Instructions for a Cathedral Window Quilt

    by Mary Anne Thygesen

    About the Author

    Mary Anne Thygesen is a freelance writer with over 40 years of experience. She regularly contributes to Taste of Home and Healthy Cooking magazines. She published in an education journal Microsoft Works in Education. She teaches cooking, nutrition, sewing, and quilting. She writes for eHow. She has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Portland State University.


    Cathedral window quilts are as gorgeous as rose windows in cathedrals. There are two types of patterns for cathedral window quilts. One quilt, the traditional pattern, is hand sewn. The other modern pattern is simpler and machine sewn. Decide which quilt to make by how much time you want to devote to the project and whether you want to hand sew it.


    The tools used to cut out the shapes can be as simple as household items. Cut squares and circles out of cereal boxes and draw your circle around a CD or cereal bowl. Or for convenience, purchase rigid plastic quilt templates. Rotary circle cutting tools take the work out of cutting circles.

    Modern Cathedral Window Quilt

    A modern cathedral window quilt is made out of circles folded into squares. Leave the edges raw to make a rag quilt. Or the edges can be embroidered--show off all the fancy stitches that come with your sewing machine. The project is so quick that you can make one for each season. The circles are a creative way to use up scraps.

    Hand Sewn Cathdral Window Quilt

    A hand sewn cathedral window quilt is a work of art. Quilters put in years of work making these quilts. Folding and hand sewing the pieces, turning a larger square into one a quarter of the size. This method needs no batting, the folded pieces make a very heavy quilt. The shapes placed in the middle of each square are little squares of scrap fabric.

    Assembling a Modern Cathedral Window Quilt

    Choose fabric in different colors and patterns that folds well. Quilting cotton, worsted wool and polar fleece all neatly fold and crease. Cut out circles. Make a square template that inscribes the circle. Mark the square on the circle. Chalk brushes off fabric or use a washable marker. For each block stack two circles wrong sides together on top of each other. Then stack the first set of circles on a second set of circles. Sew along one line of the square. Open up the piece, pressing the partial circle toward the middle of the square. Continue joining by sewing along the square until all the circles are pieced together. Now the quilt is ready to embroider.

    Techniques for Embroidering Modern Cathedral Window Quilts

    To embroider the quilt, sandwich it between two pieces of wash-away stabilizer-- it's best to use stabilizer because it prevents the feed dog and presser foot from snagging the fabric or shredding the thread. Use a needle for machine embroidery. Set the machine for a satin stitch. If your machine does not have a satin stitch, shorten the stitch length until the stitches are very close together. Stitch along the edge of the half circle. If you are having trouble sewing along a curve, drop the feed dogs. Finish the quilt by washing out the stabilizer. Wash-away stabilizer turns into goo when wet. Rub the goo with your hands until it is all washed out.