Cathedral Window Quilt HandBag

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My mother in law is a truly wonderful person so I wanted to make her a special Christmas present.

She teaches classes on cathedral window quilting so I decided to create a bag with her grandchildren’s hands in cathedral window squares.

I am not a quilting expert – this is the first quilt squares I have attempted. I’ve found out that it is a very precise, very meticulous craft. More about the time you put into making very precise measurements and ironing than real difficulty.

Might be beyond me to do an entire quilt, in other words…


3/4 yard each of 2 coordinating quilt fabrics
1 yard canvas
1/4 yard white sateen cotton
padding for strap
3 yards cording
1 color thread that matches everything!
7 buttons for feet and square corners
18″ separating zipper
fabric paint
paper plates for paint
1.5 yards1/4″ grosgrain ribbon


3 18″ muslin squares
3 6.25″ x 6.25″ white cotton sateen squares
3 12″ x 18″ fabric sides (includes lining)
12″ x 18″ canvas side
9″ x 18″ fabric pocket
9″ x 18″ canvas
4 4″ x 12″ fabric sides
2 4″ x 12″ canvas sides
2 4″ x 18″ canvas bases
2 4″ x 18″ top piece
2 4″ x 2″ zipper end pieces
2 3″ x 24″ (or desired length) of fabric of strap
1 3″ x 24″ of canvas for strap
several 1.5″ fabric strips for cording

Here’s a link to the excellent cathedral window tutorial I used:

Very clear pictures and instructions.

I modified the measurements based on a hand. I needed a 6″ diagonal for my inner square (you can see it’s squeezed in there). So I started with 18″ for the square – you fold & iron. And repeat. And repeat….

So, as you can see, the hand barely fits in there, but since 18″ is the absolute limit for a bag width to be practical, that’s what I went with. Just follow the instructions in the above link and she’ll get you to this step. I’ve folded under the bottom section (I’ll use that for base padding.)

Get the kids to make neat handprints – not a bad idea to have extra fabric available just in case. Glop some paint on a paper plate, get them to smear the paint around the plate, check to make sure the hand is coated completely and then press it to the fabric once firmly. Iron well once dry.

Pin the handprints into place, then either handsew or machine sew in.

Sew cording into strips. It doesn’t need to be cut on the bias since we’re dealing with straight areas. I like using a foot with a guide to keep it even.

Sew cording on back pocket top, folding canvas over.

Do right side of back pocket, sewing on cording, then trimming with ribbon.

Sew back pocket to fabric and canvas side.

Sew canvas base on back, inserting cording around back.

Sew base canvas on back.

Sew lining. Just connect the sides to the base, using 1/4″ larger seams than used on the outside.

Sew front to base.

Now sew the sides to the front!

Make the 4″ zipper top strips into tubes, turn inside out and sew to zipper sides.

Sew zipper top to lining.

See how much easier the separating make this!

The outside bag is finished.

The completed lining.

Put the lining inside the bag.

Pin or clip all around, folding edges in, and sew.

I added cute button feet – or hands – to the base.

The strap is easy, layer fabric and canvas and put foam padding  in if desired. Sew in a tube, then turn right side out. Triple stitch on both sides.

Sew the canvas ends on the zipper top for a finishing touch. A touch of grosgrain ribbon around the top on the inside and outside also finishes it nicely.

I finished by adding the last handprint square. And a few other random squares handstitched in to pull the piece together. A added more buttons where the corners meet.

And that’s it!

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