Important Info!

Hi Everyone!

I was asked by some of you to send clue 5 for the Scottish Mystery quilt early so you can work on the quilt during your upcoming vacations.   You’ll be happy to know that Clue #5 went out yesterday.  PLEASE remember it sometimes take a week or more to get to your homes.  The final clue #6 will go out the beginning to mid July, as usual.

Many of you doing this Scottish Mystery also participated in the 2014 Mystery, “Fancy Tennessee Waltz“.  If you did, I’m asking you to contact me through the email on my website, .  (CONTACT is listed under the new header bar.)

Please email me your CURRENT SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS.  I have a FREE new pattern for you made with your 2014 Mystery Stamps as a thank you for participating!

And FINALLY…  Yes, the “Tennessee Waltz” original stamp set will be available for purchase later this summer, for those of you that missed out on this wonderful quilt.  Stay tuned!

Fancy Tennessee Waltz

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

New Stamp!… Mini Bowtie!

Last year when I attended Jo Morton’s handwork retreat in Omaha, I was intrigued by two mini bowtie quilts.  How adorable they were!  It takes a while to design a stamp, have the die made, and test it.  But when I tested this one, I was hooked!

Mini Bowtie Sample

The blocks only finish 1 1/2″!  How cute is that!

I conserved space by putting both the outer piece and the inner square on the same stamp.

New Bowtie Stamp

You just stamp ONCE for each print and once for each light.  (You won’t need the light square, so I show you how to stamp in the instructions.) I used scraps of Jo’s “Gratitude” line to make my sample.

Wondering what the back looks like?  It presses very easy.  I did use 1/4″ seams, too.

Back side nice and flat.

I used 36 blocks and my sample is around 9″ square.  It IS adorable!

So sweet!

Want one?  Purchase your stamp here!

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!


Made by Hand

One of the one-of-a-kind accessory notions I have on my website are my “Block Keepers” and “Needle Keepers” handmade by my sister, Gayle.  Gayle is a master at embroidery.

I designed my first “Needle Keeper” several years ago to take care of my wayward spool of quilting thread when I was flying to teach seminars.  I wanted a place for a small scissors and pack of needles plus a place for my thimble and pins.

Needle Case by Gayle

I have several of these Needle Cases for different uses.  I LOVE using one for my embroidery.

Using one needle keeper for my embroidery.

It was a few years later, I discovered that I needed a little larger keeper for 2 spools of hand quilting thread so I designed the block keeper.  It has a small wool pocket for keeping my pieces when I travel along with a pull out layout block for arranging my pieces as I work on my lap.  Only 4″ x 6″ when closed so it fits nicely in your purse.

Block Keeper

Gayle makes each keeper by hand with wool, not cheap wool felt. The wool is made by one of the last wool factories in the US, so you can be assured the entire keeper is made in America by American hands.

Gayle making block keepers as fast as she can!

If you order a block keeper or needle keeper in the month of May, I’ll add one spool of my favorite quilting thread for piecing, FREE of charge.

Needle Keeper on Left
Block Keeper on Right

Order your Needle Keeper here or Block Keeper here.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Teaching Tip… Piecing in a Circle Block

For those of you working on the Sunburst blocks, you might have questions about how did I get my blocks to lie so flat in my quilt.  Included in your Sunburst stamps are these instructions, but I thought I’d give you a detailed step by step.

First press your block from the back.

Press the seams in one direction.

Turn it over and press again, making sure your points are “pointy”.

Front view.

Turn over your blocks and measure from point to point.  (Do this on several of your blocks to make sure your stitching is consistent.)

My measurement is slightly less than 6″.

Your measurement might be different, so don’t be worried.  Everyone’s stitching is slightly different.

Now using a compass make a circle according to your measurement on template plastic.

My sunburst template.

Make sure your template fits INSIDE the stamped outside line.  There needs to be a pencil width inside for the next steps.

Using my pdf file I mark the 30° reference points all along the edge.

Notice I centered the plastic and my template doesn’t go out to the dotted line.  It doesn’t matter.  If you email me I’ll send you a PDF file of the “Sunburst Rays” for your use.

Now you just need to use your personal template to finish your block as shown in your instructions.

