Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Make a Cathedral Window Pocket For a Handbag

Today I want to share with you how to make a cathedral window pocket(s) for a bag.  I made this Weekender Bag in round 2 of Sewvivor (which you can read about here), and I have had so many requests for details on how I did it!  I am more than happy to share my instructions with you!  I love the effect that the cathedral windows added to my bag, and I know you will too!

Let me preface this post by saying that this tutorial is just a starting point.  I will walk you through all the planning and math that comes with the construction of your cathedral windows and turning them into a pocket for a handbag, but I will not be writing about HOW to construct them.  That is because I used this amazing tutorial on the Moda Bakeshop by Angela Nash.  Angela gives clear instructions and her tut includes a lot of detailed pictures that make the process so easy!  I don't think I could improve on her directions, so I won't!

Getting Started

One thing that really helps me in the design process is to take notes and draw my vision out on paper.  It is really useful when cutting and piecing so that I don't have to second guess myself and make unnecessary mistakes.  I do this with every project I do, including my quilts!


What is a Cathedral Window?

Before I explain the process of making the cathedral windows, I want to show you what I'm talking about when I say "window".  This is a window . . . 

This next picture is not a window, but a "diamond" that is created when two adjacent windows are made.

Keep that is mind when designing your pocket and figuring out what you want your finished pocket to look like :)

What Size Window Do I Need?

The first thing you will need to decide is how many rows of windows you will want showing on your pocket.  After drawing my design, I settled on three rows.  Next, I measured my pattern for the unfinished height of the pocket.  Mine was about 9" at the tallest point.  I then divided the height by the number of rows I wanted so that I could figure out the finished size of window that I needed.  I lucked out and got a whole number of 3".  If you don't get a whole number, then just round down to the nearest 1/4" measurement.  I'll explain how to make it work with the needed pocket size later (see "What Do I Do Once My Cathedral Window Panel Is Done?" towards the bottom of this post).  

Example:  For instance, if your pocket height is 7" unfinished and you want 3 rows, you divide 7 by 3 and get 2.3333.  Just round that down to 2.25".  The windows are square so you will need them to be 2.25" x 2.25".

How Many Windows Do I Need? 

To figure out how many windows you will need, measure the unfinished length of your pocket from the pattern.  Mine was about 19" at the longest point.  Since I already knew I was going to have windows that were 3" squared, I divided 19 by 3 and got 6.3333.  I rounded that number down to the nearest whole, and got 6.  So, I was going to need 6 windows for each row, or 18 windows per pocket (3 rows of 6).

Example:  So, if your unfinished pocket is 10" long and your finished windows will be 2.25" squared, you will need 4 windows for each row.  You will want 12 windows per pocket (3 rows of 4).

How Much Neutral Fabric Do I Need?

Once you know how many windows your pocket requires, you can plan for how much fabric you will need.  To make a cathedral window, you will need to use A LOT more neutral fabric then you might think.  The neutral fabric is folded several times and pretty much hidden by the fabric that creates the pop of color.  To calculate the "pre-fold" size square of the neutral fabric you will need, multiply your window size by 2 and add 1.5" for your seam allowance.  For my 3" x 3" windows, this number was 7.5".

Example: In the example of a 2.25" x 2.25" window, you will start with a 6" square (2.25 x 2 + 1.5).

I usually generalize the width of fabric (WOF) for any given fabric as 42".  When you know how big your squares need to be cut, you simply divide 42" by that measurement to figure out how many square you can get for each WOF.  So, with my 3" finished windows, I needed to start with 7.5" squares.  42 divided by 7.5 is 5.6, so I can get 5 squares per WOF.  I know I need 18 windows total, so I will need (18) 7.5" squares.  Since I can get 5 per WOF, I will need 4 WOF cuts (18 divided by 5 = 3.6 and I rounded up).  Each WOF cut will be 7.5" long since I need squares, so I will multiply that by 4 WOF cuts and get 30".  I will need a 30" by WOF cut of fabric for one pocket, or round up to 1 yard (36").  I actually did two cathedral window pockets on my bag, so I multiplied the 30" by 2.  I needed 60" x WOF, so 1.75 yards (63").

