Begin – a free felt applique and embroidery pattern

I started this project AGES ago and finally finished it. I haven’t been working on it anything like steadily. I didn’t plan on releasing a pattern, so I just picked it up and worked on it at odd moments, and didn’t worry about documenting the process much.

Of course, now people want a pattern! I’m happy to share. It was a lovely project and one that was really relaxing and low-pressure to stitch. I’m just letting you know upfront that it’s a pretty loose pattern. 🙂

So here’s how to make it!

My project finished at 11 inches square. That gives me a little bit of breathing room all the way around, because I’m going to put it in a 12-inch frame. You can size yours up or down as you like, but here are the materials you’ll need for this size.

  • One 20-inch square of background fabric. I used a nice dark slate grey.
  • Assorted wool felt pieces. I used all the colors in the Frosty Pastels felt bundle except the white.
  • Thread to match the felt. I used Invisifil 100 wt. thread. (Yes – you read that right. 100 weight. It’s the thinnest thread I’ve ever used – like sewing with spider silk.) I matched the colors to the felt but, honestly, that thread is so fine that you could probably just use a medium grey for everything. If you want to use embroidery floss, there’s a bundle that matches the felt in the Frosty Pastels collection.
  • Slightly darker, thicker thread to contrast with the felt. I used Razzle 8 wt. rayon thread. I love the way the shiny rayon thread contrasts with the wooly felt.
  • Needles appropriate for your thread size.
  • Fabric glue stick.
  • Freezer paper (optional)
  • Frame or hoop (I used a 14-inch PVC frame)

Download the pattern here.

Print it at 100% size – or scale as desired. You can print directly onto the freezer paper, or you can print it onto regular paper and then trace it onto freezer paper.

Using freezer paper to cut small pieces like these makes it sooooo much easier to be accurate. You’ll find more info here.

The pattern page has the letters and eight blocks of blocks.

Cut the letters out of light grey felt.

Cut four blocks of blocks out of each of your other six felt colors. That way you’ll end up with four of each shape/size in each color. That’s more than you’ll actually need – but it will give you some extras to play with as you arrange.

Ok. Here’s where things are a little loose. Sorry – I didn’t take any photos of this process and I was really just winging it. That’s ok – it means you can wing it too!

Lay your background square on a flat surface.

Map out a 12-inch square in the center. I used a few rulers to block it out – use what you have handy. You just need to be able to “see” the borders of your square of workable space.

Start by laying out the letters, centering them in the space.

Here’s the finished layout again so you can refer to it for the next bit.

Start building your way out from your letters, filling the square space you have mapped out. I followed a few “rules” as I built.

  • I kept all my blocks running horizontally or vertically. None of them are tipped at an angle.
  • I tried to keep the spacing between the blocks pretty consistent. Think of it like grout between tiles.
  • I tried to never have two tiles of the same color right next to each other.
  • I sometimes had two of the same shape next to each other, but I kept it a pretty rare thing.

You can follow my finished project as a map if you like, but please don’t feel like you need to follow it exactly.

Once you’re happy with how everything looks, use a swipe of fabric glue stick to stick all the pieces in place. If you don’t have a glue stick, you can use liquid glue like Elmers, but I recommend brushing it on. If you squeeze it right out of the bottle you may get too much glue on there and it will seep through to the top of your felt and remain visible even after it dries. Don’t use a restickable glue (like a post-it glue stick). As soon as you put your hoop in the frame and pull it tight, those pieces will pop right off. Ask me how I know. 😛

Let it dry and hoop it up. You’re ready to start stitching!

Now I started taking some pictures. 🙂

The first thing I did was whipstitch around each piece using matching thread. This tutorial shows how I whipstitch applique felt.

whipstitch applique felt - free Begin felt applique project from Shiny Happy World

Once everything’s whipstitched down I can stop worrying about accidentally pulling any of the pieces up, or catching my thread on them. Time to relax and settle into the fancy stitching.

I chain stitched in dark grey right down the center of each letter.

