Free Nutcracker Applique Pattern

Want to learn how to make a quilt with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make a Quilt here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make a quilt from start to finish using Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive.

It’s the easiest, most fun way to make an applique quilt. You can do it!

Every year (almost) I release a free holiday applique pattern.

Here are the links to the patterns from previous years.

This year I’d like you to meet the Nutcracker!

Now let’s jump right to the instructions!

These instructions assume you’re already familiar with the applique method I use – Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive.

If you’re new to my patterns, there’s a detailed video workshop here that takes you step by step through the methods I use. It’s totally free, and you can work your way through the lessons using any pattern you like, including this nutcracker pattern!

Step 1

Download the template pieces. If you’re using paper-backed fusible adhesive and cutting by hand, use this link to download the PDF. If you’re using an electric cutting machine, use this link to download the SVG. On most computers that link will take you to a preview of the file. You’ll need to click on the down-arrow icon to actually download it to your computer.

If you’e using an electric cutting machine like a Cricut. . .

  • Upload the file to your machine.
  • Resize if needed. (The small square in the top left corner should be 1 inch.)
  • Ungroup the pieces and assign colors.
  • Cut.

Step 2

Trace or print the pattern onto the paper side of the fusible adhesive.

I use Heat & Bond Lite for all my quilts, and I love printable sheets because I’m lazy and hate to trace. πŸ™‚

The image has already been reversed, so just trace or print. If you’re tracing, be sure to trace the lines separating the teeth too. You’ll need those for Step 5.

Step 3

Whoa! That’s a lot of pieces!

It’s ok – the numbers tell you what’s what and there’s a video showing how to layer them up. πŸ™‚

Roughly cut around each shape and fuse it to the back of your fabric.

Step 4

Cut around each piece neatly.

This time you’re cutting directly on the solid lines.

Step 5

Remember back in Step 2 when I told you to make sure you traced the lines for the teeth? Now you’re going to use that. Hold the teeth up to a window so the light shines through it. You’ll be able to see all the dotted lines, and the adhesive will stabilize the fabric so you can trace on it without it crinkling up.

If you’re not using a lightbox (I am in my video), trace all the other dotted lines too using chalk or a pencil. They’ll help you position the pieces.

Step 6

If you’re doing Quilt As You Go (I did) then you can quilt your block before adding the applique. So easy!

Cut your background fabric and a piece of 100% cotton batting 11 inches square.

Layer the block with a piece of 100% cotton batting. Quilt any pattern you like!

I prefer to quilt my blocks before I applique. These posts show how I do that, along with lots more info. Start with them.

Some people prefer to quilt after they applique. This post features a gallery of lots of quilt patterns with video instructions showing you how to work those patterns around applique you’ve already done. Of course, you can also stitch these designs before you applique.

If you’ll do the quilting later, simply skip this step.

Step 7

Peel off the paper backing and arrange the pieces on a background block.

Fuse the pieces in place, following the instructions for whatever brand of adhesive you used.

This video has detailed instructions for layering all those pieces and also shows the finished block.

Step 8

Outline all the pieces with black thread and a simple straight stitch – or choose your favorite decorative stitch.

This video has some tips for outlining those tight curves.

I like going around all the pieces three times for a sketchy, scribbly look. This post has some tips for that.

This post has tips for using decorative stitching.

This post has some information about outlining using thicker thread.

Done!

Do you like those little specks of light in his eyes? This post shows you three ways to add those catchlights.

If you’re making a one-block project, go ahead and finish it up!

If you’re making a bunch of nutcracker blocks to join into a quilt -Β­ maybe adding them to the other free Christmas blocks – have fun!

This post has details about lots of different layouts that work well with my patterns.

This video shows how to trim your finished quilt blocks.

This video shows how to sew your blocks together using the QAYG method I use.

This post has tips for quilting on a cuddle fleece back.

And this video shows how to bind your quilt.

What can you do with just one block pattern? Tons of things!

I have lots of free patterns that you can use with any applique patterns – stockings, tote bags, placemats and more! Find all the free patterns here.

