Shiny Happy World + Michael Miller Fabrics = The Perfect Collaboration

Giant applique pets made with Michael Miller Fabrics - patterns by Shiny Happy World

Every once in a while a fabric company asks me to work with them on a project – usually for a booth at Quilt Market. When it’s the right company and the right project these collaborations can be really fun. Every once in a while lightning strikes and they’re so perfect that it’s almost magical.

The Dear Stella collaboration that resulted in this free Sloth Lovie pattern, the Silly Sloths quilt pattern, and the Bear and Bunny Lovie Patterns was one of them. It was so much fun and led to so many great projects! The way I feel about this project can be summed up in the video I made for the quilt pattern.

Be sure to listen with the sound on for maximum cuteness. 🙂

I’m in the middle of another magical partnership – this time with Michael Miller Fabrics.

Maybe you saw some of their posts tagged #mmfpets during Quilt Market?

Giant applique pets made with Michael Miller Fabrics - patterns by Shiny Happy World

I had SO MUCH FUN making these guys!

Did I mention they’re BIG?

Really big.

Each block is about a yard wide!

When Michael Miller approached me about the project and shared a sketch of their booth, I actually squealed out loud. The concept was just so cute!

They had a bunch of BIG paper doll blocks, with outfits made in soon-to-be-released fabric collections. I would be making their pets – also in brand new fabrics. 🙂

It’s so much fun (and feels so sneaky) to play with new fabrics before they’re even released! Here are some of my favorites from this project. Each image links back to the Michael Miller site if you want more info.

So the whole booth concept was super cute, the fabrics were super cute, and their idea to incorporate my applique patterns was super cute. Of course I said yes!

Before I even started the project, I was already thinking of ways that YOU might want to use some big applique patterns. My plan was just to tell you to enlarge the blocks and then make some suggestions for what you could so with those supersized cuties.

But once I got into actually making the blocks, I realized it wasn’t quite as simple as that. It’s still pretty easy – and boy do they come together quickly! But there were a few Problems To Solve and Quirks To Work Out – so I decided to put it all together in a new online workshop.

Think Big - Fun and Easy Giant Applique - Video Workshop from Shiny Happy World

No – those aren’t miniature scissors. Those are my regular shears, put in there for scale. 🙂

The class isn’t ready yet – but it’s going to be awesome. In addition to general tips and tricks and instructions for working with giant applique, there will be five (FIVE!) projects with all the patterns and instructions included. I’ll have more info soon as I start recording the videos.

But that’s not all!

Since the purpose of the blocks was to show off new fabrics, I needed to add some extra doodads and accessories for the pets. That way I could incorporate more fabrics!

That was so much fun that I KNEW you guys would want to play too.

I decided to create a new applique pattern with loads of different hats and eyeglasses and bows and mustaches and speech bubbles and more. I just got my drawings back from the artist who digitizes them and I’m going to start making up some sample blocks soon so you can see how they work with all the applique patterns you already have.

It’s going to be so much fun!

So there it is. A perfect partnership – one where every step of the process is a joy and takes me in directions I never even thought of – including back to you. Many thanks to Michael Miller Fabrics for making it fun!

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Free May Calendar

Free May calendar from Shiny Happy World

April showers bring May flowers. 🙂

Happy May!

This month’s wallpaper uses flowers from this fun embroidery pattern. Those flowers are especially fun to stitch onto these tea towels. Have fun with it!

Instead of just having a sale on that one pattern this month, I decided to have a sale on every one of my patterns that includes flowers. That’s a lot! You can find them all here.

Use the discount code FLOWERPOWER for 20% off all flower patterns this month.

And back to the calendar. . . here’s the free wallpaper for the month in common sizes for computers, tablets and phones. 🙂

Download the 2560×1440 wallpaper.
Download the 1920×1280 wallpaper.
Download the 1280×800 wallpaper.
Download the iPhone wallpaper.
Download the iPad wallpaper.

I don’t have an iDevice, but I’ve heard that changing the wallpaper on iPhones and iPads can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. Here’s a tutorial I found that looks pretty clear.

Enjoy!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Easy Eye Options for Applique

Easy Eye Options for Applique - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

The eyes are definitely the trickiest part of any of my applique patterns, but I have several posts that show you easy ways to deal with them!

