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project // guinea pig book bands

Guinea Pig Book Bands

If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably aware of my guinea pig obsession. And the pics I share are just a small glimpse into my crazy. Naturally, I had to make some felt piggies! And they're actually more helpful that the real ones because they wrap around my notebook to keep it from flopping all over the place.

They're already watching over my original sketch for this project!

The felt piggies, or cavies as they're also called, are inspired by my two pet guinea pigs, Lt. Nibbles and Capt. Cuddles. For me, it'll be like having them come with me wherever I go! You can make your book bands to look like my furry friends or customize them to make them like your own.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

You will need:

Felt in guinea pig colors
Embroidery floss
Craft or fabric glue


Guinea Pig Book Bands

Use the templates to cut out the pieces. The PDF tells which pieces you need to cut multiples of. You can choose colors to make the guinea pigs you like. Mine are inspired by my two piggies. You can also adjust the fur shapes if you want.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Cut two slits in the body pieces. To do this, hold the template in front of the felt piece and fold it in half so you can cut on the line. Just don't cut so far that you cut to the edge.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Embroider the faces. I used six strands and french knots for the eyes and three strands with back stitch and scallop stitches for the noses and mouths.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Use craft or fabric glue to attach the pieces to the front body piece (the one without the slits). Glue one ear to the front and the second ear to the back of the body piece.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Cut a piece of elastic that is long enough to fit around your book, plus a bit extra. This can vary depending on the book size and how much stretch there is in the elastic, but it's better to cut it a little too long than too short.

For fold-over elastic that goes around a standard composition book, I used a 17-inch piece of elastic.

Slide the elastic through the slits in the back body piece.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Tie a knot in the two ends of the elastic. This is where you can adjust the size a bit if you find that it's a little too long.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Glue around the edge of the back piece. Don't let the glue get near the elastic because it's best to let that have some movement.

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Attach the front piece to the back and let it all dry. Then it's ready to slide around your book and hold everything together! You could even use this as a headband for a child. (I'm not quite so obsessed that I'll be wearing one...yet)

Guinea Pig Book Bands

Are those the cutest little helpers? The truth is, even if these don't hold a single thing in my notebook, I'm happy to have them hanging around. I'd keep my real piggies around me all the time too, but the felt version poops a LOT less.

Yes, that's gross, but it's how guinea pig life goes!

on following your dreams and avoiding having them trampled


I'm not usually big on inspirational sayings and empowering each other and such. Don't get me wrong. I want to inspire and be inspired. And I want to feel confident and help others feel the same. But sometimes it can get a little cliche for me.

However, I had an encounter that I can't shake off. And it has led me to writing a you-can-do-it-if-you-work-hard-and-follow-your-dreams post. Sort of. Let me share...

I was casually chatting with someone whom I had met only one time before, and the topic of my work came up.

Now, I have a unique sort of job. Mainly because it doesn't fit neatly in a job title. I write, design, draw, take photos, and more, and those things are part of blogs, a shop, and books and magazines. It's not uncommon for me to stumble through telling someone what I do.

On this occasion, I made the mistake of saying that I'm a blogger (which currently is the largest percentage of my work). And the person went on a rant about how that isn't a real job. He was practically yelling!

Thankfully, I kept my composure and was able to explain my work, and he started to understand. Admittedly, this can be an unusual field, and there are many people who blog as a hobby. But the reaction bothered me. Not because blogging wasn't recognized as legitimate work, but because of how he responded.

Here's the thing. I know that I work hard at what I do. I know that I've found success in what I do. I know that I have friends and family who support what I do. I know that I'm pursuing something of value. At least, most of the time I know these things.

Sometimes, however, I feel like a plant trying desperately to grow between rock and brick. It feels impossible. It hurts. It's more work that I think I can bear. Withering feels like the most likely outcome.

Being told that the thing I have poured so much of my life into isn't "real" could have been a foot stomping all over my dreams and purpose. And I don't think he even knew.

So what is this really all about? Two things.

First, and I'm not even sure if I need to say this here to the people who read this blog, but don't stomp on the thing that someone is trying so hard to do. Watch for ways that you may inadvertently undermine their work. Encourage them. Let them know that they're brave for following their dream and see how you might help them.