Example:  For the example with 2.25" square windows, you start with 6" squares.
42"(WOF) / 6" = 7 (squares per WOF)
12 (windows per pocket) / 7 (squares) = 1.7, round up to 2.
2 WOF x 6" = 12"
You need 12" by WOF or 1/3 yard for one pocket

If you are making two cathedral window pockets:
12" x 2 = 24"
You need 24" by WOF or 2/3 yard

*You might want to plan for a few extra inches of neutral fabric in case your cathedral window panel is a little smaller than the size of your unfinished pocket.

How Much Colorful Fabric Do I Need For the Windows/Diamonds?

As long as your finished window size is 5" x 5" or smaller, I would use one charm pack, mini charm, or I suppose you could use scraps!  You just need to make sure you will have enough charms/scrap pieces for the number of windows you need and for the "diamonds" that are in between the windows.  I used one charm pack per pocket.

What Size Should I Cut My Fabric to Fit in My Windows and Diamonds?

When your windows are all sewn together, as directed in Angela's tutorial, you will need to measure each window to figure out what size to cut your fabric.  For my 3" x 3" windows I cut them anywhere from 3" to 3.25".  For the diamonds in between the windows, you will need to cut squares that are half the size of your finished windows.  Since mine were 3", I cut my squares 1.5" x 1.5".

Example:  For a bag that has a 2.25" finished window, cut your squares for the windows between 2.25" to 2.5" depending on its measurements.  For the diamonds in between the windows, you would need to cut your fabric into 1 1/8" x 1 1/8" squares.

Thoughts On Color Selection and Scale of Prints

This is kind of where your creative juices come in.  Think about the color of your main fabric for your bag.  Is is busy?  Is it a neutral print?  What do you want to be the main focus on your bag?

If the cathedral windows are the main star of your bag, I would suggest a print for the main fabric that is small and neutral, like a stripe, dots, or maybe even a low volume.  As far as the scale of the print for your windows goes . . .  since the squares you will be cutting are most likely going to be pretty small, if you use fabrics with large prints, you will not really see the print very well, if at all.  Using fabrics with smaller prints and fussy cutting larger prints may be helpful for you!   If the main fabric is the star and you want the cathedral windows to accentuate them, choose fabrics and prints for your windows that are solids, neutral, or large.

I decided that I wanted my windows to be cool tones of aqua and green since my main bag fabric was a warm red.  Alternatively, I wanted the diamonds in between my windows to be warm tones of orange, white, red, and pink juxtaposed against the cool colors.  I used a different print for each of the windows, but used repeating prints for the diamonds.

This is just food for thought!  Everybody has a different style and fabrics that speak to them.  Be creative and do what makes you happy!

What Do I Do Once My Cathedral Window Panel Is Done?

Your panel should look similar to the above picture once you are done with your sewing.  If your panel is a little bigger than what you need for your pattern, just put the pocket's pattern on top of the windows and make sure to center.  Then cut around the edges and you're good to go!

If your panel is a little smaller than what you need for your pattern, you will need to first square it up.

This is where the extra few inches of neutral fabric may come in handy for you.  After squaring up your panel, measure how much bigger it needs to be to equal the maximum height and length of the pattern's pocket.  I think I needed 2" overall added to the height (1" on top and bottom) and maybe 1" on the sides (1/2" on each side).  I added a little extra just in case, so I just cut my neutral fabric into strips of 1.5" x WOF.  Measure the sides first and cut your strips to that length.  Sew the strips to your panel with right sides together and then press the seam towards the neutral fabric and topstitch.  Measure the top and bottom of your panel and cut your strips accordingly.  Sew the strips on and then press the seam toward the neutral fabric and topstitch.

Then I just put my pattern for the pocket on this panel (that's a lot of p's, sorry), centered it as best I could, and cut around the edges to make the pocket shape.  And voila!  You have a beautiful cathedral window pocket!

On a side note, even though this pocket is pretty thick all by itself, I did chose to follow the pattern's instructions for adding interfacing.  I found it created a smoother effect and had my lining been light, I would not be worried that the windows would show through that side.

