How to Quilt Clamshells in a Continuous Stitching Line
The quilting lines pictured above are in a continuous line. One single stitching line is made, without breaking or stopping, to create the whole design in the body of this imaginary quilt.
Here’s the path you’ll travel to quilt your filled clamshell quilt pattern in a single line:
This is one of the ways I stitch. There are other ways.
First, start across the top outlining the arches or seam lines of the first row of clamshell pieces, working from left to right. I recommend using quilting rulers on a domestic or longarm machine to create all the outlined curved shapes.
When you get to the last arch, change directions:
Ok, now here’s the fun part: When you reach the lower point, start stitching up into the clamshell using any design you choose. If you need a resource for design elements and ideas to fill a clamshell shape, check out the book The Quilted Clamshell. The design featured here is included in the book.
Select a design that starts and stops at the lower point.
Notice there is no lower left arch when stitching the fill design (above). Use a water soluble marked line or the clamshell seam line as your guide to contain the quilted fill design. When you’ve finished stitching the fill design, the needle should be back at the lower point.
Use rulers to travel up and over to the next lower point. Once there, you can repeat the fill design.
Ok. No problem. Keep on this arch + fill rhythm until you reach the left side. When you reach the final lower point, trace up to the left to complete the clamshell shape. Keeping your ruler in the same position, trace right back down to the lower point and into the next row of clamshells.
From here, hop back into the arch + fill motions again pausing at the lower point to create the next arch.
Ok. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I think you’ve got the hang of it.
Once you have filled the clamshell shapes on the quilt, you may find it necessary to fill in the shapes around the edges. Easy stuff, though there may be starting and stopping involved. For the main body of the quilt, though, this arch + fill works well for me.
Watch this tutorial in action on my youtube video here:
Can you quilt clamshells on a home sewing machine?
I’m so glad you asked! Yes, you certainly can.
As you may know, I recently launched my fourth book, The Quilted Clamshell. In most of the promotion for the book, I’m using my HandiQuilter Avante 18″ longarm. The cool thing about the design process in the book is that you can also quilt them on a domestic home sewing machine. Heck, you can even hand quilt them if you like.
To practice the designs, first trace the clamshell stencil shape from page 46 of the book. If you’d like to use the larger clamshell shape, use the shape on page 47. I used a non-permanent Frixion marking pen to trace. (amazon link)
Make a traditional quilt sandwich with a backing fabric, batting layer and top layer of the quilt. Pin those three layers together every 6″ or so, using straight pins.
Use a walking foot to outline the traced clamshell shapes and I set up my machine with the extension table to make the quilt move under the needle easier.
I opted to trace along the lines in white thread. Turns out, you cannot see that too well in pictures.
Once all the clams were stitched out, I used my iron to remove the red marked lines.
I also switched threads so you’d be able to see the designs a bit better.
Change the walking foot to a free motion quilting (hopper) foot for quilting.
When quilting on my domestic home sewing machine, I always wear Machinger Gloves. (amazon link) I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but they really are a game-changer. They will make your stitches more accurate, give you more control, and save your shoulders from soreness.
I had a few shapes to play with on this small sample piece. Quilt them in willy-nilly using the three variables described in The Quilted Clamshell. No two will be the same!
I used a very old piece of cotton batik fabric on the back. This batik came from Joanns… maybe 12-14 years ago or so. I think it is the last scrap of it in my house. Hum. It only took a few years to use, but good gravy, I used it!
And there you have it: Clamshell quilting designs on a home sewing machine.
If you’d like to learn how to create an endless collection of quilting fills designed to fit a traditional clamshell shape, check The Quilted Clamshell in print at amazon.com or in e-book here in the ReannaLily Designs shop.
The Quilted Clamshell Videos!
Each of the videos stitches a single clamshell shape. The Quilted Clamshell books gives you resources to create these designs and many more by simply manipulating three variables.
In the videos, I’m using my HandiQuilter Avante 18″ longarm quilting machine. You can certainly stitch these designs on a domestic home sewing machine. I’m also using pre-printed clamshell fabric panels from Spoonflower in the demonstrations.
The first quilted clamshell (below) starts at the bottom point of the clamshell and features two designs: loops and points.
I’m still working on lighting and thread choices to make better videos, but in the meantime….