Have fun! And share a photo of what you make! You can share it in the Shiny Happy People group or tag it with #shinyhappyworld on Instagram.

If you like this free pattern, sign up for the Shiny Happy News!

Happy stitching!

My Favorite Tools and Supplies

In an effort to have more time to spend designing, I’m no longer selling tools and supplies. But I don’t want to leave you hanging! That section of the shop has always been where I share all my favorite things!

So here’s a list of all the tools and supplies I used to sell – organized by craft – with links to where you can get them now. (The links followed by an asterisk are affiliate links, which means I make a small commission on each sale.)

Quilting Supplies

Supplies for Stuffed Animals and Dolls

Embroidery and Felt Supplies

Crochet Supplies

  • still working on this list πŸ™‚

Fabric

I’m using Spoonflower fabric now for all my samples because it never goes out of print! Each color collection redirects to that specific palette or collection in my Spoonflower shop.

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How to Add a Catchlight to Applique Eyes – Three Ways

three ways to add a actchlight to applique eyes - photo mosaic showing hand embroidered, machine stitched, and fabric painted eyes on applique dog faces

What’s that little light you see in eyes? It’s called a catchlight, or a catch light, or a spark of life, or a bunch of other poetic names. Whatever you call it – adding a little speck of light really brings applique eyes to life.

It’s one of the reason I love using black safety eyes on my dolls and stuffed animals. The surface is shiny, so it reflects the light and you get that little spark that makes them awesome.

But you can’t really use those plastic eyes on applique.

No matter!

There are lots of different ways to add that catchlight to applique eyes. Here are three different methods. . .

Fabric Paint

Easy peasy! Just paint those specks in!

I’ve tested a bunch of different fabric paints to use for eyes too small to applique. For catchlights on applique eyes I went straight to my favorite – Scribbles fabric paint.

It dries shiny and 3D and is impossible to pick off. πŸ™‚

If you’re nervous about painting on a finished block, try just a dot.

fabric paint catchlights on applique eyes

If you’re feeling a little braver, go for a crescent shape.

fabric paint catchlights on applique eyes

You’ll see in the examples below that I favor a little crescent, but you can see that a simple dot is just fine too. If you’re nervous about a crescent, think of it as a comma, or a closed parenthesis – and definitely practice on paper to get a feel for how the paint flows.

Pros of fabric paint

  • inexpensive
  • fast
  • easy
  • permanent

Cons of fabric paint

  • permanent
  • takes a while for the paint to cure
  • someone in your quilt guild might say you’re a cheater pants

Hand Embroidery

This is another really simple option. Just a few stitches and you’ll have some sparkling eyes.

hand embroidered catchlights on applique eyes

For this I like to use #8 Perle Cotton embroidery thread and a size 3 or 4 embroidery needle. You may need a thimble too.

stitch guide for embroidering catchlights

Bring your needle up at point A. Leave a 3-6 inch tail hanging on the back side of the block – long enough to tie into a knot with your other tail when you’re finished.

Take one stitch from A to B.

Come up at point C and take a stitch from C back to B.

Come up at point D (just a smidge to the side of point A) and take a stitch from D to B.

Tie off your tails in the back and repeat for the second eye.

Beautiful catchlights in those eyes!

Pros

  • simple – no special tools or tech needed
  • can unpick the stitches if you don’t like how it looks
  • portable
  • no drying time needed

Cons

  • It can be hard to push the needle through fabric backed with fusible adhesive. You may need a thimble.
  • slow

Machine Embroidered

You can embroider those catchlights by machine – even if you don’t have an embroidery machine. You just need to have some decorative stitches.

On my machine I used a stitch that looks like a little row of triangles or arrow points. I adjusted the length and width to something that looked good, and I curved it a bit as it sewed.

See that scrap of fabric sitting next to that dog face?

Once I was happy with my stitch settings, I stitched up a little sample and wrote the stitch number, length and width right on the sample. Now I have that reference any time I need it and I don’t have to do that testing again!

Here’s what my machine screen looks like.

