Monday, August 22, 2011

Tutorial: Cheater Cathedral Windows

I think Cathedral windows have to rank right up there with my favorite quilt blocks. They are simply gorgeous. But, when I read tutorials explaining the crazy fabric origami skills required to make a single window....yah, I am just too lazy for that racket, I admit it flat out. So, I decided to find a slacker way to cheat.

The great thing about this method is that as the blocks are joined, the backings have a finished appearance as the technique is similar to rag quilting. Also, the finishing of each block to produce the windows sews through the layers, so it doubles as quilting. If you are making a quilt, you can add batting between the layers, however even without, this would make a nice, light weight throw.

Note: While traditional cathedral windows finish up with the window in a diamond orientation, the cheater method finishes square- you can get the traditional arrangement easily by setting the blocks on point.

Here's what you do!

Each finished cheater cathedral window block will measure 3 inches by 3 inches.

To make each window, you will need to cut two 5" circles, one for the backing that will overlap at the sides, and the "feature fabric" that will be seen "in" the window. I used My Go! Baby with the circle cutting die and had the 100+ circles required for my pillow tops cut up in no time! For the grey backing I cut 5.5" strips of WOF and cross cut into 5.5" squares, stacked them into the Go! Baby and away I went. For my feature fabrics, I used scraps of my Nicey Jane from this quilt and sent them through. The Go! Baby can cut 6 layers of quilting at a time, so it was very quick and efficient. I was very happy with the performance. Wish I had been able to use this for the bazillion individually cut circles for my mixed sushi quilt!!

There are two ways to sew each block. Use whichever you are comfortable with- I did a combination of both to try them out and found them equally successful (though I personally preferred Method A).

Method A:
1. Placing wrong sides together, sew entire edge, using 1/4 inch seam.

2. Cut a slit on the feature fabric side, about 1 inch in length, and 1/2 inch from the sewn seam. Be very careful to only cut through the one layer of fabric!! Also, if you are using a directional fabric, think of how it will be oriented and make sure the slit is on the side or top, not the corner area.

3. Use the slit hole to turn the fabrics so they are right side out, pushing seams out from inside to make nice round edges.

4. Press.

5. Set aside for assembly (see below).

Method B:
1. Placing wrong sides together, sew with 1/4 inch seam but leave a 1 inch space.

2. Use hole to turn fabrics so they are right sides out, pushing seams out from inside to make nice round edges.

3. Press, folding over open area to make the outer perimeter a smooth circle shape.

4. Set aside for assembly (see below).

You are now ready to join the circles together to make your windows.

1. Make a 3 inch square template from plastic or card stock. Center it on your circle block and use a fabric marker or pencil to trace (these lines will be covered once sewn).

2. Take 2 circles and align, back parts facing, so line on front of each are lined up.

3. Sew along this line as shown.

4. Continue to add blocks to end of row. Your rows should look like this:

5. Line up rows and sew together. You will have a block with edges all turned upwards like so:

1. Press the upturned edges as shown, to overlap on their own block.

If using Method A, note how the slits will now be concealed:

2. Top stitch by hand or machine, close to edge.

You are finished!

Check out the finished backing as mentioned above:

Now use your block of windows to make something beautiful- a quilt, placemats, or as I did, pillows! I will be doing a second tutorial on the construction of the pillows themselves this week :)

Feel free to email me with any questions or clarifications at:
obsessivecraftingdisorder {at} yahoo {dot} ca

And if you make some of your own cathedrals using my tutorial, be sure to add some photos to my Flickr group! Please. It is pretty lonely over there.....{sigh}

Hope you enjoyed "cheating" along with me :)


Amy Friend said...

Clever cheat! It looks great!

Little Island Quilting said...

Wow. You are seriously quite clever. Don't tell anyone I said that though as we don't want it to go to your head now.

Kaelin said...

You sly devil you! Look at you go with your innovative shortcut! I'm in the "love the pattern, but entirely too lazy" category as well when it comes to Cathedral Windows. I'm gonna have to give this a whirl once I have some spare time next month ;)

Emily said...

You are an evil genius. LOVE this!

Sasha said...

oh my goodness! so clever!!! I love it! Thank you for sharing =D

Belinda said...

Marvelous idea!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

randi--i have to say said...

that's great! what a nifty idea!

Melissa said...

