Monday, October 25, 2010

Yes, you need a grid

The next very important step for putting the clamshells together is one I probably would have ignored if I hadn't read the other clamshell blogs! You most definitely need a grid or some other way of keeping your clamshells straight and spaced evenly whether you intend to put them together in a straight row or another shape.

Some of the bloggers are using a fabric grid but after reading Journey of a Quilter's blog post about her grid drawn on paper, I decided to try it. I taped sheets of copy paper together to make a large enough grid for my diamond shape and started drawing lines. I'm not sure I can easily explain the lines but perhaps you can figure it out from my photos and her post.

Here I'm laying out my first clamshell diamond. Notice that not all the clamshells have turned out the same size so the grid is very important to keep them aligned. See the glue dots? I'm using a fabric glue to baste the clamshells together until I applique around each one. Just a word of warning, do not put too much glue on because it does seep through the fabric! Luckily, I had covered my paper grid with contact paper so its not sticking to the clamshells.

These are the first two diamonds on my design wall. I try out colors together until I'm "satisfied" and then transfer them to the grid to be glued together. I enjoy playing with the colors but working in my old fabrics has been frustrating sometimes. As my daughter said, "Somehow it all works together!"

These two diamonds have been hand appliqued together and more in the works!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prepping clamshells the beginners way

This is how I made my clamshells, a very basic way to prep applique which works for me! There may be some people who don't know about this technique so I'm documenting how I go about it.

This is a fat quarter from my stash and you can see that I've used part of it. I'd like to use it up so its prime fabric for any scrap quilting projects!

Also in the photo is a pigma pen but you could use any kind of marker or pencil you like to draw around the template. Important - I'm using heat resistant template material. I've traced my clamshell template from Kaffe Fassett's Museum Quilts book. It includes the 1/4 inch seam allowances around all edges. If I were to do this again, I might draft my own template because I don't think that my template is an exact copy. In fact, I know it isn't.

I choose to draw around the template on the reverse side of the fabric. For this particular quilt, I will need 4 clamshell templates of each fabric I use for each diamond except for the very middle shell. There are 49 clamshells in each diamond.

Here they are cut out. Its an easy project to do in the evenings.

After the clamshells are cut out, I sew a basting stitch around the top of the shell about 1/8 inch away from the edge. For the next step, I spray some spray starch into the lid of the starch can and allow it to bubble down. You will also need to make a finished size clamshell template.

Here's the clamshell with the finished size template laid on top. Again, its important the template be heat resistant. The blue line on the template transferred from the pigma pen ink I used to mark the fabric. This may not happen to you and it would probably be better if it didn't!

I carefully eyeball the template into the "correct" position. If I were to remake the template, I would make only the rounded curve on top the finished size. This would help keep the size more accurate and help with layout of the clamshells.

Next, I pull up the basting stitch to fit the curve of the clamshell and swab the edge with the spray starch using a Q-tip. Then lightly press with an hot iron. Careful about your fingers! Heat resistant template material can still get very hot.

Here's the finished product.

If I want this to be a bed size quilt, I will need 1226 clamshells according to the instructions. I find I can prep about 100 a day before my back starts to hurt! Of course, the 100 a day means no interruptions, no laundry, cooking or phone calls, etc.

I've begun stitching together the first diamond but there's another step in the process that I'll show you next time!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A clamming I will go!

I'm not even sure where or when I purchased Kaffe Fassett's Museum Quilts book but I'm sure I bought it because of the colors of the quilt on the front cover! This has been one of those quilts that will not go away and I've finally given in. I'm going to make it or maybe I should say, try to make it! He calls this a "challenging quilt" which should tell me something, shouldn't it?!?

My version will be made from both my stash of the past 30 years and from contemporary fabrics some of which are Kaffe Fassett fabrics. When I first saw his fabrics, I thought they were so ugly! I was especially turned off by the cabbage and roses fabric. Ugh. BTW, fat quarters of both the yellow and purple color ways of this fabric are now in my posession. I've decided I like the intensity of the colors. I'm not sure yet how well they will play with the dusty rose and sunflower fabrics from my crafting days!

I've been busy cutting out clamshells and preparing them for putting together the diamonds. Because I took the "Process Pledge", I've decided to take you along on this journey so my next post will show you how I've been preparing the clamshells.

I've made over 700 of them so far so please (!) don't tell me I've done it wrong! I still need to make around 500 more but I've decided to start putting together the diamonds first. Does the amount of time spent on making something with that many pieces scare you? I found this quote on Journey of a Quilter's blog.