See? I used stitch #401, set to a width of 3.5 and a length of 12.0. My machine is a Bernina 710, so your setting may vary from that – but you probably have a stitch that will work.

One thing to note when you’re tricking your machine into thinking it’s an embroidery machine. . .

See how this stitch makes a continuous row of triangles if you just keep sewing? You have to pay REALLY close attention to when the triangle is coming to a point so you can stop it and tie off before it jumps back up to the wide section of the next triangle in the row.

Pros

  • fast
  • can be picked out if you make a mistake

Cons

  • requires some fiddling with your machine

So there you have it! Three different ways to add catchlights to applique eyes to really bring them to life.

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People Colors – Skin Tone Fabric

stack of folded skin tone fabric - text reads People Colors

I’m no longer selling cut fabric in my shop.

I go into lots of detail about the reasons why in this post, but the nutshell version is that cutting the fabric has gotten too painful for me.

For the most part I’m replacing my fabric bundles with new bundles from Spoonflower – designed by me especially for applique. It’s very exciting!

But that doesn’t replace solid bundles like these People Colors.

Never fear! These are actually REALLY easy for you to order from any shop that sells Kona Solids – which is almost every fabric shop.

All you need to know are the colors. Skin tone fabric can be tricky. Too pale and they look ghostly. Too pink and they look feverish or sunburned. Too yellow and they look sallow. Too dark and the black safety eyes I like to use don’t show up well.

It’s hard to rely on your monitor to give you an accurate color, because every monitor is calibrated differently. So I compiled the lists below by looking at actual swatches of fabric in natural light. It’s really the only way to know what you’re getting!

Here’s the list of colors that you see in the stack at the top of this post, from top to bottom.

  • Mocha
  • Latte
  • Honey
  • Scone
  • Lingerie

Of course, you’re not limited to these colors!

I would definitely not go any lighter than lingerie. My skin has been accurately described as “fishbelly white” and the Scone is the closest match to it. If you go lighter than Lingerie, your doll will look very ghostly!

On the other end of the spectrum, lots of people are actually darker than Mocha, but using a darker fabric can make it hard to see the eyes. πŸ™ If you want to make sure the eyes will show up well, there’s a tutorial here to help you out. A lot of people have the instinct to ring them in white, but that just makes them look scared.

So here’s a list of lots more official Kona colors you can use for realistic-looking people in your Dress Up Bunch dolls and Paper Dolls quilt.

  • Tan
  • Parchment
  • Khaki
  • Champagne
  • Raffia
  • Wheat
  • Honey
  • Leather
  • Biscuit
  • Earth
  • Brown
  • Chestnut
  • Coffee
  • Cobblestone
  • Bison
  • Taupe
  • Sable
  • Cappuccino
  • Chocolate

If you’re shopping for skin tone fabric, you can order any of these colors and be confident that you’re not going to make a doll that looks alien or ill. πŸ™‚

Happy stitching!

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A Gallery of Quilt As You Go Designs

Gallery of Quilt As You Go designs - showing 6 applique cat blocks with different quilted backgrounds

When I make a quilt using my Quilt As You Go method, I like to do all the quilting before I add the applique. Easy peasy – and the possible quilt designs are endless! My quilting becomes doodling on a blank square of fabric and it’s so much fun!

But!

What if I don’t like to freehand quilt?

Not everyone likes to quilt without any markings to guide them. If that’s you, take a look at these blocks with my favorite quilting designs already printed on them.

An assortment of fabric squares with quilting lines printed on them. Text reads: Printed Quilt Blocks - Fabric Bundles

If freehand quilting is like doodling, using these blocks is like coloring. No pressure, and totally fun and relaxing.

I don’t like it when the quilting lines show through my applique.

I don’t run into this often, but I almost always use prints for my applique (usually in fairly strong colors) and the quilting doesn’t usually show through.

If your applique fabric is a solid, or a very light-colored print, or a light-colored solid, you’ll probably be able to see the quilting lines through it. If that bugs you, do the applique first and then the quilting.

