony with Victoria Findlay Wolfe on their QUILTTV YouTube channel if you’d like to see all of the award winners in each category as they are announced. For those unable to attend, it is a wonderful way to participate virtually. I am so inspired by all the wonderful quilts and the amazing attention to detail by these talented makers.
“At the Junction” will travel on to the AQS Charleston Quiltweek , September 25-27, for one more show before returning home.
After all the excitement, I am ready to get back in the studio to explore new ideas and focus on some hand stitching!
My name is Marla Varner, and I’d like to introduce you to:
penny lane quilts “modern with a hint of vintage”
Last summer, I decided to start a small business to sell hand made, quilted items and Penny Lane Quilts was born. (I live on Penny Lane, hence the name.) At this point, I sell at a few arts and crafts fairs, some local shops and I do some custom work, as well.
My tagline, “modern with a hint of vintage” refers to creating modern quilts and products on vintage machines. I’ve been quilting for over twenty years, so I guess I’m a little vintage, too!
I live in beautiful Sequim, Washington. The Olympic mountains greet me each morning and the nearby waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are all that separate us from Victoria, B.C.
My quilting adventures began over 20 years ago when a friend suggested taking a class at our local quilt store. That shop has long disappeared, but my love of quilting has only grown. Over the years I learned a variety of skills as I created traditional quilts. During this time, I also collected vintage Singer sewing machines including a few treadle and several hand crank machines.
But a few years ago, I began creating improvisational quilts and dyeing my own fabrics and my quilting took on a more contemporary look. I joined the Modern Quilt Guild in 2013 to connect with other quilters interested in taking a modern approach to their quilting.
At QuiltCon2015, I was so excited to be attending my first big quilt show and convention. I was doubly thrilled to have two of my quilts juried into that show and to see them displayed in the company of so many wonderful quilts. I was shocked, thrilled and a little overwhelmed to discover that my quilt, Coral Reef, had won an award.
I missed last year’s show, but I’m registered and excited to be attending QuiltCon East in Savannah next February!
Baby quilts are always fun to make and I try to keep a few on hand to sell or donate. The size is just right for machine quilting and I enjoy simple patchwork piecing. Here is one of my favorites.
There are lots more photos of my projects in the galleries, including household items and personal accessories. Go to the menu and check them out!
If you are interested in following along here, I’ll share my process, my current projects and maybe even some helpful tips.
Speaking of helpful tips, here are a couple in honor of the blog hop:
Blogging tip: For technical advice, do an internet search. It works ALMOST every time! When that fails, ask family and friends. The advice and feedback that I received from my hive mates and mentors was invaluable! I am so grateful to you all.
Quilting tip: There are MANY ways to achieve your desired result. Do some research and then discover what works best for you. Maybe you will come up with an original way that works best of all!
A few fun facts:
I can play the accordion, although I don’t very often.
Flamingos seem to collect at my house.
Sometimes I live in a horse trailer.
A question for you: I love hand work…quilting, applique, English paper piecing, etc. Do you love to slow stitch, too? If so, what’s your favorite type of hand stitching? If not, I’d love to hear your favorite technique.
PRIZES!!! The blog hop is supported by our wonderful sponsors, with lots of giveaways each week.
Visit our wonderful mentor and host, Yvonne, to enter!
After a long hiatus, I am working on this blog and intend to post more often! Here are a few of my quilting adventures from the past eight months.
Last fall, the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild hosted their 3rd annual Bainbridge Quilt Festival. This is a one day, outdoor show, which takes place on the second Saturday in September in downtown Bainbridge. The festival is a celebration of quilts and quilters, and if you’re from our area consider joining us this year!
In October, the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival held their 10th annual exhibition and three of my quilts were on display. The festival includes a Fiber Extravaganza that celebrates the fiber arts with workshops, demonstrations and a fiber arts market in addition to the well-curated show at the Museum and Arts Center in Sequim.
Our winter was spent camping in the desert in Arizona with our horses. Lots of horseback riding, reading, hiking and sightseeing filled our days.
But with my trusty Featherweight and some hand stitching to occupy my time, I managed to complete a few projects.
My membership in the Arizona Quilt Guild and the Vulture Peak Patchers allows me to participate in their events. This year that included a bus trip to the AQS QuiltWeek – Phoenix show, volunteering at the Desert Cabelleros Western Museum, participating in the guild’s show and attending an annual three day retreat called Sew Wickenburg.
Now that we’re back home, I’ve been busy in the studio with lots of new projects in the works. Stay tuned for updates. I promise it won’t be eight months until my next post!