Fabric Shopping at Shiny Happy World

Back when I sold fabric bundles, I created several color palettes that I used over and over again. When particular fabrics went out of print (which they did with annoying frequency) I found new fabrics in those same palettes, so that even when the specific fabrics changed, you (and I) could still get a pretty consistent palette of colors.

Now all the fabrics I use come from Spoonflower (and they’re my designs, so they don’t go out of print!) but I still use the same approach to creating color palettes. I create a palette that really works well, and then use it in lots of different projects.

The only problem is that Spoonflower’s search engine is abysmal at shopping for blenders. If you’re looking for fabric with raccoons (or rockets, or popsicles, or any other easily identifiable motifs), Spoonflower’s search engine has you covered. But if you’re searching for wiggly stripes in a very specific color, their search engine just isn’t designed for that. 🙁

So I’ve created the links that you need here in my Shiny Happy World!

If you go to the fabric section of my shop (the pink menu in the banner) you’ll find the following options:

In this post I’m going to break down each of those categories and tell you how best to use them. But first a quick note! When you find something you like in my shop, the button takes you to the fabric or that collection in Spoonflower. You will actually make your purchase through Spoonflower – not through me – so you’ll need to use Spoonflower coupons or sales. They’re almost always having a sale of some kind!

Also – you can always use my palettes as a guide to shop at your own local fabric store! Just go to the Fabric by Color Palette section and pick the palette you like, then print out the main image (the one that shows all the colors lined up) and use it as a guide to pick your own tone on tone blenders.

Fabric by Color

Fabric by Color is the most straightforward. It’s where you’ll find all my blenders, sorted by color. Here’s one of my favorites.

The link takes you to a collection on Spoonflower of every blender I have using all the shades from light to dark of that particular hue of eggplant purple, so if you shop within that collection you know you’re getting colors that work perfectly together.

The colors on the Fabric by Color page are not alphabetical. Instead they’re grouped by color collection, so all the Farmers Market blenders are together, all the Animal Kingdom blenders are together, etc. Which brings me to. . .

Fabric by Color Palette

Fabric by Color Palette where you can find links to take you to collections for each color palette. Here’s the Farmers Market collection where you’ll find those eggplant blenders.

All of the colors in that collection are named for things that make sense for the collection. These are the color collections I have so far:

  • Farmers Market (colors inspired by and named for fruits and vegetables)
  • Animal Kingdom (colors inspired by and named for animals)
  • Classic Rainbow (bright, saturated primary and secondary colors, named for those colors)
  • Gemstones (bright, saturated tertiary colors named for gemstones)
  • Sea Breeze (soft, weathered colors inspired by and named for the beach)

I’ll be doing additional posts with more information about each color collection – including lots and lots of photos showing how I’ve used it in various quilts, because nothing is more helpful than seeing it in actual use. For now just know that these are very large collections because they have every single blender in every single color of that palette. It adds up to a lot, and can easily be overwhelming, which is why I also have Fabric by Color and Fabric by Design options.

Fabric by Design

Fabric by Design is where you go if you know exactly what kind of pattern you’re looking for. For example, you know you want those swirly small polka dots I use in so many of my samples. I call that print Soda Pop.

If you click on that link, you’ll go to a collection on Spoonflower of every version of the Soda Pop print I have, from every color collection. How do you know which ones coordinate? That’s when you look at the color names. So if you know you’re using the Famers Market color palette for all your appliques, and you want those tiny dots, go to that collection and pick the ones named Strawberry, Cantaloupe, Corn, Avocado, Blueberry and Eggplant. They will all coordinate beautifully together.

So that’s the blenders – what I use most often. But I also have a few other ways to shop for fabric.

Fabric by Theme

Fabric by Theme is where you’ll find collections that go beyond blenders, like the Good Dog collection.

These collections usually include blenders, but they also include other fabrics.

Cheater Quilts

Cheater Quilts is where you’ll find large-scale designs that work great for cheater quilts, pillows, duvet covers, and more. My favorite thing to do with these prints is buy a few yards and then hand-quilt with big stitches around each motif, like I did here.

That’s the Meadow print in blue and yellow.

Cut & Sew

I don’t have much in the Cut & Sew section yet, but there will be more. Right now it’s just a few holiday projects.