That’s the way I show it in all of the videos that follow – so you can see some tips for working around that applique after it’s already in place. I show the quilt lines on paper so you can get a bird’s-eye overview of the whole block instead of seeing it at an angle as it is in the machine.

If you want more details aboutΒ exactlyΒ how I sew these patterns at the machine, there are two additional posts you’ll want to see.

This one is all about straight-line stripes and grids, and this one is all about wavy-line stripes and grids.

The Gallery of Quilt Designs Especially for QAYG

You’ll see several different quilt designs below. For each one there’s a close-up image, a bit of additional information about it, a few additional examples, and the video showing how to do it.

Straight Line Stripes

QAYG straight line stripes - video

Straight line stripes.

Does that sound humdrum and boring? Think again! It’s super easy and there’s a huge range of texture you can get from simple straight lines. Are they close together or far apart? Does the distance between the lines vary in a single block? Do they run on the horizontal? Vertical? Diagonal? Do they make a grid? A grid of squares? Rectangles? Diamonds?

Here are a bunch of blocks that are quilted with simple straight lines.

One thing you’ll notice in ALL of my quilting is that the lines are never perfectly straight, perfectly parallel, or perfectly evenly spaced. I do that on purpose because I want the quilting to match the hand-drawn quality of the applique blocks. (Plus it’s easy and fun.) If you’re making a quilt that demands more precision – you might want to use a special tool for making your lines perfectly parallel. You can see that in this video.

Ready for the QAYG tutorial?

Straight lines are super easy, and you can still get a bunch of variety.

Chevrons and Zigzags

QAYG chevrons - video

Chevrons and zigzags.

Again – that seems not very exciting. But you can do a lot with simple chevrons. Do they run horizontally or vertically? How close together are they? Are they perfectly parallel and neat? Or more jagged and cartoony?

Here are a few blocks that are quilted with simple chevrons.

Just like my straight-line quilting, the lines are never perfectly straight, perfectly parallel, or perfectly evenly spaced.

Ready for the QAYG tutorial?

So much fun!

Wavy Stripes

QAYG - How to Quilt Wavy Stripes - video

I love wavy stripes! They’re super easy to do and they add lots of life and movement to the background of a block. And they can vary a lot! They can be close together or far apart. Vertical or horizontal. They can intersect for a groovy checkerboard effect. They can overlap for a watery effect. Have fun with them!

Here are a few blocks quilted with wavy stripes.

Now that you’ve seen some samples, are you ready for the video?

These are REALLY fun to stitch.

Blades

Quilt As You Go - Blades pattern - video from Shiny Happy World

I call this design Blades because I think it looks like blades of grass – especially on the green background fabric you see in the image. πŸ™‚

Blades is a good pattern for working around an existing applique image, and you can vary the look of it by using squared-off ends instead of pointy ones.

Here are a couple of blocks with Blades quilting.

Now that you’ve seen some samples, here’s the video showing how.

See how easy?

Teeth

QAYG - video for teeth pattern from Shiny Happy World

In this video I show you how to quilt Monster Teeth – another fun and easy pattern.

You can make flat, plant-eating teeth or sharp, meat-eating teeth – and they can run vertically or horizontally. Take a look at these sample blocks.

Now that you’ve seen some samples – here’s the video showing how.

See? Easy peasy. πŸ™‚

Square Squiggles

QAYG - video for square squiggles quilting pattern

I call this design Square Squiggles. It’s a fun straight-line adaptation of the loopy designs popular in free motion quilting- and it’s one of my favorite fills.

You can make your rows of squiggles run across your block or up and down – it’s all good. Take a look at these sample blocks.

Now that you’ve seen some samples – here’s the video showing how.

This is really a fun fill. I love the look of it!

Boxes

QAYG boxes - video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

These interlocking boxes are really similar to the Square Squiggles. I love the mosaic-ish kind of look of this pattern!

It breaks out of the row formation we’ve seen in previous patterns, and that means it take a little more thinking as you go – but it’s not hard. Just give yourself permission to slow down or stop whenever you need to in order to plan your next step.

