Friday, January 30, 2015

{Clambake} Quilt-as-you-go Clamshell Tutorial

Clambake quilt-alongI'm making my clamshell throw quilt with a quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) technique. When I machine applique my clamshells row by row, I'll also be stitching through batting and backing, quilting as I go.  It's a great way to save time and to work with small clams without going crazy.  Let me show you what I mean!  Today I'm sharing an overview of my QAYG technique so you can decide if it's right for you.


{QAYG Clamshells}

Step 1:  Baste Backing + Batting

Create a backing for your quilt that's about 4" larger than desired quilt size in both width and length. My throw quilt is to finish 52" x 68", so I cut a 55" wide fabric to 72" long, creating a 55" x 72" backing.

Cut a batting to the same size or slightly smaller than your backing. Be sure you can see the side edges of your backing after basting so that you can be sure to keep the QAYG work from drifting off the edges of the backing.

Baste batting to your backing as desired. If you use basting pins, you'll need to remove them as you applique each row. I used my trusty 505 basting spray which will be so easy for QAYG - nothing to remove as I work.

First I taped my backing to the floor, right side down.


Then I spread the batting out across the backing.  To baste, I folded one side of the batting back at a time, sprayed basting spray on the revealed backing and then smoothed batting back in place.


Ta da, basted batting/backing ready to go!


Step 2:  Prepare Applique Surface

Trim the top edge of your quilt for a straight edge, cutting through both batting and backing as necessary to ensure that both are even and flush at the straight edge. I folded my work carefully and used a ruler placed perpendicular to the fold in order to cut a straight edge.


Referencing the newly trimmed, top edge of your quilt, draw a perpendicular line on the left edge of the work. This line will become the left edge of your finished quilt top. Extend the line all the way down the left side of the work, keeping it straight!


I matched a horizontal line of my ruler to the trimmed top edge of my quilt and then drew a line as far left as possible, while still remaining on the batting. You can use a regular ball point pen to draw this line on the batting since it will be covered by fabric later on.


Prepare a fabric strip to cover the top edge of the quilt, from one side all the way across to the other side. Since I am working with 4" finished clams, a 3.5" wide fabric strip is appropriate. If you are working with large 8" clams, try a 7.5" strip. You can always trim off excess top edge fabric strip later, to suit your tastes. Align one long edge of the strip with the top edge of the quilt top. Pin to secure.

Note: The first row of clams will overlap partially with this top edge fabric strip, allowing some of the fabric strip to show all the way across the quilt. If you don't like the look of one fabric across the top, you can place your first row of clams so that it hangs over the top quilt edge by quite a bit. After placing and appliqueing row 2, you would then trim off the overhanging clamshell fabrics at the top quilt edge. That's slightly more tricky, but doable!


Now, mark lines across the width of the quilt. These will serve as guidelines for each clamshell row, keeping shapes straight and tidy. Measure and mark lines at intervals equal to 1/2 of your finished clam size. Since I am working with 4" finished clams, my lines are marked at 2" intervals.

Continue to mark lines all the way down your quilt, as many lines as clamshell rows desired.

Step 3:  Machine Applique/QAYG

I'll be sewing with cream thread and will keep my feed dogs engaged with regular straight stitch settings. If you have trouble with bunching or puckering, use a walking foot for this step. Work through then entire applique/QAYG process one row of clams at a time.

First press the top curved edge of each clam under by a generous 1/4". To make pressing easier, create a card stock pressing template. Trace the raw edged clam shape onto card stock and cut it out. Next, measure and remove a generous 1/4" from the top curved edge only.


Preparing only one row of clams at a time, wrap the raw edge around the template and press. If your fabric won't hold the shape well, try adding some starch just to that top edge. To place starch with precision, dip a tiny paintbrush into the starch and paint it right where you want it.

In this tutorial I have not pressed under the raw edges as I am not actually ready to sew the clams down just yet. Please imagine that the edges are pressed under!

