Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cathedral Windows Tutorial

Ok guys, this is my first attempt, and possibly last, at a tutorial so bear with me and if there is anything you would add please feel free to comment. I am learning too so always welcome to advice and expertise from professionals, thank you.

Cathedral Windows are quite simple really, they look a lot more complicated than they are.  As you start folding the fabric you could easily think you are doing origima (Japanese paper folding).  They are beautiful eye catching quilts and I have for a long time (since my mother gave me a sample cathedral windows quilt) wanted to make one.  

Ok enough chit chat let us get on with it. 

For this tutorial I cut a 9" square of cotton fabric.  The finished block once folded will be 4".  For a chart on measurements for cathedral windows see this tutorial on cathedral windows (very good tutorial!) . A lot of fabric is required for this quilt, the finished block is almost half the size of the original square of fabric that you cut out.  

Now fold in a 1/4" all the way round.   At first I used my quarter inch ruler and drew a pencil line, but then I thought how am I going to be able to see through the fabric?  I saw my 1/4" tape and stuck a piece along one side, folded the fabric over, ironed over it with a medium heat and then carefully pulled away the tape, this way I was sure it was a quarter of an inch in!  I read on another tutorial that the lady used "Steam A Seam", I cannot find it in Ireland, so if you guys know where it's available please let us know, otherwise I will have to order it from the States.

Next fold one corner directly across to the opposite corner and lightly press with your iron, open back to full square shape.  Now do the same with the other corner, iron, open.  This will leave you with a midpoint on your square to carry out the next step accurately.

Fold one corner to the midpoint, pin, repeat with the three remaining corners.  
With your new smaller square, fold one corner to the midpoint of your square, pin, again repeat with your remaining three corners.

Using a needle and thread sew where the four points now meet in the centre, securely, the stitches will show at the back of the block. 
This is a finished "block".  Well done, now you need to make more!!!

For this demonstration I made four of these blocks in total.

Take 2 of your blocks and place them together with smooth sides together.  Stitch (whitpstitch) them together. Make sure you stitch your corners securely.
Once stitched together open the two blocks.  Repeat with remaining two blocks.

Now stitch the two rows together again by placing the smooth sides together. 
Open and press.

A completed larger block. 

For this demonstration we can start adding colour YIPPEE!!!

Patience now!

Now you need to measure the size of your "window".    Simply measure the distance from one corner to the other corner (indicated in my photo with the word "window", sorry don't know yet how to add arrows).  When I measured it it measured 2 1/2 inches.  

What is so nice and handy about this quilt is that you can use scraps of your left over fabric that's why we NEVER through anything out that we think can be reused!  
Cut four squares of 2 1/2" of coloured fabric of your choice. 

Place one square in your "window".  Pin in place. 

Now fold over one side of the white fabric that frames your coloured window and slipstitch it in place.  Repeat for four sides of your window.  

Place another piece of coloured fabric on your next "window" and repeat as above. 

Keep going nearly there!


This is a finished block.  How big or small you want to go is entirely up to you.  The bigger your original square the faster your quilt will move along.  

To finish off, cut a "window" square in half on the diagonal thus creating 2 triangles.  Instead of pinning a square in your frame you are now placing  a triangle in your half frame and slipstitching it in place. 

At the moment I am working on a cathedral windows quilt.  I wanted to go smaller with the windows, I love how cute the windows are when they are smaller so I cut a 6" square which according to the chart that I have means that my "windows" are 1 1/2".  I will post a picture as soon as I take a photo of it in natural daylight.  I want to make it large enough to fit a cotbed so it might take a little while! 

There are other ways of making cathedral windows.  The tutorial above is for making the cathedral windows by hand but if you check out Hyena In Pettycoats blog she has a lovely tutorial on machine sewing cathedral windows.  This is obviously another way of moving along a lot quicker with your quilt than by sewing completely by hand.  In addition to this she has a neat idea of adding a piece of cotton wadding behind the "window" to add more warmth to the quilt.  I love that idea.

A couple more web based tutorials that I found

Look at this stunning cathedral windows quilt


  1. Great tute! THanks! I have always admired Cathedral Windows and would like to give it a try...maybe something smaller like a pillow or runner. I really like your tute!

  2. OMG Fi, that is beautiful. Easy instructions but as you know I don't think I could do that I'm better at sticking to crochet. However, I will need to advice for a quilt for my bed. Clare x

  3. Not only the finished product is really nice but your tutorial is great! photos, instructions, you have done a great job! Thanks!

  4. AMAZING, Fiona! I absolutely LOVE this -- and I LOVE that fabric peaking through for the "stained glass"! Great tutorial!

  5. I often wondered how these were done and you are right,they look complicated but are simple(saying that oh so confidently and I haven't attempted it yet). You made it look simple anyway. Thanks for that and thanks for linking to lush friday again.

  6. Love your windows. Made mine with some machine stitching to speed up the process.

  7. Hello Fiona, great tutorial! I love this pattern, I made a cushion and a "doily" with it ages ago!
    Love, Giusy

  8. Hi guys thank you for all your lovely comments. I do appreciate them! I am going to take a photo now of my cathedral windows quilt WIP. x

  9. Thanks for the tutorial. I really must try this, it is so pretty!

  10. Great to get your instructions. They are very clear and I am enthusiastic to try them out. Good work..keep on going!
    Regards Rosita

  11. Thank you for the clear and understandable tutorial. I'm doing patchwork samples for City & Guilds course and this is the first instructions I have been able to understand.

  12. brilliant, well done, it makes more sense now!


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