Friday, May 22, 2015

Stitching in the Ditch...ESS revisited!

I always take a lot of heat from my students, both in the classroom and on-line with Craftsy, about my ESS theory...stitching in the ditch Every Stinkin Seam!  Many of my craftsy students have asked to see the backs of my samples because they feel ditching will mess up the back. 

My good friend, Carol, donated some old pieced blocks for me to use as a teaching sample and this was PERFECT for my ESS sample. 

When I stitch in the ditch I ALWAYS use Superior Threads' Bottom Line.  This is a 60 wt. polyester and has the uncanny ability to blend hardly see it.  When you choose your ditching thread audition light, medium and dark colors.  You will usually choose the medium to darkish shade as your thread will blend in better with the shadow of the seam. 

I always choose Bottom Line in my bobbin for all of my quilting...whether it's ditching or regular quilting.  I quilt everything to death and I stll want to see the fabric on the back rather than the thread.

I ESS all of my very long seams with my walking foot as it's easier...

...and then ditch all of my smaller seams with my darning foot as it's easier that way.  I can also travel in the seams to get to another area to ditch.

My biggest complaint about unditched seams is how they curl and become mis-shapen.  I have lots of pictures to show.  The seam at the top right blue star point is ditched...the bottom star points are not ditched.  Look at how sharp the top point is vs. the bottom points.

I did cathedral window arches throughout the quilt...the entire piece was quilted the same...ditched and unditched.  Look at how the seams are distorted and wiggly...unditched obviously!

The unditched star block is poofy and doesn't lay flat...seams don't look very good.

This star blocks was quilted exactly the same but ESS'd around every seam first.  In my opinion it lays flat and the seams are nice and sharp as they should be.

This is the back of the quilt.  The left side shows where it has been ditched...the right side is the row of unditched blocks.  In my opinion the ESSing didn't detract from the back of the quilt at all.  I actually like the extra detail!

This is a re-birth of an old class sample but ended up being the perfect example of ESSing work on the back.  I ditched every single seam of this piece but used a blending blue Bottom Line thread in the bobbin for the ditching process.

I used contrasting threads in the bobbin for the feather and star work.  Yes, you see the imprint of the ditching but I still don't believe it detracted from the overall design.

I hope this has helped to clear up some questions on the ESSing. are ALWAYS the boss of your own quilt and may do anything you wish...ditch or not.  I'm just here to help you make your quilts look fabulous!

Hugs, Cindy :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Ultimate Stencil~Using Laminate Sheets & Vinyl for Designing!

I'm always encouraging my students to give me tips on easier ways to use the Ultimate Stencils.  Two students recently shared a couple of great ideas that I wanted to pass on to the rest of you.  I just finished shooting a YouTube video on this...CLICK HERE to be taken to the stencil section of my website...scroll all the way down to the bottom video.

I encourage everyone to draw their designs on their photocopied Master Grids first to determine which lines from the actual stencil need to be marked on your quilt.  You can go thru a lot of paper this way.  It was a Duh moment when it was suggested that you laminate the sheets.  This allows you to freely draw with a dry erase marker and rub it off when you don't want it anymore!  I actually doubled my sheets...I have the "regular" grid on one side and the "double lines" on the other.

Another great idea was to trace the Ultimate Stencil guides on heavy clear vinyl.  Simply place your stencil UNDERNEATH the vinyl and trace the lines with a permanent black Sharpie pen.

Now you can take the marked  vinyl, place it on top of your quilt, and sketch your designs with a dry erase marker.  Again, you can rub off the designs as you like/dislike what you've done.

I posted yesterday sharing the new class samples I'm working on and thought it would be a great idea to share how the stencils were used to create those samples.

I used arcs from the circle stencil to create curved crosshatching in the two circles above.

Here's a close up of the cathedral window design that was added to the curved cross hatching!

I LOVE repetitive lines!  I used a corner of the square stencil and used the lines as a guide to create perfect chevrons to create a filler for this shape.

I also used the same corner to create perfect triangles for the border design I'm adding to the edge.

And of course I used the circle stencil to create a perfect star to fill with feathers!

Keep the ideas coming in...I love sharing with all of you!

Hugs, Cindy :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ramping Up Class Samples

Do you ever look at something that you've had around for a long time...looked at a thousand times...and then suddenly discover it just isn't as good as it used to be???  I've been feeling that way about some of my class samples for my Heirloom Feathers/Backgrounds class and decided I need to do some housecleaning and redecorating.  Out with the old and in with the new!

When I teach this class I like to break things down into achievable smaller parts...I call it "divide and conquer".  It takes the fear out of almost everything and calms my students down a bit.  They realize that by designing and quilting smaller areas, and doing them one at a time, the final result is spectacular and a lot more fun!

 I use Cherrywood fabrics and create a two-color panel for each student to play on.  I call this their "sandbox".  They are instructed to divide and conquer with simple shapes and then fill those shapes with free form feathers, repetitive lines, backgrounds, etc.  I am in the midst of creating three new samples for class...I threw my first ones out about a year ago and never got around to creating new ones.  I'm long overdue for these important class samples.   

The students are instructed to fill in their "focal point" first and then start working around this main part.  These shots show the focal points of my samples being born. 

I also needed some fresh new background samples and here are a few of those...

I LOVE Zentangle designs and Rick's Paradox is one of my favorites...VERY easy to do.  Cool background, huh????

