about shop patterns projects printables extras sponsorship wild olive twitter flickr pinterest subscribe

review // sketch it! stitch it! books

Sketch It! Stitch It! review

Most of the time you'll see me working on embroidery patterns and projects. Then, nearly three years ago, I was asked to design some cross-stitch patterns. It sounded like a fun challenge, so I said yes. The process of drawing embroidery patterns and cross-stitch charts is quite different, but I've continued to grow in my pattern-making confidence.

The biggest difference in making patterns for these two processes, of course, is that instead of an outlined drawing, you need to work on a grid. That's where these adorable sketch books come in handy! Betty from Make it Betty makes these soft-cover sketch books filled with grid paper that is already sub-divided into 10x10 blocks.

Sketch It! Stitch It! review

Betty sent me a set of Sketch It! Stitch It! books to try out, and I used them for a recent set of designs that were a hybrid between embroidery and cross-stitch. To design my patterns, I started out like to do with any of my cross-stitch designs: with a sketch.

It's easy to think that you need to begin with a drawing that looks a lot like the end will...something like pixel art. But actually, I just rough sketch in my normal style over the grid, trying not to think too much about details at this point.

By the way, those purple boxes are my own addition to mark out the space I wanted to work within.

Sketch It! Stitch It! review

Then I start filling in or outlining based on the grid. Usually colored pencils are my go-to. In this case, I was following the grid with longer lines of back stitch, rather than filling the squares to represent cross stitches.

Cuff Bracelet

The result of my chart was this stitched bracelet! You can find this and the rest of the charts I worked on in my Sketch It! Stitch It! book over at The Spruce.

Sketch It! Stitch It! review

These lines of varying lengths became the last chart in the set I shared. It's inspired by the knotted friendship bracelets we made as kids!

For the past few years, as I've created cross-stitch charts for Cross Stitch Crazy magazine (including a set of party designs that you can now find in my shop), I print out graph paper to work on. When I finish, the sketches often get misplaced. What's handy about these sketch books is that my hand-drawn charts are all in one place and I don't have to hunt for them!

When I go to make the final charts, I use an iPad app called StitchSketch (no connection to these books!). But if you're just stitching for yourself, rather than selling charts to others, the Sketch It! Stitch It! books will become your own pattern spot!

Thanks, Make it Betty, for giving me the opportunity to work with your delightful sketch books!

project // guinea pig cushion

Guinea Pig Cushion


When I heard that July 16 is Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, I knew that I needed to do something to show my own appreciation for these sweet little critters that have captured my heart. Last year I made a pouch for them to laze about in, and they love it. So it seemed like time for another DIY designed for guinea pigs. Although this one would also be fun for humans too!

The idea for this came when one of my piggies was sitting comfortably in a bean bag chair watching an old episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King on DVD. She was nestled in there and just so very cute. True story.

So I thought, what if they had their own piggy bean bag? Well, this isn't exactly a bean bag, but it is a soft and slightly squishy spot for piggies to watch some Netflix.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Of course, even when you're crafting for critters, you can make things cute. So I made my cushion look like a guinea pig. It's styled a bit like the stuffed guinea pig in my book, Stitch Love: Sweet Creatures Big and Small. Because of this, I think it would just as fun to make this as a little pillow for a piggy fan!

Guinea Pig Cushion

You will need:

No-pill fleece - guinea pig colors
Wool blend felt - black and pink
Embroidery floss - black, pink, and white
Sewing notions
Sewing machine

DOWNLOAD THE GUINEA PIG CUSHION TEMPLATE PDF

Guinea Pig Cushion

Cut two large body pieces from fleece. I used cream for the top and brown for the bottom.

To do this, place the pattern piece on the fold, paying attention to the stretch arrows on the template (not shown above). I extended my pattern piece to the edge of the paper, but you can cut it off for a stubbier guinea pig.

Cut around the edge adding a 3/8-inch seam allowance.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Cut the front and back accent pieces with an added seam allowance around the curved ends, but not on the swerve.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Pin the accent pieces to the top body piece and sew along the swerve. (That's officially now my technical term for that wavy bit.)

Guinea Pig Cushion

Cut out two eyes from black felt, and two ears and one nose from pink felt.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Arrange the face pieces so they look cute and start stitching them down. Use three strands of matching thread to tack down the edges of the felt.

Embroider the mouth with pink embroidery floss. I used chain stitch to make a thicker line, although satin stitch would probably be better for making super cute and smooth guinea pig lips. I did use satin stitch for the teeny tongue.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Use all six strands of white and a french knot to stitch the highlight on the eyes.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Pin the top and bottom together, wrong sides facing. If the edges don't match up exactly, don't worry. You can trim them down later. Just be sure that you are able to catch the fabric as you sew.