The second video shows the easiest and most basic quilting design, in my opinion – Loops. Yep. Loops start at the bottom of the clamshell and work their way up the shape. See how it is done here:
I altered the soft loop design to add pointed edges on the right and left sides. I call this shape the Fire Guy. See how he looks in this next clamshell.
These videos are all part of a video playlist on Youtube, which means I’ve added a collection of The Quilted Clamshell videos into one list which will play one-after-another as you watch. I hope you like them!
The Clamshell Quilt Panel
Today, I’d like to show you a few quilting designs from the new book as they are featured on a Clamshell Cheater Quilt. You read that right! Thanks to the digital print-on-demand magic over at Spoonflower.com, I’m able to design, print and offer Clamshell Baby Quilts printed and ready for quilting.
The panels are currently offered in pink, blue and yellow, and can be picked up in a variety of fabrics. Get your panel directly from Spoonflower.com.
This weekend, I was working with the yellow panel. The panels are designed in one-yard lengths, but could easily be purchased in a pack of four and stitched together. As shown below, digitally, this quilt without any borders would measure 72″ x 80″ and would have a horizontal and vertical seam.
Using the three design variables outlined in The Quilted Clamshell, this panel turned out really unique. You will not get bored using the design methods in book!
I decided to feature a different design in each of the shaded clamshell shapes. By changing the variables, a quilter could really have a infinite designs. For this panel, I quilted 30 designs and 20 clam stencil shapes. See how I quilted a few of these clams in this Youtube playlist.
I opted to leave the white clamshells reasonably un-quilted. They simply showcase a smaller clam created with HandiQuilter’s Handi VersaTool longarm quilting ruler. If you are working on a domestic home-sewing machine or don’t want to mess with rulers, you can trace the clamshell shape on page 46 of The Quilted Clamshell to use as a stencil.
For this quilt, I used thick needle-punched batting. It really makes the quilting designs puff.
The clamshell panels look great with solid binding.
I cannot wait to see how you use the panels and how you quilt your clamshell! Use the hashtag #thequiltedclamshell to share.
Introducing The Quilted Clamshell!
I’m so happy to finally share news about my fourth book, The Quilted Clamshell! The Quilted Clamshell is a collection of over 70 quilting designs to fit into the class clamshell shape. This reference book is a guide to developing your own unique designs using three simple variables. Sketch, plan, and quilt with confidence!
The book is a method to develop quilting designs. As a longarm quilter, time is invested in researching perfect designs to compliment customer quilts. In that research, I noticed there seemed to be a gap in designs where the clamshell was concerned. I doodled and drew as research for my own Glam Clam project. After some time, I noticed I approached the design process in the same manner: manipulating three variables. The Quilted Clamshell was born.
Unlike my other books, The Quilted Clamshell is entirely self-published. The book is available through Amazon and as an ebook through ReannaLily Designs shop. Self-publishing is quite an adventure in and of itself. (That will be a blog post for another time!)
Watch how easy it is to create unique clamshell designs in this video collection: The Quilted Clamshell on Youtube.
See the process for creating quilted clamshells using a domestic home sewing machine. It is a piece of cake!
See how I quilted the clamshell designs in one continuous quilting line by following the path outlined in this blog tutorial.
Make sure to LIKE ReannaLily Designs on Facebook to see quilting videos demonstrated from the book.
- Paperback: 50 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (June 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1534940278
- ISBN-13: 978-1534940277
- CreateSpace Title ID: 6378841
Swirl Border Longarm Quilting Design
Today I’m sharing a fantastic customer quilt with a swirl border longarm quilting design. Take a closer look at how I created the machine quilted design in the wide border:
The wide swirl border design is stitched on HandiQuilter Avante 18″ longarm quilting machine. Pure Elements, Nocturnal, by Art Gallery Fabric with Iris Glide Thread. Dreamy! The video above is 1.75x speed.
The border went together smoothly.
Rising Star Quilt Block in Fabric Scraps
It will take a little while to cut all the scraps, but I think it will be worth it. I decided to make a two sample blocks using white/off-white background colors and fabric scraps from the “blues” bag for the foreground color.
I first chose my scraps by size: Will this piece be big enough for the four squares I need to cut. Then I sorted again based on value: Will this blue appear dark enough next to a neutral background fabric.
