Attic Window Quilts


An attic window quilt is one that lets you look either out a window or in a window and features a pleasing scene.  Why are they tricky?

Rating: Not enough ratings.
Your rating: Sign in to rate

Attic Window Quilts

As with most quilt patterns, there is no one block that is the "attic window."

Attic Window Quilts


An early version of the attic window was featured in the Farm Journal in the 1930's and was created from squares and triangles.



An attic window quilt pattern can sometimes act as a shadow box featuring a collection of stationary items. Some of these feature flowers, or other items sitting on a shelf. These types of collection quilts use the attic window technique for creating the panes but may look choppy as each pane is an individual scene. The scene does show the direction of the light in the lower left block which shows the reflection on the bottle.

shadow box


Modern attic window patterns try to create a 3-dimensional look by using color to show the direction of the light and shadow in the window. Some versions show a scene from outside looking in. The most popular of these seems to be Christmas trees or Christmas scenes with Santa. Looking online for examples, I came across what turned out to be my favorite: a vintage sewing machine placed in front of a window so the viewer can see both the sewing inside and the scene outside.


The scene for an attic window quilt is often selected by the quilter because a beautiful panel just can't be passed up. My daughter just loves lighthouses, so I couldn't resist this one. A scene on a panel gives you the feel of continuity from one windowpane to another because the panel is cut into the correct number of pieces for the quilt before the mullions are added to form the block. Mullion is an architectural word which refers to the bars between the panes of the window.



There are at least 6 techniques for making an attic window quilt, with some patterns bragging that there are no Y seams. A beginner should select one of the easy patterns that have a video available. The addition of a half-square triangle to the end of a strip should be simple even for a beginner. Where the difficulty may arise is keeping the blocks in the correct order to make the scene reappear. On this lighthouse quilt, I got a couple of the water blocks in the wrong order and had to "unsew."


Fabric selection for the window panes is what causes the failure of some attic window quilts. The fabrics must be selected and placed in such a manner as to indicate the direction of the light coming in the window. Often you will see the bottom of the pane as white to show that the light lands there. If the quilter is using a kit, one hopes that the creator selected appropriate fabrics.



The quilter would do well to read articles on value, hue, and chroma before starting an attic window quilt. Value is the lightness or darkness of the fabric. Hue is the color of the fabric as the word hue literally means color. Chroma is the purity or intensity of the color. Choosing the incorrect fabric makes the attic window lose its 3 dimensional appearance and continuity.


When your attic window quilt is complete, one suggestion for its use is to cover a drafty window in winter or to use it as a wall-hanging to create the illusion of a window where there isn't one. We use my husband's favorite attic window called "Red Truck" as the head of our bed instead of a headboard.

red truck


The American painter Andrew Wyeth loved windows. Do check him out for more inspiration!


Check This Out!

Check out the most popular tool on QuiltingHub. Use the search 'Map Of Resources' or the 'Resources Trip Planner' to the right (or below).



The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
A construction technique in which long, narrow pieces of cloth are joined lengthwise, sometimes with long rows of quilt blocks, to form a quilt top. The term "strip" can be used to describe the long pieces of fabric between blocks (see Sashing) or to describe the small, narrow remnants used in string patchwork.

See Also: Sashing
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
Search Articles
Map Of Resources Near
Resources Trip Planner