Next, if you are trying to start something, build something, create something, be it a creative venture, a career path, a philanthropic endeavor, or whatever...press on. If you believe in what you're doing, keep going. Don't let the folks who don't understand stomp on your hopes. And if it feels like no one else supports you or cares, I'll be here cheering you on. Seriously.

If a petunia can plant itself between the bricks on my front port and then bloom, we can do the hard work of traveling a life and work path that others don't understand. Maybe we can even help them understand.

Oh, and one last thing. For me, above all else, I know that who I am is not tied to the approval of the person who denied my work. Nor is it tied to anything else. My identity is in Jesus. That's enough.

embroider around the house with my newest stitching club

Around the House Stitching Club

Every time I get read to launch a new stitching club, I get all kinds of nervous & excited. And it's launch time! Cue the butterflies in my stomach! I've been working on plans for what will be nearly a year of smaller clubs, and they start with the Around the House Stitching Club.

Like my previous stitching clubs, Around the House is part embroidery and part English paper piecing. And it's all patterns that have to do with rooms in your home. You could even stitch each week's pattern in the room it goes with! (Warning: that might involve embroidery in the bathroom)

The club will have six weeks of patterns and two weeks of putting them together to make a mini quilt. And it starts on Tuesday, July 26!

Around the House Stitching Club
Around the House Stitching Club

The colors I chose for this are brights, but I'm throwing in some low-volume fabrics to balance it out. You can do the same, or you can change it up. The nice thing is that you can use the scraps you have for the EPP, and adjust the embroidery colors to fit.

Around the House Stitching Club

This is just a little taste of what this is about, but full information is available on the registration page. Sign-ups are officially open now, and they'll remain open throughout the club so you can join anytime. However, the introductory price of $5.00 is only available for one week! Once July 26 comes, the price will go up to $8.00.

So now's the time to jump in! And then tell your stitching friends, because this is so much fun to do as a group. Don't have friends who stitch? This is also a great way to meet people from around the world who are stitching along! You can do that by sharing your progress online with the hashtag #AroundTheHouseStitchingClub (and then interact with others doing the same!).

But first, you'll want to stop by the club page for more info, or sign up now!

Around the House Stitching Club: $5.00
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NOTE: If you are outside of the US or Canada, please visit my Etsy shop to sign up.

in print // handmade from the heart

Handmade from the Heart

In May of 2015, I stood on my front porch to send a thank you to all of those who made a purchase from my shop or blog during a very special fundraising campaign. The effort collected $3600 for World Vision's Caregiver Kits, and I still get emotional thinking about it.

Soon after, I received an email from someone at World Vision, asking if they could talk with me about the project. And now, just over a year later, they published an article in their magazine about it. (I might have put some makeup on if I had known the pic would be published and sent to 500,000 people!)

You guys. I don't know what to say.

Another thank you is in order. And also, I have to say that God does amazing things when you say yes to Him. Even in this broken world, He brings healing through us.

My part in this was so small and it was so easy. If you have a shop, consider how a month or even just a week of profits could help change the world. I know that I'm already thinking about the next time I'll be doing this. Because our hurting world needs a bit more love and generosity.

color combo // little miss sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo

I LOVE playing with color, and it's most exciting to me when I get to play with color in the form of skeins of embroidery floss. From time to time I put together palettes of floss colors to share, and my latest is based on the colors in a fabric line called Little Miss Sunshine.

This charm pack of fabric called to me with its cheery colors, sweet florals, and some stripes. Oh, and there are a few fabrics with hexagons. I love hexagons.

Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo

Not every fabric line makes a good embroidery color combination, but this one was just right. Seven main colors (you could add white in there too), and they work well all together (I think they'd look great on this pattern) or in smaller groupings. Here are a few of those based on specific fabrics from this pack...

Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo
Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo
Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo

Aren't these beautiful fabrics? You can see why I had to pull colors to go with them!

I hope that this palette is helpful to you, and if you're a fabric hoarder collector like me, you may even want to see about adding some of this Moda fabric to your stash!

