Aqueduct Quilt: piecing the quilt top

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - finished quilt top

Roman aqueduct in Segovia

Work continues on my Aqueduct Quilt!  This quilt was inspired by my trip to Spain last fall, and in particular by our stop in Segovia to see this truly awe-inspiring Roman aqueduct in the heart of the old city.  I absolutely loved seeing this ancient structure and thought the stones of the arches would translate nicely into patchwork.  Hence, a quilt was born.  🙂

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - work table

I stared by drawing a small sketch and translating it to a full-scale drawing on tracing paper.  You can read about this process in my previous post about the quilt.  Then, I made tracing paper templates of all the pieces (104 in total), added 1/4 inch seam allowances, traced them onto fabric, cut them out, and got to work piecing the quilt top.  This was a pretty slow process, not gonna lie!  Then again, I enjoy being slow and methodical with my sewing.  The more tiny little pieces there are, the more relaxed I feel.

I took some step-by-step photos of the process of piecing one of the curved arches:

Step 1: Full-scale tracing paper templates created.  Each template has a grain line and a number that corresponds with the full-scale drawing.

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - arch piecing 1

Step 2: Corresponding fabric pieces cut out.

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - arch piecing 2

Step 3: Pieces sewn together, seam allowances pressed open, and stitching line added 1/4 inch inside the arch.  The curved seam allowance was then pressed under along this stitching line.
Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - arch piecing 3

Step 4: Arch topstitched to yellow background about 1/8 inch from folded under seam allowance.

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - arch piecing 4

As each arch was completed, I assembled them into two rows and then sewed the rows together.

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - arch piecing 5

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what colors to use for the rest of the quilt (above and below the arches), and I finally decided on warm colors to evoke a sunrise or sunset.  I think I could have gone in a bunch of different directions here and achieved all wonderful quilt tops with their own unique feel, but at some point I just had to pick one and run with it.  Knowing that I’m a sucker for bright colors, I’m not surprised with my decision.  🙂

The sunbeam pieces were also cut from templates, and I was careful to make sure each odd-shaped diagonal piece stayed on grain.  I cut the templates without seam allowances but added 1/2 inch on all sides with a rotary cutter and ruler when cutting the fabric out.  Pro tip: I taped the templates to the fabric during cutting.  Low tech, but it kept everything in place nicely!

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - piecing sunburst raysAnd here’s the finished quilt top in all its sunburst glory:

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - finished quilt top

The orange piece directly above the arches has tiny stars and moons on it, which I thought was perfect for a “sky” piece.  The pink fabric below the arches has heart-shaped trees, and the orange print below that is reminiscent (at least to me) of the cobblestone road below the real aqueduct in Segovia.  Overall, I’m quite happy with both the colors and the individual prints.

Now, moving onto the quilt back.  Decisions, decisions!  I have 2 yards of the bright yellow Kona cotton that I used for the background of the arches, and I think that will be the main fabric of the quilt back.  However, I want to do some abstract piecing on the back.  I made a bunch of little blue rectangles…

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - pieces for quilt back

… and sewed them into long chains.

Aqueduct Quilt in progress 2 - strips for quilt back

I’m picturing these chains going diagonally across the quilt back in the same sunburst configuration as the front.  I’m also thinking about adding pink and orange circular arcs made out of bias tape, interspersed with the blue chains.  I think I’ll topstitch everything to one large piece of yellow fabric, as opposed to slashing the quit back and piecing in the different colors.  We’ll see.

I also have grand plans for free motion machine quilting, including quilting some flying birds beneath the arches, and perhaps even some spectators/tourists on the ground.  I think it would be fun to use the quilting to really enhance the scene and bring in some additional aspects of my visit to the real aqueduct.

I’ve been having so much fun with this project!  The creative opportunities with quilting are truly limitless.

Happy sewing, everyone!  🙂

12 thoughts on “Aqueduct Quilt: piecing the quilt top

  1. Your quilt is looking great! You were really clever to applique the pieced arches onto the yellow – I would have just tried to seam them and had a terrible time! Smart lady 🙂


    • Haha, thanks Gail. The thought occurred to me to seam those curves, and then I pictured myself in a fiery hell in which the entire quilt got thrown into a pit of molten lava. Topstitching was easy and worked just fine. 🙂


  2. Wow – the quilt looks fantastic. I can’t wait to see the back too. I love your idea of quilting in the birds and tourists. I can tell that the final product is going to be absolutely amazing. Great work.


    • Thanks so much, Jenny. I want to make this project a bit special since it’s a reminder of a wonderful trip. I hope I follow through on all my quilting plans!


  3. This looks amazing Carolyn, I don’t know much about quilting but it looks quite original to me plus it will always remind you of this trip which to me is what a quilt is about.


    • Thanks Aida, I agree. One thing I really enjoy about quilting is the freedom to do something completely unique – no worries about making sure things fit or getting a precise corner or something. You can just draw a picture and bring it to life.


  4. That’s gorgeous! How big is the finished quilt going to be?

    You’ve mentioned it being finicky to keep all the bias edges where they should be; I realise this is kind of late, but if you do another quilt with a similar design, would you consider foundation paper piecing? If you’re cutting out full-scale templates anyway, there’s not much extra effort involved in sewing the paper as well as the fabric; it helps prevent edges stretching and you can tear it out afterwards, or not, as you prefer. (I’ve been experimenting with it recently with good results.)


    • Thanks! The quilt isn’t big at all, only 32 inches by 40 inches (81 cm by 102 cm). I intend to hang it on the wall in my sewing room.

      Very interesting suggestion about foundation paper piecing. I’ve never tried it and honestly don’t even know how to do it! I’m going to look it up – this will be a perfect technique for me to learn. I’m glad to hear it’s been working well for you. Thanks so much for the suggestion!


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