Try your hand at free motion quilting on your domestic/home-sewing machine with this clamshell pillow created by Jen Eskridge of Reanna Lily Designs. This project features quilting designs from her new quilting resource book, The Quilted Clamshell, a collection of over 70 quilting designs to fit into a classic clamshell shape. This reference book is a guide to developing your own unique designs using three simple variables. Sketch, plan, and quilt confidently.the-quilted-clamshell-collage-jen-eskridge



Prepare Clamshell Template

Print the clamshell template two or three times. One will be used as a tracing template, the others will be used to draw practice designs.

Using a quilter’s ruler, draw a horizontal line from across the clamshell connecting right and left corner points. 

Use the marks on the quilter’s ruler to draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line and through the lower point of the clamshell.

Cut out the marked clamshell template.

For this project, we will draw and then stitch three basic shapes into the clamshell shape. More designs can be found in my new book, The Quilted Clamshell.  Over 25 shapes are featured with tips for how to create over 70 quilting designs to fit into the class clamshell shape. This reference book is a guide to developing your own unique designs using three simple variables.

To begin, grab a piece of scratch paper to practice a long teardrop, a hook, and a flat wedge shape with pen or pencil. Make them any size and vary the direction of the hooks. This will help your muscle memory as you stitch with the free motion quilting foot.

Great! Now take those shapes and practice drawing them in the clamshell template pages. The pointed end of each shape meets at the lower point of the clamshell. I choose to make symmetrical designs. These are the two used in the clamshell pillow project.

Notice I stacked a thin teardrop inside a chubby teardrop shape in the second design.

Prepare the Fabric

Cut the solid fabric into a 22” x 22” square. Press.

Fold the fabric in half. Press the fold line.

Open the square. Fold in half in the other direction. Press the new fold line.

Use the fold lines to find the exact center of the square.

Align the marked clamshell crosshairs with the horizontal and vertical pressed lines.

Trace this clamshell with the water soluble pen. 

Use the crosshairs on the clamshell to keep the shapes in perfectly straight lines. Trace the vertical and horizontal clamshells first.

 Fill in additional clamshell shapes once the horizontal and vertical grid is traced. I traced a total of 11 shapes. You may choose to trace as many or as few as you like.

Here’s my clamshell placement, which started with three vertical shapes and three horizontal shapes.

Quilt the Clamshell

Using traditional quilting methods, create a quilt sandwich by layering the remaining solid fabric, batting and the marked pillow top. Baste with pins across the quilt.

Set up your sewing machine with quilting thread in the needle and bobbin. Change the presser foot to a walking foot, and if your machine has an extension table, set that up.

If you are using machinger gloves to get more traction on the fabric as you move it around, put them on now.

Start at one corner of a traced clamshell and carefully stitch along each marked line.

At each lower point of the clamshell, stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot and pivot the project.

To keep the future background quilting fill design from crashing into the cluster of clamshells, I opted to outline the cluster 1/8” from the outermost traced lines.

Switch the presser foot to a free motion quilting or hopping foot.

To quilt the design, I opted to alternate which quilting fill would be in each clamshell. When stitching, notice the project appears upside down. Keep the clamshells where you can see what you are stitching.

Create the first design by starting at the lower point of the clamshell. Gently stitch a single long teardrop. 

Work up from the lower point to “draw” a hook on one side of the teardrop. 

Using the first hook as a guide, emulate the size and shape on the flip side of the teardrop.

To create the second design, start at the clamshell lower point. Stitch a chubby teardrop.

Stitch a thinner teardrop to fill the space within the first shape.

Add a flat wedge shape to the right and left sides of the center.

Once the shapes are quilted, choose any quilting fill design you prefer to fill in the background space. I opted for an easy straight-line design. For really straight lines, switch back to the walking foot and mark guide lines with the water soluble pen and ruler. These organic lines (shown below) are created with the free motion quilting foot.

Use a damp cloth to remove the water soluble pen. You may opt to completely submerge the piece to remove the ink, as well.

Once the small quilted piece is dry, trim it to 21” x 21”.

Prepare the Pillow Back

From the print, cut two pieces 15” x 21”.

On each piece, fold ½” towards the wrong side along one 21” side. Fold a second time to create the hemmed edge.

To hem, straight stitch 3/8” from the folded edge.

Overlap the two hemmed edges to create a 21” x 21” square. Pin and baste the overlap along the right and left sides.

Lay the basted envelop back right side down. Lay the clamshell quilted square on top, right side up. Pin the layers together and with a walking foot, baste around the perimeter within the 1/8” seam allowance.

Bind the Pillow

Cut two pieces of print fabric 2-1/2” x width of fabric.

Join the short ends to create the binding. Press binding in half along length.

Using a walking foot, apply the binding to the printed envelop back side of the pillow using a ¼” seam allowance.

Press binding away from the pillow interior.

Fold the binding around to the quilted front of the pillow. Edge stitch the binding in place along the binding’s pressed folded edge.

The pillow is finished!

Share your Quilted Clamshell on Instagram using the hashtag #thequiltedclamshell.