Sunday, July 18, 2010

cathedral window tutorial

Finally! It's ready.

First, gather your supplies:

9" square of background fabric
2 1/4" square of center fabric
permanent fabric pen or fine point sharpie
thread to match background fabric

1. Prepare your background square by placing a small mark along the fabric edge, 1/2 inch from each corner and at the center of each side (4.5" from either edge). When complete, you will have 3 marks on each side of the square.

2. Starting with any side, fold the fabric at the center mark with your fingers, then bring the fold over to the mark to its left. Make sure that the fold runs parallel to the edge of the fabric, then pin.

3. Continue step 2 on the remaining 3 sides, moving along the square in a counter-clockwise direction.

4. When all sides are folded and pinned, you'll have a mess that looks like this on the front and back:

5. It might be hard to imagine just looking at the photos, but the fabric will naturally flatten out into what you see below. Gently press out the folds with your fingers to create the square on the front, and you'll see that the fabric forms four equal squares on the back that leave just a tiny hole in the center.

6. Tack down the points of your new inner square. Tacking them down also helps to line things up so that your square is straight and centered. To do this, take your threaded needle and put it through the fold on the back, bringing it up through the very tip of the point at the front. Do a couple of tiny stitches and knot off your thread. Repeat at remaining three points, and remove your pins.

7. To create the origami effect, fold over the straight flap coming off of the inner square and finger press it over so that its point is approximately 1/4 inch from the edge (to ensure it will be hidden within seam allowances later on). Tack the point down with a stitch or two. Repeat for the other 3 flaps.

8. Place the center fabric on top of the square and pin to hold (pretend I did this AFTER I tacked down those folds, okay?).

9. To create the window, fold the edge of the square over as far as you can without distorting the corners and pin it to hold.

10. Stitch the fold down by hand or machine, as close to the edge as possible. Repeat for the rest of the sides.

11. And wha-la! There you have it.

12. Make sure when sewing blocks together, adding sashing, etc. that you use a 1/2 inch seam allowance (as opposed to the standard 1/4 inch).

A big thank you goes to JoAnn Gonzalez-Major, a super talented quilter who taught the Anchorage Modern Quilt Guild this technique at our last meeting. This is a quilt she made using the blocks:

Her technique is based on an example she found in a book called Fantastic Fabric Folding by Rebecca Wat. I was told a variation on the technique can also be found in Cathedral Window Quilts by Lynne Edwards.

Since this is my first tutorial, please let me know if there is something that can be clarified! I hope you enjoy using this technique as much as I do!


Ariane said...

What a great tutorial! I'm going to have to try it out!! Thanks for sharing it with us!!

Sylvie said...

Thank you for this tutorial! It is super interesting.
I wonder how the blocks look like when sewn together though.

Amy said...

That's very interesting Krista. Thank you for sharing!

Jenna said...

Excellent! Thank you for this. I can't wait to try it.

Leslie said...

that is amazing. i love how a technique like that allows you to take a pretty traditional pattern and make it modern through your fabrics and colors.

What Comes Next? said...

that looks great! I will have to give it a go, but from reading through it, your instructions sound accurate and straight forward! Thank you! This method, at least in theory for me, sounds a lot less complicated then some of the cathedral window patterns I've seen.

Kadybug said...

Thank you so much! I have sewn 2 of these today and am working on a 3rd! This is an origami fold I you got me thinking about other origami folds that might translate well into quilt squares.

courtney said...

I'm intrigued & can't wait to try it. I always thought this type of quilting was super intimidating, but now I am feeling bold!

Kim said...

Good photos and very clear instructions. Well done!

jacquie said...

genius! i love this twist!!! my last try at cathedral windows i stopped at 18 blocks...maybe this way i could go all the way to a full quilt!

JuneBug said...

Thank you thank you. I have been wanting to make Cathedrals for a long long time but was a little intimidated by them. This version and your tutorial are fabulously easy and fast! You can see mine at

Gisele said...

I am absolutely stunned ! I have been researching this for days and thought I found the perfect pattern until this evening at 7:28 pm when I did one more search and found THIS. I am sooooo going to try this. QUESTION: Will this take a lifetime? I'm already 45.... haha - thank you again!!!!

...julia... said...

I shared this tutorial on my blog, love it! Thank you!

Blue-J Cottage

Maggie said...

This was so helpful. I just finished my first window, thanks!

Vanesa said...

Great tutorial! I love your blog :)

AllieMakes! said...

This is WONDERFUL! Lovely and Modern, yet traditional! Fantastic! And a great tutorial!

Bettina Staude said...

Wow,this is a great guide, I love the pattern. Thank you

rinks said...

Thanks foe sharing this beautiful tute...wil surely try today !

Sigríður Poulsen said...

thank you this is a grate toutorial, I will try it som day

Debbie Myatt Arnold said...

Nice block our group is in the process of making it ~ However, I would like to know what is the finished size?

Mandy said...

Just finished a block, great tutorial, turned out great, thank you!

Debbie Ann Heckeroth said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!