Sew around the edges, leaving one of the sides open.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Cut a few more pieces of fleece using the body template. This time, don't add the seam allowance. Also, you don't need to follow the stretch guide, so cut them however it fits on your fabric.

I cut four pieces, but you can do more or less.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Slide the fleece pieces inside the guinea pig so they fill the body.

Guinea Pig Cushion

For some extra stuffing, I cut up a bunch of fleece scraps that would have gone in the trash. These, I put between the layers of fleece.

By the way, I opted to fill this with fleece because it won't be as soggy/lumpy as stuffing when it gets washed. That said, I expect that it will shift a bit when washed. I haven't tested it yet, but will update here when I do. I plan to just scrunch it around to keep my piggies comfy.

As an alternative, you could tack through the layers to make it a little quilted and keep the layers from moving. I may still do that. Or, if you're making this into a pillow for you, just use regular stuffing.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Sew the opening closed and trim the seam allowances as needed.

Guinea Pig Cushion

Let your pet try out their new cushion!

Guinea Pig Cushion
Guinea Pig Cushion

Lieutenant Nibbles is definitely enjoying her new comfy spot, and looking cute at the same time. Do you think she's noticed that her cushion looks a little like her?

Guinea Pig Cushion
Guinea Pig Cushion

No time to notice that she's sitting on a guinea pig...she just wants to know if you have any food for her!

printable // hexagon number puzzle

Printable Hexagon Puzzle


When I was little, my grandparents had a puzzle that was also sort of a game. It was called "Drive Ya Nuts" because it looked like hex nuts. As in, hexagons. Which happen to be my favorite shape.

I was reminded of that game recently, and thought it might be fun to make a printable version. In rainbow colors of course!

The goal of the puzzle is to fit all of the pieces into the circle frame (which also happens to form a traditional hexagon flower), with all of the numbers matching up on the sides where they touch. The idea is simple, but it's actually quite tricky to get right.


Printable Hexagon Puzzle

Print the pages on card stock and cut out the hexagons and circle frame. The frame is optional, because you can figure out the formation without it. But it's kind of cute and reminds me of the game at Nanny & Papa's house.

Printable Hexagon Puzzle

Start laying down the pieces and matching up the numbers. I usually begin in the middle and then add them one by one around the sides. Of course, you need to make sure that each touching side matches.

Printable Hexagon Puzzle

In this case, the 2 and the 4 on the green hexagon match up with the blue and the pink.

Printable Hexagon Puzzle

Unfortunately, after that, none of the pieces would fit. Time to start again!

Printable Hexagon Puzzle
Printable Hexagon Puzzle

You could make this into a family challenge by adding magnets to the back of the pieces and putting them on your fridge. Then everyone can try to solve the puzzle as they pass by!

Printable Hexagon Puzzle

And although I'm not showing off the correct solution here (you want a challenge, right?), it is possible to fit all of the hexagons with matching numbers. And no, they won't be in color order because that would be too easy!

Good luck!

project // embroidered plush alpaca softie

Embroidered Alpaca Plush


At my house, we love llamas. There's a good chance that this is mostly due to The Emperor's New Groove, but they're also just kind of fun. Alpacas don't have the same kind of comedic charm, but they are cuddlier, which is why I thought that an alpaca softie would make a great plush. So today I'm sharing how to make a mini embroidered alpaca softie!

This is part of a month-long series called Sew a Softie. This isn't the first series like it, but if you haven't heard of it before, Sew a Softie is basically an initiative to encourage kids and adults to sew fun things together. Visit their site to find a whole month's worth of softie tutorials for July!

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

This alpaca requires some knowledge of embroidery, but you only need to know the basics. Of course, you could use fabric paint to add the decorative blanket instead. And while I'm showing this made on a sewing machine, you can do all of the sewing by hand if you'd rather. Ready?

Here's what you need:

Flannel - 1/4 yard
Embroidery floss
Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy -or- a water-soluble pen
Embroidery hoop
Scissors
Needle
Pins
Pinking shears
Sewing machine
Stuffing

DOWNLOAD THE ALPACA SOFTIE PATTERN

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Print out the pattern page and print or trace the blanket pattern on Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. To do this, I used this method for saving scraps of Sulky.

Place the flannel in an embroidery hoop and stick the embroidery pattern down onto the fabric (or trace it with a water-soluble pen). Be sure you position the pattern so that you have room for the template outline in the correct place.

Embroider the pattern with three strands of embroidery floss. You can use whatever stitches you like, but I used chain stitch, back stitch, french knots, and satin stitch.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Soak the Sulky off and then let the flannel dry.

Cut out the pattern template and pin it over the embroidery so that the markings on the pattern match up with the stitching.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Flannel like this frays pretty easily, so it's best to cut out the pieces with pinking shears.

