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 announced Highlight as 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 with that tool.

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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 with 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.

My first quilt swap

A fine gentleman on instragram recently  organized a mini quilt swap and I thought it would be fun to jump in.

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I was assigned a partner and commenced stalking her IG feed.  She seemed to like subtle colors and beautiful, small scale floral prints.  I had recently purchased a some pre-cut London of Liberty florals in a rainbow of colors, so I decided they would be my main fabrics.  I decided on a plus quilt.  There are so many great design options when laying out a plus quilt, and I spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at inspiring quilts.  I ended up basing my layout on this gorgeous quilt by Megan of  City Stitches. 

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I used a variety of whites and greys for my background, since I had them on hand from another project.  I wanted to add something a little special, so I decided to make teeny tiny wonky stars for the center of each plus. I tried to use contrasting colors to make each star, but sometimes they ended up blending in with the plus more than I intended.  The stars were so small that sometimes the secondary colors in the prints came to the forefront, and the stars didn't stand out as much as I thought they would.  It bothered me at first, but then I decided to embrace it as another design element.  Some stars that pop out, and some that blend in.  I had this quilted by Nikki Maroon and she did a beautiful job.  The finished piece measures 24" square.

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It was fun to make this quilt and see my partner leaving comments about how much she loved it as I posted progress pics, since she didn't know it was intended for her.  I didn't have to worry about whether she would like it.  I already knew.  I also really enjoyed picking out extras to send with her quilt.  Paper Source is an excellent place to buy swap extras, it turns out.  I didn't take a picture of those, but I think I sent some washi tape, a notebook, a candle, and some candy.

I received a fabulous quilt from another IG user, which you can see here.  All in all, a successful swap.  I'll definitely do another when I have the time.