Sunday, 8 July 2018


Splendid Sampler 2 - Clamshells by Helen Stubbings 

This block was extremely challenging, and not just for me.  Lots of others in the Faceoook group have said the same.  Clamshells are a really odd shape.  You can't just cut and machine stitch like you can with normal shaped patchwork.  These need to be prepared before you can stitch them together by hand, and it's quite difficult to get a smooth, round shape.

I followed the instructions that were given with the block, watched a video or two on Youtube and made a right mess of it.  You have to cut out a template, stick it to the back of the fabric, cut 1/4 inch around the template and then fold over that seam allowance and stick it down.  Glue got everywhere and I lost the roundness completely.  I couldnt get the template out so had to sort of cut it out but was left with half of it still left in.

Thought I could just do it by cutting out the shapes and just applique them to the background by machine. This did work, but it didn't look very good.   I left it a day or two and then started thinking again.  The clamshell shape is basically a circle with the sides cut out.  I thought that if I just made circles and layered them I could get the same effect. I'm a fan of Lori Holt and she does applique shapes using interfacing so I loooked it up and gave it a try.

I drew circles onto lightweight fusible interfacing.  Placed it bumpy side down on top my fabric which was right side up. Then I machine stitched all the way around the circle right on the drawn line.  Then cut a small cross in the centre of the interfacing and carefully turned them right sides out.  Carefully poked the edges to make a nicely rounded shape and finger pressed the edge. I layered them onto the block and ironed them in place. I then used invisible thread to handstich them in place.  One problem with using invisible thread is that you can't see it!  I didn't want to see the stitches when I'd finished but I would have liked to be able to see it to thread the needle!  Quite a long-winded process but it gave reasonably pleasing results.

I like to make a little story for my blocks if I can and so I chose a blue background to represent sky and scrappy greens  for my clamshells to make it look like rolling hills.  I embroidered all three flowers in red for impact.  There was a lot of bare blue sky so I embroidered a couple of little butterflies as well.

It was a long process but I got there in the end.  I actually enjoyed working this one and seeing how I could get better results with a little bit more effort.  At one point I was stitching away on the machine between 2 and 4 in the early hours of the morning as it was so hot and I couldn't sleep.

Time to make:  20 hours (at least)  No of pieces:  10

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