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project // file folder blank book


A couple of months ago now, I picked up a few packs of decorated file folders from the Dollar Spot at Target. They were just calling out to be used on some fun project. But they sat there. I would pick them up and think about what I might use them for, but nothing came to mind. Then recently I had the opportunity to do some book binding, and an idea hit me! Make these folders into blank books!

Learning how to do long stitch binding can look a little overwhelming or confusing at first, but it's actually white easy. I'll walk you through the basics, but I find that watching someone go through the whole process is helpful, and I recommend this YouTube video from Sea Lemon. All of her tutorials are pretty great!


Here's what you need:

A file folder
15 sheets of 11x17" paper
Perle cotton thread
Thread Heaven conditioner or bee's wax
Push pin

Note: Since you won't need a whole pack of the oversized paper (unless you plan on making a bunch), you should be able to buy only the sheets you need from a copy shop. If you aren't in the US, or if you have a non-standard file folder, your paper needs to be whatever size will fit inside the folder when the paper is folded in half.


Fold each piece of paper in half. Next, nest the sheets into three groups of five sheets each. These will be the signatures.


Along the edge of one signature, make a pencil mark at 1", 1.5", 5", 6", 9.5", and 10". Stack all of the signatures and use the ruler to mark all of the signatures with those same markings.

Lay one of the signatures in the open file folder, so the fold is along the crease of the folder and so that it is centered between the edges. Make a little mark on the folder at each mark on the signature.


Use the push pin to pierce through the layers of the signatures at each marking. You'll want to lay the open signature on some scrap cardboard or junk mail when you do so. Also use the push pin to pierce the file folder. At each mark, make a hole on the crease, and one just to the right and just to the left. They should be close to each other, but not so close that they could tear in between the holes.


Cut a piece of perle cotton that is about 6 feet or a little longer. Run it across the Thread Heaven or bee's wax about three times. You should feel it getting coated, and the thread will definitely have a bit more stiffness to it.

Thread your needle and double the perle cotton over. Tie a knot in the end.


Lay the first signature in the folder, and push the needle through the top hole in the signature, then bring it out through the top, back hole on the folder. We'll be adding these signatures from back to front.

Once you've brought the needle and thread all the way through, take the needle back through the same hole and pull the thread through, leaving a tiny loop of perle cotton on the outside binding.


Stitch the signature to the folder using what is kind of like long running stitches. Go back and forth from the inside to the outside, working in the pre-pierced holes. When you get to the end, the needle will be on the outside.

Bring the needle through to the inside, going through the hole right next to where the thread came out. Add another signature and stitch through the holes, working your way back to the top of the book.


You'll reach the top with the needle on the outside. Bring the needle through the small loop of perle cotton that you made when you started stitching, then go back through the binding in the next hole, add another signature, and continue.

At the last hole, when the needle is on the outside, take a stitch through the previous stitches showing on the outside, then go back through the hole your needle just came out from, and then secure with a knot on the inside.


What's great about this type of binding is that it allows the book to lay flat when it's open. Yes, it is pretty big, but that makes it fun!


Fold it up and your folder is ready to file or take on the go with you. They don't take long to make, so you could make one or more for each of your kids, and label them on the tabs. Younger children who won't be going to school this fall will feel quite important having their own file to work in!


While this book is a little larger than will fit in my everyday bag, it is easy to spot, and I always need more paper and books to doodle up ideas. It's a good thing I've got a few more folders that I can fill!

beyond embroidery basics // fishbone stitch palm

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

One of the things I love about embroidery is that you only need to know a few stitches to be able to make something wonderful. But even though you can do very well with only two or three, you can also learn many, many stitches. The thing is, I enjoy designing and stitching patterns that have a lot of outlining, so I'm not always sure how to put those stitches to use. I'm trying to find good ways to use these stitches while hopefully spreading more embroidery fun with you!

Today I've brought back my friend Olive along with a great way to use the fishbone stitch.

Don't worry, Olive! Since I've never had reason to stitch an actual fish bone, I thought that some palm branches would be a better option. No fish needed!

