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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:

scissors
pins
ruler
rotary cutter and mat (optional, but helpful!)
disappearing ink pen
sewing machine
walking foot (if you have one!)
thread
needle
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!

expand your sewing skills at the sewing party

The Sewing Party

When I see people attending blogging, sewing, crafting, and quilting conferences, I get a little jealous. But then I remember that I'm a mega homebody, and even a bit of a hermit, so traveling to spend a lot of time with a lot of people I don't know might be a little out of my comfort zone. Sewing has been out of my comfort zone too for a long time, but no longer!

So what if I could connect with people without leaving my house AND improve my sewing? There is a way! And it's called The Sewing Party.



On November 8, 2014, thousands of DIY-ers will gather for a fun-filled day of sewing and crafting classes taught online by leading bloggers and educational experts. It’s all about Connecting. Crafting. And Creating.

Attendees will have access to more than 30 online classes available on the day of the event and for an additional 90 days. There is truly something for everyone! Classes include home d├ęcor, fashion sewing, quilting and upcycling, crafting, costume design, techniques for turning your craft into an entrepreneurial venture, and more!

Space is limited and likely to fill up fast! For just $40, “The Sewing Party” participants can attend classes; chat with participants from across the country; interact with top bloggers and educational experts who are teaching; and explore the latest crafting and sewing tips, techniques and products in the marketplace.

Click here to learn more and reserve your space.

And just check out the companies that are hosting this!

The Sewing Party Sponsors

I'm very honored to be an official Friend of The Sewing Party, and that brings good things...for you! Not only do I get to be part of this all-day (plus 90 days!) event, but I get to extend a special offer.

If you sign up by July 31st, with your paid registration, you can get a free The Sewing Party t-shirt valued at $20! It's super cute, so be sure to enter LETSPARTY in the promo code box when you enter.

AND, something extra special...I have five free registrations that I get to give away!

The Sewing Party is only available in the US, but hopefully they'll have an international version someday. For now, only US residents can enter. There are a bunch of ways to enter, and I'll choose five winners next Friday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


And just to follow this up, $40.00 is the price of one or two online classes, and with The Sewing Party, you get 30! I love the value of this, and I'm especially excited about Jennifer Mathis' class about making a zippered pouch. I hope you'll join the fun...sign up here!

project // fruity watermelon quilted placemat




Last week I shared how to use English paper piecing to make a pineapple placemat, and today is the next fruit in the series...a watermelon slice! I remember seeing in movies (Polyanna, perhaps?) where people would serve giant slices of watermelon at picnics, and I thought that was pretty great. We're more of a cut up the watermelon into smaller chunks sort of family.

Anyway, this happy slice of juicy melon makes a great table mate, so grab some fabric and start stitching!

EPP Watermelon 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 watermelon, you will need:

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

You will also need:

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

EPP Watermelon Placemat

For the instructions on how to make the placemat base, you'll need to visit the pineapple post. That will get you started! Hmm...pineapple post. That sounds like where Spongebob would get his mail!

But back to the watermelon! Make seven pink hexagons and eight green hexagons. Arrange them to form a great big slice of watermelon.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Join the hexagons in three rows, then join the rows together. I used running stitch to join mine.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Even just like this, it's pretty clear what this is, but for good measure, let's add some details. Before you do this, you'll need to remove the papers. I only pulled them out of the pink hexies, leaving the green ones in for some structure while I worked.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Stitch a face (just because it's cute) onto one of the inside pink hexies, then use lazy daisy stitch to add some seeds. I put one on each of the hexagons without a face, but you could do more than that.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Remove the rest of the paper inserts, then lay the watermelon on the placemat to see where you want it to be.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Use fabric glue along the seams to help hold the watermelon in place. It will keep it from shifting as you sew it down, and it will give it extra security for washings.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

With three strands of brown or black embroidery floss, stitch around the watermelon with running stitch, hiding the knots between the layers.

EPP Watermelon Placemat

Now your placemat is ready for the table!

It's perfect for summer, or any time you just need to brighten your day.

Two more fruit placemats are still coming! Oh, and think about this...if placemats aren't your thing, why not use this same technique to make a longer mat as a table runner? You'll be able to stitch all four fruits onto the one mat!

EPP Watermelon Placemat