Pearls on the Clamshell

I’m part of the Color Inspiration Club at Pink Castle Fabrics, and every month they send me ten half-yards of different solid fabrics. Before I put them on cards and store them in color order on my shelves, I cut off 2 2.5″ strips of each color, which I then sew together-cut apart-sew together again into wonky stripsets like you see below. Ella always shows up for the photo shoot, of course. 

The strip sets (usually around 10 feet long in total) hang around folded on my shelves until I decide what to do with them… usually I combine them with solids or tonal prints into a traditional or familiar block of some sort, because that seems to be the type of modern quilting that is most comfortable for me. Pure improv is a challenge for me, but this kind of improv I can handle. 

With this stripset, I decided to use the 6″ quarter circle templates by @bettycrockerass and Kona Snow, and make a bunch of drunkard’s path blocks. Glue-basting with Elmer’s washable school glue and the ultra fine tip applicators makes sewing these curves a breeze, even with all of the extra seams. 

I did a few blocks to see if I liked the effect before I committed to hacking up the rest of the strip set. I liked it, so I kept going. 

Oh, yes. 

Then I started to play with more traditional settings of the blocks. 

Yes, yes, yes! I was able to get 64 blocks out of that one stripset. Amazing! 20 2.5″ strips goes a long way! I did have to Frankenstein the last concave piece to get the 64th block, because I was NOT going to cut any more fabric. 

Then I started playing with arrangements. 

And I happened on this one. I loved the full circles that showed up. But I felt that it needed a border. 

I took the remaining 13″ of the bright pink fabric and made as many more blocks as I could. I was able to get halfway around. 

I considered having the other two borders in a different color (the seafoam green was the frontrunner) but Ella informed me that I was finished. 

After I got the longarm, I knew how I was going to quilt this one and I got a set of curved rulers from The Quilted Pineapple for that purpose, but I was terrified to start. Finally I just made a backing, loaded it, layered on cotton and wool batting, floated the top on the machine, and went for it.  

Maintaining a consistent width to the echoes while the circles changed circumference meant I had to switch rulers often, and it was an incredible learning experience. The quilting turned out even better than I anticipated! I loved bringing the double wedding ring design into the quilting and what it added to the piece. I bound it in the seafoam green on the unbordered edges and another piece of the same pink that was buried in my stash to continue the pink border. When I hung it up on the fence, I decided I liked this orientation better than when I had first put it up on my design wall. 

Please disregard any loose threads you might see… 

Friday loved looking at it and testing it for warmth as it came off the rollers. I think he approved!

The wool batting was a challenge because it was so fluffy on top of the cotton, so I had to do a lot of measuring and pinning to keep everything squared up. 

Considering it was my first real effort on the longarm custom quilting with rulers, I am very happy with how it turned out. I named it “Pearls on the Clamshell” because of the strings of pearls that seem to be superimposed over the string/Clamshell blocks.  

It’ll be at QuiltCon next weekend in Savannah, too!