Place your first row of clams on the batting background with the bottom point of each clam resting on a marked line. The turned-under left edge of the first clam should touch your left edge quilt guideline. Place the clams so that the turned under top curves touch neatly, but do not overlap. Either pin or glue baste to secure. I will be using Roxanne's glue baste, so that I do not have to remove pins as I sew.


Working from one side of the row all the way across in one continuous stitch path, sew along the top edge of the clams only. You are sewing through clams, batting and backing, quilting as you go!   I will show photos of my stitched clamshell rows in the coming weeks, as soon as I have them.

After sewing down row 1, prepare clamshell row 2. First press all edges under, then place and secure clams as shown. Again, the bottom point of each clam will rest on a marked line. Notice that the left-most clam must extend past the left edge quilt line. Any fabric that extends past the left edge quilt line will be trimmed off when the work is finished. Machine applique/QAYG as before, again sewing in one continuous line from edge to edge of the work.


Continue adding row upon row. Each row will overlap the previous row just enough so as to cover the stitch line where it crosses from one clam to another!


Step 4:  Finish

I don't have any photos of the finishing process yet, since my quilt is just starting, but it's not hard to imagine. When all your rows are appliqued, you will trim the quilt so that no batting/backing shows. You will trim along the left edge quilt line and also along the right edge of the quilt, cutting off excess clamshell fabric to create a straight edge. Finally, you will trim at the bottom of the quilt, cutting off much of the last row of clams, but leaving their top curves.

Since your quilt is already quilted, all that remains is binding! We're doing most of the work during Step 3 for sure!


Again, I will share more detailed process photos throughout the quilt-along to help walk you through my QAYG method. I hope that today's tutorial overview gives the info you need to confidently decide which method is best for you. To consider other methods, see Clambake Technique Buffet.

If you'll be doing the QAYG method, remember you must have your backing and batting on hand to start sewing! Also, you may like to use basting spray and a product like Roxanne's glue baste to ease the whole process.

Alright, let's go forth and cut clams!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

{Clambake} with Ivete from Gotham Quilts!

Clambake quilt-alongSurprise!  Guess who stopped in today?  It's Ivete of Gotham Quilts, who's joining the Clambake Quilt-along and wants to share some fabric-shopping goodies for those of us needing to do clam-related shopping.

First, let's hear about Ivete's plans for her clamshell quilt and then a Gotham coupon and giveaway!  Fun.

{Ivete of Gotham Quilts}

When I read about the Clambake QAL I immediately knew I had to join in! I've never made a clamshell quilt before, and it's been on my to-tackle list for, well, forever, so this was just perfect. Initially I considered doing Rachel's quilt-as-you-go method, because that definitely seems like the faster way to do this quilt, but I want this project to be a learning project for me, and I particularly want to get better at piecing curves. So, I've settled on following the Latifah's Glam Clam pattern in the 8" clamshell size, and assembling on my Juki.

Once I had that decided, I moved onto my favorite part: Choosing fabrics! I knew that I wanted to make a modern, graphic version of a clamshell, so I went to our shelves and started considering collections. I first thought about using some Cotton & Steel fabrics (I can't believe I still haven't made a C+S quilt!), but then my eyes landed on Lotta Jansdotter's new collection, Follie. And I knew instantly that this was the right pick! I decided to focus on the periwinkle and raspberry section of the collection, like in this bundle:

Aren't those colors lovely, and an unusual color combo? I smile every time I look at them!  We pulled lots of coordinating prints and solids and ended up with this stack of lovelies:

I'm planning to do a modern layout with lots of negative space, the way Latifah did in her original quilt, and I can't wait to get started. I have a few projects that are due shortly, so I can't start *quite* yet, but I did allow myself to start cutting just a little bit: I cut all the paper templates out!

Next up, I'll be cutting plastic templates for these, and then I'll start cutting into fabric! After I get a quilt off my design wall so that I can use it for the clamshells, that is . . .

{Coupon + Giveaway}

Thanks for sharing your plans with us, Ivete!  I look forward to seeing your quilt progress.  Actually, I look forward to seeing all your quilts, Clambake people.  We'll start some link parties in February!