More Shopping Details

I LOVE Spoonflower, but I’l be the first to admit that the all the fabric choices can be a little overwhelming. I’m going to give you a little bit of info here, but know that in every single fabric listing on my site, there are tabs with tons of additional info about how to order, and how much fabric you’ll need.

In a nutshell, my favorite fabric for quilts is the Organic Cotton Sateen. No contest. The colors are very bright and crisp – and stay bright and crisp through multiple washings. It’s a lightweight, very tight weave so there’s almost no fraying on raw-edge applique. And it gets softer with every wash! My bedsheets are this fabric from Spoonflower and I adore them.

For backing and binding I get full yards, but for applique I almost always get two yards of the Fill-a-Yard layout that can get you 48 different designs. I purchase two blocks of each color so I only get 24, but I’m getting very close to a fat eighth of each, and I love getting a wide variety prints in one go. I also love being able to pre-wash it as one piece of fabric (so no fraying) and then easily cut the pieces apart after washing.

Hope that helps with your fabric selection! More info (and loads of sample photos!) soon for each color collection.

Here are links to all the posts about choosing fabric.

And here are links to posts about using specialty fabrics.

Finished with this topic?

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Free – Wavy Waves Applique Pattern

Add some waves to your quilts with this free applique pattern!

In addition to the wavy stripes you see in the top image, the free pattern also includes a template designed to use at the bottom of a block, in combination with an animal applique.

Here’s an example.

These waves will work particularly well with the following patterns:

Download the free waves template pieces here.

Have fun with it!

How to Make a Cloth Book

People call them cloth books, quiet books, soft books – whatever you call them they’re easy and fun to make and a great way to get extra use out of your patterns.

The instructions below are for a 12-page book, 8 inches square, with flannel “batting” to make the pages extra soft and snuggly.

Plan your Cloth Book

Download this worksheet to plan your pages.

Here’s what mine looked like after filling it out.

The top of the worksheet is your planning guide. It lays out what the pages will look like when you’re reading them.

I decided to call my book Who’s Grumpy? I put one face on each page, including mostly smiling faces but one very grumpy cat. I deliberately placed the cat on an odd-numbered page so when someone is flipping the pages, that’s the immediate “reveal.” I’m imagining a kid pointing and calling out,”He’s grumpy!” as soon as you turn that page. 🙂

My book is a random collection of animals, but you can do anything!

  • Make a collection of a child’s favorite animals.
  • Make a souvenir of a visit to the zoo and the animals you saw there.
  • Make a collection of the animals native to your area.
  • Use this free ABC pattern to put an animal face on the even pages, and the sound that animal makes on the odd pages.
  • Make a Christmas book with the free patterns here.
  • Make male and female versions of all the birds that come to your backyard feeder.
  • Make books for different biomes.
  • It doesn’t have to be animals! Make a book of cars and trucks, or one filled with flowers.

Really – the sky is the limit! I can’t wait to see what you make! If you’re looking for inspiration, Kate has been sharing her amazing books in the Shiny Happy People group. Here’s one collection, and here’s another.

The bottom of the worksheet is your construction guide. It shows how you need to make the pages so that when you put them all together it reads like you planned in the top of the worksheet. So, for example, the animal for page two (the koala) needs to be on the same rectangle of fabric as the animal for page 11 (the hippo).


You’ll need 3/4 yard of fabric for your book, and 3/4 yard of flannel.

I recommend pre-washing both the fabric and the flannel, and I actually recommend washing and drying the flannel one extra time because that stuff has a tendency to shrink a lot.

You’ll also need fusible adhesive. I use Heat & Bond Lite for all my quilts.

Cutting Instructions and Applique Preparation

From the fabric, cut 6 rectangles each 8 1/2 inches x 17 inches.

From the flannel cut 6 rectangles each 8 inches x 16 1/2 inches.

Print or trace your applique templates. Since my book is 8 inches square and my patterns are all designed to fit in 10 inch squares, I printed all the template pages at 80% size. There’s more info about resizing patterns here.


Fold your fabric rectangles in half and press the fold to mark what will be the spine of the book.

Fuse your appliques. (Those little cards with the numbers are my page numbers, just helping me to keep everything organized while I worked.)

