How to Blanket Stitch with NO KNOTS – video

Cute blue monster softie wearing bunny slippers and holding a teddy bear and a blankie. Test reads: How to Blanket Stitch with No Knots

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

You all liked this adorable little Oddball with his bunny slippers, his teddy bear, and his blankie. But you have to blanket stitch around the edge of the blankie and several of you reminded me that I haven’t done a video for that yet (even though you’ve been asking very nicely).


Not only do I show you how to blanket stitch – I show you how to do it without any knots. No knots! So it looks perfectly perfect everywhere! And for those who are really obsessed with perfection, I show you how to mark the fabric before stitching so all your stitches are perfectly spaced.

Here’s the video. . .

I show this on felt because I’m currently obsessed with felt, but you can use the same technique on fleece if you like.

Ready? Go blanket stitch something! Here’s the Floyd pattern if you want to start with his blankie. πŸ™‚ And here’s some felt if you have a different project in mind.

Happy stitching!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)


Play with some felt! Try the Oddballs – a fun pattern for silly monsters.

The U Stitch – video

How to Embroider U-Stitch - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Let’s call this one a U stitch.

I’ve searched through all of my embroidery encyclopedias and can’t find this stitch mentioned in any of them, so I have no idea what it’s called. I always think of it as a U stitch, so that’s what I’m calling it here. If any of you know the official name, please chime in in the comments!

The U stitch stitch is worked exactly the same way as a lazy daisy, but instead of a closed petal, it’s an open U. It’s almost a fly stitch, but the holding stitch at the bottom of the U is tinier than it is in fly stitch.

It’s really easy and makes great feathers, scales and petals. I used it for the wings on these hens.

See? Doesn’t the U stitch make perfect little wings?

Get the free pattern to make your own felt chicken here.

Here are all my lessons for other stitches.

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about finishing your work.

Using Embroidery Patterns for Something Besides Embroidery

Jo’s been at summer camp for the last two weeks – hopefully loving every minute of it. πŸ™‚ Last year I sent her cards made from my embroidery and applique patterns (see them here and here, and watch a video showing how to stitch on paper here) and this year she asked me to do the same thing. I thought I’d share them here with you so you could see a non-stitchy way to use embroidery patterns.

I use paper that I painted with simple patterns, but you could use magazines, the linings to security envelopes, giftwrap – any paper scraps really. You could also use the same patterns for applique – especially easy with fusible adhesive. Just enlarge them to whatever size you like!

That blue cat up there at the beginning is one of the cats in this embroidery set.

Sluggo is the free pattern I gave away over at Wild Olive.

This hen is from the chickens collection.

And this is one of the mini monsters.

Jo’s at camp for one more week – so a couple more will be coming soon!

Happy stitching!


How to Stem Stitch – video

How to Stem Stitch - video

A few weeks ago I released a pattern called It’s a Dirty Job – all about how much I hate doing the dishes.

It's a Dirty Job embroidery pattern

I used stem stitch for that little bit of script at the end – and I promised a how-to video soon. Well – here it is! How to stem stitch.

This is a really common outline stitch that I hardly ever use. I’m not sure why – it’s certainly very easy. It’s just that I always default to back stitch or split stitch. But if you need to outline tight curves – stem stitch is definitely the way to go. It’ll give you the smoothest curves around cursive letters or twisty vines.

Here are all my lessons for outline embroidery stitches.

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons teaching fill stitches.

How to Start Your Embroidery Without Knots – video

How to Embroider with No Knots - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I always start my stitching with a knot (video here) and end it without one (video here). I do this because it’s easy and I love easy. And I really don’t care what the back of my work looks like – I actually kind of like seeing the knots and tails.

But some of you like the back of your work to look as nice as the front – especially when you’re stitching tea towels and napkins and hankies and other things where folks will see the back. And you’ve been asking me to show you how to do that. Your wish is my command! Here’s your video. πŸ™‚

This is not as easy as simply tying a knot. You have to flip your stitching over to watch what you’re doing from the back a whole three or four times. Maybe I should start all my stitching this way from now on? Naaaaah. I really like tying my knots. πŸ™‚

That tea towel I’m working on in the video is my It’s a Dirty Job embroidery pattern about doing the dishes. πŸ™‚

Here are all my posts about knots.

Before you knot that thread you need to know how much to use, so here’s one more post that doesn’t really have a better place to live. πŸ™‚ How Many Strands of Thread Should I Use?

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons for the four most basic embroidery stitches.

How Do I Embroider on Quilts?

How to Embroider on Quilts

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

I have a question–I just bought your bird sampler pattern and I want to include them in pairs around a quilt that I am making. Β I have the top finished and I was wondering–what do you recommend–embroidering before I make the quilt sandwich, and then do the actual quilting–stitch in the ditch etc, or do you think it is better to do the embroidering as actual hand quilting and pull it all the way to the back. Β I am not sure, as I haven’t embroidered on any of the quilts I have made. The quilt is a combo of flying geese and Chinese coins patterns and the focus fabric has chattering birds on a telephone line–so I think random pairs of embroidered birds will be great. Β Thanks for your help with this question!!

Sandy emailed me a while ago with this question. As is almost always the case – my answer is longer than you might expect. (I ended up doing a full-blown tutorial showing you how to start and stop without knots, hide your tails, and carry thread invisibly from place to place. Keep reading and you’ll get there.) I’ve actually done both methods – and like them both – but they do look very different. So. . . it depends. . .

It depends on what design you want to stitch, what stitch you’ll be using, and how much interior detail there is.

I thought the best way to illustrate this would be to show the backs of some of my embroidered pieces.

Running stitch looks the same back and front – so it’s a good candidate for something you’ll see from both sides. Read on and I’ll share a tutorial for hiding your threads when you carry from place to place (like between the eyes and mouth).

Backstitch doesn’t look bad either. It’ll be chunkier on the back than on the front, but with some care on your carrying and hiding thread tails, it can look pretty good.

Notice – what the image above has is nice, simple, open shapes. Not a lot of detail. Now for the opposite. . .

Aaaaack! Run away! This is quite ugly from the back – and that’s because the shapes are filled with cute chain stitches, French knots, and lazy daisies. Here’s another. . .

Again, this one has lots of detail inside the main shapes and it looks bad, bad, bad from the back.

So, quilting first and then embroidering through all three layers can be nice. Choose a nice, simple shape to stitch and stitch it in running stitch, backstitch, or split stitch. The quilt will “puff” nicely around the stitching and in the larger open areas of the design.

If you want to do some fancier embroidery – like the owls or the birds – embroider first and then layer and quilt. Otherwise the embroidery will be hideous from the back – and it will also compress the layers of your quilt too much and can distort the whole lay of things.

So – about that carrying? I said if you’re careful with carrying your thread and hiding your tails you can have something that looks pretty nice. Well, I ended up doing a full-blown tutorial on this.

Β Here begins the tutorial
01 two lines

This is a quilt sandwich, ready for quilting. Instead of the usual quilting thread, I’m going to embroider one pink line with running stitch, and the other with backstitch and split stitch. I’ll use 4 strands of embroidery thread. I won’t use any knots, there will be no hanging tails, and you won’t see the thread carried from one line to the other. Ready to learn some sneaky magic?

02 starting thread

Start by inserting your needle about an inch from where you want to start stitching. The needle goes in just through the top layer of fabric, then travels between the two layers of fabric (and the batting) until I bring it up where I want to start visible stitching. So if I flipped this over right now you wouldn’t see any needle (or thread) at all from the back.

03 pull through

Pull the thread until the tip of the tail just disappears into the starting hole your needle made. Careful! Don’t pull it all the way through!

Now – take a tiny stitch through all layers. This is going to secure the thread instead of a messy knot.

Bring the needle back up through the start of that tiny stitch. I should have photographed this better, but that needle is pointing up.

Now the thread is coming back up at the original desired starting point. There’s no knot, but that tiny stitch is holding it in place. You can yank really hard on this and it’s not coming loose. The tail of the thread is buried in the batting between the two layers of fabric. Neat!

07 running and carry

OK. I stitched a whole bunch of running stitches and I’m ready to jump over to the other line. But I don’t want anyone to be able to see the thread between the two lines! So I get sneaky again and thread the needle between the two layers of fabric, right there in the batting. Easy peasy! The only drawback is that you can’t carry the thread any farther than the length of your needle. (Actually, there is a way. But I find it so tedious and irritating to do that I’d rather just tie off here and start over in the new space.)

08 tiny stitch

OK. I did some more stitching. Some backstitches and then some split stitches. Now I’m ready to tie off. I take another tiny stitch. See how the needle is coming up really close to the end of that stitch? I’m talking that tiny of a stitch. Tiny is what makes it tight and work like a knot.

I put the needle back in at the end of the stitching (really close to where it came up – remember – tiny!) but only through the top layer of fabric. Carry your tail through the batting for about an inch, then bring the needle back up and out.