There’s a tutorial here showing how to chain stitch.

I stitched a lazy daisy in the center of the dot over the. Here’s the video showing how to stitch a lazy daisy.

Finally, I wanted to embellish each block. The stitching is all tone-on-tone, using a thread color a little more vibrant than the felt color. I really agonized over what kind of stitching. I debated it for what felt like weeks and finally settled on simple stacks of straight stitches. I just love the texture of that!

I started with the long skinny pieces since there was only one way I wanted to stitch those. Just stitch a stack that almost fills the block.

Next I stitched the larger rectangles. They’re twice as wide as the skinny rectangles, so they get two stacks of stitches, side by side, but not touching.

Finally, I stitched the squares. The small squares got one stack, the medium got two, and the large got three. But which direction? Horizontal or vertical? I made the call for each square based on what kind of stitching was going on around them, trying to keep the direction as varied as possible.


We’re currently staying home because of the pandemic, but when I can leave the house again, I’ll get a 12-inch frame to finish it. Here’s a tutorial showing how to frame textiles without damaging them.

Happy stitching!

Bears in the Hills – the Finished Project

Last week in the comments on one of the Bears in the Hills work-in-progress posts, someone asked if they could see it finished.

How did I never post a photo of the finished piece? That’s crazy!

But it’s true. 😛 I shared it in the newsletter, but I never posted a photo here.

So I’m fixing that now. 🙂

Ta da! The Bears in the Hills are finished! Here they are. . .

Aren’t they cute?

I’m so happy with this project! I loved every bit of the stitching (so many lovely stitching hours on the sofa!) and now it’s framed and hanging in my studio where I see it every day.

Want to make your own? Sign up for the Bears in the Hills class here.

Happy stitching!


Bears in the Hills

The Bears in the Hills are here!

I’ve been working on this for a while now and it’s finally to a place where you all can join in!

Sign up for the workshop here.

It’s the same price as a pattern, but it’s set up as a video workshop on Teachable, where I host all my free introductory workshops.

There’s a video lesson for each embroidery fill design, showing you exactly how I do all the designs without marking anything.

Sign up for the workshop here.

I can’t wait to see all your bears!

Happy stitching!


Free Beaver Pencil Case Pattern

I’m participating in the Back to School Sewing Series with Sulky. You can make this fun pencil case!

That beaver can’t wait to chomp on all those colored pencils. 🙂

See a little sneak peek of that beaver design here – including a look at all the beaver designs I didn’t use. 🙂


Step 1

Download the embroidery pattern here.

Step 2

Print or trace the pattern out onto a sheet of Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy at 100% size. The rectangle should be 4 x 9 inches.

Step 3

Peel off the paper backing and stick the pattern onto the fabric. Make sure you position it so that the whole image will fit in the hoop, with fabric all the way around.

Step 4

Choose your threads!

So many pretty colors. 🙂

Step 5

Embroider the design using two strands of Sulky 12 wt. thread. Stitch right through the stabilizer and the fabric.

I used backstitch for all the lines. Learn how to backstitch here.

I used satin stitch for the pencil leads. This video shows how I satin stitch pointy shapes.

Look closer!

I decided partway through stitching that I wanted a little more color on the barrels of the pencils – so I added some stripes running down them.

Your pattern has the added stripes. 🙂

That nose!

I wanted the nose to be solid, but instead of satin stitching I decided to applique it with a tiny scrap of black felt for a velvety soft texture.

At this point I just left it unstitched.

Step 6

Trim the fabric down to 1/2 inch outside the rectangle.

Make sure you do that now – once you soak away the stabilizer that handy line will disappear. 🙂

Step 7

Soak the piece in cold water for an hour or longer. I often leave mine to soak overnight with no problem. Rinse it in clean water, gently squeeze out the extra water, and iron it dry face down on a fluffy towel. This video shows how I iron my embroidery dry without smooshing the stitches.

Step 8

Whipstitch the nose in place using matching thread.