Little Miss Sunshine DMC floss color combo

Do you enjoy choosing colors? What's your favorite source of color inspiration?

calendar // super late pandas for july

One week into July already? This is definitely the latest I've ever posted the calendar for a month. I debated skipping it entirely at this point. But maybe maybe you might just want some pandas (adapted from a calendar in 2014) on your devices. They're pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

I also thought that it might be a good idea to share a few of the things I was working on in June. Things that weren't here on Wild Olive. Oh, and in addition to these, I'm working, working, working behind the scenes on more new things.

Sloth Snuggler

Do you ever make something that you want to gush over a little? Or a lot? I know that I just bragged on my pandas, but that's nothing compared to how I feel about this sloth I made for Hello Bee. It's designed to be a like a lovey. And while I'm not sure that it's "normal" for a grown woman to have a lovey, I kinda want to just snuggle this guy so much.

Candy Constellation Game

Over at Handmade Charlotte I shared how to make this printable constellation game. It comes with it's own sweet reward for meeting the challenge!

Glowing Sparklers

On About.com I made some embroidered sparklers for the 4th of July. But they're great for any celebration. AND they glow in the dark!

Sashiko Sachet

To help make sashiko a little easier to jump into, I designed some smaller patterns, plus showed how to use them to make zakka sachets. This one is a Japanese bunny bun!

Stitching Pouch

I've made a few stitching pouches here at Wild Olive, but in June I also made one for About.com. This one doesn't require a sewing machine, so if you can embroider, you can make this pouch! If you are a more accomplished sewist, you may want to try your hand at one of the other stitch organizers I found.

And now for some calendars!

Download the 2560x1440 Wallpaper.
Download the 1920x1280 Wallpaper.
Download the 1280x800 Wallpaper.
Download the iPhone Wallpaper.
Download the iPad Wallpaper.

For your home screen, these have the pandas, but no calendar, perfect for when Mollie posts them so late that a quarter of the month is already gone:
Download the iPhone Panda Wallpaper.
Download the iPad Panda Wallpaper.

For iPhone 6+, choose the iPad 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 can also download and print a July calendar PDF. I recommend printing this on card stock, and then trimming it. Please, please, please will someone color some rainbow pandas?

Enjoy the rest of your July, friends!

pattern // god shed his grace on thee

God Shed His Grace On Thee

When I was working on my America the Beautiful towel, a line of the song jumped out at me: "God shed His grace on thee." Yes, the song is about the United States of America, but those words are true for everyone. God shed His grace on you. On me. On us. It needed to become an embroidery pattern.

I sketched a little, then I painted a bit...

And then I sketched a bit more until I landed at the design in the pattern. It's a little bit USA (think fireworks), but since I'm posting on the 4th of July (inspiration struck yesterday!), it would be suitable for other times if you stitch the stars in something other than red, white, and blue.

Stitch the stars with three stitches, but on the larger ones, you should tack down the middle with a tiny stitch.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day! And remember God's grace. No matter what we have done, He loves us.

project // musical embroidered towel

Embroidered Musical Towel

When I was 14 I started piano lessons. I would struggle to play anything now, but I'm still fairly musical. At the very least, I could figure out how to embroider a bit of sheet music! The result is a towel that is customized with a patriotic song.

But that's really just one way to make this project. Originally I thought about stitching the first line of the song Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. The intro is so distinct, and a favorite of mine! But then I thought that my mom might like something to display for the 4th of July (and even though Sufjan has a song by that title, it's probably not my mom's thing!).

So let's get musical and stitch up a towel!

You will need:

Ready-to-stitch kitchen towel
Black thread
Embroidery floss
Masking tape
Sewing machine
Basic embroidery supplies

Embroidered Musical Towel

Near the bottom of the towel, sew five horizontal lines of black thread. Mark the first with masking tape so that you have a straight line. The rest of the lines should be about 1/4in apart, so the foot of your sewing machine will work as a guide.

Backstitch at the end of each line so they don't come undone.

Embroidered Musical Towel

You can have the music go all the way to the edges, but I decided to leave some room at each side. I only wanted to use four measures, so narrowing the area made it so the notes didn't have to be too spread apart.

The amount you leave at each side would depend on how much space you want for the notes. I marked off the width of my hand on each side.

Next, evenly mark each measure. If you're not a musical sort of person, that's each section of music that is divided by a thin vertical line.

