myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Cathedral Window Pillow

Well I have had quite a week with all the snow, ice and traffic chaos up here in Scotland. I can’t be bothered to bore you with all the details, but we did finally manage to get my father on a flight home on Thursday, but that was only after 2 failed attempts to take him to Edinburgh only to have to pick him back up again (once at 2am after he had spent 5 hours sitting in a plane stuck on the runway!), and then driving him to Glasgow to get a flight from there.
I spent all week at home (and yesterday from this week!), so apart from all the to-ing and fro-ing to the airport, I have had lots of time to start or even finish new projects. In fact I made so much I will have to keep some for future posts!

So far I have finished the 2 pairs of gloves I started at the CL fair, another patchwork hexie ball for a baby, a present for my sister (secret), and the quilt top and back for my Christmas Star quilt for the Quick Christmas Bee! Phew! I have some lovely photos of the quilt top in the snow but I will make you wait a few days for these. In the meantime here is another project I managed to start and finish.

This is my first attempt at catehdral window, and it was easier than I thought but quite fiddly.
Do you remember that lovely vintage linen haul that I bought a few months back? I wrote about it here. Well apart from including a few pieces in my patchwork cushions, I haven’t really found the right project to show off the range and beauty of the antique embroidery. But I thought cathedral window could work really well.

I read a few different blog tutorials and eventually used Hyena In Petticoat’s. This one seemed to use slightly less of the background fabric than some of the others. Because I didn’t know I would be starting this I didn’t have the right supplies in. So I decided to use a vintage pillow case for the white background fabric.

It is lovely and soft to sew with but I think new crisp cotton would have made folding the creases much easier. Cathedral window is really just lots of folding and pressing and then a bit of sewing at the end. I decide to hand sew all the windows open as the antique linens were bulky and difficult to work with and I knew I would have more control with hand sewing.
If I tried this again using new fabrics I would definitely machine it. It isn’t perfect by any means but I think the effect is lovely with the gorgeous embroidery peeping through each ‘window’.

I thought it would make a lovely little pillow to go on a bed, and in fact it is going to be a Christmas present for somebody special. I used an old tablecloth for the back, which also had some subtle embroidery on it. I managed to get Jonathan to take these photos as a shard of sunlight hit the sofa (my camera is still marooned at work). As soon as our back was turned Simon had settled himself down for a bit of a grooming session in the sun! Doesn’t he look comfy? And can you see the hexie ball ‘in progress’ to his left?

Things are slowly getting back to normal here, and though the bad weather has been terrible for business, at least I have most of my Christmas presents made now!


  1. What a clever way to show off the old embroidery. I had no idea how to do cathedral windows so it's good to see a little bit more of how to go about it – looks like you need to be patient.
    Simon is gorgeous.Juliex

  2. Ooooooooh that is so BEAUTIFUL!!!!! You are SO clever! Those cathedral windows show the embroidery off just right! All I can say that this is a very lucky person you are going to spoil! stunning!

  3. Cathedral windows is the perfect showcase for those gorgeous linens – what a fabulous idea. Clever you using what you had on hand to get it done – it is an incredible present and one I'm sure will be loved!

  4. That is a gorgeous pillow. What a great way to use the old linens. Many moons ago my mom in law made one from scraps from her kids clothes. It's a treasure that's for sure.

    Well..I think Maria is on a bus to Edinburgh late into the night friday…you working at the shop this weekend?:)

  5. Ditto, ditto, ditto to all the comments! This is the loveliest CW cushion I've seen. So clever to use the vintage linen in this way. Searching google for a CW tutorial, and finding Hyena in Petticoats, is how I found out about blogging!!
    Teresa x

  6. Hello Jo, me again. I think I have added my email address to my profile (it took a while because my brain is on strike today). I thought it was already on there for some reason but didn't think to check so thanks for letting me know.
    Much love, Emma x

  7. I love your Cathedral Windows, and i adore the idea of hand embroidery in them….. really lovely, and i might just pinch that idea one day

  8. This is an awesome idea–I have so many old linens that have perfect embroidery but stains or tears. (I'm too much of a sentimentalist, can't just throw them out!) Now I have something to do with them!

  9. This is just beautiful. Vintage and modern at the same time. What a clever idea and such a good use of beautiful linens that otherwise might just linger in the wardrobe waiting for their turn to be used.

  10. Okay, I came by for the BQF and saw this on your side bar. Thank you so much for the incredible inspiration. I have a super large collection of vintage linens and had no idea what to do with them. This is just incredibly perfect!

  11. I have been looking for a while for the perfect quilt block to show off several tiny floral cross stitch pieces my sick sister is making and wants to use in a quilt. I think I've found it! Thanks for the inspiration.

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