Charming Window Pillows

Hi!  I’m Angela from My Three Sons and I was a mechanical engineer in my life before kids.  Really an engineer to the core, I’m all about optimized processes and well-utilized materials.

I tried to figure out the best way to make the elusive cathedral window block.  So I’ll share some things I found for getting nice points and neat windows.  And they are a perfect showcase for your favorite charm pack.

We’re going to make two pillows here – most efficient use of materials and all.  Besides, once you get going on these fun windows, you’ll want to make a ton!  I especially hope you give them a try if cathedral windows are new to you.

1 Just Wing It Charm Pack
1 3/4 Yards Bella Solid Snow
4 Just Wing It Fat Quarters

Washable glue stick

2 Square pillow forms – 20″x20″
2 18-20″ zippers (optional)
Pink and Blue Matching thread (optional)

Step One: In which you fold fabric and steam it into submission

First, from the white yardage cut 5 strips the entire width of the fabric and each 10.5″ wide.

Subcut each of those 5 strips into 10.5″ squares so that you end up with a total of 20 pieces.  Since we’ll be folding our raw edges in, you don’t have to worry about these squares being perfect.

But you do need to make a perfect 9″ square out of poster board.  Use an old rotary blade and a square ruler to get straight edges and nice corners.

Find a washable glue stick – or go out and grab a Sewline glue pen.  I love mine.  It goes on blue so you can see where it is, then dries clear.

Center the poster board on a fabric square, then swipe the glue across two corners.  You want the glue to stick to fabric and not poster board when you make the fold.

Fold that edge over the poster board and hot steam iron it.  The glue keeps you from steaming your fingertips to a crisp!

Repeat the glue on each corner as all four edges are pressed.  Iron and steam well!  The better your square here, the better your end result. 

I had learned a couple of different things here.  DO NOT skip these first steps all together and make 9″ fabric squares to start off.  Raw points will show in the end and your hard work will be a big, fraying mess.  Second, folding both edges square helped me get the best finish and the little raw bit at the edge right now is completely covered by the time we get to the last step.

Pull out the poster board.  Then fold your square in half both directions, pressing a crease along each center line.

Open up your square with the raw edges pointing up.  Pick a corner and fold it into the center.

What you want to really line up is not the middle, but the outer edges.  I have circles at the points you want to watch.

More steam.  Press all four of those corners in.

See how all the outside corners are sharp?  Choose a sharp corner over an even middle.  It’s ok if the center points miss their match a bit.

Fold this square in half again, but just finger press some guides at each edge.

Last folds!  Steam press each point into the center, but this time you really want the points to meet neatly in the middle. 

After all four points are folded into the middle, you may end up with a square like this with a misbehaving corner.  For it’s trouble we’ll just shove it to an outside edge later. 

Grab your ipod and load it with some episodes of WNYC’s Radiolab, fill the water chamber of your steam iron, and crank out all 20 of your folded fabric squares.  We’ll only use 18, but you’ll be on a roll and the other two can become coasters or a pin cushion.

Step Two:  In which we get to use our sewing machine

For each pillow we’ll join up 9 of our blocks in to a 3×3 square.  Lay them out and arrange any troublesome corners to an outside edge.  The seam allowance will take care of them later.

To join two together, sit them next to each other and pull up the touching triangle flaps.  Pin these together. 

We want to sew right along that crease.  AND both creases should be matched perfectly.  To make sure I have things lined up, I put one pin in the crease….

…..flip it over and see that the pin actually runs along the crease on the back side as well.  If the pin isn’t in the fold, adjust your pieces and try again.

Once you’re all set, sew along the crease – back stitching at each end.   Join all the blocks in rows of three.

Grab two rows of three and place them back to back.  Pin the same as above to match all the creases.

Make sure you back stitch at the start and end of every triangle.  You don’t want the pillow falling apart when the kids flop on it.

When your blocks of nine are done, give one last press.   Hurray!  Now we get to do the fun part.

Step Three:  In which you create a colorful masterpiece

First we’ll work on the pillow I call “Railroad Berry Patch”  The colors remind me of nature walks with my Grandpa in Michigan.  We would walk along the railroad tracks where tons of red and black raspberries grew.  Yum!

