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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜›

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

Now I started taking some pictures. πŸ™‚

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.

Done!

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!

Best,
Wendi

Christmas Ornament Kits Are Back In Stock!

I’ve received several requests to bring the felt ornament kits back in stock.

Your wish is my command!

You’ll find a very limited quantity of each kit in the shop – and I can pack up more if needed.

Get the 2014 collection here.

Christmas Club 2015 - a dozen fun felt ornament patterns from Shiny Happy World

Get the 2015 collection here.

Each kit contains all the felt and thread you’ll need for all 12 ornaments, plus all the pattern pieces already printed out on freezer paper or Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy – whichever is called for for each piece. The step by step instructions are delivered by email.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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. πŸ˜„

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. πŸ˜„

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!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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

So I’m fixing that now. πŸ™‚

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!

Best,
Wendi

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!

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. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Update – the class is now available here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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.

I’ve got a whole page here where I’m collecting all kinds of different ideas for things you can make – with links to more info and tutorials. πŸ™‚

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%. πŸ™‚

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

I Made a Rainbow

I Made a Rainbow - a rainbow of felt Freddie Bears from Shiny Happy World

It was one of the things on my March to-do list – and I did it!

If you want to make a rainbow too – I posted a bunch of other rainbow projects here.

I had so much fun making these guys! They’re all hand sewn – which meant lots of couch time and Poldark. πŸ™‚

I used the Freddie Bear pattern and two shades of felt for each bear.

My daughter got in on the rainbow action too! Look – she made a whole rainbow of Pippi Bunnies!

Rainbow of Pippi Bunnies - from Shiny Happy World

She made a couple of tiny changes to the pattern. She crocheted the ears in place instead of sewing them on, and she used plastic craft noses instead of crocheting them. Each bunny fits in the palm of your hand and you’d be able to squish them into the larger plastic eggs if you’re looking for candy substitutes for egg hunts. πŸ™‚

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Happy 2018! This Is the Year!

applique felt and embroidered letters saying, "This is the year!"

I love the New Year!

My husband and I got married on New Year’s DayΒ in 2000.

I started Shiny Happy World on New Year’s Day in 2011.

Shiny Happy World is merging with FreshStitches today – New Year’s Day in 2018.

New Year’s Day may be my favorite holiday of all. That sounds silly because it’s not what most people think of as a major holiday – but I love that sense of possibility.

The idea that anything can happen.

Every year I think to myself. . .

This is the year!

And it always is. It’s always the year forΒ something.

This is the year I learn to quilt.

This is the year we move to the mountains.

This is the year IΒ learn to cook without following a recipe.

This is the year I start my own business.

That statement is going to be different every year, and for every person – but I think many of us feel that sense of anticipation and the magic of possibility on January 1.

What are you excited about doing in 2018?

For many of us in this group – it’s something related to craft. πŸ™‚

This is the year I learn to crochet.

This is the year I make a quilt for my bed.

This is the year I learn to embroider.

This is the year I make my first softie – for my first grandchild.

So I have a New Year’s Day assignment for you. Think about your end of this sentence.

This is the year. . .

Pick a thing. One thing that you really want to do this year. One thing you want to learn, one thing you want to make, one thing you want to teach. It can be anything! And that’s why this is a pretty hard assignment. Grab a cup of tea and some quiet time and really think about it.

This is the year. . .

I’ll go first.

This is the year I actually make a quilt using improvisational piecing. I already love improvisational stitching – especially Big Stitch quilting – but it’s the piecing I want to jump into. I’ve got a book I’ve been reading. I’ve been collecting inspiration. I’ve even make a few blocks. But I want to make a whole quilt. And I’m going to use it to upholster a barn door hanging between my studio and my husband’s office.

This is the year!

Now it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments.

This is the year. . .

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

 

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.

Done!

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. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World