Here’s a tip for cutting into your fabric scraps– Make durable templates. These are cut from extra comic book boards, which were previously used when refolding/organizing yardage. I lay the templates on my fabric scrap to see if it is big enough to work with. It is wonderful; no surprises when cutting. Once I know the piece is usable, I still rotary cut my shapes.
First step, make half square triangles.
I make them without marking the center diagonal lines. Watch this video to see how it is done with the Seamingly Accurate Seam Guide—
Once the smaller and larger triangles were complete, I was able to arrange my test blocks.
My block will finish 16″ x 16″. I plan on making 30 of them and having one really large quilt or possibly two small ones. I haven’t decided yet.
I’m happy to report the blue blocks went together really well.
The neutral/white background pieces are cut and in the project ziploc bag. I’ll now start cutting into all the fabric scrap color bags to create an additional 28 blocks. Who knows when this guy will be finished. =) It will be that on-going, pack-for-retreat project. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
Sorting Fabric Scraps
When the bin is out of control, it is time to sort fabric scraps! I really enjoy the “messy” look of a good scrap quilt. Turns out, though I really also enjoy complete organized order in trying to create the scrap quilt look. Shame.
As the bins fill up, I start looking for scrap quilt ideas. I think my next scrap project will be based off this block in the Sister Sampler book by AnneMarie Chany of Gen X Quilters. (amazon link) Here’s a few scrap quilts I’ve made in the past.
I sort by color. I know many quilters sort by value or by scrap size. Me, nope. I go with straight up color families. (sorry about the blur)
Working on the floor, I pull whatever color is on top and fold it neatly in a pile. Off white/beige and grey fabrics get their own color pile.
What about fabrics that seem to have many colors mixed in?
If there is a main background color, I use that as my sorting indicator. For example, if there are 10 colors of flowers all on a pale green background, that fabric is going in the greens.
If there is no discernible background color, for me, I go with a knee-jerk reaction and think, “Which color do I see first.” OR “Which color will I most likely match first.” Strangely, in these cases, I most often end up putting the fabric in with the blues. I love blues.
What do I do with fabric scrap piles?
My fabric scrap piles are sorted in to gallon ziploc bags. (amazon link) The ziploc bags are then added back into the sorted plastic bin (amazon link), in color order. Any apparel fabric or blocks-in-progress or fabric collections are put back into the second fabric bin. The second bin still acts as a catch-all near my sewing machine.
Sometimes my husband’s cats like to lay in the fabric scrap bin. The ziplocs also help in the fight against the fur.
Once the ziplocs are full, it is time to make another scrap quilt! My personal goal is to have every piece of fabric I own be in at least two quilt projects. So far, so good!
Geometric Longarm Quilting Lines
I’m so excited to share these geometric longarm quilting lines on my latest customer quilt. She’s given me permission to share images online. The whole quilt is pieced fantastically and created in this style.
With quite a bit of negative space, this quilted needed a design to compliment the overall design and I felt it needed to still replicate the geometric look of squares floating on a grey.
When the needle arrived at the floating foreground, I added more organic quilting lines within the blocks. This time around I was trying Surelock thread by Coats and Clark (amazon link) in the needle with Superior thread pre-wound bobbins underneath. I have to say, the surelock was definitely strong enough for the task.
Almost every block has a different quilting motif within the shape. Borders have continuous feathers, some squares have a clam shell design stitched (above) and others have waves, pointed swirls, chevrons, stacked teardrops, and infinity loops. It is a collection.
You can see the feather design pretty well in the picture below.
Pointed swirls and feathers featured below here, too.
Hopefully the geometric design lines crashing into the organic foreground will work for my customer. I love how it turned out. It is modern and relaxed and interesting and varied.
Whole Cloth Quilting Skill Builder
Now with CIRCLES
I recently created a little tutorial for a whole cloth quilting skill builder design. You can find that post here. It was a really fun project where you take a template, which you can download, trace out all the lines onto your fabric, then quilt different fill designs within spaces. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Well, I decided to develop a second template. (I can see me going down a rabbit hole…. )
With both skill builder designs I wanted to have a small quilt to practice:
- Filling in shapes with different designs
- Consistency in the filling motifs
- Ruler work
- Speed & Confidence
The template is designed in Adobe Illustrator and fits on a 40″ square of fabric. The design itself is 38-1/2″ x 38-1/2″. The plan was to make a quilt that is big enough to practice on and small enough to not have a large financial commitment. Does that make sense? It is 1-1/8 yard of fabric. I used pieced batting scraps inside the design and pieced some scraps for the quilt back.
