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 http://cindyblackberg.com/2014/01/18/beautiful-embroidery/  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!

Scottish Mystery Mailed!

Hi Everyone!

Thank you for your patience on your Scottish Mystery orders.  I’ve finally caught up with everyone and the last packages were mailed out today.  🙂

It is still not to late to join the mystery starting mid February.  I’ve had some questions about kits and fabric.  Included in each initial package is a picture of the fabrics I chose, mostly from Jo Morton’s Gratitude line.

Some of the fabrics I chose.

BUT, PLEASE feel free to chose your favorite colors and fabrics.  I did do a trial run in scrappy and will show a couple of these blocks as I blog about the mystery.  You can read all about the mystery on my web page under the header bar titled “Scottish Mystery Quilt”.

So….  What to do while waiting?  Last night I worked on another arrangement of my Bow Tie stamps.  I had these blocks in my “orphan” pile and decided I had enough to sew together.  I LIKE it!

Love this arrangement of leftover bow ties!

Lastly, don’t forget to order your copy of Quiltmania #117 with my featured “Piney Rose” quilt on page 66.  Beautiful photography, too!  Only a few limited copies remain.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!


Piney Rose in Quiltmania #117!

For those of you that weren’t able to work on Piney Rose a couple years ago, it has been published as a pattern by Quiltmania magazine Jan/Feb 2017 edition #117.

Cover of issue 117
Photo courtesy of Quiltmania Magazine

I just got my magazine yesterday and there are 10 full color pages of instructions with layouts!  The magazine has a template sheet pullout section.  Can you tell I’m excited?

“Piney Rose”

I have a few copies of the magazine for sale if you don’t subscribe.  Order your copy here.

Until next time…

Happy Stitching!


Scottish Mystery Quilt

I LOVE a mystery!  Trying to figure out the characters, the clues and the final outcome…  I hope you do, too!  My latest trip to Scotland inspired my new “Scottish Mystery” quilt.  I saw sites and gathered clues as I toured the country and can’t wait to share them with you in the form of a QUILT!

For 6 months starting in February, I’ll be leading a special handwork mystery quilt.  This year the quilt is only 42″ square, so you might call it a “Wee Scottish Mystery”.  It will have Celtic embroidery, Thistle blocks, and a special mystery block made with a special set of stamps you will receive when you sign up.  You will be mailed out via snail mail one clue each month for 6 months.  At the end of 6 months, you will have completed your top and well on the way to quilting your quilt.  All levels are encouraged to sign up, there will be something for everyone!

When you sign up you will receive a special welcome package that contains: 2 Brand New Stamps that will connect with 2 of our old favorite stamps, Color picture of the fabrics I chose, Supply List, Template plastic to trace a few templates that were too big to make into stamps, Initial instructions, and a Graphite Pencil.

FABRICS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE MYSTERY  (I used mostly Jo Morton’s Gratitude line, but did a test in scrappy and liked it, too.  The color picture sent with the welcome package will give you specific ideas to make your quilt a success.)

This year, quilt shops will be able to participate, too! If you are a shop owner and would like to participate, contact me through my contact page and I’ll send you information.

Here are some additional supplies you will need to gather or purchase from my website or quilt shop:

Carpenter’s Star Stamp Set

Thistle Stamp Set

Ink Pads

Craft Mat (optional, but nice to have)

Valdani Perle Cotton (comes with a free package of size 24 Chenille needles) (I used my collection, but feel free to use your own favorite colors)

Along the way while working on your mystery quilt, I hope you will post pictures on the exclusive “Stitching With Cindy Blackberg” Facebook page.  You do have to have a Facebook account and ask to join the group.  It is a wonderful place to see other stitcher’s work and get ideas.

Of course, I’ll be blogging along the way, too!

Come along with us for a new adventure.  Sign up here: http://cindyblackberg.com/scottish-mystery-quilt/ .

What will it be?