Need to do some fabric shopping?  Visit Gotham Quilts and save 20% off all regular priced items now through February 28th.  Use coupon code clambake to redeem your Clambake QAL savings!

One lucky reader will also win a $25 gift certificate to Gotham Quilts!  To enter this giveaway, open internationally, answer this question in the comments of this post:  "Who do you make quilts for the most?"  The random winner will be selected on Monday, February 2nd, around noon (EST).

***********************Comments Closed*************************

And our winner is Dawn of comment #31.  Enjoy your fabric shopping, Dawn!  I'll be in touch via email.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

{Clambake} Technique Buffet

Clambake quilt-along Last week we started the Clambake Quilt Along with an initial planning meeting.  Hopefully you've been thinking over the size of your project, how you might cut/sew clams and did some fabric brainstorming.  If you missed that post, catch up here!

Today we'll take a closer look at the many ways to sew clamshells.  We're focusing on turned-under edge finishes.  If I miss your favorite method, please link us in the comments!  How will you bake your clams?

{Hand Sewing Techniques}
If you are interested in hand sewing your clams, please see Molly Flanders excellent post about her experiments with different methods!

hand applique clams by Molly Flanders

Hand Applique

Likely the most popular hand sewing technique for clamshells is hand applique.  In this method, you would press the large curved edge of the clam under by 1/4" to create a turned edge.  Then, working in rows, you would hand sew clams to previous rows, sewing along the top curve of each clam. When sewing by hand, you can reasonably applique without a foundation fabric, though using a foundation will be easier.  Remember, because of the way that new clamshell rows overlap previous rows, you only need to applique the top curved edge of each clamshell.  This will be slow, meditative work.  Works well with any size clam.  Tutorial:  Molly Flanders

English Paper Piecing

For this method, you would purchase clamshell papers like these.  Before sewing, you would turn under all raw edges (all the way around the clam and its point) by folding the fabric around the paper and then baste fabric temporarily to the paper.  Once clams are basted, you join by hand, navigating all those curves and points.  Last of all, remove the papers.  If this sounds tricky, it is.  I do not recommend this method to anyone new to English Paper Piecing (EPP), as the clamshell shape is one of the more difficult shapes to EPP.  However, if you are familiar with EPP this could be a comfortable method.  Works well with any size clam.  Tutorial:  Molly Flanders

{Machine Sewing Techniques}

Machine Piecing from Clams

Traditional machine piecing begins with cutting out clams.  Then clamshells are sewn together, right sides together, shifting fabrics to align curves as you sew.  This requires an intermediate skill with sewing curves or an advanced level if your clams are 5" or smaller.  Accurate cutting is important, as is sewing with a consistent 1/4" seam allowance.  You'll want to use pins, even if you often avoid pins for your curved sewing.  An advantage is that machine piecing does not require pressing under of raw edges.  Best for larger clams.  Free Patterns:  Latifah Saafir

Clamshell Tutorial-7-2
machine pieced clams by Ali Winston

Machine Piecing from Drunkard's Path Block

This variation on machine piecing makes clamshells from drunkard's path blocks.  Because drunkard's path is easier to piece than whole clam shapes, this method is appropriate for a confident beginner at sewing curves.  If you study the work by Ali Winston above, you can see that each clam is formed by 4 drunkard's path blocks.  The seams in the clams are a downside.  Advantages: no need to press under raw edges and you may already have drunkard's path cutting dies or templates that could be used.  Best for larger clams, since each clamshell is composed of several blocks.  Tutorial:  Ali Winston

Machine Applique (traditional)

Machine applique is like hand applique, but the shapes are sewn down with a visible machine stitch that runs along the large curved edge of each clam.   First you turn and press under the raw edge along the top curve of each clam, then applique clams working in rows with subsequent rows overlapping previous rows.  You could use a decorative stitch, like a blanket stitch, to make the visible applique stitch a design feature rather than a drawback.  With machine applique, using a foundation fabric is a must.  Works well for any size clam.

I was not able to find a tutorial for this technique.  If you know of a good one, please let me know!  If you're interested, but unable to proceed without a tutorial, I suggest you consider the next option, which I will be demonstrating in this quilt along!