Love this method! I pinned it :)

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

I love cheater ways to get something more complicated looking! Thanks. Looks like the circle die will again get a workout. I use the circles for yo-yo's too!

kelly said...

i saw this method in a quilting magazine earlier this month and am using it for a christmas quilt! it's quite tedious, turning them all inside-out, isn't it? i also went through with a chopstick to try and round out my circles a bit, then pressed them. it's a fun method.

Anonymous said...

I love this! My favorite is the second pillow.

liniecat said...

What a great cheat! Brill lol

Katie B said...

Shut your clever mouth! This is awesome!

Tanya said...

Tricky girl! I've only tried cathedral windows pretty, but I stopped at pillow size!

P's Qs said...

I love this! I can't wait to try it

Go-Go Kim said...

EPIC!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!! Thank you :o)

Unknown said...

Oh, I've seen this before...but never with the solids. It really does look like cathedral windows. :)

Little Blue Mouse said...

That's great, and very clever how the slit is covered.

Shay said...

You clever little cheater you. I’ve often looked at Cathedral windows and thought “Too hard – not for me” and then you tutorial me into thinking “I could totally do this” . Most definitely bookmarked for a future trial . If you can come up with a cheater tutorial for housework you will be forever my hero!

Unknown said...

I Love this project. My mom Has a pillow like this she made in the 70's, but she could remember how to make it. I am definalty bringing this over to her house and making a couple. =]

Dayna said...

I love this tutorial! I've wanted to make a Steelers mug rug, and this helped me to do it today! I added it to your flickr group. :-)

Nora Buckley said...

For a similar technique have a look for "orange peel" quilts. Sometimes it is done like you have and other times one fabric and the batting are appropriately sized squares.

Jillian Rosalie said...

any recommendation on how much fabric would be needed for a large quilt? and cutting circles? I wish I had that machine!

Pixie said...

Thank you, I've started this many years ago but was unsuccessful by hand, this is awesome and easy, looking forward to making a beautiful quilt.

MbrownPanama said...

I have done this technique many times with circles as large as 10". It works great. The issue is the amount of fabric required for quilt of any size is yards and yards. You can get 4-10" circles across wof. That is 12 out of a yard and if you have continuous yardage you can get some relief from the leftover 6 inches. Those 10" circles finish at 6" or so, depending on your seams and side curve side. So for a quilt of any size you are looking at 2 yards for every 12 finished circles (that's 6 yards to make a 36 x 36" baby quilt) I found it pretty daunting and kept running out of fabric. The other thing you can do is put very thin pellon w/o glue on the inside of the circle and cover the center before sewing with with a square of coordinated cloth with the batting underneath the square. Cuts down on weight of the quilt and costs. Of course there is no backing as it is done and there are no real borders just binding. Just my experience. Also if you cut carefully, you have some interesting shapes that appear in wedding ring quilts or the like as scraps to use.

Unknown said...

That is very clever I am going to try it. Must say clever girl!

Bluejeans7777 said...

Would it do good to use denim on one side to make a denim cathedral window using this method? Or would the denim be too heavy?

Eleanore said...

I love the Cathedral Window quilts, but I like a black background as it makes the prints show up so much more.

SueJean said...

Very clever! I would go with method A also basically because it works.
I'm currently making something very similar in denim with fabric squares in small floral prints. The denim's not too heavy with the light floral on top and a small square of batting to make the center a little more puffy.
The worst part is cutting all those circles! I like your machine.

Thanks for sharing!

Quilting Grammy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quilting Grammy said...

ZOWIE!!! I never dreamed I'd be able to make a cathedral window (aka too lazy)! In fact I just saw a cathedral window quilt pattern last week and skipped over it as I thought, "Too much work!" Now I can't wait to try this for a pillow cover for our couch. Please keep coming up with lazy girl tips for us!!! From one Lazy Girl Quilter to another. Cheers! ☺☺☺


Unknown said...


This is a great tutorial even for beginners as myself. Thank you! I have a vintage singer machine and I was looking for a quilt pattern with a hem that's inside. I saw a bunch of tutorials with denim and unfinished hems which I didn't like. Your method looks very neat. 😊 A pin it button on this page would be awesome.

nevermind. said...

Trying my hand at making my first quilt and for some reason have chosen the most complicated design to start with. And you just made this project possible. Thought you'd like to know that you're still having a major impact on somebody's project all the way in 2021! Thanks a million!