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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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

Now I started taking some pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

Make a Fancy Felt Frame – free tutorial

I had so much fun with the Bears in the Hills project that I immediately needed another way to play with felt applique and embroidery. I had been having glimmers of an idea about using traditional quilt patterns as felt applique and I thought it would be fun to do that as a frame around one of my applique patterns.

It was so much fun to make that I decided to put together a tutorial showing how to make the frame. I want you to be able to use it in combination with any of my applique patterns you already have. I’m always looking for ways you can get more use out of your library of patterns. ๐Ÿ˜„

So here we go!

This layout works for two different possibilities. If you want the full rectangle, use a double-sized sheet of felt (I carry them now in the shop in some colors) and a 12″ x 18″ frame. That’s a standard size I know for sure you can get at Michaels because I checked over the weekend. ๐Ÿ˜„

If you want just a square frame around your square image, ignore the blue striped parts of the image and use a 12″ x 12″ frame – also a standard size.

What You’ll Need

One 12″ x 18″ sheet of felt for the background. I highly recommend wool-rayon blend or bamboo felt. Don’t use acrylic felt – it will pill and look grubby before you even finish making it. This is the felt I use in all my projects.

Assorted felt colors for the other parts. I used the following colors. . .

  • ruby red slippers (background)
  • grape jelly (purple triangles)
  • blue snow (blue stripes)
  • sandstone (cat)
  • Tahitian sunset (cat stripes)
  • black (cat nose)
  • shocking pink (polkadots)

Thread to match all the applique pieces. (I use this Invisafil 100 wt. thread.)

Thick black thread to embroider the eyes and mouth. (I use this.)

Other thick thread for fancy embellishment. (I used this Razzle rayon thread. I love how the shine looks against the wool felt.)

Glue stick to hold the applique pieces in place. (This is my favorite.)

Optional – I like to use a Q-snap frame for this kind of handwork, so I bought a couple of extenders for my 17-inch frame so it could go all the way to 20 inches. I also used some cheap muslin as a base for my felt so I didn’t need to catch the felt in the clamps.

That’s it!

Prep the Pieces

You’ll need to cut some strips, triangles and circles from your felt.

For the triangles, cut four strips of felt 1″ wide and 12″ long. From each strip, cut 1″ squares. You need a total of 40. Cut each square in half on the diagonal to get 80 triangles.

For the blue stripes, cut 8 strips 1/4″ wide and 12″ long.

For the pink polkadots, cut nineteen 1/2″ circles. (I buy mine pre-cut from Woolhearts on Etsy.)

Choose your pattern for inside the frame and print it at 80% size. I used one of the cats from the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern, but changed his eyes to happy sleeping eyes. There are also a bunch of free patterns available here. Cut out all the pieces. (I like to print mine on freezer paper to make it easier to cut out the pieces accurately.)

Put It All Together

I started by gluing my large background sheet of felt to some cheap muslin so I could easily hoop it without covering up any of the stitch area. Here you can see my piece in its hoop.

I used a couple of batting scraps under the clamps to give them more to grab onto, since the muslin was pretty thin.

Next I started to arrange the cut pieces onto the background felt. Here’s the plan. . .

Each square in the grid is 1/4 inch. I don’t like to mark on felt, so I used a ruler as a guide to position my pieces.

Here you can see that I’ve laid the ruler across the bottom of the background piece so that the top edge of the ruler is exactly 3 inches up from the bottom edge of the felt. That’s where I lay down the purple triangles in a pinwheel arrangement. I originally positioned one triangle in each inch of the background felt, but I photographed this after I finished all the stitching – which draws up the width a little bit. (You can see that the finished width is now a smidge less than 12 inches, which throws off the alignment of the triangles a bit – but you get the idea.)

Once you get the bottom row of triangles in place, it’s easy to build out the rest of the pinwheel frame. When you’re happy with how it’s all laid out, glue each piece in place with a swipe of glue stick.

Use the ruler as a guide to position all the skinny blue stripes as shown in the diagram and glue in place.

Position your face. I shifted mine a bit to the right, just to make things more interesting.

Sprinkle some polkadots in the background and glue them down too.

Once the glue is dry – hoop it up and start whipstitching all the pieces in place. This video shows how I whipstitch applique felt.

Once you get all the pieces whipstitched in place, it’s time to have fun with the embellishment.

I used backstitch to embroider the cat’s eyes and mouth.

I used darker blue straight stitches to stripe the stripes.

I used three lazy daisy stitches in each triangle.

I used simple running stitches in the pink negative-space triangles in the pinwheels and also in the spaces between the blue stripes.

I used straight stitches arranged like spokes in each polkadot, and French knots scattered around the polkadots.

Here you can see all the different types of embellishment stitching I used, in one close-up shot.

I’m definitely not a member of The Back Is As Neat As The Front Club – though this isn’t bad at all for me.

And that’s it!

