15 Feb 2011

Secret Garden Block Tutorial

I posted this photo of my Secret Garden Pinnie on Flickr yesterday and had a few requests for a tutorial/how to for the squares, so seeing as the sun was shining (for a change) I took advantage of the light and, hopefully, put together a tutorial to help you create these little beauties with ease.  This is a simplified version of Cathedral Windows blocks of which there are quite a few really good tutorials out there for those, namely this one and this one amongst many.

For my 2" finished block you have to start with a 4" square of main fabric and a shy 2" square of contrast.  The math is very easy for any size of these blocks - finished square size x 2 (example 2" = 4" template, 4" = 8" template and always the finished size for the contrast fabric).  You will need to cut an exact square template for your square to begin (I use a good old cereal box, but your template has to withstand ironing so bear that in mind!)

Cut your main fabric 1" larger than your template - so a 4" template requires a 5" square and try to be tidy with your cutting lines as this will help things to be easier.  I cut my contrast fabric 1/8th short all round - so 2" becomes 17/8"

Now you will iron your main fabric over the edges of the template to get a nice crisp edge on the fabric and try to make sure the corners are as square as possible - slapdash will make things difficult.

Proceed to do an 'origami style' style fold with this square, fold over once, then again to make a small square, and press with the iron.

Open out your fabric and fold the corners into the centre along the crease lines, again keep this as tidy as you can and pin down as you go along

Once this is done you might want to press again with the iron just to give you nice sharp lines to work with (it does help)

Place your contrast fabric like so with right side up

Now fold those corners over to the centre and pin as you go 

You want to end up with a neat little square like this

I prefer to stitch these centre points together with little stitches so that it all sits square.  (I have used contrast thread here but you ideally should use matching thread- it does depend on your project)

Now you have to 'peel/roll' back the edges of the points to expose the contrast fabric, pin as you go.

It can help to use the edge of a pin to roll the fabric back on and keep things nice and neat

As you roll back sections, you can stitch these down with tiny ladder stitches as you go or pin everything first, but you may find that so many pins will get in the way.  Try your own method here.

When you get to the outside corners, you need to close this up by about 2/8ths, this encloses the corner of the contrast fabric and achieves the 'window' effect.  Continue around the square stitching all the sections.

Once completed you can use the blocks however you choose. I stitch mine together with little ladder stitches, pulled tight to give a firm, closed edge. 

You can even make big squares too.

I hope you enjoy my first tutorial - if you have any questions please mail me or leave a comment. 


  1. great tute!! and so easy to follow
    i love your fabric selections, both in the tutorial and your one on flick!
    cant wait to make one. do you think we will have a deluge of cathedral window pinnies???

  2. thanks for this tutorial. it was easy to follow. i hope to make one soon!

  3. Hi! I found you while looking for quilt ideas...beautiful blog! Thanks for all the inspiration!

    God bless!

  4. Thank you for making this!!! I saw a gorgeous Secret Garden quilt in our area show last week, and I was certain it was done differently from Cathedral Window, but the ladies scoffed at me, saying she only put the accent fabrics in a different place. Not so! This is what she did. :D Sure appreciate it!

  5. Kerry from verykerryberry featured your tutorial on her blog today! I love the little blocks and it's great that you can make big ones too! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  6. Very cute! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  7. Thank you ladies for taking time to visit my (very neglected) blog! I am trhilled that the tute has been visited and hopefully has inspired and been useful to you. I love my little blog but this year has been so, so busy with Life and even though I am still crafting behind the scenes,time never seems to allow the luxury of blogging. I will try harder, especially seeing as I have just almost finished a project that has thrilled me no end??

  8. Wonderful, NitaBen! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Gracias por compartir, me encantó este proyecto... lo intentaré y luego te cuento