Embroidered Musical Towel

You can embroider all of the notation at the beginning (treble clef, time signature, and key), or leave it off. I do recommend choosing a song in the key of C if you aren't adding the notation for the key, otherwise it would be rather confusing to a musician!

The song I used is America the Beautiful, which I just looked up online. Take a look at the sheet music. The first note is actually in it's own mini measure. Because I wanted the first line of the song, I moved the lines for the measures, which I then used to help evenly space the notes.

You can be as accurate or as relaxed with this as you want. And each song will present different situations. When in doubt, follow the music as your pattern.

Embroidered Musical Towel

Next, use a water-soluble marking pen to mark out the location of the notes. The notes are spaced based on how long each note is played, and it's nice to reflect that in the placement of your embroidered notes. But it's not essential.

Getting these markings in place was just a basic guide for me. As I stitched, I just kept looking to the sheet music and adjusting as needed.

Embroidered Musical Towel
Embroidered Musical Towel

And now you stitch! Notes are just small ovals, often with a straight line and maybe a curved flag. Draw or trace them on the sewn lines, or just freehand them, as I did.

Use satin stitch for filled in notes and back stitch for the stems, flags and white notes. Some notes may have a dot next to them (adding 1/8 to the note!), which calls for a small french knot.

For my patriotic song, I used red and blue embroidery floss, alternating the colors. Tie off the thread on each note so you aren't carrying it from note to note.

Embroidered Musical Towel

When you are finished, wash away the markings and give your towel a good ironing. You can see that my music is a little wonky, but you if you've read any sheet music, I bet you can follow it!

Embroidered Musical Towel

And this really is just the beginning. Other ideas to make this towel for yourself or gifts:

Christmas songs (in red and green, of course)
College fight songs (in school colors)
A couple's song (good for weddings, perhaps in their kitchen colors?)
Any favorite song (black notes are a classic!)

What I have here is very simple, but you could make an entire song, adding the base clef, or even words. Seriously...fill the towel with music! You'll just need to have someone help hold it up when it's time to play a song.

Happy stitching!

an aurifil afternoon

An Aurifil Afternoon

For me, going to a fabric store is a lot like going to a candy store. It's filled with beautiful treats for those of us who like to stitch, including racks of threads in every hue, weight and finish. And these spools really are like candy. Small and enticing, and oh the colors! Aurifil thread is especially a treat.

And recently I got to take a virtual tour of the candy thread factory.

An Aurifil Afternoon

Alex Veronelli travels the world talking about the thread his company makes, and I was very excited when I heard that he was coming to Sew Generously, just a few minutes from me! I went to his lecture with Becca and Faith, and it was both educational and inspirational.

An Aurifil Afternoon

In the sewing community, Alex is a bit of a celebrity. In keeping with that, I had him sign my Aurifil thread card. I clearly look way too excited about it, but I'm pretty sure we were all have a little chuckle about it.

At any rate, he was so sweet and almost a little shy. Maybe asking for an autograph was too much?

An Aurifil Afternoon

In his lecture, Alex gave us a virtual tour of the Aurifil thread factory, walking through the process of making their thread. It was like an Italian version of the Mister Rogers Picture Picture films. So much goes into making a spool of thread, and it was obvious that this is a company that takes extra care in producing quality thread.

An Aurifil Afternoon
An Aurifil Afternoon

The behind the scenes portion was worth the price of the event, but then we got to see all kinds of samples made with Aurifil sewing threads and embroidery floss.

The piece above was made as color sampler. If you look closely you can see how the artist blended two Aurifloss colors together in between sections stitched with a single color, creating a color wheel. And I really liked the use of lazy daisy stitches as fill.

An Aurifil Afternoon

This is another example of blending floss, and in this case, it makes a gradient. There's also a bit of a gradient created with the number of strands, which is fantastic and something I want to play around with.

An Aurifil Afternoon

Of course there were many quilts in so many styles, and it was amazing to see what people can do with fabric and beautiful threads.

Comparing Threads

Everyone who came also received an Aurifil tote bag with a few goodies, including a small spool of each of their main thread weights/types. I've already broken into mine and did a little experiment in embroidery with non-embroidery threads, which you can find on About.com.

I seriously enjoyed my Aurifil afternoon, and look forward to more stitching with this premium thread! For another perspective of the day, be sure to check out Becca's post!