Happy as Larry clamshell quilt

In the summer of 2016 I was lucky enough to attend a workshop taught by Latifah Saafir, hosted by my guild, Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. I love all of Latifah's work, and her glam clam pattern is brilliant.

I had fun picking out colors for this quilt. I wanted lots of candy colors, some pops of neon,denim, and some text prints. In picking my fabrics I studied one of Latifah's quilts, Neon and Neutral, that I have long admired. Her quilt inspired me to include the pops of neon and the text fabrics. Also, Kona pronounced Highlight their color of the year in 2016. I was seeing it everywhere and I wanted to try my hand at using it.

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It was amazing to use a die-cutter to cut all the clamshell pieces. It was my first time using one. I was able to borrow a guild-mate's cutter at a sew-in. Cutting these shells was so quick and easy! 

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I tried to make the layout pretty random, but with little clusters of color throughout the quilt. I'm so pleased without how this quilt looks. Clamshell quilts are so classic but I feel like the colors and prints here are really fun and fresh. This quilt just makes me happy. That's why I named it Happy as Larry. It's sort of a play on "happy as a clam." That seemed too on the nose, so I opted for another phrase that means the same thing. I first heard the phrase "happy as Larry" in the movie Strictly Ballroom, a mega-favorite from my youth. 

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Piecing the clamshells, row after row, can become a little tedious, especially as the quilt grows. By the last few rows I felt like I was really wrestling a beast under the needle. I felt so triumphant when I finished piecing this top. I had to celebrate. I finished this top at a Chicago Modern Quilt Guild retreat weekend, the perfect place to knock out a project. 

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Mitch Hopper took these photos of the final quilt for me. Nikki Maroon quilted it. Simple curves and grids, as per my request. 

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I tried something new for the back of this quilt. Society6 is a website where artists can upload their images, and customers can purchase them printed on a variety of products. So I ordered their product called a wall tapestry, with an image from a collage artist I've been following for several years, Ben Giles. The fabric is polyester, but it quilted up nicely, and I love the fun image on the back of the quilt.

A quilt for the Taylors

I needed to make a gift for our good friends.  They were expecting their second baby. But I hadn't made a quilt for their first baby, so the second baby couldn't get his own, right? That's my logic, anyway. So I thought a family quilt would be more appropriate. I made a large throw size quilt (75"x65"), big enough for Kristin and her little boys to snuggle with right now, but sorry, Colin and Taylor boys in the future, it's definitely going to be too short for you. Without really planning it, this quilt became a sampler for the classes I took at QuiltCon 2015. I learned to make the circles and pebbles in a class with Rossie Hutchinson. I also chopped up the doodle I made in Sherri Lynn Wood 's class and incorporated that into the patchwork. The construction of the top was improvisational and ruler-free. I thought much too long and hard about what to do with these blocks from my QuiltCon classes. In the end I threw them haphazardly on my design wall and loved this simple layout. I quilted this on my Juki 2010Q and it's far from perfect but I love it. I did echoes in a few spots and then straight lines or grids on the rest. I'm proud of this one. Everything came together beautifully.

 My "doodle" from Sherri Lynn Wood's class

My "doodle" from Sherri Lynn Wood's class

 Doodles, circles, and pebbles  

Doodles, circles, and pebbles  

 The finished top

The finished top

 {This actually turned out to be a trade, since Kristin Taylor is a talented artist. A quilt for an awesome portrait of my family. Thing is, I totally would have given this to them anyway. Suckers! JK, I love those guys.} 

 Quilt for the Taylors

Quilt for the Taylors

 I did a huge log cabin block for the back of the quilt.

I did a huge log cabin block for the back of the quilt.

Simple Shapes Alphabet Sampler

Last year I played with making letters using drunkards path and half square triangle blocks. I wanted to create the entire alphabet in a similar style. I created upper case, lower case, and condensed upper case letters, and put them all together in this quilt. My goal in designing each letter was to use the simplest piecing possible to clearly convey the shape of the letter. That's why I call this my Simple Shapes Alphabet.

 Quilt in my sketchbook  

Quilt in my sketchbook  

 Letters in progress  

Letters in progress  

 Preparing circles to be cut into quarter circles  

Preparing circles to be cut into quarter circles  

I hope to someday write up a pattern or tutorial for all of these letters.  They are really pretty simple and many quilters could probably figure out how to make them just by looking at them. A few tricky letters got special treatment, but they are for the most part comprised of whole squares, Drunkard's Path blocks, and half square triangle blocks. Pattern-writing is not my strong suit, so it might take a while for it to happen.  But I'll get to it one of these days.

 Top in progress  

Top in progress  

 Competed quilt  

Competed quilt  

The fabrics for this quilt were generously provided by Andover fabrics. They are mostly Lizzy House prints and Andover's textured solids. I loved working with them. When trying to figure out the layout of the letters and how to use the colors I had been sent, Carrie's Bradshaw's curtains (from the early seasons) came to mind.  I love the big grey and coral stripes.

Quilted by Nikki Maroon. Finished quilt measures 77"x93".

Soft Geese for Grandma

A year and a half ago, my dad's mom, my last living grandparent,  moved out of her home and into a small apartment attached to a nursing home.  We had been wanting her to move closer to family for a long time.  So while we were happy she was finally living closer to my parents, so they could look in on her from time to time, the move was very hard on her.  I wanted to provide a bit of comfort, if I could. 

 piecing in progress

piecing in progress

I chose colors and floral prints I thought Grandma would like. I included quite a bit of double gauze in the quilt which made it extra soft.  I worked from a pattern called Bows and Braids by Jocelyn Ueng. The final quilt measures 58"x68". I had it quilted by Sarah Wilson of crinklelove.

 completed quilt

completed quilt

 back of the quilt

back of the quilt

My grandma was 89 and healthy when I started this quilt, and she was 90, hospitalized, and rapidly declining when I finished it. When she unwrapped it, with help, from her hospital bed, she said, "I don't think anyone has ever spent so much time on me before." This from a woman who had knitted and crocheted countless items for others through the years. I regret that we only had three more weeks with my grandma after that moment. I wish I had given her a quilt earlier, that she could have used and enjoyed longer. But I'm glad she had it for a time, for warmth and comfort in unfamiliar beds, and to know how much she was loved.

 binding

binding

 hand-stitched label on back of quilt

hand-stitched label on back of quilt

My grandma has been gone for almost a year. Her quilt now lives at my mom's house. I love seeing it when we go home to visit. 

 my grandma's high school yearbook.  I love her quote. 

my grandma's high school yearbook.  I love her quote. 

 Grandma in 1959

Grandma in 1959

 My grandma with my dad

My grandma with my dad

 me with grandma

me with grandma

 the quilt displayed at her funeral

the quilt displayed at her funeral