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  • Irina

English paper piecing - Clamshells. Part 1

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Clamshells - beautiful and fascinating epp shapes.

I have always wanted to make them. For some reason it seemed very difficult. After reading many on-line tutorials I came up with my own method and I would like to share the process and what works for me.

in this blog post I will talk about paper pieces, glue basting and preparing for sewing.

1. Paper pieces

You can either print templates and cut your own papers or buy pre-cut clamshells that come in different sizes. For the first 100 clamshells I made, I cut the templates myself. It is quite tricky to cut them precise and takes a lot of time.

From experience I know that pre-cut paper pieces are slightly thicker, easier to work with and re-usable. So for the second batch of clamshells I opted for pre-cut pieces. It made a huge difference for the glue basting in terms of getting smooth curve.

2. Glue basting

Apply a dab of Sewline glue on the back size of the paper shape and stick the shape to the wrong side of fabric. Cut with fabric scissors with the seam allowance 1/4 - 3/8 inches.

Apply the glue around the curve of the paper piece away from the edge.

Starting from one side baste the shape, slightly turning the piece as you go. There is a short video how I do that on my IG account @nordiccrafter. Unfortunately, I can´t upload it here.

If you feel that the curve is not smooth, simply pull the fabric from the paper piece, add some glue and baste again.

Iron the basted shapes from both sides.

3. Sewing clamshells in a row

Make a crease on the fabric by folding it over the end of paper piece or mark it with water erasable pen.

Take 2 clamshells and sew 2-3 whip stitches at the crease mark.

Sew pairs into a row.

I tend to prepare few rows at once. If you have, for example, 9 clamshells in the 1st row, there are 10 in the 2nd, 9 in the 3rd etc.

4. Marking the center of clamshells

Mark the center of the curve on each clamshell by holding the sewn points together and making a crease at the top of the curve (I am pointing with scissors at the point where you need to fold).

Mark it with the pen. Those markings are necessary for proper alignment of your clamshells for sewing.

In the next blog post I will explain how I applique clamshells on the fabric.

Happy prepping!

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