Friday, 24 May 2013

Clamshells a Tutorial

Life has been a bit bumpy around these parts lately and I decided I needed a new hand stitching project to cheer me up and help me relax. For a long time now I've been wanting to try clamshells.


I posted the picture above on Instagram and Flickr and a lot of people said they wanted to try Clamshells too, so I thought I'd whip up a little tutorial so you can :)

You will need:
Squares of fabric
a strip of fabric approx 8" wide x however long you want your finished project to be (mine is about 20" long)
Some squared paper
Cardboard
Pencil
Kitchen foil
Plantpot/mug/bowl/something round to draw around I used a plantpot that is 4" in diameter
Needle, thread, scissors, iron

To make my Clamshells I am using a 5" charm pack. I chose Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille for Moda because it is summery and cheerful, but you could use scraps if you like.


Making a clamshell template is a lot easier than you think. Place your round object on the squared paper and try to centre it on the squares. Draw round it and then mark 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Use your markings to draw a circle the intersects at 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock, and another that intersects at 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. This gives you your clamshell template without seam allowances



Cut your template out and transfer it to cardboard.


Place your cardboard template on a charm square and draw round it using pencil (or whatever you prefer). You can mark your seam allowances if you wish, but I just eyeballed a 1/2" seam allowance and cut it out.










Take a piece of kitchen foil that is slightly larger than the cut clamshell, and place the cut clamshell on top, followed by the cardboard template. Carefully use the foil to fold the top curved edge of the clamshell around the cardboard template. Press with a hot iron. Allow to cool and gently remove the foil. You should have a lovely smoothly curved seam. The clamshell is now ready to be appliqued.


For the top row of clamshells I placed 4 clams along my fabric strip, making sure they were all level, with the sides just touching but not overlapping. (Sorry I hadn't started taking pictures at this point!) Pin them to the background strip and applique the top curved edge only. I hand stitched using small invisible(ish!) stitches, but you could topstitch if you prefer.


Once your top row is stitched in place you can begin layering the clamshells one row at a time, pinning and stitching the same way as the first row. You could go as big as you like! I'm planning an 18" cushion. When you layer each clam make sure the 12 o'clock position is lining up with the meeting point of the 2 clamshells directly above it.

Here is how it looks from the back to give you a better idea

Hope all that makes sense. If there are any questions, please give me a shout.

Happy Weekend!
Fiona x

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I hope things get better for you soon.

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  2. I had no idea foil was involved :) A nice new hand stitching project sounds just right for a cheer up. Take care and thanks for the tute.

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  3. Very lovely, definitely something to try. I hope the bumps smooth out soon. Juliex

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  4. wow that's fantastic Fiona! I have never seen foil used like that before, what a great idea! I can't wait to try this out!!

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  5. thanks for this fantastic tutorial, Fiona. Hope things get better and less bumpy soon.

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  6. Cheer up...this is loverly jubberly

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  7. I just saw something in clamshells the other day and thought 'that's something I'd like to give a try one day.' Thanks so much for making this new skill seem so accessible!

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  8. I'd never seen the foil method and this makes me want to give it a go because other ways I've seen to do it I can't see how you could get the clamshells to sit nice and flat. Must have a go now! Oh and hope things are less bumpy for you x

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  9. Yes yes yes!! I've been wanting to try them for ages! I've never seen this before and will definitely give it a try! Thank you!
    Hugs to you and hope you can relax making lovely clamshells with those beautiful fabrics :)

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  10. Thanks for the tute, especially the tin foil trick, never seen that before and what a great idea!

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  11. I love clamshells but I have only machine stitched them. A cushion is a great idea - hmm, I might have to make one. Thanks for the tute - pinned, so hope that's okay? Hope things get better for you soon.

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  12. Like Lucy and a few others I have this on my to do list too so thank for the tutorial!

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  13. That's so lovely of you to write up a tutorial so quickly! I've admired clamshells for a while, and this could be just the push I need. I love the foil trick! Have a great w/e x

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  14. Great tutorial Fi! And may the only bumps be those made by the clamshells!

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  15. Wonderful tutorial! This looks like a fun project I would love to try. I hope you have a great weekend :)

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  16. Great tutorial Fions. I am definitely going to give the foil method a go. Di x

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  17. Oooo I like this tinfoil method! Thanks for sharing x

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  18. Love the tin foil idea. Hope things are smoothing out for you soon :-)

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  19. They look great, hope they got you over the bumps!

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  20. Thank you, I have these on my list for one day. And you have solved my problem for how to get nice curves for my pickle dish eyes which I am going to applique in place, the foil will work for that perfectly.

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  21. It's going to be wonderful! Take care xxx

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  22. I've always wondered how you make those! And I hope the road smoothes out for you soon.

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  23. Thanks for sharing this and hope the clams and some wine helps with those bumps

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  24. What a clever clogs you are!! They actually look do-able! Xxx

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  25. Your foil ironing trick is super!

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  26. Brilliant idea to use foil! Jxo

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  27. That's a really clever trick with the foil. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  28. I tried this shell shape ohhh, it must be about forty years ago now, and it was a nightmare!! All the books said to do it just like any other EPP shape so I tried. It looked okay- ish, but I'd had enough long before it got to cushion size and abandoned it. What a brilliant tutorial Fiona, it's really tempting me to have another go. x

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  29. Just lovely, I have never sewn clamshells and like to have hand sewing on the go, I may have to give this a try before finishing my current project.

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  30. Oh my - so glad to have found this and so timely! The foil is a brilliant idea as I was wondering about ironing against a cardboard template - love your clamshells :)

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  31. So gorgeous! My readers at FaveQuilts would love to see more of your patterns.

    Kathryn

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  32. just found this while thinking about another hand piecing project and your tute is awesome!! I will def be trying them out this way! x

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  33. Just come across your blog via Jo at Bearpaw - I love these clamshells! Can't wait to give them a go :-)

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