Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sew EZ Cathedral Windows! A Tutorial...

I have wanted to show you all how to do this clever Cathedral Window for quite some time.  I finally got around to it-yay for me and for you!  I do love it when things come together.

Cathedral Windows is a lovely old quilt design.  It is traditionally made with a lot of hand sewing, folding, pressing, more hand sewing, and I felt a waste of fabric- the horror!  You want to see why I say this?  Check out this blog post-then you will see.  It's so complicated I vowed I would never try it again after attempting it once.  Then I met Kristine Poor from Poorhouse Designs.  She showed me her clever way of making the Cathedral Window block both easy and fun.  I then took it a step farther, and figured out some tricks that worked for me.  I have been hooked ever since!  It looks wonderful, it is easy, it is fast and it works great with pre-cut fabrics.  Yep, it is a winner folks!

So here we go....

First get your fabric together.

  • You will need foreground fabric and background fabric.  This is basically a 2:1 ratio.  Yes math-ugh.  Anyway it's easy.  Whatever fabric you will be using as the foreground fabric needs to be twice as much as what you have for the background.  
  • You will also need a glue stick.  Preferably not Elmer's, but if it's all you have it will work.  It just doesn't stick as well as the fabric glue sticks made by Sew-Line, and Fons and Porter.  Plus it is sort of a "chubby" stick and the ones made for fabric are "skinny" giving you a pencil size line rather than a nickel sized line of glue.

Wow.  That was easy right?

Cut your background and foreground fabric into squares of the same size.
If you are using 5" squares, they all need to be 5".  If they are 3" squares, they all should be 3".  You will need twice as many foreground squares as background squares.  For instance, if you are using two Charm packs for the foreground, you will need 80 squares.  For the background you would need 40 squares.

Once you have them all cut, you will simply need to press the foreground squares into triangles.

Press all the foreground squares into triangles with wrong sides together.
Lay one triangle on top of each side of the square, lining up the right angles of the raw edges.  The folds of the two triangles will have the folded edge meeting in the center diagonally.

Do this with all of the triangles and squares.
take your glue stick and glue along the raw edge of the top (right side) of the background fabric.  this will secure the triangle to the square without having to use pins.  All of you "anti-pin" people out there are loving this part right?  Personally, I am a pinner, but some projects are just easier without them.

Okay so the blocks are all set with triangles secured now, right?

Now you will sew the blocks together in whatever fashion you like.  In this case I am making a pillow.
If this is just going to be a straight-up pillow, then go ahead and sew the blocks in rows and then sew the rows together.
Press your seams open.  It is not usually something I suggest in quilting, but it is helpful in this project with all the layers.
 In this picture you can see how the fold pulls easily away from the background.  It naturally will create an arc when you pull the fabric from the center.

 Once the blocks are all sewn together, you can fold back each side of the fold on each block and press them in place.  The reason I wait until they are all sewn together to fold the centers back is to get the optimal shape of the wedge in the center.  If you do it before they are sewn into the quilt design, you will lose some of the points once you sew all the blocks together.  

 For this pillow, you can see the center is made up of the red squares and I created a different look by framing it with more of the blocks.  Typically a Cathedral Window quilt, or in this case a pillow, would have all the blocks pieced as the center is, in X's.

Once the centers are all pressed back, I sew them in place along the arc of the wedge.  You can do this with invisible thread so your stitches don't show, or with a colored thread so they will show.  You can try it with a straight stitch, zigzag, or decorative stitch.  If you want the optimal effect you could hand-sew each one down.  I'm usually in a hurry, so I haven't done it that way yet.

  This pillow is sewn with a decorative stitch showing the thread.
With this quilt, I used invisible thread so it looks hand sewn.  Then I quilted straight lines through the center of the wedge shapes.  
Please forgive my nasty looking table here.  It is in desperate need of refinishing.  I also forgot to take a photo of the finished pillow.  I sent it to my mom for Christmas--sorry about that!  You get the idea though I hope. Let me know if you have questions!