Finally finished: Cathedral Windows Quilt

Guess what I finally finished? My super colourful cathedral windows quilt!


These cathedral windows came away to the snow with us this year (where I finished it). They came away with us to the snow last year. This bloody thing came away with me to my sister’s house when she used to live in the US. It’s taken me over 18 months to finish this %$*@$ thing.


I like it. I don’t love it. Hopefully the love will return as my memory of it’s construction continues to fade. A bit like childbirth.

Hand sewing those flaps back was not for me. It became even more difficult when I stumbled across this awesome tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop on machine-sewing Cathedral Windows. If I’d found this before I’d started, I thought, I’d be done by now. So demoralising.

But I’d already past that point. The point where you’ve done so much work that even though you want to give it up, you can’t. Too much energy invested so an end product must be achieved. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.


I’m not crazy about how my flower centres look, due in part to my hand sewing and in part to the underlying coloured corners meeting here.


By choosing to have a different colour in each petal (rather than the same for all four as in the Moda Bake Shop example) I created a bit of a nightmare where the points met. Ah well, I still had to give it a go.


I started out with Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks line:


Somehow managed to fuse it to my ironing board (good excuse to buy a new cover):


Finally fused the colours down where they were supposed to go:


Then trimmed my squares for the top windows (slightly concave on each edge for less bulk):


Test drove my colours for the top windows:


Then decided to hand sew. Sob.


I just couldn’t get into it. Didn’t enjoy doing it. It annoyed me that my points didn’t meet exactly.


Never mind, this cathedral windows quilt is finished now and looks good when viewed as a whole. I don’t do myself any favours picking it to pieces with a zoom lens.

Now, what to do with it? It won’t last as a pillow, at least not in my house. I think I might hang it on the wall, what do you think?

(I am so glad it’s over)

ETA: It’s only 16 by 16 inches (40 x 40 cms).

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63 thoughts on “Finally finished: Cathedral Windows Quilt”

  1. Creative people are always hard on themselves. It is lovely. I would suggest hanging it where you need a splash of joy to start or end your day. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You did it!!! It’s a very nice looking quilt. Now pat yourself on the back and do another Cathedral, but an easier one. Check out Simple Cathedral window tute by quilting in the rain. I plan to do this one. I just found this pattern.

    Good quilting and the best to your next project.

    • Thanks Emma! I can’t see me making another one of these anytime soon (and it’s been over a decade since I made this one!)

  3. I just came across this article while doing research about the history behind the technique. I think your quilt looks absolutely stunning and you do need to stop picking it apart with close-up pictures. The overall effect is beautiful and for anyone who has ever dared to do this technique by hand they know how fiddly and hard and time consuming it is. So well done for making the whole thing by hand!

  4. Hi,
    What’s the rational for using the fusible interfacing between the 4-square patch and the background? I have tons of these little square floating around that I’d like to use, and I like that your design fills both the panes and the petals. Thanks for posting it

    • Hi there, the interfacing just makes sure the squares are held securely. When you hand sew you might not catch all the backing in your stitch. If you only secured it to the squares, and the squares aren’t moored, then it could all be a bit insecure. If you’re machine sewing the windows then you probably could get away with no interfacing, though it would be a pain trying to make sure they squares didn’t shift. I think interfacing would make it easier either way, TBH. 

    • Hi Chloe – unfortunately I don’t have a pattern for this one, it was a one-off panel I made for myself many years ago. But if you google cathedral windows blocks I’m sure you’ll find a ton of tutorials and videos for both hand and machine sewn blocks. 
      Good luck, hope yours goes better than mine did!

  5. Well I love it! I have all of your patterns and love what you do so maybe that is the influence. This is a technique I’ve been thinking about for some time so maybe this will be the impetus. Thanks for sharing, it is very very pretty.

  6. Thank you for this article. When I was about 18 years old and in college, my mother showed me a picture of a cathedral window quilt, and told me she was going to make me one. She showed me the colors and fabrics that she was going to use, and I was very excited about it. Over the years, I reminded her about the quilt, and asked how it was coming. The answers were typically disappointing. When she passed away, nearly 30 years after showing me that picture, she still hadn’t made the quilt, and I felt a bit resentful about it. It was one of the few pieces of unfinished business between us.

    Reading your article has helped me to understand that the reason my mother never finished my quilt, along with the many other sewing and craft projects that she did finish over the years, might have simply been that this one was too much work and too difficult. So you have enabled me to put this little loose end to rest.

    Thank you

  7. I absolutely love this….I feel badly that you can’t look at it with my eyes. Not being technically an expert makes me question what you see about points not meeting or this and that. It’s beautiful! I am in awe!

  8. this is beautiful and I’m inspired to try but I can’t wrap my head around how. Do you have a pattern for purchase?

  9. I have made several cathedral windows and I must say that yours is the prettiest I have ever seen. Thank you for sharing the process

  10. Love your quilt Kirsty.
    I started one just like it when my children were very young they are now in their 40’s!!
    It got to be about 16 X 36 and I got tired of sewing it. It became a wall hanging in my sewing room. I still love it but not enough to keep

  11. Made with some of my most favorite fabrics. This quilt is brilliant, bold, and beautiful! Well worth your 18 months of hard labor :) Phenominal!!!

