Boxed them! Cathedral Window Patchwork Cushions

A Modern Look to Traditional Cathedral Windows

A finish after a long time…

Cushions for my library bench…

This project seemed ill-fated from the beginning and one that would end up in my long list of UFOs ( unfinished objects). The first roadblock was when I made wrong calculations and ran short of the turquoise fabric! That was sorted out by adding a strip of the printed black and white fabric at the back.

The printed strip at the back…

The problem with measurements did not end there. The original covers were thick upholstery material and finished at 17″. When I stitched my cover that size, it turned out to be 1/2″ too big and had to be re-done.

Ripped, trimmed and re-stitched. This is much smarter!

Then the zipper for the next cushion cover misbehaved and I switched to a Velcro closing for the other two.

The Velcro closing on the box cushion…

Well, all is well that ends well! I am quite happy with how my study/library looks now.

The bench sitting between two bookshelves…

I like that!

A cathedral window runner in the reverse combination on the table across the room and my Palat! mini on the wall.

The Palat! quilt has also found its place on the wall…

I placed my Octopus quilt on the chair where the Husband’s guitar usually rests, to add some orange zing to the room!

My Octopus quilt adds a zing to the study!

An old piece of embroidery in the same colour to complete the picture…

This was moved from kitchen to the study because it matched so well with my colour theme!

So now I need to take up one of the other bedrooms. After the re-painting of my flat, which starts tomorrow…


The Modern ‘Traditional’ Cathedral Windows

Prisma Fun in the Study!

Time now to give the study area a makeover. Changing the beige furnishings for a bright modern turquoise green ( it looks more like aqua in these pics; it isn’t!) contrasted with black and white modern prints…

Cathedral windows, again, and using the traditional method too! ( I made a small table runner almost five years ago using this method and did a tutorial in two parts…) This time, I had made up my mind to stitch the blocks entirely by machine, but I finally resorted to hand sewing the few stitches in the centre (after folding in the background square)after getting very wonky results by machine on the first few! There are more learnings from this quilt, I will share them soon. 

I also added a contrasting white square inside the second fold of the background turquoise, so that the white popped out of the ‘petalled’ window ‘frame’. I am sewing cushion covers in the reverse colour scheme to place on a bench sitting across the room from this table. The tops are ready, the covers will be sewn once I am back from my summer vacation. ( I am getting away on Wednesday morning to the cool, green Himalayas for a week; far, far away from my dusty city which seethes at 45 degree Celsius!) 

The process is tedious, but I love the end product!

The table was 58″ x 14.5″  so I worked on a 3 x 15 configuration of blocks just under 5″. For that I began with 10″ squares. However, after sewing, the final quilt turned out to be just 45″ x 13.5″! Is it because I haven’t ironed the final quilt flat? 

The solids are Umaid Mills poplins and the print, if I remember correctly,  is Cosmopolitan by Benartex.

Something old (Hand embroidery 1979 on wall), some things ( miniquilt with machine thread sketching and table runner -2017)new!

Did you notice, my Palat! miniquilt is framed? Till I find an appropriate place to hang or place it, it rests on this table.

It is framed between two sheets of glass so that back is also visible!

The Palat! mini quilt

I love to hear from you all, so do tell me what you think of my modern ‘traditional’ cathedral windows! 

Cathedral Window Patchwork Maths – How Many Windows? 

Caution: Loaded with primary school level Arithmetic. Read at your peril ( or if  you plan to make a traditional cathedral window quilt). 

There are plenty of tutorials which tell you how to make a traditional window quilt, including mine, here. There are also tutorials which tell you, given the finished square design, how big your background fabric square and window (pane) square should be.  For example, if you want to finish with a 5″ square, your background fabric should be 10.5″ square, and the window fabric 3″. This is the tutorial I referred to for measurements for my current project. 
However, did you know that the number of window squares you need are not equal to the number of background squares in your quilt? What was that again? Well I was working with these 3×3 patchwork pieces, and I cut 9 window patches for each. The result is here for you to see! 

