Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More QAL Blocks

It is always good to catch up on quilt along blocks!

These are 4 weeks worth of Circa 2016 blocks (3" blocks).

The tin is getting quite full (still lots more to make since this QAL goes until October).

The Westering Women block for May.

All five blocks so far (12" blocks, there will be 12 blocks - this QAL runs until December).

I was able to catch up on sewing inside today because it is windy, raining and cold outside.

front flower bed

All the rain is helping the garden grow.

vegetable garden

It is always exciting to see seeds sprouting! These are peas.

This bird house is full of babies and the sound of them chirping away is lovely

Beautiful blooms.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

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!
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