I usually make my quilt blocks “snapshot style.” By that I mean I imagine that I’ve snapped a photo of the animal, zoomed way in on its face. Here’s an example.

I’m trying to make it look like she has a lower body – it’s just cropped out of the photo – and I achieve that effect by lining the cut edge of the bottom of the applique like up with the raw edge at the bottom of my block. You can do this in your soft book exactly the same way. Just line up the straight edge at the bottom of the applique piece with the bottom edge of the page so both raw edges get included in the stitching when you finish the page edges.

For my book I decided to float the heads in the middle of the block – what I call “emoji style.” When I do that, I just don’t use the shoulder or body pieces. That means I had to choose animals where the head and body are separate pieces, so I didn’t include anything like this bear.

See? No way to separate the head from the body.

That was a little design digression. Now, back to the instructions. 🙂

Center a flannel rectangle on the back of each page rectangle. I cut the flannel smaller than the fabric in order to de-bulk the edges of the pages.

I used spray adhesive because every few years I forget how much I hate it and I give it another try before swearing off it for another few years. It would have been a lot easier (and less messy) to just dab a little fabric glue stick in each corner and a swipe down the center. 😛

Outline the applique. I just use a simple straight stitch with black thread.

At this point I also used fabric paint to add some catchlights to my eyes.

Don’t do that. 🙂

It all worked out fine, but since I used fabric paint for mine catchlights, it means for the rest of the process I had to be very careful not to iron over the eyes. It would have been easier to add the catchlights at the very end.

Now comes the fun part – finishing the pages.

Sew pages 12/1 to pages 2/11, right sides facing, using 1/4-inch seam allowance all around. Leave a 4-5 inch opening for turning.

Repeat with pages 6/7 and 8/5.

Repeat with pages 4/9 and 10/3.

Clip the corners of each page and turn them right side out.

Here’s a close-up of the clipping. You want to get right up to the stitching without actually cutting the stitches.

Smooth all the edges, tuck the seam allowance in at the turning opening, and give it a good press.

You can close up that opening two ways.

  1. Hand sew the opening closed using ladder stitch. This is slower, but completely invisible and results in the softest pages.
  2. Topstitch the edges of the page all the way around, closing up the opening as you topstitch. This is faster, but results in a slightly stiffer page edge.

I chose option 2 – topstitching. I’m pretty sure the page edge will soften up over time, and even if it doesn’t it’s really not unpleasantly stiff. 🙂

Finally, stack the pages as follows.

  • Lay page 12/1 face down so that its back (page 2/11) is face up.
  • Over that lay page 10/3 face down so that its back (page 4/9) is facing up.
  • Over that lay page 8/5 face down so that its back (page 6/7) is facing up.

Sew the three layers together right down the spine of the book, using that pressed fold line as a guide. I stitched my spine twice for extra durability.

Close your book. You’re finished! Here’s my finished book. . .

Here are a bunch of additional ideas and links to further customize your book.

You can change the size of your book – just be sure to adjust the print size for your templates accordingly. I use 10-inches as the base for all my quilt blocks because it makes the math so dang easy. If you want a 9-inch book, print your templates at 90% size. If you want it to be 7.5 inches, print your templates at 75%. Easy peasy.

If you want to add or subtract pages, that will throw off the entire planning worksheet so you’d need to make your own. It also affects what batting you use in the pages. In my tests, even thin cotton batting was too puffy for a 12-page book, but it would probably work for an 8-page book. If you want to make yours longer than 12 pages, I’d recommend stabilizing the pages with interfacing instead of using the flannel.

Go crazy with fun special effects!

Maybe you want to use smooth shiny satin for your frog! Or fluffy fleece for your puppy. Or a little bit of white fur for the inner ears of the koala! This post will take you to the tutorial showing how to applique with satin, and at the bottom of that post there are links to tutorials for lots of other specialty fabrics.

Want to use an easy faux trapunto technique to give the koala a puffy nose?

I have a tutorial for that.

Want to make that frog tongue a 3D piece that kids can move around?

I have a tutorial for that.

Want to give that bunny soft 3D ears?

I have a tutorial for that.

Want to have a page with a house that has a little door that opens so you can see what’s behind it?

I have a tutorial for that.

