Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Find out how I made this Mid-Autumn Festival quilt featuring the only mooncakes I know how to make i.e. fabric ones!
By the time I decided to make a quilt for Mid-Autmun Festival this year, which fell on 21 September 2021, I had only mere weeks. Like most festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also known as the Mooncake festival, comes with many colourful (literally and figuratively) legends and myths that involve symbols of the festival like the moon, the moon goddess, lanterns, rabbits, lotus flowers, and of course, mooncakes.
DESIGN & DIMENSIONS
The finished quilt consists of a "main panel" of 25 square blocks, each measuring 28cm x 28cm. Each square block has one mooncake-shaped applique. The round mooncake-shapes have diameters of 20cm, while the square ones are 18cm x 18cm. The grey borders are 5cm wide. Overall, the finished quilt measure 150cm x 150cm.
I used 10 darker-shades solid-coloured fabrics for the background squares, and 7 lighter-shades solid-coloured fabrics for the mooncake appliques.
You can download both SVG and PNG formats of the mooncake shapes from the link below:
For the main panel of the quilt top, I used 100% cotton in solid colours, but I reckon fabrics with subtle tone-on-tone prints that register as solid from 3 feet away will achieve some interesting results as well. For the borders, I used also 100% cotton fabrics in a grey-white floral print that does not compete with the main panel for attention. For binding, I used satin biased binding (the kind normally used in garments) - I feel this type of binding in that golden colour really compliments the overall oriental theme of the quilt.
It may not be obvious in the photos, but each mooncake applique in my quilt actually contains 2 additional layers of battings on top of the main quilt batting to give it a more 3-dimensional look, although I could have done more to make this more effective - more on this in the making process below. Concealed beneath the mooncake appliques are lining fabrics - I used some cheap white mercerised cotton for this.
STEP 1: CUT OUT MOONCAKE SHAPES TEMPLATES
From the downloaded files from the link above, print the mooncake shapes onto cardstock and cut them out. The download files have been adjusted to the sizes I used in my quilt i.e. 20cm diameter for the round shapes, and 18cm sides for the square shapes. But double-check to be sure before printing. If for whatever reason the sizes were incorrect, or you want larger or smaller mooncake appliques on your quilt, simply resize the images using your image editing software before printing.
You will only need 1 round template and 1 square template. Set aside templates and move on to STEP 2.
STEP 2: PREPARE APPLIQUE AND LINING FABRICS
Take one of the applique fabrics (in my case, this was one of the lighter-shade fabrics) and the lining fabric. Rough-cut squares of about 24cm x 24cm (any size is fine as long as it can cover the mooncake templates with a comfortable seam allowance all around).
STEP 3: TRACE MOONCAKE SHAPE ONTO APPLIQUE FABRIC
Using one of the templates from STEP 1 as guide, trace a mooncake shape onto the applique fabric.
STEP 4: SEW TOGETHER APPLIQUE AND LINING FABRICS
Place applique and lining fabrics right-sides-together, and sew along the traced outline of the mooncake shape.
STEP 5: APPLY BATTING ONTO WRONG SIDE OF APPLIQUE
Using the same cardstock template, draw and cut out the same mooncake shape from two layers of batting and one layer of fusible web.
OPTION: You may also use fusible batting, in which case you can skip the fusible web.
Baste the 2 layers of batting together close to the edges.
Place the basted layers of battings and the 1 layer of fusible web onto the lining side of the ensemble from STEP 4 as illustrated below:
STEP 6: TRIM & TURN APPLIQUE INSIDE OUT
Trim the access fabrics around the batting, leaving about 1cm seam allowance all around. Snip into every sharp corner between the scallops to facilitate turning later. Then, cut a slit about 11cm long on the batting side, through the batting and lining fabric only.
Then turn the ensemble inside out through the slit to reveal the right sides of the applique and lining fabrics. Use a long, thin and blunt stick to push the edges out to form the nice scalloped edge of the mooncake shape.
Press the whole ensemble thoroughly with the iron.
STEP 7: EMBROIDER MOONCAKE DESIGN
Using temporary markers or a 2B pencil, mark your preferred embroidery design onto the applique fabric side and embroider with a satin stitch. I used 3mm stitch width and 0.8mm stitch length, with thread of the same hue but more saturated, to give it good contrast.
Embroidery Designs I used in My Mooncake Quilt.
Click on image to download high resolution.
STEP 8: APPLIQUE MOOONCAKE ONTO BACKGROUND SQUARE
Take one of the background fabrics (in my case, the darker shades fabrics) and cut an approximately 32cm x 32cm square. I used the same satin stitch setting, but with a thread that match the mooncake fabric, to applique the finished mooncake onto the background fabric.
Appliqueing the Mooncake onto Background Fabric.
STEP 9: QUILT-AS-YOU-GO
Cut a 30cm x 30cm square from your batting, and baste it onto the wrong side of the background fabric, while keeping it centered with the mooncake aplpique. Quilt as desired. In my quilt, I machine quilted along the edge of the mooncake shape with a straight stitch in the same thread I used in the applique stitch. I recommend denser quilting around the mooncake in a thread that blends into the background to make the mooncake applique pop. However, as I was running out of time to finish this quilt before the Mid-Autumn Festival, I left the background unquilted, which I think is a missed opportunity to really make the mooncakes pop.
Then, trim the block to an accurate 29.5cm x 29.5cm (or whatever smallest square you can consistently cut out from all 25 blocks - hence I advise doing this trimming step after you have finished quilted all 25 blocks).
STEP 10: REPEAT TO MAKE 25 BLOCKS, PIECE BLOCKS TOGETHER & ADD BORDER STRIPS
Once you have all 25 blocks appliqued, quilted, and trimmed to the same square size, piece them together as you would with any quilt-top to form the main panel. Press seam to one side (instead of open). To reinforce and stamp down bulky seams, add one line of "stitch by the ditch" on both sides of the seam in a dull grey thread.
Stich-By-The-Ditch to Reinforce and Stamp Down Seams
Then, in the same QAYG method, quilt some strips of borders before piecing them to the main panel.
STEP 11: ADD BACKING, STITCH-IN-THE-DITCH AND BIND QUILT
Baste your backing fabric onto the quilted quilt-top, and stitch-in-the-ditch along the seams between the blocks. Add binding, and the Mooncake Quilt is finished!