I love repetitive line designs in a grid...

...and LOVE clams!  There are a million different ways to dress up a clam.

I'm hoping to have most of these samples completed by the time I visit Quilt Canada in Lethbridge in June along with a few more.  I have some quality sewing time in hotel rooms coming up soon so will take advantage of that to work on these.

I have some time tomorrow and Saturday to get some more YouTube instructional videos done  so either subscribe to my channel or check back often on the YouTube section of my  website for more inspiration.

Hugs, Cindy :)

Craftsy's Mother's Day Sale!!!

I LOVE it when Craftsy has their sales!  Starting today, and ending Monday the 11th, Craftsy is offering up to $20 off ALL online classes!  CLICK HERE to be taken to Craftsy and stock up on those classes!

For those that are interested in taking MY classes, I have a 50% discount link on the front page of my website.

Hugs, Cindy :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


My quilting retreat year FINALLY got underway last weekend with our first retreat of the year in McCloud.  If you are a blog stalker you already know how special this retreat is.  Thirty of us gather four times a year in the small town of McCloud, California and we quilt for four days.  Life doesn't get much better!

Most of my retreaters bring enough stuff to keep them busy for weeks.  This is ONE retreater's haul...she always gets the prize for the largest load!

 There were some beautiful quilts being created all week long.  This particular one stole my heart.

There were several quilters that brought UFO's that had been sitting around for quite awhile.  This is one of those that turned out spectacular.  She used a Zentangle Paradox design on her pieced triangle background...LOVE how this turned out! 

One of the cool things about retreats is how everyone helps each other...I love watching the "team effort" in action as designs are being created.

I had my New and Improved Ultimate Stencil design book out for everyone to use...I thought you might enjoy seeing how a design was adapted and created on this beautiful linen.  Can't wait to see this one finished!

I did manage to squeeze in a few moments here and there to work on my current project.  It turned out to be a lot more tedious and time consuming than I anticipated and progress was slow.  I'm excited about this one and hoping it will turn out well.

I did manage to squeeze in some time for mischief though....

As we always say..."What happens in McCloud...STAYS in McCloud!!!".  

Hugs, Cindy :)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

New/Improved Master Grid Sheets

Pardon the blog post to get the word out but this is the fastest and easiest way I know of to send a shout out to everyone.

When I originally created my Master Grids for The Ultimate Stencil, they were drafted with the intention for the user to use this as a "sketch pad" of sorts.  The lines were further apart to make it easier to draw.  Designs could then be adapted from there using the stencils.

I received an email from a student letting me know she felt it was more difficult for her to design this way...she felt the amount of lines on the Master Grids should be the same as they were on the stencil.
It was a "duh" moment for me...of course they should be.

I just finished redrafting the grids so they exactly match the stencils.  The lines are closer together and it may make it a bit more difficult to draw things out but I think in the long run it will make things much easier.

I'm not able to link documents to this blog, so if you're interested in downloading the newly drafted Master Grids they are on the home page of my website.  I have them in washout/darker.

Thank you Bonnie for your feedback!  I'm always listening so if there are more improvements to be made PLEASE let me know!

Hugs, Cindy :)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Stencils, Workshops and Retreats!

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I just updated the FREE handbook on my website for The Ultimate Stencils.  As I tell everyone in class, the grids are new to me in stencil form.  I'm used to having them as guides on my drafting table, so I'm learning lots of new things and new ways to use them. 

The handbook has been rewritten to include instruction on enlarging, adding extra angles and how to do curved crosshatching.  New artwork has been added as well.  I will be revising it once again later this summer to include instruction on drafting borders and wholecloth quilts.   Please go to the front page of my website and download the handbook from there. 

For those of you who have purchased my 2-book set of designs, you will be receiving new designs and updates by the end of the summer.  I have so much new stuff I want to send you the updates twice instead of the usual January updates so this will give you something to look forward to! 

On another more somber note, I wanted to let everyone know that I have made the decision to no longer offer my extended workshops in Rancho Cordova.  This was a VERY difficult decision for me to make and I'm still down in the dumps about it.

I've been hit hard for the past year, and especially over the past few months, with last minute cancellations by my students.  When cancellations are received on short notice they are nearly impossible to fill.  My overhead remains the same whether they are there or not and this puts me in the red.  I try to keep my workshops as affordable as possible by keeping my rates low, but this has bit me in the end as I have less profit to cover the overhead.

Soooo....on that end if there are private groups that would love to have the extended workshops PLEASE let me know!!!  I will be offering my Designs Workshop at the Cotton Patch in Lafayette, CA in May and also doing the same workshop for a private group later this year.  I don't want to give these up so this may be a better way of offering these.  Thank you for understanding.

I still hold my extra-special retreats in McCloud, CA and Auburn, CA six times per year.  Just like the workshops, I receive last minute cancellations and would love to have those filled.

Even if a retreat is showing "full", and you are interested in attending, please let me know and I will put you on the wait list.  More often than not I may contact you to see if you would like to attend.

Thank you!   Big Hugs, Cindy :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

International Quilting Weekend at TQS!!!

It's International Quilting Weekend and TQS is celebrating  with prizes and free shows! 

CLICK HERE to be taken to the website and sign up for some great prizes and you can login to watch free shows for the weekend, Series 1-15.  There are some fabulous programs, great teachers and no end to the great information you'll receive.

Hugs, Cindy :)