You can find all the Shiny Happy World quilting tutorials here.

Have fun making a cloth book! I can’t wait to see what you make!

Here are several free patterns that work with my basic 10-inch applique squares – no resizing needed!

Here are several free patterns that work with just some simple resizing. This post about making coasters has info about resizing an applique pattern that can be applied to any of these projects.

Return to the main Let’s Make a Quilt Table of Contents.

How to Squish Two Animals into One Block

Quilt block showing two appliqued meerkats side by side. Text reads - How to Squish Two Animals into One Block.

All of my applique quilt patterns (except the Paper Dolls) are built on a 10-inch grid, and I almost always design one animal for each block. But sometimes you may want to squish two animals into one block!

Maybe it’s a social animal like those meerkats in the first photo.

Maybe you want to add a baby animal, like these cats.

There’s a post here with more info about resizing any applique pattern to make a baby version.

Or maybe you want to use the Peekaboo Mouse pattern to have a little mouse photobomb one of your other blocks.

Or maybe you want to add something that will deliberately bust out of its 10 inch frame, like this frog flicking his tongue into a neighboring block.

It’s easy to play with your blocks like this – but you want to make sure it still fits in a 10-inch square, and since I advise you to start with an 11-inch block and then trim it down to 10 1/2 inches and sew it together so it finishes as 10 inch – you need to know where those 10-inch edges are.

I used to just use one of my square rulers to measure. I’d lay out the block, then check to make sure it all fits properly, then make adjustments (if needed) and measure again. It worked, but I wanted a way that let me see the edges AND move things around to adjust them at the same time.

So here’s what I do. I made a little tool that’s quick, easy, and free.

So there you go. How to squish two animals into one block – and know that they’re going to fit beautifully!

Have fun with this!

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

How to Make a Quilt with an Alternate Grid

How to Assemble a Quilt that Uses an Alternate Grid - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

One of the easiest ways to make your quilt more dynamic is to use an alternate grid instead of a simple checkerboard.

And one of the easiest ways to make an alternate grid is to add half blocks!

It can be tricky to plan and assemble these quilts, but there are really only a few things to keep in mind – fabric requirements, block size, and how to sew those blocks together without any dang Y-seams.

The fabric yardage for my quilt patterns really doesn’t change – so that’s easy.

The size for half-blocks is also easy – once you remember to account for seam allowance. For my quilts (which are all based on a 10-inch grid) the half blocks will finish at 5 x 10 inches. That means you need to trim them (before sewing them together) to 5 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches. That means you need to cut your initial blocks 6 x 11 inches.

That leaves layout and assembly.

To make things extra easy for you, I’ve created basic templates you can use for six different quilt sizes. The samples all use the Woodland Critters quilt pattern, but you can use these layouts to add half-blocks to any of my patterns. Use the free alphabet pattern to add barks and yips and whines to the Lovable Mutts pattern, add snores to the Silly Sloths pattern, add a name and birth date to a baby quilt. You get the idea!

For each size below I tell you how many full blocks and how many half blocks to cut, give a template you can follow to assemble your blocks in a no-Y-seam layout, and explain in detail how to assemble the blocks. (It looks more complicated than it is – basically I’m just starting with the smallest units and adding to them with each step.)

Get more info about the different quilt sizes here, and get some tips for quilting an alternate block quilt here.

Itty Bitty Baby Size

Instead of cutting nine square blocks, cut 5 square blocks (11 x 11) and 8 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew D to E
  • Sew C to DE
  • Sew A to CDE
  • Sew B to ACDE

Crib Size

Instead of cutting 25 square blocks, cut 17 square blocks (11 x 11) and 16 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew F to H to J
  • Sew D to G to I
  • Sew E to FHJ
  • Sew A to EFHJ
  • Sew B to AEFHJ
  • Sew C to BAEFHJ
  • Sew K to CBAEFHJ

Nap Size

Instead of cutting 30 square blocks, cut 21 square blocks (11 x 11) and 18 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew F to H to J
  • Sew D to G to I
  • Sew E to FHJ
  • Sew A to EFHJ
  • Sew B to AEFHJ
  • Sew C to BAEFHJ
  • Sew K to CBAEFHJ
  • Sew L to KCBAEFHJ