You can frame your finished piece, make it into a wall hanging, a pillow cover, a tote bag, or more. Have fun with it!

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.

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. ๐Ÿ˜› I shared it in the newsletter, but I never posted a photo here.

So I’m fixing that now. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!


Bears in the Hills – WIP

I don’t usually do all caps but. . .


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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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?

Update – the pattern is now available here.

Happy stitching!

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

Turn Any Quilt Block Patterns into Cute Coasters – an easy tutorial

Turn any Quilt Block Patterns into Cute Coasters - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I love getting all the mileage I can out of my quilt patterns – using them for lots of other projects besides quilts.

One of my favorite things to make is felt coasters. I’ve got them scattered all over my house, in lots of different designs. The cats you see above are some of my favorites!

It’s super easy.

Choose the design you want to use and print that pattern page out at 40% size. Any square block from any of my patterns.

Your print window may look slightly different than this (it’s different for every computer, printer, and operating system) but it should be similar.

Print digital patterns at 100% for the correct size.

Look for something like that “scale” entry. It will probably default to 100%, but you can change it to anything you like. Change it to 40%.

From this point on, follow the instructions you’ll find at this post showing how to make some cute bear coasters. (And if you want to try out the technique – those bear patterns are free.) You can use those instructions to make cute coasters from any of my square quilt block patterns. Just reduce the pattern size to 40%. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Happy stitching!

Make Easy Felt Gift Tags

Easy Felt Gift Tags - a free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Four years ago I posted a tutorial showing how I make reusable fabric gift bags. We don’t use any gift wrap anymore at the holidays – just these bags.

This was a really popular tutorial and people loved the bags – but I had a lot of people ask how we stuck tags to them.

I’m finally getting around to that post!

For a while we just used paper tags tucked into the ribbon – but that didn’t always stay in place, so a couple of years ago I made a bunch of felt tags and they’ve been AWESOME.

First – a note. Mine is a small family – just three of us – and we all have different initials. So for us it worked really well to just have tags with a first initial. You may need to adapt the idea a bit to work for YOUR family, but the basic technique can be used a lot of ways. ๐Ÿ™‚

First cut a 3 inch square of felt.

Why 3 inches? It’s a number that allows me to get 12 squares out of a single sheet of felt with no waste. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cut out the felt letter you need. I used this free alphabet pattern.

It’s easy to cut shapes like those letters if you use freezer paper.

  1. Trace the letter onto the paper side of the freezer paper
  2. Fuse the shiny side of the paper to the felt.
  3. Cut out the letter – cutting through the felt and the paper at the same time for super accuracy
  4. Peel off the paper and use it again.

Stick the letter to the felt square with a dab of glue stick. Sew around the letter using a simple straight stitch on your sewing machine. You could also hand sew the letter in place using fancier stitches, but I wanted to make a big stack of these in an afternoon. (Keep reading for a no-sew option.)

Cut a slit in the felt on each side of the letter.

Easy Felt Gift Tags - a free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I don’t measure these or worry too much about precision – most of the slits are about an inch tall, and roughly half an inch from the edge of the felt.


Now – here’s how I use them.

I make two kinds of bags. The main kind – the ones I use most often – have the ribbon sewn to the top edge of the bag. They’re designed for the ribbon to wrap all the way around the gift, like this. . .

Fabric Gift Bags - free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

For those I just slide the tag onto the ribbon anywhere on the front of the package. It looks like this. . .

Easy Felt Gift Tags - a free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This is a gift for Jo. ๐Ÿ™‚

The other kind of bag I make has the ribbon sewn into a side seam near the top of the bag. Those bags are meant to gather up at the top like a classic Santa sack, with the ribbon tied around the neck of the bag – not the gift itself.

For those I thread the tag onto one of the loops before I finish tying the bow. Here’s what it looks like.

Easy Felt Gift Tags - a free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Another gift for Jo! ๐Ÿ™‚

Both ways are super easy, and post-gift-opening cleanup is a breeze. The ribbons are attached to the bags, so I just fold up the bags, and make a little stack of the tags. The bags and the tags all fit in one small plastic tub – maybe the size of two shoe-boxes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are links to everything you need. . .

I like the way the stitching looks, but you could make a completely no-sew version using Heat & Bond Ultrahold fusible adhesive. Remember – this is the heaviest weight they make and you should NOT sew through it. (It will gunk up your needle.) If you use this option, you’ll need to fuse a little hotter/longer than the package directions say in order for the heat to fully penetrate the thick felt and melt the adhesive. Everyone’s iron is a little different, so just experiment with temperature and time until you get a solid fuse.

Happy crafting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern from Shiny Happy World

The Mini Stockings Advent Calendar pattern is finished and it was so much fun to make!

You get patterns for 25 mini stockings – just the right size to hold candy, small toys, gift cards and more. Open a stocking every night to count down the days until Christmas!