Machine Applique (quilt as you go)

This variation takes advantage of the applique step, so that the applique process simultaneously quilts the work.  This method is no more time consuming and no more difficult than traditional machine applique.  You will not need an extra foundation fabric, since we'll be using the batting/backing as our foundation.  Works well for any size clam.  I will be teaching this method during Clambake quilt along, starting with an overview of the method this Friday. 

{Cutting Resources}
In case you are eager to cut clams, here are some resources!

More Clambake coming soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Inside Addition

 Inside Addition for Love Circle

With January running along and about to run away, this weekend I made bee blocks for the Love circle of do. Good Stitches.  Our lead quilter this month, the fabulous Ara Jane, had the clever idea of giving us Inside Addition blocks.  These 8" cuties are designed by Jessica of A Little Gray who's sparked a quilt-along on Instagram! 

Joining in on the #insideadditionquiltalong! This will be the #dgslovecircle January quilt.

Ara Jane gave us color guidance and away we went!  You can see that it's a pretty simple block.  Jessica's notes above are cutting sizes and here's how it sews up:

Inside Addition for Love Circle

Half square triangles, 3 rows and done.  I like the small size and the way these blocks look so good with just two fabrics in play.

Inside Addition for Love Circle

I got to use up some Doe Wide backing scraps (that large graph-papery print)!  Oh, and check out how the Cotton & Steel Dottie ended up lining up all fancy like.  Sometimes fabric is nice to you.

Inside Addition for Love Circle

Next up this week is clams, clams, CLAMS!  I'll be back tomorrow with a survey of techniques, then we'll have a clammy fabric giveaway and a post on Friday that overviews my quilt-as-you-go method.  As you can see, I haven't been able to resist a little cutting...

Hello clamshells.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ice Parfait Winners!

It's a brand new week!  Lots of possibilities to make and to enjoy.  Let's start by congratulating the two winners of our Ice Parfait mosaic contest.  We definitely favored the icy cool mosaics this time!  I think both winning fabric sets are spot on interpretations of this inspiration mosaic from the original contest:

Without further ado, the winners are...

Glacial Ice by Silver Cat Crafts

{Fabrics}  Line 1:   Prisma Elements Pagoda GemDoe Ladder Lines SageQuilter's Linen Mist 
Line 2
Minimalista Script TurquoiseModern Solids II Robin's EggPearl Bracelet Ice Skate 
Line 3: 
Essex Yarn Dyed Linen Chambray, Architextures Crosshatch NiagraOval Elements Mood Indigo


and this mosaic by GnomeAngel

{Fabrics}  Line 1Calico Lilac, Quilter's Linen Sky, Prisma Elements Pearl and Gold Metallic 
Line 2:  Doe Ladder Lines Sage, Architextures Crosshatch Gray, Pearl Bracelet Juniper
Line 3:  Quilter's Linen Thistle, Calico Sky, Sunprint Text Teal

Congratulations to our winners who will receive their bundles in fresh, delicious cotton real soon!  A great big thanks to Cuts of Cotton for sponsoring our fun.

Thanks to all of you for participating with your mosaics and your votes.  Have a happy Monday!

P.S.  If you love these winning fabrics, you can find bundles to match at Cuts of Cotton:  Glacial Ice and Lavendar

Friday, January 23, 2015

::Voting:: Ice Parfait Mosaics

It's time!  Today is a wet, windy, cold winter day - just the type of day for your Ice Parfait mosaics.  I love the clever names and inspiration process that many of you share.  Thanks to everyone who participated and to Cuts of Cotton for sponsoring this contest.  I've narrowed it down to 10 finalists, choosing mosaics that felt cohesive and inspiring.  As always, it was a really tough job to select only 10!

Enjoy perusing these lovely mosaics!  I've presented them first at large size to help you find your very most favorite one, with the name of the artist under each mosaic.  Voting is below with smaller images for reference.  Vote now through noon (eastern U.S. time) on Monday the 26th.   The two winning mosaics with the most votes will be announced on Monday.

