May 2019 at Shiny Happy World

There’s so much fun stuff happening this month at Shiny Happy World! Now that I’m allowed to stitch again I’m finishing lots of old projects and starting new ones. 🙂

Watch the video here to see what’s going on.

Here are links to all the things I talk about in the video. . .

Have fun! And happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Hand Stitching after an Injury

I finally got to start hand sewing again after a forced break of two months.

Two months without a needle and thread in my hand!

It was hard, but I did as I was told and my hand/arm/shoulder are doing much better now. 🙂

Several people have asked if I’m doing anything different to prevent future injuries, so I thought I’d write up a post with some more info.

In a nutshell – yes. I’m doing a lot of things differently.

First, and most importantly, I’m not stitching for hours and hours without a rest. And when it starts to hurt – I stop. Immediately. That’s kind of the no-brainer fix. 🙂

But I’m doing other things too.

Before I start stitching, I warm up my right hand and wrist. Literally make it warm. I’m one of those annoying people who are always cold, so I run it under warm water, or wrap it under a blanket for a few minutes before I start work.

I also warm up with some stretches. Stacey has a video here demonstrating a bunch of good stretches for knitters and crocheters. They’re good for people doing all kinds of hand work!

I’m also paying more attention to my tools and supplies. The one thing that still gives me pain sometimes is pinching something between my thumb and forefinger. Like a needle! I’ve learned that thicker threads are much harder to grab and pull – they just require more force. But I love using thick thread for embroidery! So I’ve done two things.

I break up my thick-thread sewing with some thin thread sewing. I would normally do all the thin-thread whipstitching all my pieces down first, then move into all the decorative stitching with thicker thread. Now I do a bit of thin thread whipstitching, then immediately embellish those bits with some thicker thread. That helps a lot.

But I’m also using a different needle type. I usually use embroidery needles because they have a nice big eye. But the sides of that eye bow out, which makes the eye significantly wider than the rest of the needle. That makes it harder to pull through the fabric, which means I need to pinch the needle harder, which makes the base of my thumb hurt very quickly. I’ve been experimenting with using milliner’s needles because their eyes don’t bow out. It’s definitely better, but I’m still trying to find the right length for me. I’ll keep you posted as I finish experimenting.

For the thin thread sewing I’m using the very thinnest needle I can find. It really does make a difference. I’ve also experimented with different glues, but so far nothing is better than my favorite fabric glue sticks. As long as I don’t use too much, it’s pretty easy to needle through.

So that’s it! Warm up first, take breaks, and use the tools and supplies that cause the least strain. Want a little peek at the new piece so far?

I’m so thrilled with how it’s turning out so far!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Bears in the Hills – WIP

I don’t usually do all caps but. . .

I AM SO EXCITED WITH HOW THIS IS TURNING OUT!

Seriously! I can’t wait to get these guys in a frame to start stitching. You’re going to have to pry me out of my couch for the next few weeks. 🙂

And that’s not all!

I want you guys to stitch with me!

I decided the best way to make this a pattern is to actually make it a video workshop. I’ve shot video already showing how to position all the pieces and my little tricks for securing them in place while I stitch.

This was my studio today, with those fancy new lights in action.

Look at that awesome even lighting! 🙂

The next step is going to be whipstitching the edges down with matching thread (not embroidery thread – I want these stitches to disappear) and then I’ll jump into fancy stitching!

My plan is to get all the kind-of-boring-to-most-people-but-I-really-love-it whipstitching done, and then start recording videos showing how I freehand stitch the hills. Maybe one new video a week?

But I’ll make the class available before I get all those videos recorded.

You’ll be able to download the pattern and cut out your bears. (The class will include patterns you can print on freezer paper for hand-cutting, and also a link to the files on Cricut’s Design Space for those who have Cricut machines.)

You’ll be able to watch the videos showing how to lay out your hills and bears and whipstitch all the edges down.

And then we’ll be able to fancy stitch together! I’ll add new technique videos showing the fancy stitching as I make them. Since it will be an online class you’ll just find the new videos in the “classroom” when I load them up – without having to constantly download new files or anything like that.

I hope that sounds like fun to you! It sure does to me. I’ve got new episodes of Call the Midwife and Poldark waiting for some couch time. 🙂

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Mandalas to Embroider – Starting my Project

I’m really excited to finally start my project from the book Mandalas to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris. I’ve admired her work for a long time and this book has been sitting in my pile for far too long. 🙂

I was going to stitch up one of the smaller designs – maybe into a pendant – but I couldn’t resist the paisleys.