Applique

I usually applique my eyes using solid black fabric. I like the look of it, and (after some practice) I don’t think it’s too tricky to outline those eyes. Plus I use black thread on black fabric so if my line gets wonky, nobody really sees it. 🙂

Stitching Eyes and Mouths - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

For tips on outlining those small eyes, watch this video.

If you want to applique the eyes but you don’t want to do the outline stitching, use this super-strong fusible adhesive.

Heat & Bond Ultrahold - no sew fusible adhesive perfect for eyes and other small bits

It’s too stiff for the main applique, but you’ll never notice the stiffness on such small pieces as the eyes.

Machine Embroidery

I’ve got two different posts showing how you can embroider eye shapes.

How to Machine Stitch Eyes

This one shows a “cheater” way to do it using a regular sewing machine. It only works for small eyes, like those on the Paper Dolls and Dinosaurs quilt patterns.

Free Embroidery Files for Machine-Stitched Eyes - from Shiny Happy World

This post includes a file for embroidery machines to embroider eyes in a wide range of sizes.

Hand Embroidery

Of course, you can also embroider the eyes by hand. If you go with that option I recommend using satin stitch for larger eyes.

how to satin stitch - embroidery video

Here’s a tutorial showing how.

For smaller eyes, I recommend this stitch.

My No-Longer-Top-Secret-Method for Embroidering Eyes

It gives a nice, rounded oval.

Markers or Paint

You don’t have to sew the eyes at all! You can use fabric markers or fabric paint for them!

Using fabric Markers and paints for Small Eyes - a Product Review from Shiny Happy World

I tested a bunch of different markers and paints and in this post I shared my favorites.

See? Lots and lots of options for those pesky eyes. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt As You Go Quilt

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt As You You Quilt - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I’ve had SO MANY people ask how they can add sashing to their QAYG quilts. So many!

I don’t usually use sashing (or borders) in my quilts – but for this dinosaur quilt I really wanted them to divide the long panorama-style rows of dinosaur landscapes.

Dinosaur Quilt Pattern (napping size) from Shiny Happy World

So it’s the perfect opportunity for a video!

I need to clarify one thing up front. This is NOT the sashing you often see in QAYG quilts. That sashing is designed to hide the seams between the blocks, and it’s usually pretty skinny (usually maxing out at about an inch wide).

This is more traditional-style sashing (or borders) that you can make any width you like.

It’s done just like adding sashing to a regular quilt – except that you quilt the fabric to the batting before you cut it in strips and sew it to the blocks.

It really is that simple.

Here’s the video showing how. . .

See how easy that is?

I promised links to a few more helpful videos and tutorials related to this one, and here they are.

General intro to my Quilt As You Go method

You can also get a great overview of my QAYG method in this free video workshop.

How to Add Sashing to a Quilt

Quilting from the Center Out to the Edges (used on the large piece of sashing fabric you saw in this video)

Dinosaur quilt pattern

And that awesome dinosaur skeleton fabric I used for the sashing? It’s part of this adorable collection from Timeless Treasures and it will be in my shop soon. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

How to Make Easy Landscape Blocks

How to Make Easy Landscape Blocks - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Most of my quilts zoom right in on the animals’ faces. I like to make it look like they’re looking (and smiling) at YOU. I frame them in the block so they look like little portraits.

Maurice - cat applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

But that wasn’t going to work for the dinosaur quilt pattern. For dinosaurs I really needed to show the whole body.

That works just fine with my usual solid-color blocks as backgrounds.

Apatosaurus quilt block - one block in the Dinosaurs Quilt Pattern from Shiny Happy World

But as I was drawing them, I kept envisioning them in an actual landscape. I wanted the pterodactyls to be flying in the sky, above dinosaurs stomping across the earth. And I kept envisioning volcanoes and clouds and palmy prehistoric plants – and those needed to be rooted in the ground and stretching up to the sky.

So I did a lot of thinking about how to make these landscape blocks. I wanted a young, jagged, volcanic panorama – and I wanted it to be easy.

Dinosaur Panorama - five blocks from the Dinosaurs Quilt Pattern from Shiny Happy World

I didn’t want all the blocks to be the same, and it seemed kind of silly to provide pages and pages of patterns for what are essentially squares with slashes across them. 🙂

So I came up with an easy method to make these blocks.

  • no measuring
  • no fussy templates
  • an even mix of uphill and downhill blocks
  • an even mix of earth and sky

Here’s how to do it.

See how easy that is?

My fabrics are very bright and vibrant batiks (get the green batiks here and the blue batiks here) but you could achieve the same landscape effect with a totally different feel by using a selection of pastel green and blue solids.

How to Make Easy Landscape Blocks - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

See? Wouldn’t that make a sweet baby quilt? 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Free Pattern! Big Stitch Polkadot Coasters

Big Stitch Polkadot Coasters - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

This project is all about those big stitches!

It’s simple, fun and easy.

It’s all hand-sewn – perfect for stitching while you binge-watch your favorite show. 🙂

My friends at Sulky were watching my progress on this big-stitched lap-sized quilt. . .

Quilt-in-progress from Shiny Happy World's Big Stitches and Patchy Patchwork class

It’s a WIP from my Big Stitches and Patchy Patchwork class.

They knew I was using Sulky Petites 12 wt. thread for all the big stitch quilting, and they knew this was a BIG project. They asked me if I’d consider designing a smaller project for people who just wanted to give big stitch quilting a try.

Of course I would!

I loooooove stitching in spirals and I had been kicking around the idea of making some round coasters. This is what came out of it!

Big Stitch Polkadot Coasters - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

Get the tutorial here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Using Fabric Markers and Paints for Small Eyes

Using fabric Markers and paints for Small Eyes - a Product Review from Shiny Happy World

For years I’ve been recommending fabric markers as an option for people who don’t want to applique small eyes, but I’ve never recommended a particular brand.

Until now.

On a recent trip to Joann’s I grabbed one of every black fabric marker and paint they carried. Then I brought them home and tested them out on some dinosaur quilt blocks.

First, let’s talk about the markers. That’s definitely the easiest option for eyes.

Dinosaur eye made with a Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

Of all the brands I tested, I liked this Tulip fine-tip marker the best.

Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

It has a bullet tip, which is nice. I used the fine tip to outline the eye, and then filled in the center using the broader side of the tip. It took two coats (I let it dry between coats) to get the really opaque coverage I wanted – but that wasn’t a problem. Here’s a close-up of the finished eye.

Dinosaur eye made with a Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

Nice tip. No bleeding. Good coverage.

Now – what if you want to get a little fancy with a 3D eye?

Dinosaur eye made with Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

About a year ago I got an email from a customer telling me she had done her eyes using fabric paint, and I’ve been wanting to test that out ever since. I think she had used a puff paint, but I wanted to try the shiny finish, thinking that would add a nice spark of life to the eyes.

I tested out several brands and this one from Scribbles was my favorite.

Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

The black was truly black, not just dark grey. It had a nice shine on it after it dried, and the bottle has a VERY fine tip which made it easier to control. It does take a little skill to use these squeeze bottles – I recommend practicing on some paper before you try it on your almost-finished blocks.

Here’s a close-up of a finished eye.

Dinosaur eye made with Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

A couple of things to note. . .

This finishes to a nice smooth dome – but be aware that the dome is a lot taller when the paint is wet. It will compact down as it dries.

I tried – and was unable – to pick off the eye after it was dry. Just a little testing for kids who like to pick at textures like this. 🙂

You won’t be able to iron over the applique after you apply the paint – your iron will melt it. So you need to fuse down all the applique pieces, then outline stitch, then paint the eyes. You could possibly paint the eyes before outlining, but some of the edges of the dinosaur heads are pretty close to the eyes and I was afraid the rubbery eyes would grab at my presser foot and keep things from flowing smoothly.

Yes – it’s more than a little nerve-wracking to add paint to an otherwise finished block. I wasn’t joking about practicing on paper first. It took me a few eyes to get a feel for how it squeezes out of the bottle.

So there you go – more options for small eyes if you don’t want to do tiny applique. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

April Free Calendar

Free April Calendar from Shiny Happy World

Happy April!

It’s the season for bunnies!

This month’s wallpaper uses some bunnies made with this free pattern. It’s a mix & match pattern so you can play with lots of different combinations of heads and ears and faces. Have fun with it!

Here’s the free wallpaper for the month in common sizes for computers, tablets and phones. 🙂

Download the 2560×1440 wallpaper.
Download the 1920×1280 wallpaper.
Download the 1280×800 wallpaper.
Download the iPhone wallpaper.
Download the iPad wallpaper.

I don’t have an iDevice, but I’ve heard that changing the wallpaper on iPhones and iPads can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. Here’s a tutorial I found that looks pretty clear.

Enjoy!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Free Embroidery Files for Machine Stitched Eyes

Free Embroidery Files for Machine-Stitched Eyes - from Shiny Happy WorldI know the eyes are the trickiest part of my applique patterns. I’ve got a video here showing some tips for outlining them, and I have a tutorial here showing a cheater-pants way to stitch the very small Paper Doll quilt eyes on many regular sewing machines.

But I’ve heard from several of you who have embroidery machines and want embroidery files to satin stitch those eyes – including the larger ones.

That would be awesome! But I don’t have an embroidery machine and I have no idea how their files work. 🙁

We were chatting about this in one of the video Q&A sessions, and Ceil followed up after the session by putting me in touch with Titania Creations – someone who specializes in designing patterns for embroidery machines.

Thanks Ceil!

Titania Creations created a set of files for oval eyes that I’m giving away for free here.

Yep – free!

The eyes are all ovals in various sizes – from 1/8″ tall (great for the Paper Dolls quilt pattern) up to 1 1/4″ tall (great for the Silly Sloths quilt pattern).

You can find all the files here.

Here are the details. . .

Sizes

  • 01 = 1/8 inch tall
  • 02 = 1⁄4 inch tall
  • 03 = 1⁄2 inch tall
  • 04 = 3⁄4 inch tall
  • 05 = 1 inch tall
  • 06 = 1 1⁄4 inch tall

Machine Formats

  • PES – Brother / Babylock
  • XXX – Singer
  • JEF – Janome
  • VIP / VP3 – Pfaff / Husqvarna
  • HUS – Husqvarna
  • EXP – Melco / Bernina (Bernina also uses .ART but this is not available commercially)
  • DST – Tajima / Industrial machines. Any machine can use DST format but most home embroiderers don’t like to use it because it does not retain any colors.

So if you need a 1/2″ tall eye and you have a Janome embroidery machine. . .

  1. Go to this link.
  2. Double click on folder 03 for the half-inch eyes.
  3. Download the file ending in JEF.
  4. Wave a magic wand to get that file onto your embroidery machine.
  5. Stitch your eyes.

You can see that my knowledge of this process breaks down at Step #4. I’m hoping that if anyone has a question they can ask it in the Shiny Happy People group and someone who actually HAS an embroidery machine will be able to help. 🙂

Oh! And these files can also be used to machine-embroider eyes on softies, for those of you making them for kids too young for the safety eyes. Hooray!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

March 7, 2017 Q&A

3-7-17 Q&A with Shiny Happy WorldHere’s the live video Q&A from March 7 – now recorded and posted here for those not on Facebook (and those who want the version with all the empty time and fiddly bits edited out).

There was a storm rolling in just as the video started – which means the light was not great and the picture gets pretty pixelated at times – but I got the sound better this time!

Here’s the video.

And here’s a quick key to the questions I answered and links to some of the things I mentioned.

0:20 Am I going to make other animal lovies?

Yes – and I actually have since the video! You can find the bunny pattern here.

1:50 I talk about some new videos on the way.

They’re here now! You can find them at the links below.

How to Assemble a Quilt that Uses an Alternate Grid

How to “Quilt from the Center Out”

3:20 Which cat ended up winning the contest?

That remake of the Cats quilt pattern is finished.

This is the fabric bundle I mentioned with the pretty neutrals I was loving.

4:30 What kind of thread do I use?

These are the Sulky Petites I mentioned for Big Stitch Quilting and some hand embroidery.

This is the 12 wt. black thread I use for thicker outlining on my applique work.

6:30 I chatted about some new fabric bundles I’d like to introduce.

8:10 What handwork am I doing right now?

This is the Big Stitches and Patchy Patchwork class I mentioned.

10:15 What sewing machine do I use?

15:40 What am I working on right now?

I talked a LOT about the dinosaur quilt – still in progress. I showed some of my drawings, talked about working with a graphic designer to covert them to vector images, and talked about what comes next. You can see photos of my progress on Facebook and Instagram, and you can preorder the pattern here.

That’s it! the next live Q&A will be on Tuesday April 4 at 2 pm.

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS