Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clamshell Tutorial

Back in March I started a Clamshell quilt. See here and here. I Googled one day to see what was out there about the Clamshell - NOT MUCH.....but, I did come across Jossie's blog and discovered she was forming a CLAMSHELL CLUB.....YES, I joined!!! The last day of each month we post our progress. Today is the first post and I decided to give the tutorial everyone asked about in March when I first posted about it........SO......here goes! The above photo shows to pick your pattern. My Clamshell pattern measures 5 inches across it's very widest and is 6 inches long. If you clicked on the 2 here's above, you will find the history on where and when I got my pattern from.

I made 2 patterns pieces just alike.....trimming the top seam allowance off of one. I use self laminating pages to help stabilize my pattern pieces.

Using one of your patterns with all the seam allowances, trace onto your fabric, making sure you line up the grain of your fabric with the arrows on your pattern....very important!
I use what they call a mechanical pencil...the kind you add your own lead to...for tracing my patterns. These pencils make very sharp thin lines. I also use a quilters Sandpaper Board to lay my fabric down for tracing. These are soooo great, your fabric stays put and doesn't pull or bunch up while you are trying to trace.

Cut out using a small rotary cutter. The blade on this cutter of mine measures 1'' across.


Now.....take your pattern that is minus the top seam allowance and line up the bottom edges.

I simply used my left hand to hold down.........

then I used my right hand index finger/fingernail to fold down the top edges to form a nice crease all along the rounded tops edge. You could also use a hard object like this small ruler to form you crease, but I found my fingers worked better and it was a lot faster.

I usually started at the top/middle and worked my way all the way down.

See the nice crease I made all along the top! You could then use a washable glue to tack it down......be careful......too much glue will make your fabric sooooo hard and stiff you won't be able to get a needle through it. There are some nice glue pens out there, but I am just using what I have on hand.


Or your could hand baste it down like I've shown.

I take one Clamshell and lightly fold in half at the top and bottom and line it up vertically using my creases as a guide to help line it up using the graph lines on my June Taylor mini ironing pad.....remember, at this point I am working from the backside. Take 2 other Clamshells and place as I've shown.
Using the graphed lines and 'eye-balling' the 2 pieces, you can line them up fairly straight. I am not overly concerned with having pristine straight rows......after all, who is going to 'whoop' out a straight edge to see if you are all lined up.
I am still 'mulling' over some other ideas to improve this step. I'll let you know if I work out something better.
I then use small tiny sequin pins to attach my 3 pieces. I guess you could use glue here too....I've not tried!

UPDATE: I ended up using dots of glue to piece the clam shells together instead of using the pinning method. You must be careful not to use too much glue or get the glue too close to the edges for it will make the fabric hard and you will not be able to get a needle into it. I liked the glue method. It made the pieces stay together a lot better and there was no slipping around with your placement.
If you do get too much glue and it turns hard, I filled my washing machine with cold water and put my top in and just let it have a good soak to remove the glue. NO washing, just soak and then let your machine drain and spin at the end of the wash cycle. I then took it outside and laid it flat out on the grass in the sun and let it dry naturally. When it was dry I lightly pressed it to make it smooth so I could sandwich it with my batting and the back.
Here is the side you will be hand stitching the pieces together. I simply try to match my applique threads with the printed Clamshell fabric and use a basic applique stitch. I start at the right hand side there and stitch down to the bottom middle and then back up again to the left hand side stitching the 2 muslin pieces to my vintage printed piece.
Here is a view of how your back side will look after you've stitched them together.

I usually work in groups of 3's and 5 Clamshells. I find it is more 'portable' this way and can be good handwork when I travel. My design wall here shows you the different size groups I work with. When I have a more extended period of time to work on them I sew all the groups together to start forming my rows. So far, this has proved to be a very fast and easy system for me.
I hope this is clear and simple enough to follow. Please feel free to email with any questions you might have. OK.....I'm off to work on 'a few' before the day is over. Run over to Jossie's and check her sidebar and click on some of the gals who are also creating this little Clamshell project. HAPPY CLAMMING YA'LL!!!!

37 comments:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful tutorial Belinda. Very clear. I am really enjoying this. It is great to see the techniques everyone is using or trying out. No doubt many will benefit from this.

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  2. Yes a really great tute Belinda,
    I'll be adding this one to my list as well. Thanks :-)

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  3. Yes, a great tutorial Belinda. I like how you are piecing them together in smaller section, much easier to work. And, how you have eliminated marking the fabric. That saves time. And, also interesting how you are working from the back of the clamshells when preparing to applique. I've been doing that from the front of the clamshells.

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  4. Oh I love it so much!!! Thank you for this great tutorial. it has been added to my favorites!!

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  5. Thank you so much Belinda for the clear instructions! I really like the idea of making small groups at a time.

