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In this new showcase I’m featuring four Modern Quilters that you will love!

Marla Varner

My adventures in quilting began more than twenty five years ago. While learning new techniques, I created traditional quilts for family and friends.  Most of the quilts were of the scrappy variety because I loved the process of playing with color and value in my designs.

A turning point in my quilting began in 2013 when met my friend and mentor, Pat Oden, who taught me how to cut without a ruler and how to dye my own fabric. She opened up a new world of possibilities and I was inspired by her wonderful abstract, geometric quilts.

I joined the Modern Quilt Guild and began exhibiting my work in 2015. My life has been enriched through the friendships developed both online and in person at events such as QuiltCon, retreats and local guild meetings.

My process is improvisational and I primarily use freehand cutting and piecing techniques. Most days find me in my studio cutting up fabric, sewing it back together on a vintage machine and seeing what develops. I often begin with an idea to explore. It might be a shape or a block or a general color scheme. More often than not, I am inspired by the colorful bits of fabric left over from a previous project. Using all the colors makes me happy and I discover that I’m a maximalist at heart.

I love improvisation because it keeps me engaged throughout the process. Every seam and quilted line build towards a final outcome that was a mystery when I began.



Paola Machetta

I started quilting in 2017, when a modern quilt shop opened in my hometown. I entered looking for fabric to sew my dress, and I noticed the wall quilts on display with a sense of wonder: it was the first time, for me, to get in contact with modern patchwork. Immediately I fell in love with Improv, which allowed me to combine my background with photography and drawings in a single sewing technique.

I studied with @simplyninepatch, who diffuses Modern Patchwork here in Italy thanks to her links in USA, and with@hixsonir, who painterly addresses composition and design. I am now practicing with @quiltimprovstudio, a collective improv quilters project, started this year during lock-down as a virtual shared studio place, and now involving improv quilters around the globe, from sites upper than Northern Polar Circle, to Australia, Chile, Russia, USA and so on.  

During working hours I’m an engineer focussed on imaging techniques such as microscopy, X-ray, ultrasound and so on. Extracting meaning from raw maps is my daily bread. Thus, inspiration for me often comes from the abstract part of the real world. In improv piecing, there is a freedom for randomness, that reminds me of natural textures: water ripples, dune sands, grass fields and their elegant, mildly chaotic, soft geometries.  

Water-related subjects are recurrent in my quilts: blue color is often in my gaze. I live in Trieste, a town near Venice, facing the sea. I love exploring river courses with my bike, so that my photo+ quilt gallery of this year talked of the last savage river of Europe. The exhibit was made for a cause: to promote petition for Tagliamento river tutelage by Unesco Natural World Heritageenlistment. Still valid, if you wish to add your voice on!

So many textures require balancing with negative space. Thus, I mix opposites with photographic approach. Even if the quilting subject is clearly abstract, each viewer brain will make some reference to all the imagery part of its experience. Suggestion for a horizon? Rule of thirds? Falling cascade? Portrait scene? In front of abstraction, multiple evoked associations will always remain possible, because each viewer has a different visual memory of her own.


Irina Malyukova

I grew up in Russia and have fond childhood memories of my mom sewing and embroidering beautifully. I learnt these skills from her but, at that time I couldn´t imagine that sewing would become my life passion. I used to sew my own clothing back in the 90s. Then I had a long break from sewing, writing my Ph. D and working as a scientist. Then in 2010 I moved to Finland and fell in love with the country and Scandinavian design. 

In 2014 I saw my colleague making a quilt and this is when my quilting journey started.
I am a self-taught quilter because, luckily nowadays, there is so much information available online. I love learning new techniques and the more I learn the more my passion for learning grows. I took a couple of online classes for free motion quilting that helped me to get started with it. 

Pure forms, shapes, color and color transition fascinate me, and it is reflected in my works. I love circles, curves and a clean background. 
I like working with bold and bright Marimekko fabric as well as with soft and delicate Liberty of London fabric.
The beauty of Finnish nature encapsulates and inspires me. Many of my quilting designs are based upon the inspiration I receive from nature.

My favourite stage of quilt making is color play and free motion quilting on my domestic machine. I design my quilts in a way that they always have a lot of negative space because it is fun to conquer it.  I also like adding hand quilted accents to my fmq.

I love sharing what I know on my blog.

It is hard to choose just 3 but all of these quilts are special in their own way.

1) Coral Reef /2019/ 
71,5 x 92,5 inches (182 x 235 cm). My version of One block wonder quilt. Traditional piecing. All the colored hexagons are made from the same fabric. Free motion quilting and ruler work on a domestic machine Pfaff quilt expression 4.2.

2) Peeking through the clouds (2019 – 2020)
49 x 64 inches (125 x 163 cm). Made from old jeans and upcycled bed sheet. Sashiko embroidery by hand with Perle cotton. Free motion quilting and ruler work on domestic sewing machine Pfaff Quilt Expression 720,. Based on free pattern Moments quilt by Heather Black

3) Apples and Oranges (2020), my own design,  84 x 91 inch (215 x 231  cm). Freezer paper applique, traditional piecing, free motion quilting and ruler work on a domestic sewing machine Pfaff Quilt Expression 720.



Iva Steiner

Hi, my name is Iva, 38 years old and you can find me under @schnigschnagquiltsandmore. I live with my two daughters in Switzerland. I’m owner of a little bookbindery, in my normal life I’m a bookbinder 😉 I’ve been doing patchwork and quilting for 16 years now. Back then I wrote a thesis about the amish people and was fascinated by the quilts. I love geometry and I love to sew. Patchwork was therefore the perfect combination. In the beginning I attended many courses.

I am learning freemotion quilting, hand application and much more. I also watched a lot of craftsy classes. I learned a lot about longarm quilting although such a machine was still a dream. So I tried to quilt with my domestic machine so that it looked like it had been quilted with a longarm. I have had my own longarm machine since 2014, a dream came true! I liked the quilting of negative space and I designed quilting patterns with a lot of white in the background. This is now a trademark of mine. I love to add modern quilting to traditional patterns.

 At the moment my focus is on my quilting service. When my customers want a customized quilting on negative space my heart leaps. I really enjoy finding you the right pantograph pattern for the individual quilts. Thanks to instagram a world has opened up for me for which I’m very grateful. Here in Switzerland there aren’t that many quilters my age. Thanks to social media, you can now find each other across national borders and support each other.


Here you can read the last Modern Quilters Showcase


  1. Thanks for including me in this series. You have introduced so many wonderful artists and I love learning more about their work

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