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

Start with some hooped fabric and draw a curved line. You could draw outer lines to define the edges of your shape, but since we're going for a branch, a little freeform stitching works well. Bring the needle up through the fabric just shy of the end of the line.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

I'm using the sewing method (see my previous post here), but you could use the stabbing method if you prefer. In one stitch, take the needle down just over the end of the line, then back up on the line, just past where the floss came up from the back.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

Try to envision the leaves of the palm branch coming off the center line. Take the needle down where the end of the first leaf should be, and bring it back up along the center line.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

The next stitch is just like the previous, but along the bottom of the line.

Good question! The stitches should go at an angle, sticking out from the center line. The stitches on each side go at a different angle. In the example I'm stitching here, one side is angled up, and the other is angled down. Let's keep going!

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

As you continue stitching, leave just a bit of space between each stitch, and lengthen them as you go. If you want to make the center a little more dramatic, you can bring the needle up just to the right or left of the center line so that you see a little more overlap.

At this point, I should mention that this isn't a true fishbone, but rather, an open fishbone. The big difference is that with a standard fishbone stitch, the lines stitches coming from the center are closer together...touching even! Try them both!

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

Thanks, Olive! Notice how the stitches got longer toward the center of the branch and then shorter again at the end. That's my version, but you could easily change it up and alter the stitch length, spacing, and even the angle.

And since my fishbone palm branch came out like this, I thought it might be fun to try it at a much smaller size. So I grabbed a 5/8" hexagon I had close by and tried adding an itsy bitsy palm tree.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

No pattern is needed, this tree is just a few slightly curved lines.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

Tiny fishbone stitches make up the branches. In the center where the branches come together, stitches that would overlap can be omitted.

Fishbone Stitch Palm Tree

To finish it off, the tree trunk is stitched with chain stitch. Itsy bitsy stitching is always cute, don't you think? And just picture this stitched on a pocket or shirt cuff! Perfect for end of summer vacation wear!

pattern // pastel panda hexagon embroidery

I had very much hoped to have this panda stitched up today, and ready to try out an idea I've been rolling around in my head. Since it's still rolling around in there, I'm leaving it up to you to stitch this little gal. I've thought about her as always being in some pastel shade, but you could certainly stitch the design in traditional black and white.

In the PDF pattern, you'll find the hexagon shown above, which fits with the other six that I've done so far this year, as well as just the panda a little smaller. She's perfect for adding to a t-shirt or making into a little patch!

coming soon // a golfing gopher and other golf motifs

Fore! A golfing gopher!

I tend to make unrealistic to-do lists. The kind of lists that would never get done in their alloted time even in the best case scenario. And then you throw in life, and well...those lists are just plain crazy! Fortunately all of the things that MUST get done, do get done. And all the rest that don't have a deadline...well, eventually they happen. They're like a bonus!

This little gopher is part of a set of embroidery patterns that someone special requested. She already has the patterns (the MUST get done) and now I'm stitching the sample for the pattern to officially go in my shop (the rest without a deadline). I'm quite happy stitching such a chipper animal, and whenever it ends up in the shop, well, that's just fine.

But soon, very soon, it will be done.

By the way, if you're ever looking for a themed pattern set and I haven't made that theme yet, let me know and I might be able to make it happen. Some of my favorite ideas have come from customers!

project // fruity berry quilted placemat

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

I love English paper piecing, and hexagons in particular, so I've been especially enjoying making these fruity placemats. If you haven't seen the others yet, check out my pineapple and watermelon patterns, and be sure to come back next week for the last of the four fruits!

This week is what I like to think of as a blueberry, but since the hexagons make the outside a little lumpy, it's probably better as a boysenberry, blackberry, or a raspberry. In fact, you could make a whole set of placemats with just different colored berries! You could also put more than one berry on a placemat...there's plenty of room. I just kept mine to one (lumpy) blueberry.

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Here's what you need for one placemat:

1 fat quarter of quilting cotton
1 fat quarter of linen
1 fat quarter of batting

(So, if you plan on making the set of four, you'll need a yard of each of these!)

For the berry, you will need:

blue fabric scraps
green fabric scraps
brown or black embroidery floss
EPP template PDF with 1-inch hexagons and diamonds printed on card stock

You will also need:

rotary cutter and mat (optional, but helpful!)
disappearing ink pen
sewing machine
walking foot (if you have one!)
fabric glue (like Fabri-Tac)

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

To learn how I made my placemat base, visit the first post in this series with the pineapple placemat. All of the mats are made the same way.