For a small piece like this I like to use a glue stick to hold the piece in place while I stitch it down.

Step 9

Stitching done!

The front piece for your pencil case is all fancied up. Now it’s time to sew it up into a pouch.

Cut a back piece from the main fabric 10 x 5 inches.

Cut two lining pieces, also 10 x 5 inches.

Step 10

Follow the instructions in this post to sew up your fancy lined zipper pouch. 🙂


Now – go check out the rest of the series! It’s a fun group of free projects!

Happy stitching!

Free Pattern! Big Stitch Felt Coasters

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

Practice your running stitch with these big stitch felt coasters.

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!


Other Tools and Supplies

Step 1

Trace a circle onto the Sulky Soft & Sheer. You can trace a jar lid or a roll of tape – anything coaster-sized.

circle traced on Sulky Soft & Sheer stabilizer

I forgot to measure my circle before I shipped the finished coasters. I think it was about 3 ¼ inches?

Step 2

Roughly cut around the circle, leaving at least ¼ inch of stabilizer all around the circle. Layer with a scrap of fabric, right sides together, and sew directly on the traced line.

making coasters - circle sewn on stabilizer with pink fabric

Sew all the way around the circle.

Step 3

Trim around the edge, leaving a narrow seam allowance.

making coasters - sewn circle, cut out with pinking shears

I like to use pinking shears so I don’t have to trim notches to remove bulk.

Step 4

Pull the layers apart and cut a small slit in the center of the Sulky Soft & Sheer.

turning a circle of pink fabric right side out

Step 5

Turn the dot right side out through the slit.

Circle of fabric turned right side out with stabilizer backing

Smooth the curved edge and press it flat.

finished circle with neatly turned edges

See? A nice, neat circle with perfectly turned edges.

Step 6

Glue the circle to a scrap of felt using fabric glue stick.

Making Felt Coasters - pink fabric circle glued to a square of grey felt.

Step 7

Using running stitch and a single strand of Sulky Petites 12 wt. Thread, sew the circle to the felt all the way around the edge.

Making Polkadot Felt Coasters - sewing a pink circle of fabric to grey felt using a running stitch and matching thread.

There’s a video here showing how to embroider running stitch.

Step 8

Once you get all the way around the outside edge, start spiraling in to the center of the circle.

Making Polkadot Felt Coasters - stitching a pink circle down to grey felt using running stitch

Step 9

Using a glue stick, glue a second layer of felt to the back of the first.

Making polkadot felt coasters - almost finished.

Step 10

Cut out the final coaster circle through both layers of felt at the same time for a perfectly even edge.

making polkadot felt coasters - almost finished

Cut just a little bit beyond the edge of the fabric dot so that you can see the felt color around the edge.

Step 11

Using running stitch and a single strand of Sulky Petites 12 wt. Thread to match the felt, sew the felt edges together.

close up image of Big Stitch Felt Coasters, showing the detail of the stitching

Finished! Now make more in every color of the rainbow.

Felt polkadot coaters made with big stitch quilting

Pretty, pretty big stitch felt coasters!

Happy stitching!

Free Embroidery Files for Machine Stitched Eyes

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

I 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. . .


  • 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!

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!

Add a Name and Date to Your Felt Ornaments

Free alphabet embroidery pattern and instructions to personalize the back of a felt ornament

All my ornament patterns have solid felt backs – no applique or embroidery. That makes it the perfect spot to add a name or date using this free alphabet embroidery pattern!

In my family and in my husband’s family, it was a tradition to give handmade ornaments to the kids every year. Having our names on them somewhere was absolutely necessary since we both have siblings. 🙂

Now that I’m a grown-up with my own daughter it’s fantastic to have those dates too. She loves knowing how old we were when we got each ornament and who made them for us. 🙂

It’s easy to add a bit of embroidery to the back of your felt ornaments. Here’s how.

Download the free alphabet embroidery pattern I used here. You can also choose to type up your name and date and adjust the size and choose the font – but be sure to choose a font that’s mostly straight lines with minimal tight curves so it’s easy to embroider.