There are three blank ( white) window ‘panes’ in each. I should have cut 12 window (black and white) squares for the centre windows. If I wanted the printed fabric in the (half) windows on the edges, I would have had to cut 12 more squares ( which I would have folded diagonally and attached to the ‘frames’). 

Things get even more complicated when you are working on a larger quilt.  If you are working with, say, 24 squares and making a 6×4 or 2×12 or 3×8 quilt, you would now have guessed that you need more than just 24 window squares.  But, did you know that the number of windows is different for each one of these? And none of them is 24. 

So how does one do the Math? If you are one of those people who just can’t wrap their head around figures, well…I guess there is nothing to be done but to cut the fabric in batches as you go along. It is impossible for me to make a chart here with all the possible block configurations! 

For the others, here is the way it works! 

The Arithmetic

All you need to know is 

– the total number of background squares you are working with and 

– the configuration of your quilt. What is meant by configuration?  If the total number of squares is 36, you could be joining them in a 6×6  or 4×9 or 3×12 configuration.  

It does not matter what the size of your squares is.

Step 1. Multiply the total number of squares in your quilt by 4. If my quilt has 36 squares, I will get the figure of 144.

Step 2. Calculate the number of ‘half’ window panes at the edges. This is equal to the total number of squares at the edges (perimeter). 

If my quilt configuration is 6 x6, the total number of half window panes is  6 + 6 + 6 + 6 = 24

If my quilt configuration is 4×9 , the total number of half window panes is 4 + 9 + 4 + 9 =  26

If my quilt configuration is 3×12, the total number of half window panes is 3 + 12 + 3 + 12 = 30

If I plan to add a ‘pane’ fabric to these half window panes, I need to cut these many squares in addition to the rest I will be cutting. ( Like mentioned earlier, these will be folded diagonally and attached to the window, with the diagonal fold at the edge. )

Step 3. Subtract the number of half window panes from the figure obtained at Step #1. This result is divided by 2 to get the number of full window panes for the centre! 

If my quilt configuration is 6×6, the total number of half window panes is 36. If I subtract this from 144 , I get 108, which I divide by 2 to get 54!  So that is the number of window fabric squares I need! 

For the 4×9 configuration, I get 144 minus 26, which is 118 and the number squares will be 59. 

The 4 by 9 configuration. Ignoring the 26 brown half squares at the edges, can you count 59 window squares in the centre, including the 12 left blank?

For the 3×12 configuration, it will be 57 squares in the centre and 30 ( half) squares at the edges. Check this out! 

57 window panes in the centre and 30 half panes at the edges…

Not so complicated, right? Let us crosscheck this with my 3×3 cushion cover! 

Cross-checking the Calculations
Here is my cushion cover, with the nine blocks in a 3×3 configuration.

The red lines mark the background blocks in a 3×3 configuration

Had I added the black and white printed fabric to the half windows at the edges,  I would have needed 12 squares ( folded diagonally into half) for those.

The number of panes at the edge are equal to the number of blocks along each of the edges totaled together.

As for the centre squares, I subtract 12 from 36 ( total number of background squares multiplied by 4) to get 24 and halve it to get 12!

That is 12 printed fabric window squares needed for the centre panes ( marked in lime green).


But I had cut only 9 black & white printed squares.

Not enough fabric squares to cover all the windows?!

Explains my 3 missing squares quite neatly, doesn’t it? 

Where did those 3 blank squares come from?!


I hope I have been able to make some sense. Remember to bookmark this post if you plan to sew up a cathedral window quilt anytime. It will make more sense then, I am sure. 

Indigo Station

My mystery indigo project is finished and I am quite proud of it! 

This is what I began with…

The sofa seat in its grey avatar…

Under this badly fitting, really loose, grey cover was this…

…The grey cover was removed to reveal this rusty orange inside.

