First of all, I need to thank Mary for her clamshell post. When I decided I wanted to make a clamshell pillow for Kerry for her birthday, I found plenty of templates online, but there is a stark lack of "how-to" sew clamshells. Mary's insight on the three methods she tried helped me to settle on the appique' method, changing a few things to make it easier. So thank you Mary for all the info you provided!
Using the method I will describe, I really think it would be possible to do a whole quilt and this is something I do want to do in the future. For now though, I made a pillow.
I'm not going to go over how to finish the pillow after the front is made, you can find many tutorials for that online, including this one. My focus in this tutorial is how to sew the clamshells onto a background piece of fabric.
What you will need:
background fabric 21" square
Download Clamshell template (print "with no sizing"and on a piece of cardstock)
45 scraps of fabric
- water soluable glue
1. Trace the template onto the paper side of the freezer paper 45 times and cut the freezer paper clamshell pieces out.
2. Iron the shiny side of the freezer paper pieces onto the wrong side of your fabric scraps and trim the fabric approximately 1/4" around each freezer paper clamshell. You don't have to be exact at all with this step, so don't worry about cutting the allowance exactly.
3. Use spray starch around the top curve of each clamshell and iron the top edge of fabric down around the freezer paper template of each clamshell. (In Mary's tutorial, she clipped the top curved seam but this is something I didn't find necessary.)
4. Next, mark your background fabric with 1 1/2" lines side to side and top to bottom. Make sure you use a marker that will come out easily since part of the background fabric will show at the top.
5. Next lay your clamshells out in a pleasing manner, alternating 5 shells in the first row, then 4 in the next and so on. Number each shell on the freezer paper to keep track of the order to sew them down.
6. Remove the freezer paper from the first row of clamshells and use water soluable glue to tack the first row down. I placed small dots of glue in the seam allowance of each shell. If you look closely at the following pic, you can see the dots of glue. As you are laying your rows onto the back ground fabric, use the grid lines you drew onto the background fabric to make sure your placement is straight.
The side edges of each clamshell should slightly overlap as you tack them down with the glue.
7. To sew the rows of 5 clamshells down, begin and end sewing at the middle of the top curve of the first and fifth clamshell, slipstitching the top curve of each clamshell to the background fabric. I sewed each clamshell row with the same piece of thread and did not knot off the thread in between each clamshell and it worked great.
To sew the rows of 4 clamshells down, begin and end swing a the side of the top curve of each clamshell.
8. Making sure not to cut off any of your knotted thread ends from sewing the rows of clamshells into place, trim your background fabric 1/4" from the middle of each row of 5 clamshells on each side, 3/4" from the top of the curve of the first row of clamshells, and 1/4" below where the top curve ends on the sides of the bottom row of clamshells.
At this point, you could quilt your pillow top, although I didn't do any on mine. The quilting Mary did is lovely!
Then all you have to do is make the back envelope style or zippered, layer and bind.
I hope these steps will help if you decide to make a clamshell pillow! Can you see how if you start with a large enough piece of fabric for the background that you could do a whole quilt this way? In a weird way, it kind of excites me to make a large quilt using this method. It may take me years, but would be a great scrappy project to work on here and there.
Happy weekend to you!