There’s the thread tail, veering up off the top, waiting to be cut.

Snip it off really close to the surface of the fabric. Careful! Don’t cut your fabric. It’s ok if a tiny bit of thread shows above the surface.

Rub your finger over it once and it will pop right into the batting and disappear from the front.

13 finished front

So here’s the finished stitching from the front. That’s running stitch on top, backstitch on the lower left, and split stitch on the lower right.

And here they are from the back. Again – running stitch on top, but now the back of the backstitch is in the lower right and the back of the split stitch is in the lower left.

No knots, no tails, and no thread carries. Neat and tidy. πŸ™‚

Whew! That answer was even longer-winded than I expected. And I know how I can be. πŸ™‚Β  I hope you all find it helpful!

That's me!

How do I enlarge and reduce digital patterns?

How to Enlarge or Reduce a Digital Pattern

I get a lot of questions about enlarging and reducing the size of embroidery patterns. Here’s one from Holly. . .

I purchased your cat embroidery pattern and I totally dig it. Those kitties are great. It turns out my girl, who is 6 and very fond of felines, is pretty handy with a needle and thread. I wonder if there’s an easy way to biggen the picture? She’d have more success, I think, with a little bit larger deal. I’ve tried opening it in a photo editor thingy, but to no avail, since it’s a pdf…. is that on purpose? Or maybe I’m not doing it right?

Good question! One of the things I love about embroidery patterns is that they’re really versatile. See the dog in the photo? That was a teeny-tiny pattern (2 inches square from this collection) that I enlarged and stitched on a T-shirt for my daughter. I could also have turned it into an applique pattern, or used it for woodburning, painting, collage, etc. Buy one pattern, use it a kajillion times – that’s my motto. πŸ™‚

And one of the things I love about digital patterns is that’s it’s really easy to enlarge and reduce your pattern without going to the copy shop (for me that’s over an hour away).

Important note! These instructions only work for patterns without seam allowance! So you can use them for embroidery and applique patterns, but not stuffed animal patterns. Pop over to this post for special instructions on enlarging and reducing patterns with seam allowance

Of course, if tech-speak makes your eyes glaze over please just print out your pattern and enlarge or reduce as necessary on a copy machine. But if you want to do it on your computer, here’s some help.

First – a warning. These are going to be pretty general instructions because I assume you all have different software. But the general steps should work no matter what program you use. If you need specifics for your software – with helpful screenshots or even a video – google something like “opening a PDF in Photoshop” or whatever your photo editing program is. I use Gimp, which is free and awesome. It’s not always super intuitive, but there are lots of terrific tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to use it.


1. DON’T open the image as a PDF. Instead save the PDF to your computer.

2. Open whatever photo editing software you use.

3. Now inside your photo editing program, open the PDF file of your pattern.

Opening a PDF in a photo editing program will usually involve some kind of importing command. Most programs will pop up with some sort of window saying, “Whoa! Hold on there Missy! You can’t just open a PDF all willy-nilly in this program! You have to import it.” It will probably prompt you to choose which page of the PDF you want to import and at what resolution. If you can, choose just the page with the pattern you want, and set the resolution pretty high (like 300 dpi). That will import the page as a picture, which will allow you to play with it. Neat!

4. Now you should see that full pattern page as a single image. It’s going to include the full page, with lots of white space, my title, the Shiny Happy World link in the footer, and the entire pattern. Crop away any parts of the page you don’t want. For Holly, she may want to crop away all but one of the cats. If you’re enlarging one of the birds from the bird sampler to stitch on a T-shirt, you may want to isolate just one bird. Crop away anything you don’t want.

5. Time to resize. Use the scale image command to adjust the image to the size you want.

6. Save your new image.

7. Print!

Like I said, these are general instructions and you may need to play around with your computer a bit to find the exact commands you need, but this should give you enough guidance to get there. If anyone else has helpful suggestions, please add them in the comments!

Don’t forget! If you enlarge or reduce the image you’re stitching, you’re also going to need more or fewer strands of floss than what the pattern calls for. Hop over to this post for more info about how many strands to use in any project.

Here are all my posts about working with patterns.

Pattern Sources

How to Resize a Pattern

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about knots. Yes – a whole section about knots. πŸ™‚

Felt Embroidery – All My Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks for Embroidering Felt

I’ve gotten a few questions lately about felt embroidery – and I’m going to answer them all here today.

Most of your patterns use smallish shapes. Do I transfer the pattern, hoop them and stitch, and then cut them out?