Twin Size

Instead of cutting 63 square blocks, cut 45 square blocks (11 x 11) and 36 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew F to H to L
  • Sew E to FHL
  • Sew A to EFHL
  • Sew B to AEFHL
  • Sew C to BAEFHL
  • Sew M to CBAEFHL
  • Sew O to MCBAEFHL
  • Sew S to V
  • Sew T to SV
  • Sew W to TSV
  • Sew U to WTSV
  • Sew J to K
  • Sew N to JK
  • Sew I to NJK
  • Sew G to INJK
  • Sew D to GINJK
  • Sew P to Q
  • Sew R to PQ
  • Sew RPQ to DGINJK

Queen Size

Instead of cutting 80 square blocks, cut 57 square blocks (11 x 11) and 46 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew F to H to N
  • Sew E to FHN
  • Sew A to EFHN
  • Sew B to AEFHN
  • Sew C to BAEFHN
  • Sew O to CBAEFHN
  • Sew S to OCBAEFHN
  • Sew U to X
  • Sew V to UX
  • Sew Z to VUX
  • Sew c to ZVUX
  • Sew W to cZVUX
  • Sew D to G
  • Sew J to R
  • Sew T to JR
  • Sew I to TJR
  • Sew K to L
  • Sew M to KL
  • Sew P to Q
  • Sew a to b
  • Sew Y to ab
  • Sew Yab to PQ
  • Sew MKL to YabPQ
  • Sew MKLYabPQ to ITJR
  • Sew DG to MKLYabPQITJR

King Size

Instead of cutting 100 square blocks, cut 72 square blocks (11 x 11) and 56 half blocks (6 x 11).

Sew each “chunk” you see in the diagram, then assemble them as follows:

  • Sew H to I
  • Sew A to HI
  • Sew B to AHI
  • Sew C to BAHI
  • Sew R to CBAHI
  • Sew V to RCBAHI
  • Sew a to g
  • Sew b to ag
  • Sew j to bag
  • Sew k to jbag
  • Sew c to kjbag
  • Sew ckjbag to VRCBAHI
  • Sew D to J
  • Sew M to DJ
  • Sew d to MDJ
  • Sew dMDJ to ckjbagVRCBAHI
  • Sew N to O
  • Sew P to NO
  • Sew L to PNO
  • Sew T to U
  • Sew TU to LPNO
  • Sew f to TULPNO
  • Sew h to fTULPNO
  • Sew l to m
  • Sew lm to hfTULPNO
  • Sew K to S
  • Sew X to KS
  • Sew e to XKS
  • Sew eXKS to lmhfTULPNO
  • Sew E to eXKSlmhfTULPNO
  • Sew EeXKSlmhfTULPNO to dMDJckjbagVRCBAHI
  • Sew F to G
  • Sew Q to FG
  • Sew W to QFG
  • Sew Y to Z
  • Sew YZ to WQFG
  • Sew n to o
  • Sew i to no
  • Sew ino to YZWQFG

Whew! That King size looks a little crazy – but it’s the same principle as the smaller alternate grids. Just start with the smallest units and build up into larger chunks. There’s a video here walking you though the reasoning and process – especially helpful if you want to create your own alternate grid design and don’t want to end up with Y-seams. Maybe you want to incorporate a quote into a quilt, like I did in this version of the Wild Flowers pattern?

I can’t wait to see what you create with alternate grids!

Find links to all the posts about pattern size and layouts here.

Quilt Sizes and Supplies Needed

Play with Your Layouts – Multiple Possibilities for One Quilt Pattern


How to Make Applique Bust Out of Its Frame

Alternate or Broken Grid layouts (adding half and double blocks)

How to Make an Applique Rag Quilt

How to Make a Polaroid Quilt

How to Make a Wonky Churn Dash Frame for Any Block

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about choosing your fabric.

Happy stitching!

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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.


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 -­ 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!

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.


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!


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!!!

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

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. 🙂 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.

Here are handy links to all the posts about quilting tools and supplies.

Sewing Machine


Rotary Cutting Tools


Other General Sewing Room Supplies

One More Hugely Popular Post that Seems to Fit Here Better than Anywhere Else

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about choosing your quilt pattern.

Happy stitching!

