May 26, 2011

Modular Cathedral Windows experiment

I recently had my head cracked open by a little zipper bag from Patchwork Notes. Holy smokes. The same curves you know and love from cathedral windows, but not in a cathedral window. It made me think new thoughts about getting down with rolled bias edges.

Since I saw that photo I've been pondering the different possibilities, and poking at one in particular over and over when I get a few minutes in the sewing room. Obsessing and making messes are what I do best.


I'm calling it a modular cathedral window. The advantage of this approach is that you can have different colors across the block and even different colors within the modules. It doesn't require calculations or complicated folding. It's great for using up scraps. And because each quarter of the block is constructed individually, it's easily adapted to variations.


Mmmm.....variations....


To make the base module you take three squares of the same size. Press two of them in half along the diagonal. Lay them over the other unfolded square, with the folded edges meeting along the diagonal.


I experimented with stitching along the module edges with a straight stitch and a zig zag and didn't like either approach. I also tried using a tack stitch in the corners where the edges met, but I don't even think that's necessary now. Instead, I am just using a dab of fabric glue to tack down the corners where they meet.

Rolling back the bias edge and stitching it down was easier than I expected. At first I did it as I completed each module, before stitching them together, but some of the rolls got into the seam allowances that way. So now I'm waiting to roll back the bias edges until I've stitched my modules together. I am not given to patience in the sewing room, so I'll admit that waiting to see the end result is hard. (Photo below prior to my glue and patience revelations)


The downside of the modular cathedral window is those seam allowances. Six layers of fabric coming together. The traditional cathedral window definitely has an advantage here. Press the seam allowances open and hope for the best.


I almost didn't show that last picture. I don't really know what a "good" cathedral window looks like so I'm not sure whether to be impressed or embarrassed with myself. Silliness. Not important. Just an experiment.

So what do you think, is it in your brain now too? I just want to keep playing with this so I'm thinking I'll post a new block using this technique every week or so. It won't have the structure of a full quilt along because I don't want to make all those decisions about size and yardage right now, but I can tell you: 9 inch finished blocks. Lots of five inch squares required. I'm buying a couple Kona charm squares packs to make it easy on myself, but I'll be cutting into yardage too along the way. I can't wait to show you some of the variations I'm cooking up. I'll start with the first block this week!

Single window block
Squared window block
Sweet garden block
Little spinner block 
Big spinner block
Flora block
Groove block

24 comments:

MareMare said...

I love it Christina! I've never done a cathedral window either, I just can't wrap my mind around it. Your method reminds of the potholder demonstration Cherri did last year. I'll definitely have to try this, thanks for sharing!

Patchwork and Play said...

I LOVE these!(but I've already told you that! ;-) ) The colours and variations are wonderful! Must try these for sure!

KnittyAJ said...

Ok, you just added another project to my list!!!! Thanks for posting the block...

Gene Black said...

How fun! I love the line "Press the seam allowances open and hope for the best."
I do that the "hope for the best" a lot with my self taught quilting.

Anne at Film and Thread said...

This is intriguing and I also like the zippered bag that you linked to. Definitely looks like a technique that would be fun to try.

MarĂ­a Cristina said...

Maravilloso!!!
Gracias por compartir!!

Carolee said...

These are awesome, going to my sewing room now to play! Thanks!

Amber H. said...

I think you did a really good job thinking outside of the window frame with these.

(instead of the box, get it??

Debbie said...

This is great Christina! Thanks for showing us how to do it.

Rhanda said...

Looks great to me! Thanks for sharing!

RamonaX / Gail said...

I love these ~ they are so cute, can't wait to try them out! Thanks for sharing :)

felicity said...

Thanks for sharing this technique - and for copping to "hoping for the best". Let's just say you're in good company there.

Sand and Sunshine said...

These are really pretty. With all those layers they would have to be on their own in a project instead of a sampler, love the concept.

Zegi said...

Wow, as soon as I saw the technique with the folded squares I thought, well of course! It is totally obvious! But not really, because I had to have someone point it out to me. I think they look awesome, you should be proud! What an interesting idea. Hmm. The brain begins to churn.

Mama Pea said...

Looks really interesting. I like how you are varying the colors. Not sure how to deal with all the fabric at the center. Hmmmm.....

Carolee said...

I just did a sample, love this technique! Only thing that was hard was going around the corner where the points meet, then I read a hint, use a glue stick (water soluble) just in the 1/4 area of the corner to hold it in place... well duh to me! Fun!

Carolee said...

for the fabric in the center I press all the seams in the same direction and kinda twist open the center. It lays quite flat then.

Kay Lynne said...

Looks like another neat idea that I will have to try. Your samples look great!

Izabel Biali said...

Hello Christina,
Beautiful work, you notice the care and affction employed them.
Congratulations!
Kisses
Izabel

Susan Being Snippy said...

I tried this technique a few years ago and used the piece later for a gifted doll quilt. Perhaps it is time to revisit the idea and see what else I can create...

Jeane said...

I love these fun things you bring to your posts. I will definitely be trying these along with you. I have no desire to do a big project of cathedral windows but like to try new techniques and enjoy the finished results in a small item. I think pot holders are in the wind for me.

a.niza said...

really interesting...

Dee said...

Thanks so much for sharing your process! This is genious!

sbramlage said...

Great block idea. Thanks for sharing.

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