One of my favorite things about this pattern is that you’re getting 25 different repeat patterns that are very easy to stitch. (I only used the four most basic stitches – all of which are covered in my free Embroidery 101 class. The pattern also has links to the how-to videos for all of them.)

You can use these designs on so many other projects! I’ll be showing some samples of other things you can make in the weeks to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

My other favorite thing is that you stitch the designs on a grid – which makes it so easy to get your stitches perfect! Here’s an example of what one stocking looks like all stitched up, before I soak away the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy.

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern from Shiny Happy World

See how easy it is to get the stitch length perfect and the spacing perfect?

And here’s that same stocking after soaking.

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern from Shiny Happy World

I just love how those thread colors glow against the dark purple felt!

Speaking of colors – I stitched all of my samples using the Tutti Frutti felt and thread bundles – but you could do any colors you like!

This red thread on white felt is so fresh and pepperminty!

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern from Shiny Happy World

And I especially love the way the white thread on Tahitian sunset felt looks like royal icing on gingerbread. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern from Shiny Happy World

Your family will pull hang this advent calendar every year and have so much fun finding surprises in the stockings every night!

Are you ready to stitch up an heirloom?

Get the Mini Stockings Advents Calendar pattern here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy stitching!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern – all your questions answered

Mini Stockings Advent Calendar Pattern - from Shiny Happy World

I’ve been stitching away at the Mini Stockings Advent Calendar and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it. I thought I’d pull together all of my answers in one handy place. ๐Ÿ™‚

How big are the stockings?

They’re definitely mini stockings. Each stocking is about 4 inches wide and 5 inches tall – at the widest and tallest points. The “leg” of the stocking is 3 inches wide. I made sure it was big enough to slip in a gift card. Maybe one of the goodies is a gift card for a movie night?

How long do they take to stitch?

It depends on the design. Some take me only an hour. Some take more like three hours. And I’m a fairly slow and careful stitcher.

How hard is the stitching?

Really easy. Even if the pattern looks complex, it’s actually made of very simple stitches. And the fact that they’re stitched on a grid makes it soooo easy to get perfectly spaced stitches – even if you’ve never embroidered before.

What’s that filmy stuff on the felt?

That is Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy – my very favorite embroidery supply. You print the pattern onto it, peel off the paper back, and stick it to the felt. Then you stitch right through the felt and the stabilizer. When you’re done stitching you soak it in cold water and it dissolves away. It’s pure magic. I have a post here that shows in more detail how awesome it is for working with felt.

Is every stocking a different pattern?

Yes – you’re getting a total of 25 different geometric patterns.

Why is there a sheet of plain grid paper in the pattern?

That’s so you can use the same geometric patterns in other designs. Like maybe stitch a monogram letter filled in with your favorite pattern? Or the silhouette of a favorite animal? Or trace a cookie cutter, use brown felt, and stitch the design in white thread like icing?

Do I have to stitch the numbers? I’d rather use the little stockings as gift tags/tree ornaments.

Of course not! The pattern also includes a page of three stocking with just the grid – no numbers.

Can I machine sew the stocking front to the back?

Yes! Just use a simple straight stitch and matching thread, and stitch really close to the edge.

Can I get those tiny clothespins?

Yes! You can get them here.

Where did you get that red and white twisted cord?

I got it at Joann’s a few years ago and I use it for all my ornament hanging loops. It was in the section of cotton yarn – the stuff people use to knit or crochet dish cloths.

Can you show some examples of the designs in different colors?

Sure. I’m using the Tutti Frutti felt and thread bundles for my samples, but I stitched up a couple of individual stockings in other colors for you to see.

Sample Mini Stockings from the Shiny Happy World Advent Calendar pattern

These two use felt from the Enchanted Forest felt bundle with white thread. I thought that would be a really nice “snowy woods” kind of collection. ๐Ÿ™‚ And the first stocking (the white thread on Tahitian sunset felt) looks just like gingerbread to me. A whole set done as gingerbread stockings would be terrific!

Classic red and white stockings from the Mini Stockings Advent Calendar pattern from Shiny Happy World

I also love these classic red and white stockings. Easy peasy! Red thread on white felt. ๐Ÿ™‚

I haven’t had a chance to stitch up samples yet, but I also think these would look great in this Frosty Pastels palette.

frosty pastels palette from Shiny Happy World

What are some ideas to fill the stockings?

The sky (and three inches!) is the limit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Candy or small toys would be great. A little note in each stocking with a favorite family activity would be fun. Maybe a little pack of cocoa and the name of a favorite Christmas book to read aloud. I’ll post this to the Shiny Happy People group and see if other have fun family traditions they can share.

I hope that answers all your questions! If you have any others, just ask and I’ll add the answers to this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

Get your Mini Stockings Advent Calendar pattern here and stitch along with us!

Happy stitching!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Add a Name and Date to Your Felt Ornaments

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

All myย ornamentย patternsย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 minimalย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 Worldย 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!