Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This One's For You - Deb! Or - How to Make an Easy Cathedral Window Quilt

Back in June (sheesh, I cannot believe it's been so long!) I was whining about my quilt blocks not coming out right.  Deb Roman at Threadgatherer wrote me an encouraging email and gave me a terrific tip - GO BIG!  I did and it worked out incredibly well (see posts on the Path to the Civil War Quilt).  In the course of our email conversations I mentioned an easy way to do Cathedral Windows and I tried to explain it in words.  I was a dismal failure.  Pictures really are necessary.  So, I have finally gotten around to getting some pictures.  They're not the greatest, because it turns out I'm not so good at one-handed photography, but I think you'll get the picture (ha ha ha!)

The directions were originally published in an Austrailian Quilting magazine back in the '90's.  Yes, that's how long the project I will mention later, has been in the works.  Shameful, I know.  I just want you to understand, this isn't my original idea.

What you do is cut a bunch of 2.5 inch squares.  In my "finished" piece, my squares were 2.5 inches, but you can use whatever size you like.

Take two of the squares, fold them in half diagonally and press.  Take a 3rd square. 

Place the folded squares on top of the 3rd square so that the folds bisect the 3rd square diagonally.  I think that the original instructions said to tack the corners of the folded squares, but I wasn't patient enough for that, so I am pretty sure I pinned them.  

 What you want to be sure to do is get those folded corners and the corners of the square caught up when you sew a quarter inch seam.

See below how all the corners are there in the same place? 

Then you sew that seam and when you open it up it looks a lot like fabric oragami - or you think you've done something wrong.  But you haven't.  You have to make a bunch of these sets.  The you sew them all together to make the base that you are going to set the windows into.

Because I only had so many scrap squares, we're going to pretend now that I've built the whole base.  But YOUR base will be the finished size - plus seam allowances - of your project.  After the base is done, you have completed all your machine sewing.

You set in your window - usually a contrasting fabric or color, cut to the same size (2.5 inches in this example) as your base squares.  See how it's on point, so that the sides of the window match the direction of those folded edges?

Now remember, these are the steps that you're doing after you've finished making your base.   With your finger in the middle of one folded edge, peel it in toward the window so it arcs.  At this point I use applique pins to hold the "peel" in place.  Then, you hand stitch, using a blind stitch, and secure that peel in the place you want it.  Stitch from one peel to the next and remove your pins as you go so you don't stick yourself. 

 If you're confused, see how there's a little pocket under that folded edge?  What you're doing is securing, either by machine or hand sewing, all the raw edges.

For my piece, I ended up making a base that's about 2 and a half feet long by a foot wide.  You can see the "finished" piece at the right and above, a closer view where you can also see the back of it.
The edges are done by using whole windows and then you just trim away the excess.  Corners, same thing - as you can see in these pictures.

Finally, here is a closeup of the windows.  I just love the curves that the all the peels give it as a secondary design.  This piece will become a table runner tomorrow; my sewing time has been cut short this week.

Labor Day weekend we had the shed broken into.  Well, the other night they came back and tried to pull off the siding to go into the side of the shed.  Can you believe that?  They want that rototiller bad!  So, we had the alarm company out yesterday and we've devised a new way to protect it.  But, sadly, there was no stitching time involved because I had to make decisions and shepherd the alarm guy back and forth.  Sigh.  Today I had to catch up to yesterdays chores and that left very little time for sewing.

However, I have been working on some projects that I (gasp!) haven't been sharing much about.

First, I got the September/October issue of Fons & Porter and it had the directions for the quilt I fell in love with when I watched the Quilts of Valor program on PBS.  So, I took my punch card to my quilt shop (Wilson's in Hagerstown) and got some fabric.  I LOVE it!!!

 On the red fabric, those a little cream and blue leaves, but they make me think of stars. 

I collect flag or red, white and blue jewelry and wear it to my DAR activities.  But, I also think it's pretty to look at.  My guest bedroom is Americana themed so it's in there - along with my work space.  So I made a shadow box I can stick them into so I can enjoy looking at them, but also get them when I want to wear them.  A quick sweep with a paintbrush keeps the dust at bay.

I finished the stitching for the Blue Jay ornament.  Now I just have to put it together.  I actually feel like I'm accomplishing something.  Last weekend I cleaned up and rearranged my work area.  I have also been doing some stitching experiments I want to share with you in the next week.  Right now, I've got to go cook supper!  Hope you enjoyed!


  1. What a wonderful tutorial, Katherine. I've always wondered how those Cathedral Windows were made. I'm not a quilter, but certainly admire those of you who are!

    Hope you can get your security issues resolved--how frustrating!

  2. Oh my goodness Katharine! This is a wonderful Tutorial. I'm going to have to bookmark this so that I can come back to this when I'm ready to start one. I've always been so intimidated by making these, but your pictures explain it all!! Thank you for doing this. I'm not so confused any longer (well, a little - but I live in a constant state of confusion! LOL).

  3. All I got out of this post (and I apologize for ignoring the rest!) is that they tried to get the rototiller AGAIN!?!?!? Really??? And you had to put in an alarm system now? I sure hope you reported the attempt to the police, to possibly continue their investigation of the matter! I cannot believe they came back!Geeee.... !!! Hugs!


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