How to Add a Baby to Any Block – video tutorial

Mama and baby cats appliqued on a grey fabric background. Text reads: How to Add a Baby to Any Block

Want to add a baby to any block in my quilt patterns?

It’s easy!

You just need to print the baby at a reduced size!

There’s a post here with more info. (scroll down to the section called “Print at 100% Size – No Scaling”)

In a nutshell – tell your printer you DON’T want to print at 100%.

Here’s an example of my print screen. The exact layout and terminology will be different for every printer and operating system, but they all have the same basic info.

Print digital patterns at 100% for the correct size.

In order to print patterns at the “correct” size you make sure the scale is set at 100% – but really you can set it at anything you like!

How do you know what size to use? Well, that takes a little trial and error and I recommend doing some test printouts on inexpensive paper before you print on your fusible adhesive. Here are some samples I tried for my cats. In all the samples below, the mama is printed at 100% size – I just changed the size of the baby.

Mama cat printed at 100% size, baby cat at 90%.

Here’s a mama at 100% and a baby at 90%. Too close. It looks more like a mama and papa – which would also be fun!

mama cat printed at 100% size, baby at 80%

Here’s the mama at 100% with the baby at 80%. Maybe the baby is a teenager?

mama cat printed at 100%, baby at 70%

Here the mama cat is 100% and the baby is at 70%. This is getting closer to what I was imagining.

mama cat printed at 100%, baby at 60%

Here the baby is printed at 60% size. This might be perfect! But I’m going to go down one more step just to see. The eyes might be too small to work with if I go smaller.

mama cat printed at 100%, baby at 50%

This is it! The baby is printed at 50% to make a tiny little kitten. The eyes are JUST big enough that I can still applique them, and I love the look.

So – here’s the video showing how I did it!

See? Easy peasy – and so sweet!

Here’s the link I promised to the post about all the different alternatives to applique eyes.

And here’s the link to the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern where this cutie is just one of the fourteen cats included. But you can do this with any blocks from any of my applique patterns. Just play around with the sizes until you’re happy with the look you get!

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

Happy stitching!

Fusible Applique the Easy Way

blue gingham applique chameleon on a blue background - text says Fusible Applique the Easy Way

Fusible applique is my favorite applique method. It’s fast and easy and it really lets me play with my designs.

I’ve been using this method for some time now, and I’ve refined the method I use. The most recent big change was adding SVG files to my patterns for use with electric cutting machines like Cricut and Silhouette – and that meant a change in how I design some of my template pieces.

Time for a new tutorial! This video shows all the steps for how I do fusible applique. It’s on the long side, and I mention several other tutorials, so scroll past the video for a list of topics at each timestamp, and all the links I mention in the video.

Introduction – Fusible Applique Made Easy

Quilt As You Go (2:29)

I give a quick nutshell view of my method. Visit this post for much more detailed info – Quilt As You Go: Everything You Need to Know. I also mentioned the following tutorials.

Printing or Tracing the Pattern onto Fusible Adhesive (5:33)

I use Heat & Bond Lite for all my quilts. You can get it at most big box fabric stores, either in a roll, by the yard, or in printable sheets. All of my applique patterns are formatted to work with the printable sheets.

Rough Cutting and Clean Cutting the Applique Pieces (7:15)

I show what I mean by rough cut and clean cut in my patterns, and explain why rough cutting, then fusing, then clean cutting gives you the best results.

Transferring the Placement Markings (9:28)

I show all my favorite tools for marking placement lines when I applique

If you want to skip the placement markings, there’s a tutorial here showing how to get perfect placement without them.

Layering and Positioning the Fusible Applique Pieces (14:43)

I show how I layer all the pieces together – with extra info about how to mark your fusible adhesive to help you get a directional pattern to run in different directions to help create contrast between overlapping pieces. (Look at the legs on the chameleon block at the top of this post to see what I’m talking about here.)

Outlining the Pieces (20:47)

You have to outline the pieces after fusing to get a permanent hold. I use a simple straight stitch. A lot of people ask if that’s durable enough with withstand washing and drying. It is! I show a quilt here after many trips through the washer and dryer.

Whew! That is a LOT of info!

I do love fusible applique – and I hope this helps you love it too. 🙂

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

Happy stitching!