Papa and Baby – Emperor Penguin Applique Pattern

In time for Father’s Day next month – a Papa and Baby Emperor Penguin applique pattern!

Yep, the 15th of the month means it’s pattern release day in the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club!

We have a vote last month in the club to see what the next block of the month pattern will be – and this month the penguin pair were the winners – just barely edging out the dragonfly.

If you’re in the club already, head over to the clubhouse to download the pattern. This link will take you straight to the penguin page.

If you’re not in the club yet – here’s the link to join.

Members get an exclusive new pattern every month!

Here’s a quick peek at my penguin pair coming together.

I made the penguins with the Warm Neutral Batiks fabric bundle – plus a scrap of white-on-white print I had. The background block is from the Rainbow Sherbet fabric bundle.

I can’t wait to see all the penguins you make! (Penguins are antarctic, rather than arctic – but they’d be a fun addition to all the cold-loving critters in the Arctic Chill quilt pattern.)

Happy stitching!

Choosing Fabric for Your Backyard Birds Quilt

I’ve got a post here with general information about choosing fabric for any of my quilts, but choosing fabric for the new Backyard Birds quilt pattern is a whole different beast – worthy of its own post.

I’ve been making sample blocks for this quilt pattern for months now. This one was a doozy!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who are starting to shop for fabric for their Backyard Birds quilts – wanting to know if there’s a list they can shop with.

Yes! Sort of. 🙂

Fabric Shopping List for the Backyard Birds Quilt Pattern

Click here to download the fabric shopping list for the Backyard Birds quilt.

Please understand that this is by no means a definitive list! It really depends on what birds YOU want to make. I’m making sample blocks (and including instructions for) 100 birds, but there are THOUSANDS of bird species out there – and when you consider the fact that male and females of the same species often look very different. . . well, that’s a lot of variation.

I’ve designed the templates to be mix and matchable – so you can use them to go way beyond the 100 samples I made. That means you’ll probably also go way beyond the fabrics I used. BUT! I can give you some guidelines to create a really useful stash to start with. Just be aware that you may need to go searching for just the right fabric for some of the birds in your quilt.

Before I go into specific colors and patterns, I want to include just a couple of the “rules” I used for my sample blocks. I often decide on rules for a quilt before I choose fabrics. It helps me keep a cohesive look to a jumble of different blocks. For my bird samples, the only solid I used was solid black for the eyes. ALL the other fabrics are prints or batiks. I did this because even the smoothest-looking birds have some variation/texture in their feathers. So I used batiks for the very smooth, uniform-looking birds (less common) and other prints for the rest (more common).

I recommend choosing one color palette for your background blocks, but I’ll have more info about that (and lots of sample photos) at the end of this post.

Solid-ish Neutrals

Not surprisingly, you’re going to need a lot of neutral fabrics. A LOT of backyard birds are colored to blend in with their backgrounds. I used the Warm Neutrals bundle as a starting point, but I definitely needed to go beyond that. That bundle gives you five shades of grey (ranging from almost white to black), five shades of brown (again ranging from very light to very dark), a rusty brown and a golden color. You’ll definitely want more variety in the browns and greys – I often liked to use different prints of the same shade to get some contrast between different parts, like you see in this yellowthroat.

The wings, tail, and back of the bird are the same brown – but I used different prints to help create definition.

Applique of a yellowthroat - demonstrating how to choose fabric for a realistic bird

When you shop for browns, make sure you’re also getting some reddish browns (cinnamon) and some greyish browns (taupe).

You’ll also want at least one white-on-white print, and one very dark grey-on-black.

All of these that I’m talking about here are the tone-on-tone prints that read as solids.

Printed Neutrals

Now we’re talking stripes and spots. You actually don’t need many of these fabrics – but what you need is pretty specific. Here’s a list of the most common prints I used.

  • streaky brown – cream or tan with darker brown streaks or stripes
  • cream or tan with darker brown spots
  • brown with cream speckles
  • a darker brown and a lighter brown dappled print (all-over florals can work here)
  • brown stripes – medium brown with darker brown or black stripes
  • grey with black stripes

Of course, this is not comprehensive – but it’s a good start.

Black and White

You’re going to want some black and white prints.