Take a look at these sample blocks.

Now that you’re seen a sample – here’s the video showing how.

I love this look!

Triangles

QAYG Triangles - video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

These interlocking triangles are a lot like the interlocking boxes. They both take a little thinking as you go, so don’t be afraid to stop after each triangle to plan your next move!

Take a look at these sample blocks.

Now that you’ve seen some samples, here’s the video showing how.

See? Not too hard.Β :-)

Echo Quilting

QAYG echo quilting - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This is the only design I ever use where you really need to do the applique first. (Again – I usually quilt, THEN applique.)

Echo quilting is really fun and easy – just be sure you’re outlining a relatively simple shape. It also works great for pieced geometric quilts.

I like to vary the amount of space between my echo lines, but if you want perfectly even spacing, using the edge of your presser foot as a guide works great.

Here are a couple of blocks with echo quilting.

Now that you’ve seen some samples, are you ready for the video?

See how easy?

This kind of quilt design really puts the emphasis on your applique because it draws your eye right in to it.

So there you are! A gallery of ideas to get you started with Quilt As You Go. These are just the beginning! See what designs you come up with!

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How to Use a Light Box to Layer Applique

In my never-ending quest to to make applique as easy as possible, I recently bought a light box.

Wow!

My mind is blown!

No more tracing those placement markings to the right side of the fabric. (***ahem*** I may have mentioned here how much I hate to trace.)

This makes layering applique SO EASY and SO ACCURATE!

How did I not get one of these sooner?

Somehow I had it in my head that this was going to be a Very Expensive Purchase.

The one I bought is 15.5 inches x 11.8 inches and cost $26.99. I’m going to use it a kajillion times just in the next year, so that is well worth it to me.

The silicone mat was $14.33.

Those are both affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy something using them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you – but if you have a local store that sells these things, please support them!

Want to see how awesome it is in action? You’re going to love this!

Wow!

I’m going to say it again – wow!

This makes the process so easy! Especially for folks who are using cutting machines and have had a bit more of a laborious process to transfer those placement markings in the past.

I know some of you have been using a light box forever and can’t believe I didn’t know already how awesome they are.

I’m usually really slow to use new gadgets. I just don’t want a studio full of tools I’ll rarely use.

I’ve used a light box exactly once before – in a Craftsy class I taught several years ago. It was really huge and cumbersome and not something I had space for in my studio. I had no idea how slim and lightweight and inexpensive they are now!

Moving forward, all of my patterns will have numbers on the reference images and corresponding numbers on the template pieces.

I’m in the process of a year-long project to update all my quilt patterns. That update will include adding SVG files for use with cutting machines, and these numbered templates.

I’ll continue to include the placement markings for those who don’t want to get a light box. You can find a tutorial showing how to do that method here.

For those of you about to get a new light box – enjoy!!!

How Durable Is Spoonflower Fabric with Raw Edge Applique?

I get a lot of questions about how durable it is to do raw edge applique with fusible adhesive – especially the way I only outline it with straight stitching instead of a wide satin stitch.

I’ve got a post about that here where I showed one of my daughter’s quilts after almost two years of use with lots of laundering.

One of the caveats in that post is that the quilt was made with good quality fabric. Fabric from a quilt shop, fabric from a big box fabric store, and fabric from a discount store like Walmart are all printed on different quality base fabrics – with the price usually going up with the quality.

When I started using Spoonflower fabric with my quilts I wanted to test just how well their fabric holds up to repeated washing and drying. And they print on several different fabric bases so I wanted to test it on more than one.

For my daughter’s quilt, I washed it. . . like a quilt. That means cold water wash in a front-loading machine and drying on something hot but not the hottest setting. I also didn’t keep track of how many times I washed it in that almost-two years.

For this test I wanted to be even more rigorous – and more controlled.

I made up two samples. For each sample I quilted a background block, then fused on my applique and stitched around it – just like my quilts.

Then I threw it in every load of laundry I did until each sample had been washed and dried twelve times.

