Sewing · Winter

The First Two Window Quilts


I finished them!

Yesterday, which was Thanksgiving, was also my only day off this week.  As I mentioned in my previous post, we did a brunch instead of the traditional turkey dinner, which was wonderful and relaxing and left us with a whole afternoon and evening to do whatever we felt like doing.

I felt like finishing these two quilts.

I just realized that I haven’t been posting updates at all, so I went back to my phone and downloaded/uploaded the progress pictures from there so I could show you the step by step on these. 

Anyway, here we go.

When I first came up with the idea to make these, I went through my considerable stash of fabric and cut out 5×5” squares in color themes that I thought would work for each kid and their bedroom color schemes.  I also had little packets of pre-cut fabric squares from a a trip to Keepsake Quilting nearly two years ago.  (That long ago?  Holy cow.)

When the kids got home from school that day, I gave them their squares (or, in some cases, strips…I was getting tired of cutting, I think) and told them to create a design they liked. 

Here was Alex’s:


And here’s Julia’s:


So glad I took pictures of the designs.  It made the pinning and organizing-for-sewing so much easier since I could refer back to the images.

In one morning (about two hours of free time before work) I machine-stitched much of the tops together, and finished those layers the next free (2-hours free) morning I had. 

I ended up adding a bit more fabric to each quilt because things weren’t lining up perfectly.  It’s because of the strips, mostly.  An easy fix.

Next task – the layers.

I didn’t use batting – didn’t have any big enough and I wanted to use up stuff I already had.  So I used this fleece-like piece of fabric, sort of almost-furry on one side, flat on the other, as the middle layer in the kids’ quilts.  It’s very soft and supple and lightweight but thick.  Good for keeping out the cold.


For the backs?  Old sheets.  I used an ivy print for Julia’s and a plain ivory for Alex’s. 


I had toyed with the idea of doing more for the backs.  More, as in, design entire images for myself to applique by hand, just so that the passersby would have something cute to look at in case they were passering by looking up at the second floor windows.

Then I came to my senses.

Plus, I can always go back and do that when I have loads of leisure time.  Like when I’m in that lovely nursing home my kids will pick out for me one day….

Back to now.

Once I had the layers tacked together I trimmed the backs so there wasn’t so much unnecessary fabric flapping around while I worked.  I made sure to leave extra filler fabric and even more of the backing fabric, as I planned to use the back fabric as the frame for the front.  A lot simpler than making a border, though maybe a border would have looked nicer….it’s always easy to second guess myself.

Next step – tying or knotting the layers together.  That’s right, no quilting bee, hand-quilting extravaganza for these little quilts.  I wanted to finish them quickly.  So I tied the layers together with embroidery thread, stitching through the layers, in and out, and then knotting them on the top layer.  I left about 3/4 of an inch of fabric “fringe” when I was done.

Like so:


(Picture taken before the trimming of the thread.)

I started, by the way, at the center of each quilt and worked my way out toward the edges.  This keeps the layers in place.  If I’d started at one end, for example, odds were good that by the time I’d reached the other end, the top layer would be hanging over the end of the middle layer. 

Each tying session took another two-hour block of time, pretty much.

And then the quilts just hung out for a while because my work schedule was nuts.

Yesterday, my first job was to bind the ends and make the borders. 

I trimmed the middle layer just to even it up, but left it a little longer than the top layer.  Then, starting in the middle of each side, I folded the back fabric over once to make a nice clean edge, and then over again onto the top fabric.  I pinned that in place and continued along, from center to corner on each side of the quilt.  I left the corners for last, and used some sort of folding technique (called “Winging It”) to create a nice pointy finish. 

I know, more step-by-step would eliminate much confusion here.  I’ll try to do that with the next window quilts.

But anyway, once the folded over borders were all pinned in place, I machine-stitched them in place.


And here’s a finished corner:


Not my prettiest work, I admit.  I’m rusty, and I was in a hurry.

And I’m actually much tidier at hand-sewing than I am with the machine.

Enough with the excuses.  Who’s going to be scrutinizing my stitching anyway?


After the borders were finished, Julia and I carried the quilts upstairs so I could see how they fit.

Mini celebration on my part – they fit perfectly.

Now, the last part.  How to hang them.

Initially I was going to use the curtain rods already in place, but those are positioned inside the window frame, and if I did that, the quilt edges would sort of stick out unattractively and wouldn’t really do a good job of blocking the whole window.

So then I thought, what if I hung them from the tops of the window frames?  How could I do that?  Do I have a way to get it done TONIGHT???  (I was very determined to be finished.)

And I figured it out.  I had some wooden dowels on hand (doesn’t everyone?) from who knows what old project or idea that didn’t get finished or didn’t need the dowels after all.  One was about an inch longer then the window quilt width, and the other was about a foot longer and slightly bowed.


I could set the sleeve near the very top of each quilt, run the dowel through, and then hook it in place above the frame.

AND, as luck would have it, I had some rubber coated open eye hooks that were JUST the right size for these dowels. 

The window quilt spirits were smiling down on me last night for sure! 

Time to make sleeves.

Very simple – I took strips of coordinating fabric, made sleeves, and stitched them in place.


Yes, it would have been easier to do this earlier, like before the whole thing was finished, so I could just sew it to the back fabric…but since they were way at the top I just stitched right across the back of the border and the thread blended right in so don’t notice those two extra lines of stitching.

Julia took the next three pictures.  She wanted to help.




After that I scurried excitedly up to the bedrooms, screwed those little hooks into place atop the window frames, and slid the dowels into place.

And, ta-da!

Window quilts!



And, though you’ve already seen it, Julia’s:


Then I hollered downstairs for the kids to come and see.

And my children spent the next ten minutes each insisting that the other’s quilt design looked better than their own.  Not in an envious way – in a positive, cheering-each-other-on sort of way.  And I told them both are fabulous and unique.  Like works of art.

I’m pretty happy about these two first window quilts.  Next up, one for each bathroom and two for the master bedroom.  Not sure which will be first.  The bathrooms, perhaps – they’re such cold rooms with all the tile and porcelain…

I’ll let you know.     

7 thoughts on “The First Two Window Quilts

  1. Wow Jayne! These came out so great!
    I need to read up on these things… mainly because I have drafty windows in my home as well, it’d be nice to be able to hang something up to help keep it warm inside.
    But I have to ask, doesn’t it block the sunlight in the winter? Or do you open them during the daytime?
    [I love also how Alex’s has a little horizon in his quilt, I hadn’t noticed that from the photos you showed in a previous post!]

  2. Hi Lynne,

    Im not really sure how its going to work. Neither bedroom gets much sun, especially in the winter, so I might just let them hang as they are. Theyre in school during most of the weekday daylight hours, and theyre outside playing or whatever on the weekends, too. I guess well just play it by ear. Ive figured I can attach loops at the ends and buttons at the tops and pull them up that way. Thats what I did when I made curtains for Alexs nursery, too many
    years ago….

  3. Hi Donna B.,

    Their bedrooms dont get a lot of light in the winter – they face north and west, so what little light they get isnt really warm, sunny light anyway. I think Id rather just let the quilts block the drafts. The kids arent in their rooms a lot during the day time anyway. But well see.

  4. I love both designs, both very distinct. I’ve a had a half done quilt in my closet since the 1990s. And then I got a little distracted with babies who turned into toddlers and then teenagers…

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