November always seems such a busy month: we usher the month in with halloween and (for those of us in the UK) Guy Fawkes night with all the fireworks that terrify my poor dog and then suddenly it’s Thanksgiving in the USA or general Christmas and festive preparations over here. I sometimes think that it’s just because the days are now so short that they seem to fly by. I went to the Malver Autumn Quilt Festival and a couple of workshops – and suddenly we are halfway through November.
So, rather than looking at Christmas projects, I’m going to be contrary and look at cathedral windows quilts. They can be hand sewn completely or part machine and part hand sewn: which actuall makes cathedral windows quilts quite a good idea for times when you have all the family around and have to pack your sewing machine away.
The basis of a cathedral windows quilt block is a folded square of fabric. When these squares are sewn together they create a square shape across the join between two blocks. A small square of a different fabric (the glass of the cathedral window) is sewn onto this square shape by rolling the edge of the square over the edge of the glass fabric to give a curved edge. In the quilted wall hanging in the photo I used a Celtic panel for the main section but then surrounded it with a border made of cathedral windows quilt blocks made in black.
Preparing the quilt panel
To make the central panel I layered wadding, the the Celtic panel and the backing fabric (18″ squares of each) with right sides together. sew round three and a half sides of this sandwich, leaving a gap to turn it right side out. Turn it right side out and slipstitch the gap shut. As I wanted to use cathedral windows blocks for the border of this panel, I needed to have an 18″ length of blocks. This could be made with four 4.1/2″ blocks and I will use four cathedral windows blocks down two sides and six blocks going along the other two sides.
Making the cathedral windows quilt blocks
For each cathedral windows quilt block you will need one 9″ square of black fabric and one f” square of contrast fabric for the glass of the window. Press a 1/4″ seam around the edge of the 9″ square and fold the square in half along the diagonal. Press to get a fold on the diagonal and do the same with the other diagonal. I’ve changed to a different fabric because right and wrong sides don’t show up with the black fabric.
Fold the corners in towards the middle, creating another square. then fold these corners in to make yet another square. This is the basic cathedral windows quilt block. Make a small cross stitch in the middle of the block to hold all the folded corners together in the middle. Continue and make as many more of these cathedral windows blocks as you need.
To join two cathedral windows blocks, lay them with the smooth sides together and slipstitch along the edge, catching both blocks with your stitching.
You will see a square shape formed across the join of the squares. This is where you place the contrasting fabric to make the glass of the cathedral window.
To secure the glass fabric, roll back the edge of the square (in the blue fabric) over the top of the glass fabric (the red) and slipstitch in place. This gives you the lovely curved look that makes cathedral window quilt blocks so special.
Continue adding cathedral windows blocks all the way round the central panel. Of course, you could always make an entire quilt from cathedral windows if you don’t have a central panel to put a border on.
Here’s the video: