Just Another Crazy Photo Set-Up

Just another crazy photo set-up at Shiny Happy World

Another day – another crazy photo set-up here at Shiny Happy World.

This one is more cobbled-together than usual, so I thought I’d share some details.

Annotated photo set-up at Shiny Happy World

a – That’s my regular tripod set up at full height on top of my main cutting/work table.

b – That’s a neat antique square yardstick clamped to my tripod. (It was an insurance company giveaway and it is NOT accurate. I keep it around because I like how it looks and it’s super useful for things like this.)

c – That’s my gorilla tripod wrapped around the end of the yardstick – with my video camera screwed into it and looking straight down. It’s just kind of dangling there, so I had to wait for it to stop swaying every time I moved this whole contraption.

d – That’s one of my childhood stuffed animals – a very heavy lion – working as a counterweight because without it the whole thing was tipping over.

e – That’s the project I was recording. It’s one of the BIG applique projects for the Think BIG! giant applique class coming soon. 🙂

Want to see my normal photography set-up? I show all the details here.

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

SHARE THIS

Free July Calendar

Free July wallpaper from Shiny Happy World

Happy July!

This month’s wallpaper uses one of my favorite blocks from the Wild Flowers quilt pattern. I love that twiny vine!

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

Teaching Kids to Sew

Teaching Kids to Sew - a video lesson from Shiny Happy World

The summer holidays are just starting here in the northern hemisphere, which means it’s time for me to start getting a lot more questions about teaching kids to sew. 🙂

Summer vacation is a great time for some sewing lessons!

Teaching Kids to Sew - a video lesson from Shiny Happy World

Kids love to learn from other kids – so I’m rerunning here a video my daughter made with me a few years ago. (She was 11 at the time.) In it she shows how the machine works, how to sew wavy, straight, and parallel lines, how to use decorative stitches, how to turn corners, and more.

It’s a no-pressure way for kids to get a feel for how the machine pulls the fabric through on its own, how (and how much) they need to steer, how fast and slow they can make it go and more. And they’re not just practicing on random scraps of fabric that they’ll throw out! They’ll use these fancy fabric strips to sew up a horde of slithery snakes!

Every time I teach a group of kids – those snakes are the #1 favorite project. They make so many of them!

If you have a kid just starting out on the machine this is a great way to practice some basic skills. It’s also a good (sneaky) way to see if they’re ready for a book like Creature Camp! Set them loose with this project. It uses a lot of the same skills they’ll learn in the very first project in the book, so if they can handle these snakes they can jump into the book!

Here’s the video. . .

Jo used the same color thread for all her stitching just to keep the pace of the video going. But encourage your kids to change threads as often as they like! It’s a great way to practice re-threading the machine. 🙂

Teaching Kids to Sew - a video lesson from Shiny Happy World

Making those snakes is easy!

Get the Snake Charmers pattern here. It’s a free pattern that’s usually made with regular fabric – but follow the special instructions below to use your practice pieces to make your snakes extra special.

  1. Cut strips of fabric 3 inches wide and 10 inches long. That’s a little bigger than what the instructions call for. All the stitching on the fabric can make it shrink up a bit, so the extra is good. It also can be hard for kids to sew right up to the edges, so this gives them some extra room.
  2. Stitch all over the fabric in any design and colors you like. There’s no right or wrong way to do it so this is a totally no-pressure way to practice. Have fun!
  3. When you’re happy with the stitching, press the fabric nice and flat.
  4. Using the Snake Charmers instructions, trim the pieces to size and sew up some snakes.
  5. Make some more!

Teaching Kids to Sew - a video lesson from Shiny Happy World

You can see all my posts about sewing with kids here.

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Free June Calendar

 

Happy June!

This month’s wallpaper uses blocks from my new-ish Dinosaurs quilt pattern. I love them on the batik landscape blocks – but I can’t wait to make a new one in pastels. 🙂

Use the discount code STOMP for 20% off the Dinosaurs pattern 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

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. (Maybe you want to ask your local fabric store to be sure to bring in your favorite.)

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 do 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