I was not gentle.

When I washed them with clothing I washed them in cold water and dried them on hot.

When I washed them with towels I washed them in hot water and dried them on the hottest setting.

For the record – I would NEVER wash an actual raw edge applique quilt in hot water, I would never dry it on the hottest setting, and I would NEVER wash it with towels. So rough! They’ll rough up those raw edges like nothing else will. What I’m showing you here is the worst-case scenario that would result from really abusing your handmade quilt.

Update – a lot of people have asked about color-fastness. I wish I had thought to take before photos just to show the color! But I didn’t, so I’ll just have to tell you that I’ve been very happy with the results. As you look at the photos below, the Petal Signature Cotton looks really faded next to the bright colors of the Organic Cotton Sateen. It’s not. Those started out as very greyed-out, muted colors for an Arctic Chill quilt I was working on. It’s a really unusual color palette for me, so looks very faded compared to almost everything else you’ll see here at Shiny Happy World, but that was by design and has nothing to do with the washing and drying. πŸ™‚

So here are the results. . .

Petal Signature Cotton

The first sample is printed on Petal Signature Cotton. That’s Spoonflower’s basic quilting cotton, and I think it’s their least expensive fabric.

There’s definitely some fraying – an amount that’s desirable to many people. In fact, some people deliberately scuff up the edges with a wire brush to get it to look exactly like this.

One important thing to note is that even though there is some fraying on the edges, in no place is the piece lifting up. In other words – the fraying doesn’t go past the stitching line. The edges fray, but the entire patch remains intact.

Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra

The second sample is printed on Organic Cotton Sateen Ultra. This fabric feels like quilting cotton, but it’s a little bit smoother. It’s not shiny (it’s sateen, not satin) but it does have a little bit of a sheen to it.

One of the reasons I wanted to test this fabric is because it’s wide. The printed area is 56 inches wide, compared to 42 inches for the Petal Signature Cotton – wide enough to back one of my napping size quilts with no piecing.

It’s more expensive than the Petal Signature Cotton – but not as much more as it seems at first glance, because it’s more than a foot wider and that adds up to a lot more fabric.

So let’s see how it did!

Very, very little fraying. The two sides of the triangle cut on the straight grain have almost none – and even the bias hypotenuse edge has a few long threads (easily snipped), but not much general fraying at all.

It’s worth noting that NONE of the fraying showed up until the first time I threw it in a hot wash with towels.

So there you are!

If you’re doing raw edge applique with fusible adhesive, think about the kind of fraying you find desirable.

If you like a soft frayed edge, I recommend the Petal Signature Cotton.

If you want as little fraying as possible, I recommend the Organic Cotton Sateen.

They’re both wonderful!

You can shop for all my fabrics on Spoonflower here. They’re organized in collections by color and by print for easy shopping.

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Why Spoonflower Fabric?

Have you seen my new fabric collections on Spoonflower?

For several years now I’m been putting together color-coordinated fabric bundles and selling them in my shop. Now I’m transitioning to selling my own fabric designs through Spoonflower. I’ve had a lot of people ask why I’m making that switch – which is a great question.

There are actually a LOT of reasons.

I has been physically hard for me to cut and bundle fabric.

I injured my shoulder last year and it’s just not getting better – partly because the movements required to stack the bolts and cut the fabric are exactly what I need to stop doing. I invested in some tools to make cutting easier, but it’s not enough. I looked into hiring someone to do that for me, but I don’t sell enough on a regular-enough schedule to make that really work.

By shifting my fabric palettes to Spoonflower, they do all the heavy lifting.

Regular commercial fabrics go out of print really fast.

Every time I assemble a bundle I really love, I’m super lucky if I get to reorder it as-is more than once. Then one or more of the fabrics go out of print and I have to start all over again, ordering samples, trying to create a comparable color palette with all new fabrics. I have to cross my fingers that all the colors in the bundle will ship, and that they all ship in the correct amounts. And every time I create a new bundle I have to take all new photos. It’s a LOT of work to go through in order to create a bundle that always FEELS like it’s made with the same fabrics.

Also, I get a LOT of requests from people for very specific fabrics they see in my sample blocks – and most of the time those fabrics are no longer available.

With Spoonflower, I create exactly the palette I want and it’s always available. None of these fabrics will go out of print.

Now you can buy yardage.

I’ve never set out to be a fabric store. I’m not set up for cutting fabric every day, so when a fabric shipment arrived I immediately cut and bundle all of it. Bolts are never all the same length so any bolts that are longer than the shortest bolt in the bundle are available as leftovers you can buy by the half yard – but that isn’t nearly enough for people who want to get, say, an extra 2 yards of their favorite fabric in the bundle to use as the backing and binding. That just isn’t something I can do.

With Spoonflower you can buy small amounts of the fabrics for the individual blocks, and more yardage of your favorites for backings and bindings. You can even get your favorite prints on other fabrics like fleece and minky to make coordinating stuffed animals and extra-snuggly quilt backs.

You can buy just what you need.

Let’s say you’re making a Woodland Critters quilt. You’re going to need a lot of medium and dark brown and very little rust. In the old bundles you were getting an equal amount of each fabric. Now you can create your own bundles that are exactly what you need.

You can also build in more variety of your favorite colors. Instead of just one very dark brown, now there are eight. There are nine medium browns and seven tan/cream. You can create your own bundles using exactly the prints you love, knowing that all the colors will go together.

And if you run out of dark brown, you can order more of exactly the fabric that you like the best and use the most. πŸ™‚

Cheater Quilts and Coordinating Prints

Most of what I use in my own quilts are tone-on-tone blenders – but sometimes it’s nice to have a more complex coordinating print to use in alternating empty blocks, for sashing, or as the quilt back.

Since I’m the designer for both the blenders and the coordinating prints – I can make that happen!

Here’s a cheater panel I designed for some fun monsters.

And here’s a smaller scale coordinating print.

I designed both of these using the exact same colors as the Gemstone Blenders.

So you can make a Mix & Match Monsters quilt using all the fun tone-on-tone prints from the Gemstone Blenders for your applique, checkerboard them with some non-applique blocks in the tumbling monster heads print, and use the cheater quilt as the backing.

Super fun!

Bonus – if you make that quilt for your baby, and they want a matching monster dress when they’re a toddler – the fabric will still be available!

Ready Made Items

If quilting isn’t your thing, Spoonflower offers ready-made duvet covers (and other home decor items) in all their fabrics. πŸ™‚

And if quilting is your thing, but you also like other coordinating things, now you can get posters and other items that match the fabric you use in your sewing projects.

Fancy!

I Love Designing Fabric

Finally – I’m making the switch because I love designing fabric. πŸ™‚

I have Very Strong Thoughts about what kind of fabric works for applique – and now I can design exactly what I want to use. And I love making fabric that coordinates perfectly with the characters in my patterns!

I hope you love using it as much as I love designing it. πŸ™‚

Find all my fabric collections on Spoonflower here.

Want some more posts about choosing fabric for a quilt?

Happy stitching!

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How to Fill-a-Yard on Spoonflower

Now you can shop on Spoonflower and get fabric designed by me, especially for use with Shiny Happy World patterns!

Woo hoo!

There are so many ways to shop!

I’ll be listing each collection in the Fabric section of my shop, with lots of detailed info about the collection and links to shop by color, by type, or the whole collection.

One of the niftiest features they have on Spoonflower is their Fill-a-Yard. It allows you to print a LOT of different designs on a single yard of fabric. So cool! And so cost-effective, too. πŸ™‚

In this video I walk you step by step through how to fill a yard. You can make 6 inch squares (a nice small amount for applique), 12 inch squares (great for background blocks), 6 x 12 inch rectangles (perfect for half-blocks), 12 x 24 inch rectangles (perfect for double blocks), 18 inch squares (great for pillows), full-width stripes (terrific for binding) and more!

Here’s how to do it. . .