I was going to do mine them rich autumn colors, but as soon as I got the purple hoop on, I really wanted to make it in cool colors – purples and blues and greens.

So that’s what I’m doing!

Ready to start stitching!

I’ll be back with a full review of the book as soon as I finish my project. 🙂

In the meantime – want to see another (very different) mandala I stitched?

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

I did this one without a pattern and it was so much fun! Get all the instructions here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Sneak Peek at a New Project: Which Beaver Is the Cutest?

I’m making a new project for the Back to School series at Sulky – and I needed a beaver.

Not a quilted beaver. . .

. . . and not a stuffed beaver. . .

. . . and not a crocheted beaver. . .

For the project I had in mind I needed to embroider a beaver – and I wanted to see him from head to toe.

I sat down to draw some sketches and then remembered that my husband had a whole page of adorable beaver drawings in his airplane sketchbook.

Perfect!

You might think it was hard to choose between all those sweet faces – but I had my favorite picked out with one glance. It’s the one down in the right corner.

Isn’t he a cutie?

Now for a much harder decision. . .

Choosing thread!

That lucky beaver has something colorful to chomp on, so I get to dip into the rainbow. 🙂 So many colors to choose from! And these are only about half of my stash of Sulky Petites 12 wt. thread. (You can read my review of this thread here.)

Final project coming Saturday! It’s going to be a free pattern. 🙂

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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!

Best,
Wendi

Stretching My Way into 2016

Stretch - some goals for 2016

As I think about my goals for 2016, the word Stretch keeps coming to mind. I want to stretch my skills and try some new things this year – and I’ve already started.

I’ve been playing with some improvisational stitching. I’m not done with this piece yet (I started it on New Year’s Day) but it’s been a lot of fun so far. I cut the letters out of felt freehand, stuck them down with a swipe of fabric glue, then whipstitched them down around the edges. I stitched some fancification on the letters and then started the spokes radiating out from the word. I still want to add more spokes, but I like how it’s looking so far.

If you want to try some improvisational stitching, I have this post about stitching a freehand mandala. It’s lots of fun!

I’ve also been working on my drawing. Drawing scares me – every single time I sit down to a blank piece of paper. Over the vacation I watched this class from Lisa Congdon and absolutely loved it. So much that I’m taking her Daily Drawing Challenge all January.

On the first day we drew trees, which I loved.

Stretch - some goals for 2016

Why can’t I draw letters with a pen as well as I can cut them out of felt? What is up with that?

I’ve been posting my daily drawings to Instagram – you can find me here.

I don’t know what’s going to become of this work – quite possibly nothing but fun and some better skills. I’m actually trying not to think of them as work/patterns/tutorials – just an opportunity to play a little and have fun. 🙂

Are any of you doing any challenges or Thing a Day/Week/Month that you’re excited about? I’d love to hear!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

 

Congratulations to the Finished Stitches Embroidery Challenge Winners!

Finished Stitches Embroidery ChallengeI sent out all of my embroidery samples with a challenge. Make something out of them! Anything! As long as it’s a finished thing!

You made AWESOMENESS!

Seriously. You all made things I never would have thought of! It was so thrilling getting the photos of your finished work. If anyone is coming late to the party, you can see all the terrific finished projects here.

And now it’s time to hand out some great prizes!

The votes are in and counted. (Thanks so much to everyone who voted and all your nice comments!)

The guest judges have made their selections.

The winners have been chosen.

Drum roll please. . .

Mollie Johanson

The incredible designer behind all the cuteness at Wild Olive contributed a $30 gift certificate to her shop. You can buy a lot of cuteness for $30! I recommend the Autumn Stitching Club. 🙂

The winner of Mollie’s gift certificate is Susan Wahlman for the Sly Cat Insulated Lunch Bag!

Insulated Lunch Bag - Finished Stitches challenge project for Shiny Happy WorldCongratulations Susan! You did a fantastic job! And all the accessories that go inside the bag are terrific.

Carina Envoldsen-Harris

The designer behind all the pretty posy patterns at Polka & Bloom contributed a $10 gift certificate to her shop and a copy of her beautiful new book, Stitched Blooms.

The winners of Carina’s prize pack is Valerie Hatton for her Rainbow Raincloud Mobile.