  • wide black and white stripe – very useful for birds with black and white heads
  • white with black spots
  • white with black speckles
  • narrower black and white stripes (mainly for woodpeckers)
  • black and white check (also mainly for woodpeckers)


You’ll definitely want some yellows. I was surprised by how many birds have yellow! Get a couple of bright egg-yolk yellow, and also some more dull mustardy shades.

Blue. Lots of birds have some very bright blue. Get a couple of prints in the same rich shade for the definition I talked about in the neutrals section.

Red. Most red birds tend to be orangey red rather than blue-ish reds, so keep that in mind as you shop.

Pink. We have a lot of pink and pinkish-purple birds here on the east coast. You’ll find a pink with grey undertones (or even grey streaks) pretty useful, and also a bright mulberry shade for several finches.

Greens. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of green birds here in the US. You’d think that would be good camouflage. You might want to decide on your birds before you shop for greens, because you could need anything from emerald to olive.

Orange and dark purple. Again – these don’t come up as often, so maybe shop as needed.

Background Blocks

The fabrics you choose for your background blocks can affect the whole mood of your quilt.

For my quilt I chose realistic colors for all the birds, and I played around with several different background palettes using my fabric bundles. I recommend choosing either solids or batiks for your background blocks – but don’t mix them. Besides thinking about the overall look you like, think about the quilting here. Quilting will really show on solids, and will be almost invisible on batiks.

Here are the background palettes I’ve already experimented with.

Backyard Birds made with the Batik Rainbow fabric bundle

The Batik Rainbow bundle will give you very vivid background blocks with nearly invisible quilting. The background fabrics are as vivid as some of the most colorful backyard birds!

Backyard Birds made with the Warm Neutral Batiks fabric bundle

The Warm Neutral Batiks bundle will give you a more subtle, forest-floor background. The colorful backyard birds really pop against these neutral fabrics, but when you’re putting a brown bird on a brown block (or a grey bird on a grey block) you’ll need to be sure to get good light/dark contrast.

Backyard Birds made with the Solid Rainbow fabric bundle

The Solid Rainbow bundle is my most basic rainbow. Bright and cheerful.

Backyard Birds made with the Box of Crayons fabric bundle

I call the Box of Crayons bundle my grown-up rainbow. The colors are still intense, but a little more muted. The yellow is mustard rather than sunshine. This bundle also includes a brown and a grey.

applique birds made with the Rainbow Sherbet bundle of Kona cotton solids

The Rainbow Sherbet bundle is a favorite for baby quilts, but I also love it for the birds. They really pop against those pale pastels.

appliqued birds made with the Muted Rainbow fabric bundle

I think my favorite is the Muted Rainbow bundle. The colors are still bright, but they have a chalkier look. This bundle also includes a brown and a grey.

applique birds on soft grey backgrounds

I also love this batch using the Soft Greys fabric bundle.

Green Batiks can give you a very realistic background foliage kind of look.

Blue Batiks will work also really well – but I haven’t had a chance to make a full set of twelve yet.

Whew! That’s a lot of information! I hope it helps you shop for fabrics for your Backyard Birds quilt. Get the pattern here!

Happy stitching!

The 100 Day Project 2021 – 100 Birds

black-capped chickadee applique pattern

For the last few years I’ve participated in the 100 Day Project. Last year was the first year I actually finished it. 🙂

The 100 Day project is awesome. Participants decide on any creative activity they want to pursue for 100 days. It can be ANYTHING! A few that I remember off the top of my head are a jeweler who made 100 pairs of earrings, a potter who came up with 100 different handles, a baker who made 100 different pies, and an artist who designed 100 different alphabet fonts – the sky’s the limit!

Last year I designed a different repeat pattern every day – AND I used that pattern to mock-up a new applique design. Here’s just one example.

illustrated orangutan - cute

I hoped to have a fabric collection come out of it, but I got something else instead. SO MANY QUILT BLOCK IDEAS!

I’ve already designed a quilt pattern using the arctic animals I mocked up.

arctic chill applique quilt pattern cover

I love how it turned out – but it was relatively easy. Just design all the blocks, make a sample, record the video tutorials, and write the pattern!