I love using this feature to create something resembling pre-cuts. They’re not cut yet, but they’re printed on the fabric so they’re super easy to cut AND I can wash them while they’re one full yard so no shredding or twisting in the wash. Awesome!

So now you have so many options!

  • Shop by collection.
  • Shop by color.
  • Shop by print.
  • Buy yardage.
  • Create your own “pre-cuts” to buy very small amounts of a design.
  • Buy a cheater quilt.
  • Get background blocks with the quilting lines printed on them.
  • Get coordinating minky for your quilt back.
  • Get coordinating satin for the binding.
  • Buy pre-made items like duvet covers, sheets, and curtains.
  • Get your favorite prints on comfy knits for kids clothing.

Spoonflower is FANTASTIC! I’ve been buying their fabric for personal use (clothing and home decor) for over a year now and I’m just thrilled with the quality. I’ve been dreaming of designing fabric for years now, and I’m so excited that it’s finally happening.

I can’t wait to see what you all make!

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Sewing Machine Feet

photo showing a close-up of a clear plastic applique sewing machine foot. text reads: Sewing Machine Feet

I get a lot of questions about sewing machine feet. Mostly people want to know one of two things. What kind of specialty feet should they buy for their machine? And do they really need to have a walking foot?

Well – it all depends on what you want to sew!

There are so many specialty feet out there! I have a few I’ve bought for specific projects – a ruffling foot when my daughter was little and liked ruffles and gathered skirts, a piping foot for I-don’t-even-remember-what. You get the idea.

But there are a few feet that I use ALL THE TIME – and they’re what I want to talk about here.

Zipper Foot

I don’t sew much clothing, but I do like to make little zippered pouches and pillows with zippered backs. A zipper foot is pretty essential if you’re going to sew zippers. I guess technically you can do without it – but I wouldn’t want to. πŸ™‚ The good news is that most machines come with a zipper foot, and if yours doesn’t, there are lots of inexpensive universals available.

A zipper foot is also really handy for sewing piping or other fancy trims where you want to sew right up against a chunky bit.

Handy links. . .

Walking Foot

If you like to machine quilt, a walking foot is essential. Basically, what a walking foot does is give you feed dogs that sit on top of your fabric, pulling it through at the same rate as the feed dogs built into your machine below the throat plate. This keeps the top and bottom layers feeding evenly through the machine. Genius!

A lot of fancier machines now have a built-in walking foot, but there are universals available for every brand and some of them are pretty inexpensive. I highly recommend getting one!

Handy links. . .

Quarter Inch Foot

This isn’t one of the essential sewing machine feet, but I really love it for when I want to be super precise in my seam allowance.

Here’s what mine looks like.

close-up photo of a quarter inch sewing machine foot for a Bernina

That weird piece sitting beside the foot actually screws into the machine and becomes a wall that you butt your fabric against, to help you get an exact 1/4-inch seam allowance (or whatever depth you set it to). This is perfect for joining quilt blocks – especially for quilts with half blocks and double blocks where the seam allowance needs to be really accurate.

For some machines, the quarter-inch foot has the “wall” built right into the foot, but those aren’t adjustable. They ONLY do a quarter inch seam allowance.

Handy links. . .

Clear Applique Foot

I saved my very favorite sewing machine foot for last – a clear applique foot.

If you do ANY machine applique (or any topstitching or edgestitching) this foot is absolutely necessary.

Here’s what a typical sewing machine foot looks like.

It’s metal and it might have a small opening like this one – but you can’t see much. And there’s very little visibility where the needle is actually going in – that smaller slot behind the main “toes.” It’s REALLY hard to see where you’re stitching with this foot.

Here’s a clear applique foot.

Close up photo of a clear applique foot - one of my favorite sewing machine feet.

Look at that! The base of the foot is made entirely of clear plastic – giving you total visibility as you stitch. That ability to see what I’m doing is what allows me to outline applique shapes like this so neatly.

cute applique chameleon made with striped green fabric and the Carter Chameleon - easy applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

Handy links. . .

So there you are – the four sewing machine feet I use most often.

Happy stitching!