Rainblow Raincloud MobileCongratulations Valerie! That cheerful mobile (love those smiling suns!) was also a very popular choice in the Fan Favorite voting. 🙂

DMC

You can’t have an embroidery challenge without mentioning DMC! They contributed a pack of their sixteen brand new embroidery floss colors! The winner of that pretty thread bundle is Rachel Kehler for her Toddler Dress with a Kitty Pocket.

kittypocketThis was another popular one in the Fan Favorite voting – not swayed at all by the cutie wearing the dress. 🙂 I especially love this one because it’s such a nice way to add just a touch of embroidery to make a dress really special – whether the dress is handmade or store bought.

My Choice

Yep – I get to pick a winner too. 🙂 A $35 gift certificate to my shop goes to Erin of Missy Mac Creations for her Duck Duck Robot Book Bag.

Duck Duck Robot Book BagCongratulations Erin! I loved this bag! Erin did a great job positioning the embroidery on the tote bag – something that can be tricky. And I loved the fabric she chose for the lining and top of the bag. But what really wowed me were the detail of the red band between the abc fabric and the robot piece – and the fussy cutting of the letters from the abc fabric to spell out BOOK BAG at the bottom.

Fan Favorite

This one’s the big prize – the one you voted for! Lark Books contributed a set of all three of Aimee Ray’s Doodle Stitching embroidery books – real favorites of mine. Those books will go to Noemi Lopez for her Chickens Pillow!

chickens pillow caseCongratulations Noemi! The yellow gingham and wide rickrack were the perfect match for the chickens embroidery – and your pillow was super cute!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

Let’s do this again when I build up another 40-50 embroidery samples! 🙂

Best,
Wendi
Wendi_Gratz_Shiny_Happy_World

Vote for Fan Favorite in the Finished Stitches Challenge!

Finished Stitches Embroidery Challenge - the fabulous finished projectsThe photos are in and voting is OPEN!

First take a moment to wallow in the awesomeness. Look at all those finished projects!

Then click over to the Finished Stitches Project Page.

Scroll through all the entries. Click on the images to see them bigger. Then comment on the page with your choice for Fan Favorite! Please mention the number and name of the piece you’re choosing (making it easier for people to read the comments without lots of scrolling) and feel free let everyone know why you’re choosing it.

Remember! You’re not voting on the embroidery! You’re voting on what people made out of the embroidery! :-)

Go vote! Voting closes next Tuesday and I’ll announce ALL the prize winners on Wednesday 10/23. Edited to add: This contest is now closed! But, you can still pop over to the Finished Stitches Project Page and be inspired by all of the finished embroidery projects!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi_Gratz_Shiny_Happy_World

Sewing Patterns that Are Great for Using with Embroidery

Finished Stitches Embroidery ChallengeSo you’ve gotten your sample in the Finished Stitches Embroidery Challenge.

Or maybe you have some scraps of fabric that your Grandma embroidered but never made into anything.

Or you bought some beautiful almost-finished pieces at a rummage sale.

What are you going to do with them? Leave them in a drawer somewhere? Or make something out of them that you can use and enjoy every day?

I vote for making something out of them. 🙂

First you’ll need to iron them. Remember this video?

Now you’ll need to decide what to do with them! Here are some of my favorite patterns (most of them FREE!) that work well with embroidered bits.

  1. The Easy Apron.
  2. Mini Tote Bag
  3. The Simple Skirt
  4. Goody Bags
  5. Needle Cushion
  6. Receiving Blanket
  7. Zippered Bag

For some of the larger pieces (like the receiving blanket) you can either piece the embroidered bit together with other fabric, or you can applique it on somewhere.

For some of them the embroidered piece would make a great pocket – like the Easy Apron.

I even used embroidery in the samples of some of them!

Here are a few more ideas!

  • Make a doll-sized quilt. (I have doll quilts on the brain. I’m making one right now for this month’s free pattern.)
  • Make a set of beanbags.
  • Make a sachet.
  • Make a mug rug or a coaster.

You can also use this tutorial to add framing around the embroidery to make it big enough for a pillow cover like this one.

Monster Pillow from Shiny Happy WorldThe tutorial is for a quilt block – but the technique works just as well for embroidery.

Want to see what others are doing? Some people have already shared their finished projects! See them here.

And if you’ve finished your project be sure to email me a photo. My email is blockhead@wendigratz.com. I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Read all the Finished Stitches posts here.

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!