Good Luck Everyone!

ice parfait::mosaic contest
Finding My Words by Megan Anne

Icy by Sewn Barefoot

Glacial Ice by Silver Cat Crafts

Ice Parfait with Cuts of Cotton
Frozen Stillness by HNoelMauri

Icicles by HNoelMauri

by GnomeAngel

Thawing by Carmen

Ice Parfait {mosaic 1}
by Annabelle Gardner

ice parfait::mosaic contest
Parfait Layers by Megan Anne

Ice Parfait
by Liz Morris

Thursday, January 22, 2015

she's got Skills

I'm happy you are so excited to sew clamshells!  Sounds like we'll have quite a group and lots of project variety, which is always fun.  I have scheduled several planning and technique posts for next week, so we can move things along.  We'll start cutting/sewing in February.  Hoorah!

 Aria's quilt for Eleni

Guess what I have to show off today?  It's a quilt made by miss Aria for our new little miss!

Aria's quilt for Eleni

Aria was inspired by the Stripy Quilt project in We Love to Sew.  She chose these 4 prints from my stash and was delighted with how quickly the quilt top sewed up.

Now, Aria's made quilts before, but she had not actually machine quilted them.  One she hand tied, one she hand quilted and another I think I quilted for her.  She's always sewn right sides together the quilt top with the backing, flipped it rightside out and finished with an edgestitch, not binding.  And those were actually the kid-friendly directions in the book... but this girl was energized and eager for the full monty quilt experience.

Aria's quilt for Eleni

Check out Aria quilting like a boss.  She has her form nailed!  And kitty Susan looks on so sweetly.  (Oh, Susan, the best of pets; the strangest of cats.)

Aria's quilt for Eleni

She quilted organic straight lines and super close together.  Isn't that texture amazing?  I am so proud of her endurance on this project.  She did complete it over a few months, but she never expressed regret over choosing dense quilting.  We like to talk about how durable this quilt will be and how we can let Eleni take it anywhere!

Aria's quilt for Eleni

After quilting, I taught her how to trim the edges, cut binding strips, connect and prepare binding strips and even how to attach to the quilt with zigzag binding.  She did it all. by. herself.  This 10-year-old has skills.

Aria's quilt for Eleni

So congratulations, Aria!  This is YOUR quilt.  And, this is also Eleni's quilt.  It is a family treasure, that's for sure.

Aria's quilt for Eleni

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the Clambake Quilt-Along!

Clambake quilt-alongYou know you want to!  Here's your chance to tackle these curves amongst friends.  We're sewing clamshell quilts in the Clambake Quilt-along.  I'll be showing you how to quilt-as-you-go clamshells, but you're welcome to make them any way you like!  Let's get started today with some advance planning.

Choose your own adventure...

{Clamshell Size}  Go small or go big?  Smaller clams are more scrap-friendly, but larger clams are easier and faster to sew.  I'll be working with 4" wide finished clamshells since I'm going scrappy.  3" is probably as small as one might consider.  Take a peak at 8" and 12" clams on Latifah's blog.  Molly Flanders looks to be working with 4" clams here.

{Quilt Size}  There are a million ways to sew clamshells.  It'll be easier to choose your technique if you know approximately what size work you'd like to make.  A mini quilt would be fun to hand sew; whereas, a queen-size quilt is probably better done by machine!

I'll be making a throw quilt finishing 56" x 68".  The width of your work should be evenly divisible by the finished width of your clamshells.  Since I'm working with 4" clams, 14 of them equals a 56" wide quilt.  For the height of your work, each row of clams is approximately half the finished width.  With my 4" clams, each row adds about 2" to the height of my quilt.  I'm planning to sew 34 rows of clams to yield a 56" x 68" throw quilt.