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish
something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will
pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to
the best possible use."
- Earl Nightingale

To help keep me motivated and encouraged, I've joined the Clamshell Club a group of bloggers working on clamshell projects! If you'd like to see our progress, click on the button in the upper right hand column. Click again on the end of the month updates (top of the page) to see a list of bloggers who are sharing what they've accomplished on their projects.

Spiderweb Selvage Quilt update - I've found some wider bright selvages so I can make more blocks! I'd really like to finish this top before Christmas.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Canadian Kristin is the winner of my Fall into Fall Quilters Giveaway!
She wins these beautiful fat quarters from Kathy Hall's Indian Summer fabrics, a package of John James quilting needles and a pair of stork scissors.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Its almost over!

Probably some of the last blooms on the zinnia flowers for this butterfly to enjoy!

The Fall into Fall giveaway is almost over too! If you'd like to enter my giveaway, be sure to leave a comment on this post before tomorrow October 15th. at 9 AM CST.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall Color in my Home

I'm not working on a fall project right now but I thought you might like to see some of the wallhangings I put up in my house each fall.

I made this wallhanging from a pattern called "Fall Memories" designed by Edyta Sitar. Cutting out and fusing the pieces for those skinny blackberry branches was interesting! I machine quilted the leaf veins, pumpkin and stitched in the ditch around the border but didn't do anything in the background. I wish I were a better machine quilter but I simply don't take the time to learn and practice.

Here's my Purple Pumpkin Berries quilt hanging in our entryway. The pattern is by Needl'Love. Keeping it real here - that mirror needs cleaning and I just cleaned it a week ago! Guess I didn't do a very good job. If you'd like to know why there are purple berries on this quilt, go to this post. You can also see better photos of it and the beautiful quilting done by a local machine quilter!

On the top of the dresser is a log cabin doll quilt I made and hand quilted for the Small Quilt challenge earlier this year.

This wallhanging was a BOM at a local quilt shop but I waited until it was nearly over to sign up and then waited even longer to work on it. Its called "Forgotten Farms" and was designed by Bee Creative. Its fusible applique and I did machine quilt it myself, a mistake as the stitches are very close together. I drape it from the plant ledge in our living room and secure it with some crocks.

Fall is really my favorite season of the year and its probably the time of the year when I start the most quilt projects! This year, however, instead of starting something new, I'm continuing to work on the selvage quilt and have also been mostly cutting and prepping clamshells from my stash.
Will give you a peek at my projects next week!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Unofficially, it looks like cleaning the bathroom is winning the least favorite chore with dusting coming in second! I was surprised how many of you didn't like unloading the dishwasher or folding clean laundry. I wasn't surprised, though, about all of you who don't like cleaning ovens! Guess what I had to do tonight?

Dinner exploded quite literally when the glass baking pan shattered in the oven. There went the Kickin' Chicken and the baked home fries I was planning to serve for dinner tonight. The pan shattered into lots of pieces and there was sauce all over the oven. Thankfully, my oven is self cleaning but first I had to clean out the glass and wipe out as much of the sauce as possible. What a mess. I must have done a fairly good job of cleaning it out because so far, the smoke detector hasn't gone off! (That's what usually happens when I run the self-cleaning cycle on my oven.)

I've been feeling quite restless lately but I have been doing a little quilting as I have time. The stack of spiderweb selvage blocks is slowly increasing. BTW, Thank you to everyone who's contributed selvages recently! I'm trading off working on them with working on my clamshells.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment about your favorite or least favorite cleaning chore on my previoius post!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall into Fall Giveaway!

Today is October 1st. and the first day to enter my Fall into Fall giveaway! Yesterday I teased you with a photo of wheat as a hint of what you might win. Today I'm revealing the prize - Five fat quarters from Kathy Hall's latest group from Andover Fabrics, a package of John James Big Eye Quilting Needles and a stork scissors! I'm afraid the picture doesn't do justice to the beautiful colors in the fabric but trust me, they are beautiful. Yes, that's wheat on the lower right fat quarter!

Here's how to enter: Leave a comment on this blog post (and only this post) about what your favorite or least favorite cleaning chore is and why. You must include this in your comment to enter my giveaway. There must also be a link back to your blog or be sure to include your e-mail address. If you'd like to become a follower, that would be great but its not a requirement. I will ship international.

I shared with you yesterday that I don't like to clean wood blinds. The reason is that you have to wipe each slat down separately and I never feel I get all the dust and cat fur wiped off of them.

How about you, what's your favorite or least favorite cleaning chore?
P.S. - The drawing will be October 15, 9 AM CST.

Winner Update - The winner is Canadian Kristin who has been notified! Thanks everyone for entering my giveaway, Mayleen