But one of the ideas that the project sparked last year was a Mix & Match Backyard Birds pattern. As I was drawing some of the birds I see at my feeder, I realized that a lot of the basic parts are pretty much the same. I wondered if I could create some basic templates that could be used to applique just about any of those classic feeder birds. I noodled around with the idea for ten of my hundred days, and it seemed like it would work!

backyard birds applique pattern design process

I’ve taken the months since then to draw up a bunch of templates and now I’m finally ready to test them – just in time for a new 100 Day Project!

The new tests won’t be mock-ups. They’re actually appliqued blocks that I’ll be able to join into a quilt. So exciting!

Here’s Day 1 – a black-capped chickadee, one of my favorite birds.

black-capped chickadee applique pattern

Will I be able to make 100 different recognizable birds using just a few pages of templates? We’re about to find out. 🙂

You can follow along with my progress on Instagram. And the applique pattern will be available at the end of the project – maybe even sooner if the testing goes smoothly and I don’t need to design too many additional templates. 🙂

Update! The project is finished and you can find the pattern here!

Want to join in the 100 Day Project? There’s more info here.

Happy stitching!

Meet Ellen the Elephant!

cute green applique elephant

I love the 15th! It’s pattern release day in the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club!

The new pattern this month is Ellen the Elephant.

I made her in three different colors and this silly green elephant splashing around in pink lemonade was my favorite. 🙂

If you’re in the club already, head over to the clubhouse to download the pattern. This link will take you straight to the elephant’s page.

If you’re not in the club yet – here’s the link to join.

Members get an exclusive new pattern every month!

Here’s a quick peek at my elephant coming together.

I ended up making elephants in three different colors.

Most African elephants are grey, so I made a grey one.

I used the Warm Neutral Batiks bundle for the elephant and Box of Crayons for the background block.

Asian elephants can also be grey, but they’re more often a reddish brown.

I used the Warm Neutrals fabric bundle for the elephant and the Rainbow Sherbet bundle for the background block.

Finally – here’s that silly green elephant.

This one uses the Dots and Gingham Play fabric bundles for the elephant and the Batik Rainbow fabric bundle for the background.

I can’t wait to see the elephants you make!

Happy stitching!

Gingerbread Cookie – Free Applique Pattern

three versions of applique gingerbread cookies faces

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.

What to do this year?

Here are the links to the patterns from previous years.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Mix & Match patterns lately, so I decided to make a gingerbread cookie with lots of parts for you to play with!

Here’s a quick intro. . .

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 gingerbread 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.

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

  • Upload the file to your machine.
  • Resize if needed. (To fit a block that finishes at 10 inches square, the image should be 15 inches wide.)
  • Ungroup the pieces and assign colors
  • Cut.

Step 2

printed pattern pages for free gingerbread applique pattern

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 these 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 eyes and (optional) eyelashes too. You’ll need those for Step 5.

Step 3

printed gingerbread applique pieces fused to fabric

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

Here’s a video showing those first two steps. . .

Step 4

Cut around each piece neatly.

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

This video has more info about that step.

Step 5

Remember back in Step 2 when I told you to make sure you traced the eyes and eyelashes? Now you’re going to use that. Hold the face 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.

gingerbread applique in progress - eyes marked on cookie

Trace the lines to show where the eyes go. If your cookie will have eyelashes, trace those too.

Here’s a video with more info about this step.

Step 6

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

quilted block

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!

Find all the Quilt As You Go tutorials here.

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. Have fun creating your own custom cookie!

Mix & Match Gingerbread pattern - all pieces layered

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

This video has detailed instructions for layering the cookie decorations.

And this video is a shorter version with no explanation – just music – perfect for folks already familiar with my techniques.

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.

And this video has me talking through the path I followed to outline my sample block – and also shows you the other two blocks I made.


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

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

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!

Check out this page I’ve been slowly building – 100 Things to Do with an Applique Pattern. 🙂

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! Subscribers get a weekly newsletter full of sewing tips and tricks, free patterns, special discounts, and other things to make you smile. 🙂

Happy sewing!

How to Give Your Monster an Underbite – video tutorial

If you have the Mix & Match Monsters applique quilt pattern, you may have wondered about a mysterious dotted line that runs through some of the pattern pieces.

Wonder no more!

