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About the Cathedral Window Rag Quilt Pattern
Cathedral Windows Rag Quilt Pattern

Cathedral Windows Rag quilt after one washing -- just as it looked out of the dryer, no trimming or fluffing or squaring-up.

© Janet Wickell
This Cathedral Window quilt pattern is beginner-friendly, so don't hesitate to try the project even if it's your very first quilt. We'll sew the traditional Cathedral Window design as a rag quilt, where exposed seam allowances become soft, fluffy frames on the front of the quilt.

If this is your first rag quilt, be sure to read my rag quilt instructions before beginning.

Cathedral Window rag quilts are made from individual circle sandwiches. Each sandwich contains a circular front, batting and backing, all the same size.

Some rag Cathedral Window quilts are made with traditional quilt batting in the middle layer. However, batting cannot be not placed within the ragged seam allowances, since it wouldn't be stable in the ragged seams. Omitting batting from those areas takes time, and the end result is skimpy frayed edges. Blocks must also be quilted when batting is used.

I prefer to use a flannel batting in rag quilts, because it is durable, doesn't need to be quilted and extends into the seam allowance to add depth, and even splash of contrasting color if desired.

To Make the Cathedral Window Quilt

We'll cut circles that measure 8-1/2" in diameter -- five circles are possible across the width of fabrics that measure 44" from selvage-to-selvage. Download the Cathedral Windows Template

Other diameters work just as well. Try 10" circles or choose a different size. For a miniature rag quilt, go with 3-1/2" or 4" diameter circles, and try a 1/4" or 3/8" seam allowance rather than the 1/2" seams we'll use for this larger quilt.

If you don't want to bother with making a template, find a sturdy circular object to use instead, like a dinner plate, the lid to a large shortening or coffee can, or something similar. Finished sizes will differ, and so will yardage, but it's easy to add or subtract circles from rows to adjust the dimensions of the quilt. Sew into sandwiches with a 1/2" seam allowance, using your machine to gauge the distance. Mark center squares (later instructions) after sandwiches are sewn.

If you use a template, construct a window template, which makes it easy to mark both the cutting line and seam line without repositioning the template.

Finished quilt size: About 30" x 30" -- cut more circles for each layer to make a larger quilt

minimum 43" wide not including selvages

1-1/3 yards of three fabrics: a dark, a light and a flannel

For Larger or Smaller Quilts

Determine yardage for another circle size:

  1. Measure the width of your fabrics (not counting selvages).

  2. Divide the width of the fabric by the size of the circle you plan to cut; for instance, 43 wide fabric / 8.5 circle = 5.05, or 5 cuts possible across width.

  3. How many circles do you need, and how much yardage will they require?

    Example: for 50 circles that measure 8-1/2" (8.5), divide 50 by the 5 circles that can be cut across fabric width. The result -- 10 cuts are required along the length of the fabric. Be sure to plug in your own numbers.

  4. Multiply the number of cuts required along fabric length, 10, times 8.5" per cut -- 85".

  5. Divide 85" by 36", the length of a yard. For the circles in the example, that equals 2.36. Round up to compensate for errors and/or shrinkage -- 2-5/8 yards of each fabric will be enough. Do keep in mind that flannels are sometimes not as wide as other fabrics.

Another Yardage Example

Let's say you need (80) circles that are 6" in diameter:

    42" usable fabric divided by 6 = 7, the number of circles that can be cut across the fabric's width
  • 80 circles needed divided by 7, the number of circles from each width of fabric -- 11.42
  • Round up, you'll need (12) 7" cuts along the length of the fabric.
  • 12 times 7" = 84"
  • 84" divided by 36" per yard = 2.33 yards, or 2-1/3 yards of each fabric
  • Up that figure to compensate for cutting errors, and in this case to be sure that 7 circles can truly be cut across the fabric's width. I would go with 2-5/8 yards each, or even a bit more to be safe.
A Decimal to Fraction Conversion Chart might be of help during yardage calculations.
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