{Cutting Method}  Clamshells are certainly an irregular shape, so cutting them can be a chore.  If you'll be cutting by hand from a template, just emotionally prepare yourself for a long cutting phase.  It's all part of the process!  If you're working with 3-4" clams, consider using a die cutter to speed things up.  I'm using the 4" AccuQuilt Clamshell cutting die in my Go! Baby cutting machine.  Sizzix also has clam cutting dies, by the way.  Two lucky readers can win AccuQuilt clamshell dies from Sew Vac Direct.  Keep reading for details!

{Sewing Method}  Choices, choices!  If you're hankering for some hand piecing, you can join by hand via English paper piecing or via hand applique.  These techniques are appropriate for any size clam.

If you'd like to sew by machine, you can do machine applique or machine piecing.  Machine applique involves following the curve of the clamshell with your machine, layering row upon row.  This requires medium to low curve-sewing skills.  Machine piecing involves sewing curves together in a more traditional right-sides-together piecing fashion.  This requires medium to high curve-sewing skills.  If you are sewing large clams (6" and up), machine piecing may be a good choice.  The larger the clam, the less sewing skill required.  If you are sewing small clams (5" or less), I believe you'll have more success with machine applique.

I will be teaching a quilt-as-you-go method of machine applique.  It is suitable for any size clam, and especially smart for smaller clams.

{Fabrics}  Oooh, now is the time to choose your fabrics!  Clams often show off well when fabrics are fairly different from each other so that the beautiful curved edges are prominent.  If you use few fabrics or fabrics of similar color/value, expect the clams to blend a bit.  One way to give a lot of definition to your clamshells is to alternate rows of colorful clams with rows of neutral clams, as in Brigitte Giblin's example.  I will be making my throw quilt with alternating neutral rows, inspired by Brigitte. 

How much fabric?  Expect to cut each clamshell out of a square of fabric cut 1" larger than your clam's finished width.  Since my clams finish at 4" wide, I'll cut them from 5" squares.  Very charm-square friendly, by the way!  This is a fabric-hungry quilt.  I'll need about 4 1/2 yards of neutral fabric to make up the 17 neutral rows in my throw quilt.

If you're following along with my throw sized, quilt-as-you-go quilt, you will need batting and backing on hand in order to get started with the sewing phase.  For backing, buy 2 yards of 60 wide fabric or 3 1/2 yards of 42/44" wide fabric.  Or, of course, you could just piece a backing together!  You'll want a 60" x 72" cut of batting.

Goodmorning pillow

What's next?  Our Clambake has 4 phases:  Planning, Cutting, Sewing and Finishing.

We've started Planning today.  I'll follow up with 2 techniques posts to aid in your planning.  One post will link to tutorials for a wide variety of clamshell sewing methods.  The second post will give an overview of my quilt-as-you-go method for your consideration.

For Cutting, I'll link you to some free clamshell templates that can be used for hand cutting clamshells for various sewing methods.  I expect to kind of fly through cutting, since I'm using that cutting die, and then to make slow progress during the sewing phase.

Since I have a baby coming, I'm not going to plan out a schedule for my Sewing and Finishing progress.  I do plan to host some Clambake link parties where we can all share our progress, and when I may invite readers to share their own clamshell tips!  I'll keep the momentum going, but this is not going to be a quickie quilt-along.


Will you be joining our Clambake?  How would you like to win a 4" AccuQuilt Clamshell cutting die?  Sew Vac Direct has generously sponsored TWO free cutting dies.  They stock a full range of AccuQuilt dies as well as the Go! Baby and other Go! cutters.  And, pssst, this is the shop with the great customer service on my Juki TL2010Q sewing machine (love!).

To enter to win a 4" AccuQuilt Go! Clamshell cutting die, add a comment letting us know what type of clamshell project you are considering.  Giveaway open worldwide!  Winners will be selected randomly on Thursday around noon eastern time.  Good luck!

p.s.  Feel free to comment even if you can't use the AccuQuilt die.  I can always pass it onto another commenter if your name is drawn.  I'd love to know if you'll be joining the Clambake!

*******************Giveaway Closed**********************

Ok, I've just asked Mr. Random to pull our 2 winners. Congrats to comment #2, Sherron, and to #76, Ginny of Fishcreek Studio.  I'll be in touch about mailing your prize!

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