Now grab a piece of Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy.

This is a great use for any small scraps you’ve saved. 🙂

Draw a straight line to use as a guide to line the letters or numbers up, then trace them onto the stabilizer.

Use Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy to transfer the date, ready for stitching

Peel off the backing, stick the stabilizer to the felt, and stitch right through it.

partially embroidered date on the back of a felt ornament using the free alphabet embroidery pattern from Shiny Happy World

I used backstitch with three strands of white thread.

I traced the date in pencil. It can be a bit hard to see, but there’s NO chance of it bleeding on the white thread. Most pens bleed a lot – test yours or use a pencil.

After you’re done stitching, soak off the stabilizer in cold water and lay the piece flat to dry.

Finish making your ornament according to the pattern instructions. (You can find all the Shiny Happy World ornament patterns here. More coming later this week!)

Free alphabet embroidery pattern and instructions to personalize the back of a felt ornament

Now you’ll always remember when you made it!

Happy stitching!

April Showers Bring May Flowers – a BIG embroidery project

a BIG embroidery project from Shiny Happy World

This is the last of the BIG embroidery projects I did for the Sulky booth at Spring Quilt Market.

Did I say big? It’s HUGE – 18 inches tall and 28 inches wide! It’s in one of those big oval quilt hoops you can find at Joann’s. The biggest one they had. It’s crazy big.

Here’s how I made it. . .

I sewed the strip of green solid fabric to the bottom of a strip of blue solid fabric. Easy peasy.

I appliqued the blue letters (here’s the free alphabet pattern) onto the blue fabric using fusible adhesive, and machine stitched around the edges in matching thread. No zigzag or satin stitch – just a simple straight stitch.

I stitched in all the flowers using the repeating floral pattern in the Continuous Stitches embroidery pattern.

But wait! How do you use printable embroidery transfer paper on a really big embroidery project – bigger than a sheet of paper?

I printed the floral pattern on multiple sheets of Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy, laid them out in a repeat and stuck them to the fabric. It’s the same method I used on this cat, and I shared lots of detailed instructions and photos in that post.

I made the flowers fill the green area and spill up into the blue as if they were growing up into the sky.

Finally – I stitched the raindrops in dark blue on the light blue background. I wanted the raindrop stitches to be REALLY regular – more regular than my hand will do on its own – so I used the graph paper pattern in the same Continuous Stitches embroidery set to space them out. The raindrops themselves are just long lines of running stitches.

After I was done stitching I soaked away all the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy, ironed the piece dry, and put it back in the same enormous hoop for framing.

I used a single strand of Sulky Petites thread for all the stitching.

Here it is all by itself. That’s one really big embroidery project!

a BIG embroidery project from Shiny Happy World

I loaded that up as a really big file size, so if you click on it you can zoom in super close to see the detail.

Here are the other BIG pieces I stitched for the same project.

Primavera – an Embroidered Springtime Girl

Cat Among the Flowers

Embroidered Mandala Sun

It’s really fun to stitch on such a huge scale. Give big embroidery a try!

Primavera – an Embroidered Springtime Girl

Primavera - an embroidered springtime girl from Shiny Happy World

Her name is Primavera, but her friends call her Vera for short. 🙂

This is another of those Big Embroidery projects I did for Sulky’s Quilt Market booth. That’s a quilting hoop she’s in!

Here’s how I made her. All the links go to supplies or video tutorials.

The method I used is really similar to this cat. . .

A BIG new embroidery project! This cat surrounded by embroidered flowers is in an 18 inch hoop!

. . . except that I embroidered the flowers in her hair instead of embroidering just the background.

First I appliqued the girl and the butterflies on a pretty swirly background fabric.

Then I printed out a single page of the flowers in the Continuous Stitches embroidery pattern onto Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy. The pattern is designed for seamless repeats, but it only took one sheet to cover all her hair.

