Friday, May 13, 2016

Clamshell Table Mat Tutorial

Last week at the Morden Quilt Show I bought a 4" Clamshell die for the GO!.

I was undecided the first time I saw it because I was worried about how hard it would be to sew (especially after watching the Accuquilt promotional video for it - they made it seem so hard!). The second quilt show I saw the die at I bought it.
After making one project with it, this die is right up there as one of my favourites - right next to the little Tumbler die. I admit I am used to sewing curves - I am not a fan of Y-seams or paper piecing, but curves are fine.
At first I thought these would be small clamshells, but they are really quite big for clamshells - still a nice way to use smaller pieces of fabric though.
I am not affiliated with GO!, just love the products (I only buy dies for shapes that would be hard to cut by hand).

I precut my fabric to just over 4+3/4"squares, and cut the clamshells out. You can see in the above photo of the die that I marked little dots on the die with a silver Sharpie marker to make lining up the squares easier (I also added the lengthwise grain direction).
For this table mat I used 46 different fabrics and cut one clamshell out of each fabric.

The website recommends glue basting or using lots of pins, but I found that I only needed 5 pins for each clamshell (one at the beginning and end, and one on each matching notch),

and my handy-dandy serger tweezers (these always work great for tight curves).

I sewed the pieces together with the concave side on the top, and the new clamshell I was adding on the bottom (I tried the other way and it wouldn't work for me).

I repositioned between each pin and used the tweezers to pull the top fabric over as I sewed. I found the clamshells to be quite forgiving - they weren't all sewn perfectly, and they all still came out looking wonderful (spray starch helped for the final pressing).

I found that I really had to push the last couple of pins in far, otherwise they would fall out with all the repositioning needed. A tip is to take a small 'bite' with the pin at the stitching line when sewing curves - this is from a great Craftsy class on sewing curves.

The clamshells went together in rows, from the top down. The first row was stitched together for about 1" along the sides of the clamshells and the seams pressed open. The rest needed to be pressed after each additional clamshell was added, with the seams pointing towards the new clamshell.

 All the clamshells sewn together,

and trimmed ready for quilting.
I used two layers of batting since this will be a table mat for my coffee table.

Since this piece was a trial piece I decided to try out different free motion quilting designs in the clamshells (some of the designs became favourites, and some I didn't like, but I left them in - this will be helpful when I make a large quilt).

It works perfectly on the coffee table. The finished size it about 12"x24". It is quilted with 60Wt Bottom Line thread in the top and regular thread in the bobbin. I used 1+1/2" strips of fabric for a single binding. Normally I like a dark binding to frame the piece, but this time I used a fabric the same colour as the wood box, so it would blend in and make the clamshells pop out - it worked for me.

I realize that I share these tutorials on my blog for my own benefit - I can never remember how I made something! I have a few projects lined up before I will make a clamshell quilt, but I can't wait.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 29, 2016

This Week's Blocks

This month for the Westering Women BOM the block was Lone Elm.

It was so much easier than last month's block! I have always loved this block, but never made one before. This BOM is very interesting - Barbara Brackman has tidbits of history and photos to go along with each block.

All four of my blocks so far (12" blocks).

These are last week's and this week's blocks for the Circa 2016 QAL (3" blocks).

I have done some spinning recently -

Last time I showed a photo of this yarn being spun (now it is about 1400m, 450g sport/DK weight, 100% Merino yarn).

It started as this fibre that I dyed (two different colours, one for each of the two plies).

I am making a top-down cardigan (just making it up as I go along - the ribbing is the collar and the start of the front band).

I also spun this fibre - 50% Silk/50% Superwash Merino, that I dyed various shades of green (I am trying to step out of my comfort zone with colours).

Came out to about 360m, 110g fingering weight yarn, this one is 3 ply (I chain plied it to keep the colours).

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pineapple Blocks

I pieced a few more Pineapple Blocks -

16 blocks so far, so I am almost a third of the way through (16 of 49 blocks). These are 14" blocks.

This is what is on my needles an Arietta Shawl. I bought the yarn while on holiday in Montreal, it is alpaca and silk, so soft and lovely!

On my wheel is some blue merino that I dyed (I love these 'action shots' of the spinning wheel).

The last of the snow melted.
I am sure the birds should be at the feeder not a squirrel.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Knitting and More Blocks

 Here are some knitting projects I recently finished - 

A summer sweater made with Optim Merino wool. It is incredibly soft. This is my own pattern - just a top down, raglan cardigan. More details can be found on my Ravelry Project page.

It started out as white Optim fibre that I dyed and spun.

It was interesting fibre to work with. It took the dye differently than regular wool and I was amazed by how much it stretched.

I also finished knitting a pair of socks made with commercial yarn - Tanis Fibre Arts Blue Label, in the colour way Atlantic. This is my favourite yarn for socks. The pattern is Elm from the book 'A Knitter's Book of Socks'. I find that they are a bit too long in the leg and next time I would start in a different spot in the chart.

This is another Mobius cowl that I made - I love Mobius cowls, they are different to make and so easy to wear. The pattern is Viburnum Cowl - a free pattern from Knitty.

I used 100% Cashmere yarn that I spun and dyed - this was the first time that I dyed yarn after spinning (the cashmere was like fluff and I was worried about what would happen if I dyed it before spinning).

Here are some more QAL blocks -

365 Challenge
Circa 2016
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

365 Challenge Blocks

I finished sewing some more 365 Challenge blocks.

I have decided that I will just make the 3" blocks (and only the ones that I think will be enjoyable to sew - no more fiddly little pieces for me). So far I have 77 blocks made.

I have also decided that when I am finished making blocks I will piece them with alternating plain squares, and add some kind of border, probably pieced.

We are having some warm temperatures, so the last of the snow should melt soon.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 11, 2016

More QAL Blocks

This weekend I caught up on a couple of quilt alongs.

The first is Westering Women -

This is Sweet Gum Leaf. I was hesitant about this one because of the Y-seams, and the original pattern involved printing out templates (not my thing). Luckily measurements were added for the dimensions of the parallelograms and it made things a bit easier.

The parallelograms ended up being cut from 3" wide strips using the 45 on the ruler and being 2+3/4" wide - even easier.

For the stem I didn't use the template either but a bias tube made with a 1+1/2" wide bias strip and a 1/2" bias bar.

For the Y-seams I remembered that I had inherited a little tool to mark the seam allowance - how handy!

My Y-seams worked out! I used to pin to match the dots and stitched from the dot to the edge of the fabric (in the past I have tried pivoting at the intersection but that never worked).

The three WW blocks so far (12" blocks, one a month for the year).

Next are the Circa 2016 blocks

The ones I made this week (3" blocks, two identical blocks per week),

and all the blocks so far, (the piles of pinwheels, hourglass and nine patches from the beginning make the centre of the quilt - I just have to decide on the fabric I will use).

plus all the squares cut for the 120 1+1/2" half square triangles we will need (we found out the QAL will go until the beginning of October!). I am really enjoying this QAL.

At the beginning of March my husband and I took our first vacation without children (just a few days and tacked on to a business meeting for my husband). We went to visit some my relatives in a small town in Quebec  -

lots of snow

and a few days in Montreal -

Old Montreal

Plateau Mont Royal -

Beautiful spring flowers at the shopping centre in Laval-

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the impressive chocolate selection at the grocery store-

We had a lovely time, and our children managed fine (I knew they would, they are young men now).

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!