Well – I buy the good stuff (there’s no point embroidering it if it’s going to get all pilled and nasty-looking the first time someone touches it) and I don’t like to waste any of it. That means no excess for hooping. You don’t really need to hoop felt anyway – and it’s hard to get the crimp marks out when you do. It’s stiff enough to embroider easily without a hoop. Just be careful not to pull your stitches too tight.

My method is to transfer the pattern, cut it out, and then stitch.

How do you transfer your pattern to felt? You can’t trace through this stuff, and any pen or pencil tends to lift the fibers.

I use one of my favorite embroidery products–I call it The Magical Embroidery Stuff and you can read more about it here. I use it for all of my embroidery, but it really is pure magic for felt embroidery. In fact – it’s so magical that I wrote a whole post here, just about how amazing it is with wool felt.

Where do you find wool felt in such gorgeous colors?

I recommend Benzie Design. They have an amazing selection of colors – including lots of gorgeous felt bundles.

By the way – that picture up at the top is a close up of some of the blocks from the Felt Blocks Embroidery Pattern. Those were so much fun to stitch!

If you’re looking for a free pattern to try, I recommend Flora the felt bird.

Flora the Felt Bird - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

She’s so pretty!

Here are links to all my posts about embroidery tools and supplies.

For Beginners

Specialty Fabrics


Stabilizers and Pattern Transfer Tools

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about working with patterns.

How to Embroider the Hem of a Knit Skirt – video

How to Embroider the Hem of a Knit Skirt - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

I love using a little bit of embroidery to fancy up a simple garment – like this T-shirt skirt I made for my daughter.

I’ll tell you – I love this skirt. I’m going to be so sad when Jo outgrows it!

I really need to make one for myself.Β . .

But you want to know about the embroidery. That’s what the video is for! πŸ™‚ I show you exactly how to do it. It’s easy. Even easier than the ruffles video I shared last week. But it takes longer – that’s why I waited to do it second.

Want to know something else? You don’t have to do this only on a skirt. You could totally stitch a rainbow like this around the hem of a regular T-shirt and it would look awesome! Just make sure it’s not too tight a T-shirt, because this stitching will kill the stretch.

Want even fancier fancification? Jump ahead to this post showing how to crochet a scalloped hem. Oooh. . . πŸ™‚

Happy stitching,Β everyone!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

What kind of fabric can I use for embroidery?

What kind of fabric can I use for embroidery?

Every week I get questions from all of you. Good questions! And I try to answer them as quickly as I can. But I figure for every one of you that actually sends a question – a bunch of other readers have been wondering the exact same thing. So I’ll still answer your questions directly – but I’ll also pick some of them to answer here on the blog too.

I’m starting out with a question I hear a lot. . .

What kind of fabric can/should I use for embroidery?

I never really addressed this in the post about embroidery tools and supplies – because the answer is anything. You can embroider on anything.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend a smooth, woven (non-stretchy) fabric. It’s easiest to transfer your pattern to light fabric, but there are tricks to working with darker fabrics. Watch this video.

I said non-stretchy, but you can embroider stretchy fabrics too. It just takes an extra step in preparation – you have to stabilize the fabric. I show you how in this video.

I love stitching on velvet and other napped fabrics (those are fabrics with a pile like a rug – velvet, corduroy, terry cloth, etc.) Stitching on them is easy, though you may need to use an extra strand or two in your thread so your stitching doesn’t disappear into the pile of the fabric. The real trick is transferring your image. I have usedΒ Sulky Solvy Water Soluble StabilizerΒ in the past. It’s a water-soluble translucent film. You draw your image on that, then hoop it together with the fabric and stitch through both layers. Swish your finished embroidery in some water and the film just melts away. Easy peasy! I show you this stuff in action in this video.

Update: Since writing this post I discovered what I like to call The Magical Embroidery Stuff. Its real name is Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy. It’s a pattern transfer tool AND stabilizer that works on dark fabrics, stretchy fabric, and napped fabrics. I use it now for EVERYTHING! Watch this video to see it in action.

If you want to stitch on some very fine, thin fabric, I recommend stitching through a double layer. You can also fuse some lightweight interfacing to the back. It helps keep your threads in the back from showing through to the front.

Want to stitch something extra thick like paper or leather? I have some earrings that I embroidered on metal! Poke your stitching holes first and then stitch. I show you how to stitch paper in this video. The process is the same for anything thick.

You really can embroider anything!

Got any other questions? Send them to me here.

Happy Stitching!