Shimmer Quilt – Part 1

This next series of posts will explore the process of creating a new quilt inspired by shimmering sunlight and shadows reflecting off the rippling surface of Lake Michigan.

My initial starting point was this selection of ombre fabric. I’d never worked with fabrics like this before, so I thought it would be a fun challenge to come up with a design that would take advantage of the gradated colors. 

Ombre fabric from

The next step was to think about what kind of shape or shapes I wanted to work with. I’ve never worked with clamshells before, but I’ve always loved them. It seemed to me that clamshells would lend themselves to the kind of organic movement I had in mind.  

I decided to work with 3″ clamshells. I’m very comfortable piecing curves, but I figured that the small scale of my clamshells, combined with my shaky hands, could be a bit of a pain to piece. I decided to see if I could come up with an alternate method that would allow me to still be very precise. Could you combine traditional paper piecing with invisible machine applique? I decided to find out. 🙂

I downloaded 3″ EPP (English Paper Piecing) clamshell templates from Helen Stubbings, and printed them onto Wash-Away Applique Sheets from C & T.  Connor cut them out for me – all 128 of them! – since I quickly found that my hands just weren’t steady enough to get the perfectly accurate cuts I needed. (Thank you, Connor!)

I ironed the templates to the backside of my fabrics – carefully lining the templates up with the color gradation in the fabric.

I was quite careful where I placed each template on the backside of my fabrics.

I cut out each piece, eyeballing a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Connor was off the hook – I could cut everything this time around, since the seam allowances didn’t need to be exact.)

Sorting my fabrics into groupings – starting to get an idea of how I might arrange them…

So far, so good!

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Beth Ann

When health challenges made hand-sewing (and hand appliqué and hand-quilting) no longer physically viable for her, Beth Ann’s first instinct was dismay and discouragement. But Grandma Baldwin gave her a loving (but stern!) “No pity parties – just figure out a different way.” So Beth Ann turned to her trusty sewing machine and began devising ways to achieve the fine quality appliqué look she craved faster and easier than she ever thought possible. And a career was born! Now Beth Ann enjoys sharing her accessible “invisible” machine appliqué and creative machine quilting techniques with other quilters and fiber artists around the world.

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