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  6. This is a great tutorial and I'm going to bookmark. I'm trying to stay away from these things, but I don't think that I'm going to have much luck since I keep seeing them spring up!

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  7. Super great - but I don't think I'm going to make any - I'm not I'm not - I'm not . . .

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  8. This is going to be a wonderful quilt. Thanks for the look at how it's constructed. I don't see one in my future, but it's still good to know how it's done...

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  9. these are so cute!!!! I've seen a few people around lately making these... please don't get me started on another project.. you rascal!

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  10. You've satisfied my curiosity on how these were being put together. You've explained it very well. You seem to be making great progress.

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  11. Good directions....you had me right up to the words "hand sew"...and I knew, watching your progress would be as close as I get to this pattern. I forgot to say in previous post...those fabrics have found the perfect home. They even speak clamshell.

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  12. Thank you for your wonderful instructions regarding the Clamshell pattern! Love the colors and prints. This has a neat vintage look!
    Carolyn

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  13. Great tutorial. I especially love your fabric selections in putting the clam shells together. It looks like a lot of work, but well worth it when seeing the end result.

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  14. Wow! You actually make it look easy!! It is such a terrific quilt.

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  15. What a great toot! I had been wondering how you were putting these together, just like the Caramilk secret! Thanks for sharing, not that I'm going to start one of these in this lifetime.

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  16. Not many people can say they clam in Texas. Thats for sure. These are fantastic. But I'm telling you. They look like way too much work. I would love a clamshell quilt but seriously. This is not for the faint of heart.

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  17. Thank you for this great tutorial. I have always wanted to make a clamshell quilt and used much of your method to whip up a few short rows. I kept my rows straight by making a grid on freezer paper and ironing it to my ironing board. Then when I add a row, everything lines up with the grid (more or less...) Thanks again - I might join the group.

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  18. Oh Belinda, thanks so much for the tutorial, I don't see one in my future at this time but I never knew how this was done. I'll just admire yours for now.

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  19. Great job on the 'splainin, Belinda! Glad you have some Clamshell playmates now. Looking good!

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  20. This is a great tutorial. There is a saying here in the Seattle area. When life gets to you, don't worry, keep clam! (no, really, it's printed on restaurant walls)
    Cheers,
    Dionne

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  21. Your fabric choices are fabulous -- this will be a lovely quilt.
    Interesting to see how others are making these.

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  22. Thanks for the great tutorial, I'll bookmark it for later. I saw a beautiful fairy frost quilt done in a clamshell pattern. It was so beautiful I thought about using my fairy frost fat qtr bundle. I like the scrappy look as well.

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  23. What a FANTASTIC tutorial! Most excellent. I learned to work with clams of 3 or 5. That's helpful. I have my top that I just take along with me which was fine in th beginning but it's now becoming a train-frayed wreck!

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  24. great tutorial - thank you! I love these clamshells -have fun

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  25. Yes a really great tute Belinda,
    Makes me more confidante about having a go and trying them..Thanks Julia ♥

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  26. Your tutorial was excellent. Did you know that Inklingo has a clam shell patttern now? I know you made some gorgeous Alabama Beauties (?) if I remember correctly. Just sharing the info...

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  27. Oops! I thought I was commenting on KarenDianne's blog. Sorry. It was an excellent tutorial, though. :-)

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  28. Very cool! So glad you found the group! That is so encouraging for sure! You also have made a fine tutorial. I was just going to sit on the sidelines and cheer you on... and I still will, but now I may add these to my list of things to do/try sometime, heehee!!! Great photos and explanations, you made it seem less scary for me!
    *hugs*
    Jackie

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  29. Thanks for the great instructions! Very helpful as this can be a difficult quilt to put together.

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  30. That is a great tutorial. I have read a couple of them on other blogs and just had trouble grasping the concept, but I think I have it now.

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  31. Thanks a lot! I`ll try it on your way because I love calm shells.
    Greatings from Germany.

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  32. I adore your clamshells. Wonderful use of vintage fabrics. I, too, have a collection and have yet to use them. I have an idea, though... I will email you about.

    Love your blog and will follow it through RSS feed.

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  33. I'm so excited that you posted this tutorial. After I finish my baskets, I want to make one of these and didn't have a clue as to how to go about it!! Thank you for posting this!

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  34. Thank you for the tutorial; it is a nice shape and your quilt looks beautiful, I already saw the quilting.

    I couldn't believe you washed the top before layering it with batting and backing; I have never had the courage to wash a quilt top.

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  35. Welllllll, I shoulda read this before I started - no wonder I was having so much trouble - now I am going to start over again - I only had one row on a pillow started.

    When I googled clamshell quilt tips - yours was the first one to come up.

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  36. Thank you I have always wanted to do this, just love the tutorial, Im thinking my next project. after the last nine or 10 on the list. Im not into Hexi's but this I would do

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  37. I have avoided clamshells but after seeing thus, I'll put it on my to do list!

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