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. πŸ™‚

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!


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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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!


Bears in the Hills – a Progress Report

I’ve finished all the whipstitching around the edges of the hills and the bears.

Ready for the fancy stitching!

I wanted the whipstitching to be fairly invisible. To make sure I got all the scallops outlined, I flipped it over to check the back.

So here’s what comes next. . .

Next week I’ll be putting together the online class. Here’s what will be available as soon as the class opens. . .

  • the pattern – both a PDF for printing on freezer paper to cut by hand and an SVG file for those who have cutting machines
  • a video showing how to cut, layer and glue the pieces in place
  • a video showing how to whipstitch the edges
  • a bundle of felt sheets in the colors I used
  • a bundle of pre-cut pieces for those who want to jump right to the fun part πŸ™‚

Update – the class is finished now – with all the lessons showing how to do the fancy stitching! Get the class here.

After the class releases, I’ll start adding more videos showing how to embroider the faces and how to add fancy stitching to the hills.

This is going to be so much fun!

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. 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!


Cutting Felt with My Cricut Maker

Well – I finally opened the box of my new Cricut Maker.

So exciting!

But I’ll be honest – we got off to a bit of a rocky start.

The Design Space app didn’t install automatically and the link to click to continue the installation was a dead end to a nonexistent page. Not a huge deal – I know how to find my files and install them myself, but it’s the kind of thing that really frustrates a person who’s not super comfortable with technology so I thought it was worth mentioning.

They include some materials for your first project (a card) which is great. It let me walk through all the steps of making (not designing) and actual thing.

Designing was TRICKY. That’s going to take some practice – but I managed to get my first project (those bears in the hills) all set up and ready to go.

Time to cut some felt!

Uh oh. That does NOT look good.

I cut it on the felt setting and this was actually the second try with increased pressure. The first try just roughed up the surface of the felt without actually cutting anything.

I decided to lie to the machine and tell it I was cutting heavy fabric like denim. That prompted me to change it to the teeny tiny rotary blade instead of the knife blade.

Much better!

Look how clean the cuts are! And see the eye markings? The machine did that too with the pen attachment. So handy!

After I got the settings figured out I was on a roll. πŸ™‚

I cut all the pieces for my new Bears in the Hills in about an hour – while I was cleaning my studio. πŸ™‚

Next week I’ll have a video showing you how to layer all these guys up and prep for stitching.

I can’t wait to try the Cricut on regular fabric for applique quilt blocks – that’ll be my next project with the machine.

Happy stitching!


Free January Calendar

This is the year! Embroidered and applique felt letters

Happy January!

I know it’s a week late – but what a week it’s been! Moving (with no movers because our move-in got delayed until New Years’ Eve weekend), a terrible cold snap, a surprise sleet storm that immobilized all of Asheville and caused tons of accidents, three separate and unrelated plumbing emergencies, an unexpected out-of-town trip for a funeral, and no internet service all week.


In spite of all that, I’m still feeling pretty awesome about the new year! Read about why New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday (and why I’m especially excited about 2018) here. Lots of folks chimed in with their big plans for the year too – so be sure to read the comments and be inspired!

And here are your calendar download links. Vanessa asked if I could also do them without the calendar and I think that’s a great idea! So you’ll find both options for each layout. πŸ™‚

This is the year! Embroidered and applique felt letters

Click here to download the one for computers/tablets.

Click here to download the same image with no calendar.

Click here to download the one for phones.

Click here to download the same image with no calendar.


Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

March 2014 Resolution Report

March Resolution Report - with Merit Badges

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Time for a report on how the new year’s resolutions are coming along. March was a rough month with lots of computer issues – and I’m afraid I used that as an excuse to let my least-favorite resolutions slide. πŸ™March Resolution Report - with Merit BadgesSofties for Charity

I’m making a stuffed animal each month to donate to the kids at my local battered women’s shelter.

I think I’m done fine-tuning the pattern I’ve been using. Look for it on the blog next Monday. πŸ™‚

March Resolution Report - with Merit BadgesReading Goals

My goal is to read four books every month. This month I read. . .

March Resolution Report - with Merit BadgesFinancial Goals

I have a sales goal for Shiny Happy World every month.

I met my goal for March, so I get a badge!

Kind of boring – but also kind of essential for me as a business owner. πŸ™‚

New Year's Resolution Merit Badges - The Resolution ReportNew Recipes

Finally! My favoriteΒ resolution!

Here’s what I tried in March. . .

  • This cajeta – dulce de leche made with goat’s milk. Absolutely amazing! And the best apple-dipping sauce ever.
  • Jo and I took a truffle-making class and made a few kinds of truffles.
  • This AMAZING salad. I’ve made it twice in two weeks and I kind of want to have it in my fridge all the time.
  • This delicious cauliflower chowder – a great springtime soup.

I actually managed to gain weight this month, so no weight loss badge for me. πŸ™ And no workout badge either.

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)