Cut around the embroidered front, then flip the pattern piece over and cut out the back.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Place the front and back pieces right sides together and pin around the edge.

NOTE: a simpler way to sew this is to place the pieces wrong sides together, which will give you a softie with raw edges.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Sew around the alpaca with a 1/4in seam allowance. Leave a 2in opening for turning, and back stitch at the start and end of the sewing.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Clip the curves, trim the top of the ear, and snip the angles at the ear, base of the neck, and the top of the legs.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Turn the alpaca right side out. Fill it with stuffing, adding it in bits so it doesn't become lumpy. Fill in the head/neck and legs first, then fill the body. It should be soft, but full.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Sew the opening closed with ladder stitch.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Your softie is all finished and ready for a snuggle!

A soft and cuddly alpaca like this would make a great gift for a baby. Especially if you add a rattle insert inside.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

I thoroughly enjoyed working the embroidery on this and it went pretty fast. It's actually a little different for me to make a thing that doesn't have a face. Even more so when it's an animal that usually does have a face! But the embroidered blanket wanted to be the star of the show.

Embroidered Alpaca Plush

Happy crafting!

calendar // guinea pig appreciation



Every time that I go to post a new calendar and we're already several days into the month, I consider just skipping it. But the part of me that needs things to be complete just can't do that. So here we are on July 3 with a new guinea pig wallpaper.

If you're wondering why Captain Cuddles and Lieutenant Nibbles are wearing carrots as party hats, it's because they are celebrating a special day this month. July 16 is Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, and that felt like something to celebrate. They love carrots, so that seemed a good choice for hats. They may start snacking on them later.


These wallpapers will fit most devices, so download and appreciate a guinea pig or two!

Happy Summer Printable Tags with Guinea Pigs

I also had a request for making last month's summer-loving piggies into a printable, so I set up a 5x7 print and some Happy Summer tags.

My mom likes to think that once we hit July, summer is over, but I refuse to accept that. There's still plenty of time to enjoy the sun or at least sip a fruity drink in your backyard.

visit your favorite spots with the about the town stitching club


We ended the Out in Nature Stitching Club last week and we're not wasting any time...we're gonna start stitching About the Town!

Last year I finished off one stitching club and then ended up waiting over six months to release the next one. Not so this time! The intention with this series of clubs was to have them run one after the other, with only a few weeks between them. And I'm back on that schedule. Yay!

About the Town Stitching Club

This is the third in my Exploring Your World Stitching Club series. We started Around the House, then went Out in Nature, and now we're stitching About the Town. Think of this collection of embroidery patterns as representing your favorite places to visit in your town.

These places are better than running errands because they're the places you go to that bring sparks of joy: a cup of coffee, a good book, freshly cut fabric, and more!

About the Town Stitching Club

This club is part embroidery and part English paper paper piecing (EPP). The result is a hexagon-shaped embroidered mini quilt that is almost entirely stitched by hand.

As always, embroidery is at the heart of the project. This club features six sets of tiny embroidery patterns representing favorite shops and spots you might visit while you're about the town. I like staying home, but if I were to spend a day with a friend in my town, we'd go to all the places these patterns feature. Each week's pattern is made up of three tiny designs, so you actually get 18 tiny motifs.

About the Town Stitching Club
About the Town Stitching Club
About the Town Stitching Club

The About the Town Stitching Club begins on July 11, and club members will receive an email with a new pattern or set of instructions each Tuesday for the 8 weeks. If you sign up after the club starts, you'll still have access to all of the emails and files that have already been sent.

As mentioned, this is part of a series. Which means that if you end up signing up for all four parts, you can combine all of the Exploring Your World patterns into one large quilt using EPP templates. (You'll receive the pattern for that during the club.)

About the Town Stitching Club

This kind of project is so much fun to do in groups, so tell your friends and then plan some gatherings so you can all stitch About the Town together!

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 #AboutTheTownStitchingClub (and then interact with others doing the same!).

About the Town Stitching Club

Sign-ups are officially open now, and they'll remain open throughout the club so you can join anytime. The price is just $8.00 (That's the total price you'll pay for the entire 8-week club!).

About the Town Stitching Club: $8.00
Add to Cart
View Cart


NOTE: If you are outside of the US or Canada, please visit my Etsy shop to sign up.

When you sign up you will receive a PDF containing a list of supplies, templates, and some instructions to get you started.

If you have any questions, please ask them here and I'll answer right in the comments. Or, feel free to email me (molliejohanson at gmail) or reach out via social media.

Let's stitch about the town!

PS: As with the other clubs in this series, each weekly email will contain prayer points for those who like to pray while they stitch. If that's not your thing, don't worry...it's small and easy to skip.