Creating Moonstruck — Picking the Right Colors

In my previous post I showed how I developed the final quilt pattern (below), including the order of piecing, for Moonstruck.  On the quilt pattern, I numbered each piece and added registration marks along the seams so that I’ll be able to line up the pieces when I sew them.


Once I decide how large I want the quilt top to be, I print out a full-size version of the pattern (using the print tiling function on my printer).  I tape the pages together and hang the pattern on my design wall. 

For the pattern pieces I use freezer paper to create the templates (see Ruth McDowell’s Piecing Workshop book for more detail).  To print them on the freezer paper I first need to break the pattern into pieces that will fit the size paper I’m using (example on the right).  Once that’s done, I print out all the pieces in mirror image, making sure to print on the dull side of the freezer paper.  Next step is to cut out each piece.  Note:  I used to use 8.5 inch by 11 inch freezer paper, which often meant that pieces wouldn’t fit on a single piece of paper and I’d have to tape together multiple sheets.  I’ve since found a great/inexpensive source for large-size freezer paper which makes this task much easier.

Before I started cutting into fabric, I colored in the moons on a copy of the pattern (below) to get an idea which part of each moon would be light or dark, and which colors of the rust fabric I’d use for each moon.  Although this was my plan, I didn’t stick to it…

Finally it’s time to start selecting fabric.  Once I find a fabric that I like for a particular piece, I iron the freezer paper template to the back of the fabric and then trim roughly 1/4 inch around the template (example on right is from a different project).  Since the freezer paper templates are printed in mirror image and I iron it to the back of the fabric, I can pin the piece onto the pattern on the design wall with the fabric showing.  This lets me see how the piece is coming along.  Also, if I don’t like a particular fabric, it’s easy to remove the freezer paper and iron it to a different fabric to try out.

Below is the ‘first draft’ of all the moons pinned to the pattern.

For the background arcs, my plan was to alternate blues and greens, starting with light colors in the upper left and progressing to dark colors in the lower right.  I was using rust-dyed fabric that I’d overdyed, and I didn’t have a lot of fabric to spare.  I started with the lightest and darkest colors and worked towards the middle.


Here’s the first pass of the top with all the pieces.  Compared to the picture above, I’d already swapped out piece #3 with a slightly lighter blue.  After looking at this, I didn’t like the contrast of the moon at the top (#1) with its background, so I decided I’d switch the light and dark sides.  I also didn’t like piece #2–not enough contrast with its neighbors, and the pattern of the rust just didn’t fit with the other pieces.


In this version, I’ve swapped the light and dark sides of the moon at the top and I put in three darker blue pieces in the middle (shown by the arrows).  Now though, the green pieces in the middle don’t have enough color and value contrast with their blue neighbors.


I tried a couple different fabrics for the two green pieces in the middle.  Here’s one version (with the black and white variant to see the values).

And here’s a second version.


Unfortunately I didn’t think either of these was quite right and I didn’t have any other fabric to try.  So, using what little rust-dyed fabric I had left, I set out to over-dye it in a medium green, hoping to get the right shade.  Here’s one option.

And this option is slightly darker.  This is the version I went with.


So, here’s the final version with all the pieces pinned in place on the design wall.


In the next post I’ll talk about sewing this together.


Color is all.  When color is right, form is right.  Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration. Marc Chagall

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?  Can one really explain this?  No.  –Pablo Picasso

2 thoughts on “Creating Moonstruck — Picking the Right Colors

  1. You are so smart! I’m so glad you post the “how-to’s.” I really understand your methods – you really make it look like I could do this, too!

  2. Thanks for posting this great tutorial on how you create a piece — as someone who is fairly new to art quilting, this gives me a lot of insight. You should be teaching on-line classes, because you really know how to break the process down so it’s simple enough for everyone. I can’t wait to see how you sew it together.

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