  12. Wow, it’s beautiful! Do put it up on your wall, please – that’s where it belongs, in a place where everyone can see it!
    And thank you for sharing the process, I think I finally understand how a Cathedral Window quilt is constructed, but I doubt I’m brave enough to start one…

  13. This is absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been wanting to try this for years. My mom made a cathedral queen-size quilt years ago, but it literally took her years to complete. I may try one the size you made and frame it for the wall.

  14. I’d never been a huge fan of cathederal windows … until now! The funkiness of the fabrics against the white is wonderful. If only I didn’t have so many unfinished projects in plain view – many of which have also ‘travelled extensively’ during their creation :-). I think you deserve some sort of reward Kirsty.

  15. But it turned out so awsome! Your choices of fabrics are unbelievable and your craftmanship is so good. Toutes mes felicitations pour un travail si beau et si bien fait! You don’t really need to disguise anything, but the covered button suggestion is one I really like as it would add just another touch of sophistication to a beautiful quilt.
    This year I am in charge of the Block of the Month at my guild here in Texas. I have chosen to show techniques with folded fabrics and the cathedral window will be part of it, but I will base it on the 3 dimensional bowtie block. I hope this will be fun.
    Thanks for showing us this great piece,

  16. I tried to post last night and couldn’t for some reason. So glad I can today. Wow! Is all I can say. It is beautiful. I turned the iPad to Paul’ so he could see it last night and he was duly impressed too. He doubly complimented you by loving the photographs of the Stunnung quilt just as much as the quilt itself!

  17. C’est Super Joli!
    Manifique Travaille!
    Love it, really!
    And dont be too hard on yourself, what matters most is to have done it, to have finished it! Some poeple dont even try!! (like myself, been saying for months now that I am going to join my local quilting blub to make a bed cover)…And only the artist see’s the errors nobody else! Trust me!
    Hand it, and dont ever forget all the work you put into it!

  18. Sorry to agree with everyone but it’s stunning and any wall would be proud to have it. 18 months? Poof! I’ve recently found some squares that I started at least, well it has to be, 12 years ago. I also found some blocked strips from the same era but I turned those into a headboard for the guest room.

  19. Holy Smokes, Kirsty! Don’t be so hard on yourself…or this little piece of wonder. I can’t see the meeting points…all I see is something incredibly cool. Traditional and modern at the same time. I love your fabric choices. Stop it! I don’t have many more notches for you to keep climbing to.

  20. It’s beautiful!!! And I agree, it definitely deserves a spot on the wall! :-) Kudos for persevering, drawn out projects really can be annoying and zip your crafting energy! I am sure that after a couple of days you are as in love with it as we all are!

  21. I think it’s lovely, Kirsty! Would make a fabulous wallhanging. Such pretty fabrics and a testament to your determination. I’m sure you’ll come to love it as the memory of the labour involved fades. ;o)

  22. It is a delight to look at. You could use it as a wall hanging for the time being, maybe later you will decide to incorporate it in a bigger quilt (different pattern!) using it as a ‘window’.
    I like the idea of using buttons on the intersections, but I would rather use different coloured ones, vintage or not.
    I enjoyed to see how you made it.

  23. I think you have done a beautiful job – it would look great as a wall hanging – like a stained glass panel. Good on you for persevering with it – can’t wait too see what you do with it.

  24. Wow! Perseverance PLUS! Even an old hand like me hasn’t attempted one of those….. and now I cant…… as the eyesight is questionable…. so…. one day when you get OLD you wont even see those fluffy points …you’ll just think how amazing you WERE in your youth :)
    Get yourself some divine ribbon, and a medal from a sports supplier… get it engraved and make up a showy “Award” for yourself….attach it permanently…. stand back…. and pour yourself a Champagne. Clever girl.

  25. Two words. You’re nuts! It is absolutely fabulous Kirsty. Take a step back and look at it. It’s phenomenal in it’s awesomeness.
    You can always give it to me, my birthday is in July, lol. That would save me from ever having to make one. There is no way I would ever have the patience to produce that.

  26. Oh I am so pleased that you finished it!! It’s the most beautiful little quilt ever. Truely I LOVE it. The colours are perfect too. Here’s an idea for you since you are not happy with the intersections; you could make some covered buttons to cover the intersections in the same fabrics which would look really good. If it’s for hanging on a wall, which I think is just where it will look it’s best, the buttons will be fine. I know in time you will love it when you are less critical of it because really it’s quite a work of art. Good on you Kirsty! P.S. I want one now too! Must go and google.

  27. It’s beautiful and I think it would make an amazing wall hanging. Good job to stick with it to the end. My stepmother actually made a QUEEN SIZE Cathedral Window quilt by had for my niece last year. Unbelievable patience in my opinion. I think I’ll try one your size but probably by machine :)

  28. I am in love. Wow!! I haven’t taken that plunge yet but maybe one day I will be brave enough. It turned out great.

    Here is a suggestion if you want to help “disquise” the meeting points of your “petals”. Sew clear buttons where they meet. You can see the color through the buttons but the meeting point is hidden by where you sew on the buttons. However, I like it as is and think you deserve a prize for this.

    Thank you for showing it.


  29. Oh my goodness! As soon as I saw this, I thought about one that I made (for a pillow) many years ago. I was (and still am) bowing down to your abilities and precision. This one is a bear to make to keep it perfect with all that hand turning and sewing… on a CURVE no less! Bravo to you!

    I am proud that you finished and it does look fabulous. I would definitely hang it on a wall, and I am so glad for you that it’s over!



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