I hope this post has been helpful for those of you who would like to tackle this project!  It certainly is not what I would call "hard", but it is time consuming, so don't think you'll have it done in an afternoon.  Just be patient with it and enjoy the beauty of what you are doing.  Please let me know is any of my instructions are not clear or if you have any other questions you would like me to address concerning this bag.   And thank you for showing such an interest in this bag of mine!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Honeybee Heaven Winners

Thank you to everyone that participated in my Honeybee Heaven pattern giveaway!

The three lucky winners are Denise, Kayde, and Kristin!  Congratulations ladies!  Email me at to claim your prize!  You can either have a PDF or paper version.

Share the Love Friday

It's that time of the week again!  Let's check out the projects I've been crushing on, shall we?

Christine used this FREE Tula Pink pattern and Tula Pink's Foxfield fabric to make this quilt.  Wow!  Isn't this gorgeous?

Art Gallery Fabrics has been featuring Katrina all week on Instagram, and I have fallen in love with this quilt and her new fabric line!  Speaking of . . . 

 . . . here is Katrina's line, Recollection.  Those pixel roses!  I DIE!

Sherri just released three new patterns and Potluck is one of them.  I love the little Dresdens!

I pretty much love everything that Jenny does!  Just look at that quilting!

Erica shares her tutorial for this colorful quilt on the Riley Blake Cutting Corners Blog.

Chandelier by Lee of Freshly Pieced
A quilt-along for this quilt started this week over on the Bernina blog, We All Sew.  Go check it out and follow along!

Bird Wings by Faith of Fresh Lemons
Check out these AWESOME wings Faith made for her daughter's Halloween costume!  LOVE!

Get-Up-And-Go Skirt by Deborah of Whipstitch
This is Deborah's first in a series of learn as you sew patterns.  She has so many lovely variations of this quilt on her blog, but this one was my favorite.  Looking forward to learning as I sew with her patterns, since I am not a great garment sewer.

Hope you saw something that inspired you today!

As a final shameless plug, the full-color paper version of my Honeybee Heaven pattern is now printed and ready for shipping (also available in PDF).  Check out my Etsy shop for details!

 Woo hoo!  Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Honeybee Heaven Pattern Giveaway!

I am happy to announce that I finally finished my third quilt pattern, Honeybee Heaven! 

 I was planning on having it done months ago, but then this little thing called Sewvivor happened :)  By some fluke, I ended up getting into the third round, which was a hexagon challenge and I knew exactly what I wanted to do!  And now you can make it too!

This pattern is great for hexagon beginners!  In fact, it was my first hexagon quilt and I LOVED making it!

The pattern includes full color diagrams and detailed instructions for piecing hexagons, as well as, how to make the beautiful jagged binding.

Honeybee Heaven is now available for purchase in my Etsy shop in PDF and paper format (paper will be available to ship out next week).

To celebrate Honeybee's release, I am doing a little giveaway.  All you have to do is leave a comment and you are entered to win.  For an extra entry, follow me on Instragram @sewinlovequilting and follow the instructions on my latest post.  Good luck!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Share the Love Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!  I had a great response to last week's Share the Love Friday and I'm excited to be able to share more amazing quilts and lovlies with you today.  So, let get to it .  .  .

Vanessa used her line Into the Woods to make this quilt for her daughter, Olive.  She was originally thinking about doing scrappy sashing, but I love the white sashing here!  You can see my version of the Tone It Down quilt here.

Holly designed this quilt for the Modern Solids Challenge, which you can check out on the FreeSpirit blog.  More lovliness over there and you can vote for your favorite!

I had to include this quilt since the U of U is my alma mater.  Loving the Ute fabric!

Please go visit Amy's website for more pictures of this autumn quilt!  The quilting is AMAZING!

Clementine pillow by Amanda of Crazy Mom Quilts
These are just some of the pillows in Amanda's collection!  Clementine is the second to the left on the top row.  Beautiful!

Thanks for stopping by and I'll have more eye candy next week!

Friday, October 3, 2014

So Long, Sewvivor and Share the Love Friday

For those of you that haven't heard . . . I am thrilled to say that I placed 2nd in the Sewvivor competition!  If I'm being completely honest, I am a little disappointed that I didn't place 1st, just because it was SO close I could taste it!  But, seriously 2nd place is WAY further than I thought I would get, so I am grateful!  Thanks for the support and amazing words of encouragement everyone!

