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Cathedral Window Quilt Pattern

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Cut Circles for the Rag Quilt
Cathedral Windows Rag Quilt Pattern

Mark the cutting lines and sewing lines on circles for a Cathedral Windows rag quilt.

Janet Wickell
It's time to cut circles for the Cathedral Window quilt. My illustration shows the progression of marking a single circle, but your circles will actually be marked side by side along the width of fabric. Circles can be marked along pre-cut 8-1/2" wide strips of fabric, or side by side on the entire yardage.

  1. Make a window template using my 8-1/2" circle pattern. Print the pattern at 100% -- do not allow your printer to scale the file.

  2. Find the fabric that will be on the front, ragged side of the quilt. Place pressed yardage (or fabric strip) right side up on a hard surface. Position your template near the top edge of fabric, avoiding the tightly bound selvage. Use a fabric marking pencil to draw around the inner and outer edges of the circle template (use a pencil with a line that will stay intact during handling; loose chalk will rub off).

  3. Draw another circle next to the first, letting outer lines touch to conserve fabric. Continue drawing circles across the fabric. Repeat until you have 25 circles.

  4. Make a 5-1/4" x 5-1/4" square template (not a window template). True size is actually a tiny bit larger than that, but the difference is taken up by the seam line).

  5. Center the square template inside a circle, adjusting it until its four corners all touch the inner line as illustrated (align all in the same manner for directional fabrics). Trace around the square.

  6. Repeat for all circles.

  7. Stack fabrics, placing your marked fabric right side up, the flannel layer under it, and the backing fabric right side down behind the flannel. Press to help fabrics adhere to each other (or place a pin at the center of each circle to keep fabrics from shifting).

  8. Cut out circles on the outermost line, making your cuts through all three layers.

  9. Sew each circle sandwich together on the inner, circular line. Seams may be slightly visible when the quilt is finished (depending on the amount of fray) so use a neutral thread color or one that works with your fabrics.

  10. Clip into each seam allowance, making cuts about 1/4" apart and perpendicular to the seam line, but ending just before the seam. (Illustration)

I have read instructions that direct you to clip seam allowances after the circles are sewn together. I prefer to do it beforehand, for a couple of reasons:

  • If you cut too far inward and clip a seam (which is easy to do) later sewing steps will correct the problem.
  • Clipping seams now eliminates the possibility of accidentally clipping into the assembled layers.

Cons of Pre-Clipping:

  • The clipped edges can get in the way a bit when you are sewing circles together (pressing helps eliminate the problem).

Squares for Different Size Circles

To calculate the square size for any circle, divide the circle's finished size (1" less than its cut size) by 1.42. Round to the closest dimension that you can easily cut.

Or, align a square ruler on the seam until three of its sides rest on the same number. Use that dimension for your template.

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