For the berry, make 7 blue hexagons (or whatever color berry you choose!), and two small diamonds. These are considered 6-pt diamonds, and they are exactly 1/3 of a hexagon. Join the hexagons into a flower shape by attaching one hexie to each side of the center hexagon. Then, join the seams of the six "petals".

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Join the two diamonds and then attach them to one of the indentations on the berry.

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Remove the center hexagon paper and embroider the face. You know you want a face on the berry, right? Then, remove all the rest of the papers. You may want to give this a quick pressing with an iron just to help it hold it's shape.

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Just like with the other placemats, use fabric glue along the seams of the fruit and then place it on your prepared placemat. This helps hold it in place for stitching and it gives it extra security for when these need to be washed.

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Using three strands of embroidery floss, stitch around the berry with running stitch. When you come to those flaps on the stem, fold the flap to the side, and stitch up to the point.

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Tuck the flap under the point and stitch down the other side. Do this for both points. It can be tricky to get them just right, so don't fret about perfection!

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

When you finish off your stitching, be sure to hide the knot between the berry and the placemat top. And now you've got the third fruit mat!

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat
Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

I rather like his plump lumpiness!

Berry EPP Quilted Placemat

Three down...one more to go! Next Wednesday will be the last fruit and you'll get to choose your favorite color for this one...

project // bamboo style pool noodle stacking game

Bamboo Stacking Game

With pandas showing up in a lot of my posts this month, I thought it might be a good idea to feed them! So today I've got a pool noodle game that looks a lot like bamboo!

I trimmed down some pool noodles for something totally non-crafty, and started playing with them and thinking they would be fun to stack. Would they stack? After all...they roll a bit. But guess what? They stack in a hashtag/pound sign sort of way!

My dad, who is a big fan of bamboo (he has it growing in our yard!) came along and said, you should decorate the pool noodles to look like bamboo. I said, "That's a great idea! You're in charge of that project!" So here we have a Mollie and her dad collaboration. Scroll down to see it in action!

Bamboo Stacking Game

To make your own stacking game, you will need:

An even number of green pool noodles (I suggest 10 or 12)
A steak knife (maybe don't use your fancy one...)
Permanent markers in shades of brown and green

Note: This game is even easier to make if you skip the bamboo look. In which case, you can use any color or combination of colors that you want!

Bamboo Stacking Game

First, cut all of your pool noodles into thirds. You don't need to be precise; just go for it!

Bamboo Stacking Game

If you're going for non-bamboo, you're done! Start stacking!

For the bamboo look, again, it's not about perfection, it's more about getting the essence of the plant, and it's a little free-form and artistic. Take a look at the layers of lines added:

Bamboo Stacking Game
Bamboo Stacking Game
Bamboo Stacking Game

1. Tan and green lines running the length of the noodles.
2. Brown wiggly nodules around the noodle and brown streaks at the ends.
3. Tan and green streaks at the ends and coming off the nodules.

None of the bamboo pieces are the same, and the placement of the nodules varies with each piece. If you follow roughly the same process for each noodle, you'll come out with a nice variety that really does have a bamboo look to them! You know, as much as a pool noodle can look like real bamboo!

Oh, and as you work, you may find your hands getting a little marked up. The permanent marker sticks to the noodles, but while it's wet, it will get you messy. Just be prepared!

<Bamboo Stacking Game

After your markings have had a chance to dry, gather up all of the noodles, er...bamboo pieces.

Bamboo Stacking Game

Take turns adding layers to the stack, or simply play as a one-person challenge game.

As I mentioned, the pool noodles roll and that's part of the fun of this. However, as long as you are playing on a level surface, your tower will be more steady than you expect. We took these photos on the grass, but that (along with the breezy day it was!) made this more challenging.

What I think I love most about this game is that the pieces are soft, safe, and quiet. It's really a perfect indoor game! And if you have older kids (or adults!) who want to play, consider adding even more pool noodle pieces to make a giant tower!

Bamboo Stacking Game

Of course, eventually, it will come down, and then you can change the game to see how many you can pick up and hold at one time!

Thanks, Dad, for crafting with me!