Choose 9 charm squares for the oval petals, and at least 3 contrasting charm squares for the windows.

Grab one of the white windows, and measure your individual squares.

Trim all nine of the charms you chose for the ovals down to that size.

Open up each square and place a charm inside.  Make sure it lays flat.  You want it to completely fill the space without getting turned in the fold.

With the triangle flaps open, sew all the charm squares down.  I used a matching thread and zipper foot because there’s a lot of bulk on the sides.

Close all the triangle flaps so that we can force the fabric to our will again.  With white thread in the center of each, take just two or three machine stitches into all the points.  This anchor helps keep your points centered and even, and won’t show in the end.

Next, grab your three or more charms set aside for the windows and cut them into fourths.  A 2.5″ square is just perfect for the windows.

You only need 12 pieces to fill all the windows, but I cut a few more to give myself some options.

Pick a spot to start and pin the square into the window, with the pin running along side of your first edge.  This keeps the little fabric bit square and in just the right spot.

Fold the center of the window over your fabric – it’s about a 1/4″ in the middle.  It tapers perfectly to the tacked ends all on it’s own.  Keep holding and scoot everything under your needle.

Start at the very top, with your foot pointing along the curve.  Backstitch!

Just a little holding to keep things nicely curved, follow the edge closely.  At this size, it seemed like that curve was just perfect.  I didn’t feel I had to battle the machine to keep things neatly lined up.

Back stitch again at the very end.  Move your pin to the next edge….repeat…..

Quickly, one window done!  I love sewing these edges.  It’s so fun to see the fabrics revealed underneath as you go along.

See how nicely the points line up with that small tack in the middle.  Without the tack, my ends were all wiggly.

Once all your windows are done, be sure to open the petals along the outside triangles as well.

Next we’ll frame up the windows from about 13.5″ square to pillow size.

Square up the edge of your white yardage and cut four strips the width of the fabric: two at 2″ and two at 2.5″

From one of your fat quarters, cut four 1″ strips from the longer 21″ side, even though you don’t need the strips that long. This is important so that the remaining fabric is the right width for making the pillow back. 

Attach first the 2″ white strips to all four sides of your windows.  After they are all on and ironed open, neatly top stitch about 1/8″ from the edge.  Since the windows are so thick and heavy, the sides can use a little help to lay flat once stuffed.

Add on your 1″ FQ strips, then finally the 2.5″ white strips.

Square everything up to 20″.

Choose 10 charm squares.  We’re going to make some binding.

Sew them all end to end.

Press open your seams then slice the strip down the middle so you have two long pieces 2.5″ wide.

Join those two strips up.  Now press in half for your pretty roll of binding.

Make a 20″ square back for your pillow with a second fat quarter and about 6.5″ of the fat quarter you used as the front accent.  I like zippers in my pillows, you can do your favorite back.

Whatever you choose just place it face down, put your windows on top face up, and stitch them together 1/8″ from the edge.

Bind as you like, but I suggest you lay it out quickly before stitching.  With all those seams, you have to start carefully to avoid one landing right on a corner.


Next up “Lake View” with just the oval petals filled. 

Once again, choose nine charm squares.  I loved all the blues together.

Exactly like the first pillow, trim down those charm squares to fit inside each square and sew them down.

But I have another option for tacking your centers.  I used a short, tight zig zag/satin stitch, going only about an 1/8″ into each point.  This method works really well if your triangles have wider flat tips instead of sharp points.

I played around with doing that satin stitch in the blue, but I preferred matching the white.

Cut two more white strips 1.5″ the width of the fabric.  Join and top stitch like the first pillow.
Using the third fat quarter you chose, cut four pieces 3″ x 21″ , attach and square up the finished front to 20″

I used the last fat quarter to make my binding.  Cut four strips 2.5″ x 21″, join end to end and press in half.

Make this 20″ square back with all the remaining fat quarter strips from both pillows.  Baste and bind as above.


Two 20″ square cathedral window pillows.

Angela Nash