Creating Moonstruck — Making the Design into Something I Could Sew

In my previous post I showed how I developed the design (below) for Moonstruck.

With the overall design done, I next had to figure out how I could make this into a quilt top.  My plan was to use the rust-dyed fabric in the smaller circles (the Moons).  For the larger arcs, I planned to use an alternating green and blue gradation of over-dyed rust fabric–from light in the upper left to dark in the lower right.  The Moons were the focus and the arcs the background.

In the preliminary design (above) most of the Moons are bisected by arcs coming both from the upper left and the lower right.  I wanted to simplify the design, so for each Moon I picked one direction for its arcs and then deleted any arcs inside that Moon from the other direction.  Shown below is the upper right corner of the design.  On the left are the deleted arcs shown by the dashed blue lines.  On the right is the design after the arcs are removed.   Also, anywhere Moons overlapped, I chose which Moon was in front and deleted the hidden portion of the background Moon (see the red dashed line below).

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Once I had the design simplified I could think about how I would piece it together.  This is a key step because if I can’t piece it together I may need to change the design.  I use piecing techniques I learned from Ruth McDowell’s excellent book Ruth McDowell’s Piecing Workshop.  However, to keep things simpler, I always try to avoid any Y-seams and any inset pieces (I’m not good enough at sewing to handle these).  I also avoid any really small pieces (say 1 inch or smaller).

One of the keys of Ruth’s technique is to figure out what order to sew the pieces together in order to minimize (avoid) Y-seams.  Her guidance is “don’t start a seam until you can sew the entire seam from beginning to end.”

To figure out sewing order, Ruth’s book has better directions than I can give, but here’s how I do it.  I print the design on a piece of paper and then use colored pencils to indicate the sewing order.  Figuring it all out is like solving a puzzle.  Below is an example of my approach using a portion of the design.  In step 1, the seam indicated by the dark purple line runs from one edge of the design to another edge, so I know I can use this as one of the last seams I sew.  I need to figure out how to piece together all the pieces to the right of the purple seam.

In step 2, the pink lines indicate seams that I can sew from beginning to end using only two of the design pieces.  For example, I can sew piece 52 to piece 50.  In step 3, the lime green lines show some additional seams to sew using two of the design pieces.  Even though these are the same type of seams as in step 2, for me it’s easier to separate them so that it doesn’t look like I’m sewing the whole circle in one step.

In step 4 I start to sew together sections made up of more than one piece.  The gold line indicates the seam between the section outlined by the gray dashed line and the section outlined by the blue dashed line.

In step 5 I can sew the completed section (from step 4) to the semicircle at the bottom (blue line).  In step 6 three sections can be sewn together as shown by the two teal lines–the section outlined in pink is sewn to the blue section and the blue section is sewn to the yellow section.  In the final step (7), the semicircle at the top (piece 33) is sewn to the other sections along the orange seam, completing this portion of the quilt top.

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So that’s the process I follow.  Shown below is my first pass at defining the piecing order for Moonstruck.  Unfortunately, the small circle in the middle (pink arrow) caused me all sorts of problems with the piecing and Y-seams.  I added one more seam (the dashed orange line) to eliminate the problem.

Here’s the final design and piecing sequence plan.  I actually had an issue with this (see the pink circled area) when I started sewing the quilt top and had to make a few changes, but I didn’t update the plan.

Here’s the final pattern for the quilt top.  I number all the pieces and add registration marks to help me in sewing the top together.  More on this in the next post.

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As we all know… golf is a puzzle without an answer.
Gary Player

Colors must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel.
Hans Hofmann

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One thought on “Creating Moonstruck — Making the Design into Something I Could Sew

  1. Wow, thanks for that description of your process. I am exactly at this point in a new and complex curved design and found this post just in time!

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