Primavera - an embroidered springtime girl from Shiny Happy World

I used a single strand of Sulky Petites 12 wt. thread and only stitched the flowers that sat over her hair. You can see that I ignored the printed pattern for larger flowers that would have gone outside her hair. I just filled in those spaces with some of the smaller flowers.

After all the stitching was done it was time to soak away the stabilizer.

Primavera - an embroidered springtime girl from Shiny Happy World

Look at that pretty face being revealed. 🙂 And that’s me and my camera reflected in the water!

I ironed the piece dry and framed it in an 18-inch quilting hoop.

Primavera - an embroidered springtime girl from Shiny Happy World

Love that sweet face!

Here are the other BIG pieces I stitched for the same project.

Cat Among the Flowers

Embroidered Mandala Sun

April Showers

These big embroidery pieces have been so much fun!

Happy stitching!


Here Comes the Sun! An Embroidered Mandala Sun :-)

Embroidered Mandala Sun - a How To from Shiny Happy World

This is another BIG embroidery I did for the Sulky booth at Spring Quilt market – a pretty embroidered mandala sun.

I love how it turned out! And guess what?

I did it all with no pattern. 🙂

A lot of people have really enjoyed this tutorial showing how to stitch a mandala with no pattern.

Zen Stitching - How to Embroider a Mandala with No Pattern (Shiny Happy World)

But I’ve heard from people who want a teeny bit more guidance. They liked the improv style, but had a hard time visualizing the “spokes of the wheel” – especially if they were making a bigger piece.

I hear ya!

So I designed a simple radial grid that could be printed on Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy and used as a guide for any mandala.

Here’s how I stitched the sun. 🙂

First I appliqued a circle and some rectangle rays around the sun. I used fusible adhesive and machine-stitched the edges down with matching thread because that’s not the stitching I want noticed on this piece.

I printed the circle grid from my Continuous Stitches pattern onto Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy, cut it out, and stuck it over the sun.

sun with grid no stitching

Time to start stitching!

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

I always like to stitch around the edges first, so I started with a very simple zigzag that repeated every two spaces.

I created a grid with 96 total spaces because that’s evenly divisible by a LOT of numbers. I can create any pattern I like as long as it fits into 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, etc. spaces. As long as the number of spaces used for the repeat goes evenly into 96, I’ll end up with a perfect match as I make my way back to the beginning of the circle.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

Here’s the next round. I added some French knots to the first zigzags, and then stitched a much bigger zigzag. The repeat on this row is 8 spaces.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

I liked how the second row of stitching created flower shapes, so I filled in the middle of each flower with a little heart detail.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

Another deeper zigzag – another 8-space repeat. Now I feel like I need to fill up those new spaces I created.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

I like it! It makes me think of peacock feathers.

Remember – all of this is unplanned. Just keep stitching in circles and then filling in the spaces created.

I went back to smaller repeats for the center of the mandala.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

For the rays I used the regular square grid graph in the Continuous Stitches pattern.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

I just stitched some simple diamonds and French knots on each ray.

All of this is stitched with a single strand of dark orange Sulky Petites thread and the only stitches I used are back stitch and French knots. Easy peasy.

Time to soak off the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World


But also yay because this soaks away all those grid lines. You get the comfort of having a “pattern” but you don’t have to stick to it to cover up your lines. The lines all disappear! Meditative, almost-freestyle stitching at its finest.

Stitching a sun mandala - Shiny Happy World

Iron it dry (here’s how to do it without smooshing your stitches) and frame it in a quilting hoop.

Done! A pretty embroidered mandala sun!

Embroidered Sun Mandala - easy how-to from Shiny Happy World

I love stitching this way!

You don’t have to make a sun or do any applique – you can just stick on the grid and hoop up any fabric in a round hoop and start stitching! It would be fun to do a bunch of 3 – 4 inch hoops for Christmas ornaments. 🙂

Here are the other BIG pieces I stitched for the same project.

Primavera – an Embroidered Springtime Girl

Cat Among the Flowers

April Showers

Happy stitching!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World