This sofa seat has seen several avatars before this and has an ignominious past, but that story will have to wait! What is relevant here is that I thought it needed a fresh new look! Encouraged by my successful transformation of a couple of folding wooden chairs a couple of weeks ago, I embarked on a much more challenging project now. 

Quilted fabric to give a new look to old canvas backed chairs!

The Irish chain block has been on my bucket list for ever and that is what I decided to use for this. The only problem was I had no idea how one went around making new upholstery for a sofa seat and the net wasn’t particularly helpful. I would have to make and use my own pattern. As it was going to be a loose cover, one would not need to be very accurate. 

Making quilted fabric and then cutting and sewing it to fit the seat was not an option, because then it would be impossible to ‘match’ the blocks. Each ‘panel’  in my ‘quilt as you go’ project would have to be designed to fit in with every other, blocks and corners matching. I would need the two sides, the seat plus overhang, the back rest, the rear besides the two strips for the front of the arms:

These are the basic measurements…

The good news was that most measurements were such that a 7.5″ square would be a great unit to work with. The piecing was quick and the panels came up in no time. 

The piecing of the four panels in progress…

For the rear of the seat, I decided not to do any piecing, I would use a yardage of the printed fabric. For the quilting, I followed the print of the backing fabric and yet it took much longer than I had anticipated. However, it has a wonderful texture, so all the time was well worth it! 

The heavy quilting was tedious but adds great texture!

Finally the panels were done and stitched together. And then I got stuck! 

What do I do with all that fabric and the loose ends?

How on earth did one deal with that? There was so much fabric and I had no idea how to stitch it in place. So I fitted the cover inside out over the seat. I took a needle and thread and just gathered all the extra fabric into one big dart/ seam. It worked! My quilted sofa seat cover was ready, except for one thing. It seemed to be hanging loose all around at the bottom. 

The solution was inspired by what had been done in the old, grey sofa cover. I sewed a doubled up strip at the bottom edge and pulled a string through it. ( The string also came from that old cover!) 

The string at the bottom edge.

This ‘stringed’ portion goes under the seat. 

So here we are, all done!!

The back…

The right side…

The left side…

And the seat finally in its corner, all dressed up in its new clothes! 

A friend had suggested the name ‘Indigo Express’ for this project, but I think ‘Indigo Station’ describes it better! What do you say? 

A New Look for Old Chairs…

We bought these chairs some 34 years ago and it shows! 

The black canvas – stained and faded…

Forlorn, they lie in our (blue) guest room, rarely used by either my husband or me…

The canvas has been nailed on to the wood, about 20 nails, now rusted,  along the frame length of 17″! Trying to pry them out would most likely tear the wood. If I wanted to change the fabric, the best option would be to let the black canvas stay and add fresh fabric over and across it. So that is what I did…

The chairs have new clothes…

I used some indigo dabu ( mud resist block printed) hand-block printed cambric and muslin pieces left over from a quilt I made for my son some nine years ago! The cream muslin is also from the same quilt! It took me about 3 hours to cut and sew the eight  7.5″ log cabin blocks. (Can you believe that this is the first log cabin block project I have ever sewn? ) I then added a 1″ border on the top and bottom to increase the length to the required 17″ and added 4.5″ strips on either side to wrap around frame of the chair back.

The polybatting was also leftover 18″ lengths from a previous project! I quilted the front(s) with a simple stitch in the ditch,  and strengthened the ‘wrap’ width with straight line quilting. Binding done – all that was need was fixing it to the chairs. I glued the rough side of Velcro strips to the back of frame, and sewed the ‘fuzzy’ strips to the quilted pieces. So here we are…the chairs have their new quilted backs…

The new ‘back’ is stretched over the old canvas, to the back and fastened with Velcro strips.

It took me about six hours in all, beginning on Wednesday and finishing today, Sunday, to complete the project ( if I don’t add the time to visit the market to buy Velcro strips!)