1st place went to the talented Nicole of Snip Snippets

and 3rd place went to the talented Amanda of A Crafty Fox

Congrats girls!

Well, now that Sewvivor is over and I have some free time, I have decided to start a new series on the blog called Share the Love Friday.  I just love the online quilting community and how kind and generous everyone is!  So, I would like to share a weeking post to showcase other quilter's/sewist's projects, fabric I'm loving, and maybe some other fun things, like recipes and crafts.  Every Friday, I will share 5-10 photos and links to other blogs of some of the lovely things people have made that week.  So here we go!

I love the clever use of color in this quilt!  It's great for fall, don't you think?

Emily entered this awesome camera quilt in the Sewvivor Sewalong and won!  So cool!

Angie has been killing me all week on Instagram with her in-progress pictures of this cute dresden flower.  LOVE it!

Heather uses a quilt as you go method to make the front of the pillow and I just love her color palette!

Because who doesn't like some bacon?!  Barbie is hosting a Bacon quilt-along and giveaway, so make sure to check out her post for all the details!

I have totally been crushing this week on Jen Baker's new line of fabric Geometric Bliss for Art Gallery Fabric!  You can check out the entire collection on the Art Gallery Fabric website here!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love to cook!  One of my go-to websites for recipes is Our Best Bites!  I literally use their recipes for 90% of my cooking.  I'm going to be trying these amazing Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars today, so I thought I'd share the recipe with y'all!

And that's a wrap for the first ever Share the Love Friday!  Come back next week for a look at more projects that I've been loving on!
Oh, and I am having a sale over on my Etsy shop!  Use code SEWVIVOR15 for 15% your total purchase through Sunday!  Happy shopping!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sewvivor Challenge #4 - THE FINALS (Lap Size Quilt)

Hello, and welcome to my FINAL project for the Sewvivor Quilting Edition!  I never expected to make it passed the auditions and so I am thrilled to have made it to the final three!  I know the other two competitors are bringing their "A" game and I tried to do the same with my lap size quilt!


I chose to use the American Patchwork and Quilting "Tone It Down" pattern designed by Lisa Alexander for my quilt.  Except, I definitely didn't "tone it down" with the color!  I used a variety of Bonnie and Camille fabrics from my special stash to make this colorful and bright quilt (and I threw in a navy floral by Joanna Figueroa just for fun).  This beautiful quilt finishes at 75.5" x 93.5", so it's a BIG one!  

So, was your guess right?  It's been really fun all week to hear people tell me which quilt they thought was mine and why.  I would giggle to myself inside every time someone explained why this couldn't be my quilt.  I really think this quilt personifies me and my style.  It's bright, colorful, structured, and a little crazy in places!  

I have never been one to shy away from a lot of color, and I love how all of Bonnie and Camille's fabric lines coordinate so well together.  This quilt has 20 blocks (each block has 97 pieces), 44 scrappy sashing strips, and 25 nine-patch blocks set as the posts for the sashing.  In all it contains 2209 pieces!  I honestly don't know how I got this one done with the allotted time schedule!  I seriously was sewing 10-12 hours per day!  I'm really thankful for my family and friends that helped watch my kids so I could bust it out!

In each of the 20 blocks, I quilted some free-hand petals, cross-hatched lines and cathedral windows.  I quilted figure 8's in the inside sashing strips, double cathedral windows for the nine-patch posts, and finished it up with a meandering feather for the outside sashing border.  It was my first time doing a feather design and I'm pretty proud of the result!  I used Aurifil #2024 for all the piecing and quilting.  I love how strong it is!  I have way fewer broken threads when quilting with it than other brands of thread.

 I used a blue floral print from Miss Kate for the backing and paired it with the Red Sundae Scallop from the same line for the binding.  I cut my binding strips 2.5" wide and decided to sew it 3/8" from the quilt's edge (I usually sew it 1/4" from the edge).  I hand stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and I really like how it butts right up to the edge of the quilt.  I LOVE the way it turned out!


Thanks to everyone for the continued support of me and the others in the Sewvivor competition!  It has been quite the journey and I'm grateful I have made it this far.  No matter the results, I feel like a winner!