Press on the back, pressing the seams OUT from the block to create beautiful points.  (They will want to go toward the sunburst, so be the boss and force them out!)

Front of finished block.

Still shopping for the “perfect” background fabric, but this will do for now.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Scottish Mystery Clue 3… Thistle Block

As clue 3 of the Scottish Mystery is winging it’s way to your home, I thought I’d write about the Thistle and why I chose that particular block for our quilt.

Many of you know that the thistle is part of the national emblem of Scotland.  They grow everywhere.  I think it is interesting that the thistle has sharp points that can injure you if you aren’t careful.  Scotland’s history sees struggles with the English as being “thorny” issues, too.

One of my favorite Scottish scenes featuring garden thistles.

The tea that my friend, Erica, and I attended at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh had a thistle for decoration on the table.

Scottish Thistle

While in Edinburgh, we visited Saint Giles Kirk (church) which houses the room that the “Order of the Thistle” meets once a year.  The order began by James VII of Scotland (James II of England) in 1687.  It was to honor chivalry and deeds of honor.

Doorway to the room that the order meets has a stone sculpture. Notice the shield the knight is holding which has the emblem of the thistle.

The room is smallish but has seats all around it for the Knights and Ladies to sit once a year when Queen Elizabeth resides.  Hand carved into the wood around each seat were several thistles.  How do you become a nominee today for the “Order of the Thistle”?  You must do good works or contribute to charitable causes.  Once inducted, you are a member for life.  (Only 16 members plus the Queen.)

Part of the room where the “Order of the Thistle” meets.

I read all the “Outlander” books and of course looked for anything “Fraser” while in Scotland.  Here is what I found:

Fraser family crest.

It features…  You guessed it, a Thistle!

Onto our Thistle block…  When I made the stamps for this block, I couldn’t find a traditional name.  Maggie Malone calls it “folded star”.   I renamed it Thistle.  I think it fits, don’t you?  A lovely center and very pointy points around it.  And it gives a nice “quilted tribute” to Scotland.

I used my “plaid” for the center.

My finished thistle block.

Have fun this month making your Thistle blocks and think about Scotland and it’s history as you stitch.

One a different note, my Valdani Collection is finally back in stock!  You can order it here.  It comes with a free package of #24 Chenille needles.  I hand chose all the colors for you.  If you love embroidery, you will love this collection.

Until next time,

Happy “Scottish” stitching!





Panama Pyramid Hand Quilting

Hi Everyone!

I just finished hand quilting my pyramid quilt.  It was a challenge trying to figure out how to quilt it without spending the rest of my life on this one quilt.  I like to use concentric lines if possible and I finally settled on this:

Hand quilting close up.

I did use the sugar loaf triangle from the Sugar Loaf Template set and the Large Pyramid to make my triangles.

Sugar Loaf stamp set

Large Pyramid adds onto the Sugar Loaf triangle.

Here is a diagram of my quilting:

Hand quilting diagram.

I know my quilt is smaller than most of the pyramid quilts I’ve seen online, but I resisted adding the other 2 rows I had made after I auditioned it over my bed.  It is the perfect size for this area.

Finished and ready to hang!

Until next time… Happy Hand Quilting!


Scottish Mystery Clue 2… Castle Wall

By now you are hopefully working on your second clue, making 4 castle wall blocks. This is one of my favorite blocks and I will use it again in another quilt.

It was inspired by the towering Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.  Scotland is home to many castles, but touring this one brought Scottish history to life.  The castle was built on a volcanic rock towering over the city of Edinburgh.

Walking up to the entrance.

Everywhere in the city you can see this important landmark.


The view from the top, looking over the city of Edinburgh. You can see why it was an important military post.

The Edinburgh Castle houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the important “Stone of Destiny”.  For Scottish history buffs a real treat to see in person!  Read about it here.

Our castle wall block will hopefully remind you of castles and history.  Here is one of my blocks.

One of my blocks.

Another block.

I did make all my blocks different, but had to repeat the same center in 2 of the blocks since I only had 3 flower motifs to chose from.  You can make all your blocks the same, if you desire.  There are NO rules.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!


