Aqueduct Quilt in progress

Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - on table

Inspired by my trip to Spain, I started a small quilt to commemorate one of my favorite sights from the trip: the Roman aqueduct in Segovia.  I was a civil engineering major in college, and even though I no longer practice in that field, I’m still fascinated by large structures like this, both historic and modern.  I had been flipping through some modern quilting books in my local bookstore and was inspired to improvise my own design.  Above you can see the quilt top in progress – I’m quite pleased with it so far!  🙂

Roman aqueduct in Segovia

The original aqueduct is truly awe-inspiring, and I thought it would make an interesting geometric design for a quilt, especially since all the small stones would translate nicely into patchwork.
Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - sketches

To create the design, I first drew a sketch in a graph paper notebook.  I tried to keep the design fairly streamlined and uncomplicated to allow the patchwork aqueduct to be the focus of the quilt.  Then, I got out my large roll of tracing paper that I use for tracing garment patterns, painstakingly measured out and drew a grid, and used the grid to translate my small sketch onto the full-size tracing paper.  This took forever!  The full-size quilt will be a medium-sized wall hanging, so more for decoration than for actually keeping warm.

To construct the quilt top, I’m making a tracing paper template for each individual piece and using the templates to cut out the fabric.  This is an extremely slow and meticulous process, but I actually really enjoy projects like this.  I imagine there must be a better and faster way to do this, but this method is working for me, so why mess with it?  Adding to the slow pace is the fact that so many of the cut edges are on the bias, so I’ve been handling the pieces with extreme care to avoid any inadvertent stretching.

Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - fabrics

I’ve been on a blue and yellow kick lately, so I pulled a bunch of scraps in these two colors from my “stash” (aka the pile of scraps from old projects that I refuse to throw away).  A bonus of sewing mostly garments is that you automatically generate a quilting stash – pieces too small for garments but plenty big enough for patchwork!  I also pulled out a few pinks, perhaps to use for the “ground” underneath the aqueduct.  We’ll see.  All the fabrics are 100% cotton.
Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - 3 arches

So far I’ve completed the 3 largest arches on the bottom row of the aqueduct.  I’ve been constructing one arch at a time, making the upside-down U shape with all the blue pieces, and then attaching it to the yellow background.  When two arches are complete, I’m sewing them together along the long vertical edges.  I’ve been using 1/4 inch seam allowances throughout (standard in quilting).Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - detail arch

Instead of trying to wrestle with the curved seams, I’m simply turning under the 1/4″ SA of the blue arch, pressing it, and topstitching it to the yellow background piece.  So much easier!  I sew *really* slowly during topstitching, using a lot of pins, and so far it seems to be working out very nicely.

Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - detail corner

Here’s a close-up of the topstitching.  Do you recognize the plaid fabric from my Sarrouel Trousers?  If you look closely, there are quite a few garment remnants in this quilt.  🙂
Aqueduct quilt in progress 1 - back

And here’s a view of the back.  You can see how the yellow pieces are cut to fit (using their own custom template, just like the blue pieces) and that the topstitching really avoids distorting the curved edges.  We’ll see how well I do when sewing the bias seams along the bottom edge!

I did all the sketching and piecing on this project before I started my new job, and sadly it’s been neglected for the past few weeks.  I’m looking forward to getting back to it though!  Thankfully the dust seems to be settling a bit at work, so hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of sewing soon.
Maggie waiting for dinner

I’ll leave you with this photo of Maggie.  She says, “Stop blogging and give me my dinner already.”  Happy weekend!  🙂

16 thoughts on “Aqueduct Quilt in progress

  1. I like the design of your quilt. If you still have more pieces to cut and will be washing the finished quilt, you could try starching the fabric before cutting out the pieces to keep the bias seams from stretching. I use 1 to 2 tsp cornstarch per cup of water, shake it in a spray bottle, spray the fabric until it’s wet, let it soak in for a few minutes, then iron it dry on the wool setting. Starching adds a bit to prep time, but makes sewing so much easier.

    • What a great tip, thanks Leila! I don’t know why I never think of starching my fabrics. I guess I don’t typically work with anything too delicate, so it just doesn’t occur to me. I may try this and report back!

  2. Whoa that’s a cool concept/design! The aqueduct I saw in France near Avignon was one of my favorite sights, too. Your top-stitching looks very tidy – no mean feat on that curve!

    • Thanks Morgan! I’ve never been to Avignon, but as my boyfriend really wants to go back to France one day, we might just get there. I’ll keep this in mind. 🙂

  3. That is going to be a happy wall hanging when it is finished. Great that you show the design process, I always find it interesting to see how other people get ideas and make them work.

    • Thanks Emmely! I love seeing the design and construction process too. I know most people prefer to only blog things when they’re finished, but I’m nosy and like to snoop on things along the way. 🙂

  4. This is really cool! I can imagine tracing out all those lines to reproduce the drawing on a larger scale was extremely time consuming! I think your colors look so good together and right away I noticed your Sarrouel trousers fabric. That gave me a little giggle!

    • Haha, thanks Teri! I suspect I’ll never hear the end of those shorts. 🙂 The quilt is a fun change of pace, and it’s great to work with some bright prints that I wouldn’t normally use for garments.

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