Gardening Leave


We have split the fabrics into approximate groups to make it easier to calculate quantities. You could use a different fabric for each square if you wanted.

For the background
  • 40cm (13 6in squares) of pale terracotta
  • 40cm (eight 6in squares) of dark terracotta
  • 40cm (11 6in squares) of pale green
  • 40cm (11 6in squares) of mid green
  • 20cm (four 6in squares) of dark green
  • 40cm (nine 6in squares) of pale blue
  • 40cm (11 6in squares) of mid blue
  • 20cm (seven 6in squares) of dark blue
For the inset pieces and windows
  • A wide variety of scraps 3 1⁄4in square for the inset pieces and under 2in for the window centres. These fabrics can be silks and linens and furnishing fabrics with slubby textures
  • Cardboard for pressing templates
  • Threads to match the background fabrics

Finished Size

26 x 21in (66 x 53cm)

Skill Level


You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Gardening Leave

When Jinny Jarry was given the the opportunity to to take early retirement and go on ‘gardening leave’, she jumped at the chance – who wouldn’t? Making use of her new-found freedom, she signed up for the City & Guilds course, and made this hanging as one of her part one assignments.
The quilt uses Cathedral Window, a traditional English technique, that involves no wadding as all the warmth comes from the layers of fabric.

Making the background

Note: You should be able to cut seven 6in squares across a piece of 44in fabric. Where you need eight squares of one colour you could choose to alter the colour to save buying extra fabric

Jinny decided to work in vertical rows. She kept all the pieces for each row in a plastic bag but you could decide to make all the sections of one fabric at a time – it is up to you. Keep the units flat after you have made them and before joining together.

TIP! To make sure you are keeping square, work on an pressing board with a marked grid or draw a square the right size on a pressing cloth and work on that.

  1. Cut out a 5 1⁄2in square from cardboard.
  2. Take a 6in square of background fabric and using a hot iron press the edges to the WS evenly over the cardboard square. Remove the cardboard and press diagonal creases in the centre.
  3. Fold opposite corners to meet at the middle, pin and press. With matching thread stitch the corners together. Decide whether you want the stitching to show on the back or not. Jinny carefully caught her points together and left the back plain but you can stab stitch through all the layers. Repeat with the remaining two corners. See steps a-d on Figure 1.
  4. Prepare the Secret Garden inserts. Cut fabrics 3 1⁄4in square and press over a 2 3⁄4in cardboard square as before.
  5. Take the already folded and sewn background square and repeat the folding and pressing to the centre as in step 3 above. This time insert the secret garden fabric WS together before you stitch the corners together. See Figure 2 to compare the differences.
  6. Six units on the top and bottom rows are left with one point not sewn in place. See Figure 1 step c. The Secret Garden insert is stitched invisibly in place with tiny stitches.
  7. Sew the units together in order, WS together and oversewing the edges. The stitches will be covered by the addition of the windows. Figure 3 shows the order of the blocks from the back.
Figure 1: Sewing the Cathedral window
Figure 1: Sewing the Cathedral window

Finishing the windows

Figure 2: Differences between Cathedral Window
and Secret Garden
Figure 2: Differences between
Cathedral Window and Secret Garden
Figure 3: Layout of the window blocks from the back
Figure 3: Layout of the window
blocks from the back
  1. Cut 1 3⁄4in squares of fabrics for the windows. Audition them in place on the background squares and move them around until you are happy with the positioning. See the photo for guidance.
  2. Roll the edges of the background over the window squares and slipstitch in place. If you want a more quilted look on the back you can sew through all the layers which creates overlapping circles on the back of the hanging. You may need to trim the squares slightly if you don’t want them to show in the corner points.
  3. Cut a strip of fabric 2in wide by the width of your hanging. Turn under 1⁄4in on all four sides.
  4. Slip-stitch hanging strip in place 1⁄4in below the top of the first row of squares. To hang, use a small square dowel with either eyelets screwed into the end or mirror plates (available from hardware stores).


  1. Cathedral Window lends itself to embellishment – beads and sequins can be sewn onto the small windows.
  2. Smaller panels would be delightful for cushions.
  3. Conversational prints are lovely for children, try and get the motif in the centre of the window.
Figure 6: Finished Quilt
Figure 6: Finished Quilt

Jinny studied her city and Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting, tutored by Barabara Weeks at North Herfordshire College, Hitchen. For more information visit Barbara’s website,

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 11 Issue 7 - July 2003