Clamshell Club


It seems as though the rain started in July and never stopped. Thankfully we have a little sun this morning so I could snap a photo of the clamshells. Row 3 is done! I have laid out the clams for Row 4 already, and hope to get some sewing done on those today.

I originally didn’t have a self-imposed deadline for getting this top together. Recently, I took it along to a meeting of my quilt group to work on it a little. One of the other members, upon finding that I was making a bed sized quilt, with hand applique, remarked to everyone that I am the “crazy” one in the group!!! We had a couple of new members  in attendance, and while I just smiled in response, I was a little dismayed to be labelled as crazy in front of the newbies. Well, I will have this top pieced by spring, I have decided. Then we will see how crazy I am!

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I really wanted to have the third row of clams done for this post…but it was not to be. Fig Tree Inc. is partially to blame…they released a new fabric collection that coordinates perfectly with the fabrics I’ve already chosen, so instead of lots of sewing, I’ve been prepping a bunch more clams from the new fabric!

It is already oppressively hot here at 10:30 a.m., so I wanted to take some photos indoors. They’re never as successful as natural sunshine pictures. Here’s part of the clamshell quilt, pinned to a double wedding ring quilt that hangs in the dining room:

It’s a bit blurry, but true to colour at least! That last clam in row 3 is just pinned in place, ready to be sewn. Here are the new Fig Tree fabrics:

The picture is a bit dark (that tablecloth is lime green!), but it gives an idea. I keep wanting to call this fabric collection “Victoria’s Secret”! I have to pause every time I think about it to remember the name correctly. Why? Who knows.

For awhile there were not so many little creatures in the back yard. I had run out of peanuts in the shell, which seem to be the preferred snack for most of the local wildlife! Now that I’ve restocked, I’m getting visits every morning from these guys:

We call the chipmunks “the Chiclets” because we believe they are the offspring of a chipmunk we named “Chica” last year.  The Chiclets will eat dried corn from the critter mix we put out, but they prefer peanuts. So do these beauties:

I still can’t believe I scored a picture of the blue jay. They swoop in to get a peanut, and fly away very quickly. I was trying to photograph a rabbit when this bird flew into the frame. Pure luck!

I may have a new favourite sock yarn. Yesterday I bound off the first sock of a pair I am knitting with Wollmeise 100% merino superwash.

lattice sock

The original pattern, from the book Sock Club, was written for cuff-down knitting. I altered it to be able to knit it toe-up, omitted the beads used in the pattern, and finished the cuff with a Russian bind off. The yarn is from a We’re Different grab bag, and is not a regular colour from the Wollmeise line. It looks a lot like fuchsia, but is a bit darker. I’m a bit worried about liking this yarn so much. It is in such demand, and short supply, that successfully ordering from her site is a nail-biting experience!

I haven’t been neglecting my clamshells, either.

I’m more than halfway through the 3rd tier of clams. It is really a joy to stitch these. The fabrics make me happy just to look at them, and hand applique is one of the most relaxing activities. Once this row is done, I will be cutting out more clamshells, to add even more variety to the mix. It won’t be a true charm quilt, because there won’t be a different fabric for every clam. I’ll be repeating quite a few of them, but it will still have a vintage, scrappy look.

It’s a beautiful sunny, warm day today. Great for taking pictures, and eating fresh Ontario peaches on the deck!

There’s been little sewing done on this project in the last 2 weeks, but I haven’t been idle! Linda released the half-clamshell templates in Inklingo this month, so I added halvsies to each side of the second row of the quilt. This appeals to me much more than the idea of taking my rotary cutter to make a straight edge later.

I decided to let some of the back side show so you can see what I mean about the grid pattern I drew on the back of the templates to help me line up the clams for sewing.

What did I spend my time on, you ask? Well, I wanted to have a good assortment of clamshells to choose from for row 3, so I decided to prep a whole bunch at once. I printed out the Inklingo clamshells on my soluble stabilizer sheets, added the vertical and horizontal registration lines with a fabric pencil (wash-out), and glue-basted the fabric over the templates. Once I rinse the quilt top in water, the stabilizer will be soft and stitchable.

I think that’s a pretty good assortment. On to row 3!

Another sunny day, perfect for taking a few pictures of progress on the clamshell quilt. I have now completed the sewing on the first two rows:

These are 3-inch wide patches, and this strip is 20 clamshells wide on the top row. Once the piecing is done, I plan to add an off-white border all around. Maybe polka dots? I’ll do some experimenting with border fabric once the rest of the clams are together. I do love these fabrics.

The pleasure of creating one-patch quilts is influencing my knitting, too. I’ve been thinking about knitting a blanket. Yesterday, I grabbed some leftover sock yarn and made this:

A little knitted hexagon! I used the “Komb” pattern from a Berroco leaflet. The original blanket is knit in a much heavier yarn, and is knit flat. I substituted sock yarn (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in South Shore) and 2.25 mm needles, and converted the pattern to knit in the round. I hate sewing up seams! I forgot to measure the little guy, but each side of the hexie is less than 2 inches long.

The pattern gives instructions for joining the hexagons as you knit. I thought that would be a neat idea until I realized that I would have the growing blanket in my lap all the time. Which would bother me more, that or sewing  all the little hexie seams together? I’ll have to knit another one and try sewing them together before I decide how to proceed.

The last month has really flown by! I’ve been doing a little experimenting with the clamshell quilt construction. I started out by printing the 3-inch clamshell design directly on the back of my fabric, and then stitched the clams together by hand with a running stitch–the traditional Inklingo way.

I’m not really happy with the way it looks. Granted, it hasn’t been pressed, but I don’t have the greatest skill with handsewing a curved seam. I left this piece in this state for a couple of weeks, feeling discouraged.

Jossie to the rescue! On her blog, she linked to a clamshell quilt instruction sheet from the Lizard of Oz (love that name). This is an English Paper Piecing method, and I realized that I could use this with my Inklingo templates. I printed out more clamshell templates on soluble stabilizer, prepared my fabric, and was able to hand applique the convex curves of the clamshells. I’m much happier with applique, and I like how the quilt pieces stay nice and flat as the patches are assembled. Here’s my progress so far:

Not much, considering I want a bed-size quilt out of this! At least now I am really enjoying the sewing process. This quilt will grow much more quickly now. The fabrics are from various Fig Tree Quilts collections that I’ve been acquiring for awhile. There are some Dandelion Girl, Patisserie, Mill House Inn and Fresh Cottons pieces in there. I have some bits and pieces of Fig & Plum that may make their way into it as well. It will be scrappy, just the way I like it.