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prize-winning summer stitching

Shelley's Prize-Winning Mini Quilt

Last summer, I started the Summer Stitching Club, and I really didn't know what to expect. I do know that I didn't expect so many people to sign up and I didn't expect to continue it for all the other seasons and then move on to states. I was equally surprised (in the best way possible) to hear that club member Shelley made the mini quilt from last summer and submitted it in her local county fair. And won first place.

I felt like a proud mama asking her child to smile for a picture, and requested that she send me this pic with her blue ribbon. Well done, Shelley!

If you'd like to make a mini quilt like this, you can still register. It's no longer a live, weekly club, but instead, you'll get all of the patterns and instructions as an immediate download. Find out more here. (please note: I can't guarantee that you'll win a prize with your finished quilt...haha!)

Thanks, Shelley, for letting me share your success with the Wild Olive crew!

calendar // print and post august's beluga

August. Tomorrow is August. When August comes around, I always find myself questioning where summer has gone. It's flown by! But there's still time to enjoy this season. And so I will.

I tend to think of beaches and under the sea sorts of things for a good August theme, and when I started thinking of that, a baby beluga swam to mind. Specifically, I started singing Raffi's song over and over. And when I went to draw this month's calendar, I sang it over and over. And I'm very sorry, but I have a feeling we're all gonna be singing it over and over this month. Because I've got some fun beluga plans!

To start us off, download some wallpaper and adorn your desktop or digital device. And don't forget the printable page!

For your home screen, I also created a wallpaper that has bubbles floating to the surface. They're a perfect companion to the calendar! Grab the iPad or iPhone version.

To use the iPhone and iPad versions, click the link for the wallpaper you want. When it opens, touch and hold the image until it pops up with the option to save. After you've saved the image, go to your settings, choose wallpaper, then find the image you've just saved.

...you swim so wild and you swim so free...

It just isn't gonna leave my head.

project // fruity grapes quilted placemat

EPP fruity quilted placemats

For the last few weeks I've been sharing different fruit placemats made using English paper piecing. This has definitely been a big project...bigger than most of the things I post here. But I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed it. And now that all four placematss are finished, I'm really thrilled with and proud of the result.

This last one is a bunch of grapes, and no joke...as I was about to take these photos, my mom was preparing a pitcher of grape juice. She suggested that adding ice would look good in the pictures, and I agreed. Thanks, Mom!

When eating grapes, I prefer the green variety, but for something like this, purple was the way to go. Much more traditional, right? Feel free to make yours whatever color of grape you like best!

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 grapes, you will need:

purple fabric scraps
green fabric scraps
brown or black embroidery floss
EPP template PDF with 1-inch hexagons and jewels 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)

EPP fruity quilted placemats

To make the placemat base, visit my first post in the Fruity Quilted Placemat series.

Using English paper piecing, make 13 purple hexagons and two green jewels. Join them together in rows as shown, then put the rows together.

EPP fruity quilted placemats
EPP fruity quilted placemats

I like to press my pieces before removing the papers, and after removing them. It helps them keep their shape. After you remove the papers, stitch a face onto one of the hexagon centers. It's just two french knots and some backstitch for the smile.

EPP fruity quilted placemats

Decide where you want the grapes situated on the mat (all of mine are on the right side at a slightly jaunty angle), then use fabric glue to tack it in place. You don't need a lot, and I recommend that you only use it on the seams or the seam allowances because the fabric is double there.

EPP fruity quilted placemats

With three strands of brown embroidery floss, stitch around the grapes with running stitch. Trim and tuck the flaps on the leaf points under as you stitch around them.

EPP fruity quilted placemats

And just like that, you're ready to set the table!

EPP fruity quilted placemats
EPP fruity quilted placemats

I chose to make these fruits into placemats so that I could share them one at a time, without too much rush...both for you and for me. But my mom told me that she really would have loved these as a table runner. Perhaps you would too! Just extend the length of the mat and follow the same base instructions. Then, add all of the fruit shapes along the runner. You could even throw in some extra berries!

EPP fruity quilted placemats

Speaking of extra berries, I honestly think that I've only scratched the surface when it comes to hexagon fruit. Use your imagination and see what you come up with! As for me, I'm thinking that I need to be thinking about other kinds of things I could make along these lines. What do you think?

EPP fruity quilted placemats

For now, we'll enjoy these at my house, and I hope you give them a try too. Find all of the placemat posts here!

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!