Window quilts are exactly what they sound like, quilts made to hang over a window. Whether it’s an old window, a drafty window or all of the above, a window quilt will help you keep you heat where it belongs, in your house! Window quilts can be used year after year, unlike most plastic sheeting type covers. Window quilts went out of fashion as windows got better, energy got cheaper and the plastic options came on the market. Plus, they’re a little harder to make, and we all know how Americans feel about working to make a quality item.
Size – First things first, measure the window that needs covering. You’ll want your finished quilt to be a couple inches bigger in all directions to best stop drafts. This is important. If your finished quilt is a couple inches smaller than the window, you could end up with the opposite effect you’re aiming for. The warm air will get sucked behind the quilt, cool off next to the glass and then get pumped into the room, freshly chilled. All thanks to convection current and laws of physics. Don’t risk that, make it a couple inches big. (Try measuring the trim around the window instead of the window itself.)
Keep it Simple – For the sewing impaired, (or time impaired) this project can be done very simply. All you really need are 3 layers. The Front, the Back, and the Batting. The Front and Back don’t have to have cool patterns or fabric, they can be sheets, they can be old blankets, they can be cuts of fabric from the bargain bin at Goodwill. They just have to be the same size. (The same size you decided in the first step with the measuring.) The batting can be anything from store bought organic cotton batting, to cheap polyester batting, or as a commenter on the SHTF Quilts post pointed out, old quilts can be used as batting.
Quilting is nothing more than combining those 3 layers. The easiest way to combine them is to tie them. Yarn is often used, but anything strong enough to go through the 3 layers can be used to tie them together. 3 to 6 inches is a good distance between ties. That keeps the layers from shifting or bunching. Use a clean section of floor to line up all the layers before starting to tie. Safety pins can keep the layers in place while you’re tying. Don’t be tempted to leave the safety pins in as permanent layer holders, they’ll rust. Tie the whole quilt, corners, middle, all of it, otherwise your batting will sag or slip and not be as effective. I use a frame to help me manhandle the big quilts for tying or hand quilting. I love the plastic tubing frames that break down into small pieces when I’m not using them.
Finishing – For me, this is always the hardest part. You have rough unfinished edges on all 4 sides of your window quilt. You have to finish them or they’ll unravel/fray and the quilt will age prematurely. There are a couple of options for finishing them. The first option is you can turn the layers to the back by a quarter inch or so and stitch through all the layers, just a basic seam. The more time consuming, and prettier, method is to put a binding on the edge. Binding a quilt is tricky, and there’s no need to re-invent the wheel, if you want quilt binding instructions, go HERE. :-)
Hanging – Finally, you need to sew on something to hang the window quilt with. I went with tabs/loops across the top. You could also do small tabs around multiple sides to tack more of the quilt to the window trim. Again, gaps are bad, so some care should be taken to keep the hanging points even.
I went the dowel route with this quilt for our living room window. I looked for hangers at garage sales and such, but I haven’t found anything yet. Four nails, angled up a little bit seem to do the trick for now. Two at each end of the dowel. It did seem easier to get the quilt onto the dowel and then up on the wall with two people.And that’s it! One window quilt, saving you pennies a day. Good for blocking light, heat and some sound. If you want to get fancy with them, you can add ties to the bottom of them to draw them up, or ties to draw them to one side. I’ve never needed such things, but they wouldn’t be hard to add.
Any questions? Do share if you’ve made one before. I know my grandma remembers them.
– Calamity Jane