In this video I show you how you can use that line to give your monsters underbites and overbites and add teeth and tongues.

Here are a bunch of the samples you see at the end of the video. You can click on the images to see them closer.

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!

Meet Corbin the Camel

I love the 15th! It’s pattern release day in the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club!

The new pattern this month is Corbin the Camel. I’m so jealous of his eyelashes!

If you’re in the club already, head over to the clubhouse to download the pattern. This link will take you right to Corbin’s introduction.

If you’re not in the club yet – here’s the link to join.

Members get an exclusive new pattern every month – and they get to vote on the next month’s pattern!

Here’s a quick peek at Corbin coming together.

I also made a camel who escaped from the Emerald City Zoo and has been seen roaming Oz. 😉

Happy stitching!

Meet Troy the Tree Frog

It’s the 15th! That means it’s New Pattern Day in the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club!

Meet Troy the tree frog! I love this guy!

There’s already a frog pattern at Shiny Happy World, but he’s more of a pond frog with a long, sticky tongue. Troy has awesome sticky tree frog toes. 🙂

Here’s how to make him. . .

See how easy that is?

That’s a LONG video, so I’ve broken it up with a couple of time references here. . .

  • Building the background block – start at the beginning
  • Cutting and Marking the Applique Pieces – start at 4:37
  • Layering the Applique Pieces – start at 14:37
  • Outlining the Applique – start at 18:35

If you want just a very quick look at me layering the pieces together with no explanation, here’s a video for that.

Here are those links I promised. . .

Troy the Tree Frog’s pattern isn’t exclusive to the club anymore – you can get it here.

If you want to join the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club to get immediate access to the new monthly patterns, you can use this link to join.

Special note – this is the first Funny Faces pattern to include an SVG file for use with cutting machines! That’s going to be standard in all patterns from now on.

I can’t wait to see your frogs!

They come in every color of the rainbow!

Happy stitching!

Meet Mo Muskox – new applique pattern

There’s a new pattern today in the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club!

(If you’re in the club already, use this link to go into the clubhouse. If you’re not in the club yet, use this link to join.)

Meet Mo Muskox! Isn’t he a cutie?

Mo is the first winner of the member vote! Members chose him from all of these arctic blocks I designed as part of The 100 Day Project I’m doing over on Instagram.

The Mama and Baby Polar Bear were a VERY close second, so we’ll probably see a pattern for them soon as well. 🙂

Want to see how to assemble Mo?

I had the chance to try out some of my new fabric palettes with my Mo Muskox sample blocks! I talk about them all in more detail at the end of the video, but here are some still photos and handy links.

First, here’s the “realistic” muskox.

The background block is from the Rainbow Sherbet fabric bundle and the muskox is from the Warm Neutrals bundle.

I love this cartoony blue muskox on the more realistic background. The background is the Warm Neutral Batiks bundle and the muskox is from the Rainbow Brights fat quarter bundle.

This is Mo’s fiery redheaded cousin. 🙂 The background block is from the Muted Rainbow bundle and the muskox is from the Batik Rainbow bundle.

And finally. . .

This fun version uses the Batik Rainbow bundle for the background. The muskox uses fabrics from three different bundles: Dots, Gingham Play, and Rainbow Brights.

As soon as I have three blocks in each new colorway combination I’ll be sharing those so you’ll have a better feel for how entire quilts made with these bundles will look. 🙂

And now one extra special bonus! For those who don’t quilt, you can still get a muskox! Mo is now available as a printed panel, perfect for making pillows and other projects.

These are out of stock right now – but there are more on order and should be here soon. 🙂 There’s more info here.

Happy stitching everyone!

Meet Liz Llama!

Today is release day for the newest pattern in the Funny Faces quilt block of the month club!

You’ve already met Liz Llama. 🙂

She was a mocked–up quilt pattern in the 100 Day Project I’ve been working on on Instagram.

She was so popular there that I made her this month’s wallpaper.

And there have been so many requests for a pattern that I made her this month’s BOM pattern!

I think it’s the eyelashes. 🙂

Here’s the video showing how easy she is to make.

Here are all the links I promised in the video. . .

And here’s a closer look at the other versions I made of the llama block.

A pretty red llama. . .

And a “realistic” grey llama. . .

Happy stitching!