I also chose this size for my whole cloth because it would be easy enough to trace out four designs to create a much larger bed-size quilt.
That is pretty neat, right? However, there’s no way I wanted to print a bunch of pages, tape them together and have a 38-1/2″ piece of paper. Designing just a quadrant solved the problem. Hooray! It prints on only 6 pages. Click here to download the quadrant pdf for yourself.
Using the whole cloth skill builder design:
Fold your fabric in half lengthwise and width-wise to find the center and mark the exact vertical and horizontal guide lines. Press.
Tape or pin the printed design quadrant to a wall (or use window to act as a light board).
Align the pressed vertical and horizontal lines with the edges of the quadrant. My fabric is light, so I can still see the lines though the weave.
Trace all the design lines onto the fabric using a water soluble marker. I know the picture has a whole lotta blue coming at ya. Sorry about that. Blue fabric. Blue pen. Blue lines. Oh my!
To trace the entire design, remove the fabric. Turn it 90 degrees and trace the quadrant again. Repeat this step to finish out the design. Remember to align the folded centers with each rotation.
For this second skill builder sample, I only traced and stitched one quadrant. (And yeah, probably should have ironed my fabric first.)
Deciding to Quilt
With the small quilt loaded onto my Handi Quilter Avante 18″, I decided to start in the upper left corner. If this was a whole radial design, I would have started in the center and worked my way out.
You can certainly use this template with any quilting style. Domestic machine quilting, hand quilting or longarm quilting.
Using rulers to guide me, stitched directly on a few of the blue marked lines first.
I started by wanting to make some kind of wild feather in the upper left. As it turns out, I didn’t like the feather much and thought I could “save” it by quilting very densely around it, still within my marked lines. That is not my favorite.
I also tried my hand at straight lines converging on a point. Eh. Those are alright, I guess. It is a skill builder, after all.
I used my Creative Memories Circle Cutter, from 10 years ago, (instead of a ruler) to stitch out my circle shapes. The cutting system is the perfect height to use with my machine foot.
Once I had the circles in place, I decided my planned/stitched shapes needed some altering. No problemo- seam ripper to the rescue.
That is the beauty of the no-pressure, no-real-plan whole cloth skill builder. If you don’t like something, don’t stitch it. If you want bigger shapes, make ’em. Easy stuff. Dive in!
Ok. Those fills within the circle look a bit lumpy, but they were really fun to make.
Next, I wanted to try some curved cross-hatch quilting designs. I found a perfect spot for some of those. Each fill is just a few square inches. That is a really comfortable easy approach to making this whole cloth. For me, it certainly beats feeling overwhelmed with an intricate & planned design.
The design is coming together.
Ok. Now I needed to fill in (what would have been) the cool center section. I had stitched feathers and an arrow shape of “C’s,” all based on marked lines.
Oooh- now to do something more with my circle rulers. I needed to practice them more so I decided to “echo” the arch a bit. I filled in with fat 1″ pebbles. Those… well, it is a skill builder…
I moved back to the top and left sides to add in more “C’s” and more feathers.
Ok. so here’s how the whole thing came together:
From way back here, it looks pretty cool. I totally wish I had traced all four quadrants.
Here it is side-by side with the template. It might give you an idea of which lines I opted to use and which lines I bailed on.
And because I love Photoshop & wished I had done the whole quilt design, I went ahead and roughly made myself a virtual quilt.
Ok. Now that I love. I’m going to have to make this one again. (I will not be doing that dense fill around that feather wedge though. That looks a bit crazy to me, but there’s no way I’m pulling out those stitches.)
One of the coolest parts about the skill builder quadrant is it will be different each time anyone makes it. Pick and choose whatever lines you want to follow. Fill with whatever designs you are working on at the time. Go as detailed or as loose as you feel comfortable. I just love it. It is a choose your own adventure book for longarm quilting.
If you give it a go, I’d love to see it!
And lastly, I noticed when I did the first skill builder, I was able to practice a design/fill at least four times (making all four quadrants) and by that last space my fill started looking good. You know, the way practice is supposed to work. I think by only doing one quadrant this time, I didn’t get the full practice in each design. Always learning, right?