NEW!!! Drunkard’s Path Stamp Set

You asked for it, you got it!  Drunkard’s Path is an easy set to put together even with the gentle curves.  There are soooooooo many variations of the block, too!

Jeanne Etter made this version.

The block has so much movement in it without lots of piecing.

The stamp set contains 2 pieces.

Drunkard’s Path stamp set

The block finishes to 3″, so sewing is fast!  I made my sample in a few hours.  Of course, my stamps feature reference marks to make stitching stress free.

My scrappy version.

You can get your new stamp set here.  It comes with instructions for piecing my scrappy version.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Scottish Mystery… Clue 1 Celtic Embroidery

Hi Mystery Participants Everywhere!

Some of you have already received clue #1 and I thought I’d use this blog post to explain the embroidery this month.  I chose a “Celtic” circle design to begin our mystery.  You KNOW how I LOVE to add embroidery to most of my quilts and the Scottish Mystery is no exception.

When traveling through Scotland last summer, my friend Erica found a wonderful gem of a “Georgian House” tucked away in Edinburgh.  The house was built in 1791 and decorated in the Georgian style and open to the public to view.  Georgian Architecture was named for the “kings” named George from 1714 – 1830.  (Yes, this included the King George that was ruling during the time of the American Revolution.)

Basically, the architecture and furnishings had proportion and balance.  (Just like all my quilts, I might add.)  Georgians loved symmetry which shows in these lovely bed covers.  Notice the symmetry of the head board.

Embroidered Georgian Headboard.

The “pockets” were there to store the lady’s or gentleman’s pocket watch.  We were told that pocket watches kept better time if they were stored upright and kept warm.

I loved the hand quilted whole cloth quilt that was on the bed and can you discover something by looking closely?

Look around the center design.

There it is!  My inspiration for our embroidery!  I did look up Celtic designs and found them in ancient writings in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall.  Celtic designs also decorated the first bibles.

Some of you have asked, how many colors do I use for my embroidery?  I like to use 2 different colors per line, but use whatever inspires YOU!

Be sure to check out my blog post at  for a refresher in hand embroidery.

Close up of my embroidered Celtic circle.

I did do all my blocks different just because I am the gal that always dove into her box of crayons the first day of school and used all of them!  You might want a “quieter” palette all the same.  It is up to you!  It is YOUR quilt!

Until Next Time,

Happy Embroidering!


Choosing Fabrics for the Scottish Mystery Quilt

Many of you have been concerned over choosing your border print for the upcoming Scottish Mystery.  By now all of you should have received your initial package with the mystery stamps, graphite pencil, template plastic and 4 handouts.  One of the handouts is in color and shows the fabrics I chose.

My color choices are only a guideline for you.  I chose them because Jo Morton’s new Gratitude line had just been produced.  It is fresh and different from colors I’ve used before.  BUT…  If this isn’t your cup of tea, be courageous and chose your own favorite fabrics.

Back to the border print…  I used the border print for the outside of the quilt and “harvested” some of the remaining borders to use in one of the mystery blocks.  You DO NOT need to use or buy a border fabric or a border print at this time if you can’t find one that you LOVE!  (Yes, you MUST LOVE your choices.)

Just buy a fat quarter that has some places you can fussy cut.  Here are a few examples:

Large flowers are a good choice.

Making a patriotic quilt? How about Betsy Ross?

Love all these items on this French General fabric.

The item you are going to fussy cut will be around 2 1/2″ square.  These choices are certainly large enough.

But if you have your heart set on a border print, here are some I found locally at Pappys Quilting Place.

Very graphic and looks Celtic.

Here is the same print in Red.

Just cut your 4 border strips first.  (Remember to add seam allowance to either side of the strip.)  Then you’ll have the rest to use in clue #2.

I hope this helps to stop the panic!  I always told my students in class that you all are smart women.  You chose the lovely clothes you are wearing today and you CAN choose fabrics you love.

I’m excited to begin!  I hope you are, too!  You can still sign up for the Scottish Mystery.  The first clue will go out the middle of February!

Be sure to share the excitement on the “Stitching With Cindy Blackberg” face book page!

Until then,

Happy Fabric Choosing!