I do think I need to get back to my various UFOs ( unfinished objects) and PHDs ( projects half done) now. But before that, I have one more, not so quick project to begin and finish! 

The Road Runner

India truck art quilt

The Road Runner

Ever since I started quilting, I have wanted to make quilts depicting essentially Indian themes, and the colours seen on my country’s roads and highways were right up there on my list! Remember, a couple of months ago I had shared the story of the purple autorickshaw designed and paper pieced by me? I had also designed a truck and a cycle rickshaw around the same time, which I never did get around to making.

Then, last month I attended a attended a workshop by Pam Holland on painting your own fabric and a chance remark set me off on a new quilting adventure.

(You can see what I learnt in Workshop #1 here.)

The painted fabric – design and technique by Pam Holland

I had not been able to finish this quilt in the workshop and was still wondering how I could personalize it when my little seven year old niece looked at it and remarked, “Is that a road runner?”  I knew it didn’t and that she was only trying to show off that she knew there was a bird called the road runner, but this got me thinking of a different kind of road runner!

The Indian truck driver is a much maligned person. He travels for long, unregulated hours, often away from home for days on end. His dearest companion then is his vehicle, which he often refers to as his beloved and pampers and decorates to his heart’s content! His artistic bend of mind will be obvious to anyone who sees the often elaborate paintings on the truck. You only have to read the couplets painted on his truck to recognize that not only is he is a poet at heart, but a budding philosopher too! So this is how I set about constructing my very own Road Runner, around Pam’s lovely, colourful design, incorporating some of the essentials of trucks from our highways!

The Design

Only solids are used here, the  bird, leaf ‘prints’ etc are painted. The fabric is fused and either zig-zagged or raw edge appliqued to the background.

Constructing the truck around the original picture…


The truck is tilted (to the right), as are many of the overloaded trucks on our highways! As the Husband and Resident Design Consultant pointed out, the truck was ‘not proportionate’ nor looked ‘overloaded’. So I had to load the truck, and add ‘iron’ rings to attach the ‘ropes’ to tie the ‘goods’ in place. I found some polyfibre fabric in a beautiful neon orange for the ‘canvas’.  More proportionate now?

The truck is loaded, and I am ready to ‘tie’ the ‘canvas’ down.

The decision to use the polyfibre turned out to be a perilous one, as the fabric melted when I was ironing on the yellow ‘frame’ …

The polyfibre melted as I was fusing the yellow frame rod in place.

I decided to make this a design element and ‘patched up’ the fabric, with obvious darning stitches.

The ‘canvas’ is patched up…

The upper boards are hooked on to the lower ones with heavy iron chains, which were crocheted in black woolen yarn and attached to either side.

Note that the chains hang down vertically…not angled like the truck. See the ‘Stop’ painted under the chain on the left?

The quilting was kept simple. Angled wavy lines softened the image without intruding on the main design. I  had to attach a strip of fabric to the backing as it was not big enough. I brought it to the front to add length to the front too.  The same fabric was stripped to make the binding.

The binding was made with strips a ‘border’ I had lying around from previously used fabric.

When we were all done, including the binding,  I realized the truth of what the Resident Design Consultant said. The tyres were all wrong; the tyres on the left would be more visible than on the right, if the truck body was tilting to the right. So I had to fuse and stitch a fresh pair of tyres on the left. This is best appreciated in a picture of the back.

See the two sets of stitching lines on the bottom of the tyres on the right?

As it happens with me every single time, I first machine stitched the binding, before ripping it and finishing it by hand! Looks so much better this way!

The Road Runner – finished? No, not quite…

The Stories on the Road Runner

As I went along, I added many details, legends and stories of India’s beautiful trucks, which are best explained through pictures.

So let us begin with the ‘official’, mandatory information. First, of course, is the registration number, RJC 325. I thought a great deal about this, before settling on the registration number of the first ever car my father bought, when I was nine years old. A gorgeous Austin A70 in silver grey it was; what can be more precious than the memory of your first ever car?

