It’s not too often I get excited by quilt blocks or new quilts. I love doing up sampler quilts and scrap quilts, but I also love complicated hand piecing and appliqué, and one idea keeps cropping up of a basic pieced clamshell shape, with the arc drafted for points like in a Mariner’s Compass or New York Beauty block. From there, you can take the idea anywhere if you can draft it.
Linda Franz has drafted up what she calls Clamshell Pickle and others call Clamshell Pickle Dish or Pickled Clamshells. She sells the pattern at Inklingo, where you can print the design right onto your fabric. She says it’s much easier to use Inklingo for this complicated printing piecing. It seems to be the only pattern available and costs $30.
I refuse to be dependent on my computer for printing and quilting so I would make hand piecing templates and forget printing on fabric. Thus, this pattern is overly expensive for my wants, so I thought I’d draft my own variation. This one has 11 triangles in the arc, and I saw someone else redraft it with 9 triangles in the arc.
I have the Electric Quilt 6 software, but I like to draw things out with graph paper so I bought an 11 x 17 inch pad of graph paper. Although liking the original Clamshell Pickle, I don’t have a lot of fancy large prints to fussy cut the centres, so I went looking for variations.
Then I found a scrap quilt by Karen Stone. Karen has a New York Beauty quilt pattern I’ve always fancied, however, she’s brought her eye for design to redrafted clamshells and although there is no pattern yet, you can see how inventive she has been in bisecting these and using appliqué inside the clamshell shape as well.
Ruth White is another quilter who has run with this idea in her New York Clambake series. Again, no patterns available but easy enough to draft with precision or more freeform as you wish.
You could draw up this sort of variation in several different blocks but piece them more conventionally with a light background fabric and traditional Clamshell layout. You can do whatever you want, which is what makes it exciting. You could use Gwen Marston’s ideas for “liberated” piecing of points and primitive appliqué.
I like to do do complicated settings and juggle prints around so this is an idea I’m seriously considering. I need to get out my old, old copy of Judy Mathieson’s book Mariner’s Compass: An American Quilt Classic now that I have a decent size of graph paper. Her drafting is meticulous on paper, but the idea of some wonky quilting à la Gwen Marston is appealing too.
The whole idea of making it up as I go along appeals to me. As I get older I worry about completing projects and leaving quilts unfinished. When something catches my mind like this I don’t want to let it go but I don’t want to make too big a project. What I might do is draft a few things out and incorporate them into what I call my “Blue Sampler Quilt” an oldie but goodie from the 1990s that I work on now and then.