The registration number is that of my Dad’s first ever car!

Proudly displayed on my Road Runner is the ‘National Permit‘, which, as it implies, permits my truck to ply on all highways in India!

The permit to ply on all highways in India is proudly displayed in the colours of the Indian flag.

The name of the company that owns the truck is  displayed, usually with the telephone number (which is probably on the side and you can’t see in the back view of the Road Runner). Spelling mistakes are a delight on any truck worth its load, aren’t they? This truck has several of them!) Here,  the Road Runner shows its truck registration number again. The ‘S.P.’  and ‘N.P.’  tell you that the truck has a state permit as well as the national permit, just so that you know it!

The ‘Tata‘ is not the driver bidding you goodbye, as you might be led to believe. Most trucks in India are manufactured by the Tata Motor Company, India’s largest automobile manufacturer, as is this one.

The vital details include the name of the owner company…

My truck also carries the information about the speed limit, which is the unbelievable 40 kilometers per hour; most trucks travel at at least double that speed!

The ‘O.K.‘ in the centre usually is accompanied by the manufacturer’s name – so that most trucks would say ‘ Okay Tata‘ meaning, presumably, that this particular vehicle has been inspected and okayed by the company. However, in the case of this truck, the painter thought it looked nicer here!

Then comes the exhortation ‘Horn Please“, the most prominently displayed message on my Road Runner. It likes to drive in the fastest lane ( even when traveling at the maximum permissible speed limit of 40 kms. per hour!) and if you wish to get past the Runner, you have to first ‘blow horn, please’ before ‘waiting for s(a)ide’.  …Patience, patience!!

All vehicles on Indian highways are required by law to not drive on full beam, so that drivers coming from the opposite direction on narrow, single or double roads are not blinded by the oncoming beam. Hence the reminder, ‘Use dipper at night‘…


The various legends carry loads of information…and exhortations!

A driver’s life is risky and naturally, he is a superstitious personage and seeks all the good luck and blessings possible. A legend that most trucks in North India prominently carry, besides ‘Good Luck‘ and ‘Trust in God‘, is ‘Mother’s blessings‘. The mother could be the driver’s mother or the Mother Goddess, Devi Ma Herself! This one carries ‘Maa ka aashirwaad‘ in the Devanagari script , just below the logo for the national permit.

Seeking the mother’s blessings, ‘maa ka aashirwaad’…

Another form of the Mother’s blessings is this red stole, obtained from temples dedicated to the Goddess, which is tied to the side of the truck, often on the side mirror.

The red stole from a Devi temple wards off evil and keeps the truck and its driver safe.

Also to ward off bad luck and accidents is a braid, plaited in black and red threads, tied to the back of the truck.

A braid hung at the back keeps bad luck and accidents away…

This is a brand new truck, so the green chilies and lemons strung together and dangling at the back look fresh. They will also keep the evil eye away. I also considered attaching there an old shoe, which would have served the same purpose, but …

…as do green chilies and lemons strung together…

If someone is still  audacious enough to dare cast an evil eye on my truck, here is a ⚠️ warning that ought to scare him!

“May you face be blackened, 

O One-with-the-evil-eye!”

May you become an outcaste, if you cast an evil eye on me!

There were many lovely truck quotes which I wish I could have included, but perhaps they can wait for my next truck. My favourites translated:

The philosophical truck driver, “Think!  what will go with you?” and “No one gets anything more than his due before it is due”..

The questioning: “O Maker, why did you make the one who makes vehicles? You have made homeless the one who drives these vehicles!”

The cynical one, who has obviously been betrayed by the one he thought waited for him: ” Take posin, but do not belive on girls!” 

All that will have to wait for Road Runner 2.

Well, to get back to my Road Runner, here it is… it is perfectly squared, unlike how it may appear to you!

Meanwhile, I have started planning on how I am going to finish the cat quilt, also from Pam Holland’s workshop. I hope you will be watching this space…