Make an Easy Applique Rag Quilt – tutorial

Several years ago my mother-in-law made us a fantastic flannel rag quilt. We use it all the time, and every time I look at it I think that it would be super easy to add applique to that style of quilt.

I finally did it!

And it was just as fun and easy as I thought. 🙂

I made mine using the Bunches of Bears quilt pattern, but you could use any quilt pattern you like. All the square quilt blocks in my own patterns are already sized for 10 inch blocks. If you’re using someone else’s pattern you may need to enlarge or reduce the images.

So let’s go!

My quilt is nap sized – 50 x 60 inches – perfect for using on the couch. It’s 5 blocks wide and 6 blocks tall and the blocks all finish at 10 inches.

You can resize the pattern by changing the size of the blocks or by changing the number of blocks. 🙂

I used ten flannel colors (one of each color in the Dash Plaid collection from Dear Stella Fabrics) and bought one yard of each.

I prewashed my flannel. I think people don’t usually do that for rag quilts, but flannel is notorious for shrinking a lot and I didn’t want the shrinking to distort the applique. Don’t use fabric softener in the wash – it can resist the fusible adhesive. Dryer sheets are fine.

Each block is three layers of flannel, so you’ll need to cut 90 blocks, each 11 inches square. You can get nine from one yard of fabric.

Sneaky tip – if you have some ugly flannel that you can’t figure out how it got into your stash, cut 30 of the squares out of that and hide it in the middle of your layers. 🙂

Applique 30 of the squares using any method you like. I used my favorite fusible adhesive method. There’s a video tutorial here. I use these Heat & Bond Lite printable fusible adhesive sheets and all my fabrics are from the Warm Neutrals fat quarter bundle. You could use flannel here too if you like, but I love my Warm Neutrals. 🙂

When you position your faces, line up the bottom edge 3/8 inch up from the bottom edge of the block. That way, when you sew the blocks together using 1/2 inch seam allowance, you’ll catch the bottom edge of the applique in the stitching and it will be nice and secure.

Fuse the face into place.

Layer a second square of flannel behind the one with the applique (both facing right side up).

Stitch down all the edges on your applique. Outlining through both layers of flannel adds just a little bit of poof and dimension to your block – not as much as quilting with batting, but similar.

I used the “scribbly” method of going around each bit three times with regular weight black thread and a simple straight stitch. There’s a post here with more detail about that, and one here with more info about using a heavier weight thread if you prefer that.

This post has tips for stitching the tight curves around the eyes, and also for stitching the mouths. And this one has tips for making dark eyes show up on dark faces, like this cutie.

After you get all 30 blocks appliqued, it’s time to sew them together. This was actually the hardest part, because it’s backwards from any other kind of sewing you’ll do normally.

Add a third layer of flannel to each block, this time with the right side facing the back of the quilt. (It’s going to become your quilt back.)

Using 1/2″ seam allowance, sew two blocks wrong sides together so that the seam allowance is on the right side of the quilt.

Here’s what it looks like from the back.

See? That last layer of flannel makes a nice quilt back, and you have a nice clean seam.

I joined all of my blocks into rows of five, then sewed those rows together for the finished quilt.

The intersections can get very bulky, so I snipped into the seam allowance 1/2″ from each edge and sewed my crossing seam through that slit so I wasn’t stitching the seam allowance down.

And look – my seam secures the bottom edge of each bear, just like I planned. 🙂

I found it helpful to use my quarter inch foot, but adjust it out to 1/2 inch for sewing all those layers together.

I also lengthened my stitch to 3.0 and reduced the pressure on my presser foot to keep the layers from creeping. If you can’t make that adjustment on your machine, just use a lot of pins or clips, as if you were sewing napped fabrics together.

Once all the blocks are sewn together, sew all the way around the outside edge of the quilt, one half inch in from the raw edge.

Now it’s time to snip all those seams.

Snip 1/2 inch apart all along all the seam allowances, almost up to the stitching line. Be very careful not to cut into your stitching. If you slip and snip it, repair it now by sewing over the snipped seam.

If you’re trying to snip with regular scissors, you’ll need to take a LOT of breaks. They’re really not designed for this kind of work.

If you can afford to buy a special set of snips just for this kind of work, it is absolutely worth it. I tried several brands and these Fiskars Easy Action Tabletop Rag Quilt Snips were by far my favorite. They have a spring action, so their default setting is open, which saves a surprising amount of strain on your wrist. They’re super sharp, and the blades are slightly serrated, so they really grip the fabric well, helping them cut right up to the tips of the blades without “pushing” the fabric out at all.

Even with the fancy snips I took a break between snipping the horizontal and vertical seams. It took about two hours total.

Don’t forget to snip around the outside edges too.

When you’re done snipping, throw it in the wash and tumble dry.

Ta daa!

All those snipped edges fray in the wash and you get a really soft, fluffy ridge between each block. This blanket is just begging for someone to snuggle under it.

If you make an applique flannel rag quilt, we’d love to see it! Post a photo in the Shiny Happy People group so we can all oooh and aaah. 🙂

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Ten Free Crochet Monster Patterns

Want to learn how to make adorable crocheted stuffed animals with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make Amigurumi here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make an easy amigurumi from start to finish using simple crochet stitches.

It’s a fun, inexpensive, and totally portable craft. You can do it!

Stacey designed ten (TEN) free crochet monster patterns in partnership with Ella Rae yarns!

I’m a huge fan of monsters and these guys are adorable! Mixtro is my favorite. 🙂

The patterns are all posted on the Knitting Fever website. You can find the direct links to each monstrous pattern here. . .

Alfo

Bixi

Deek

Lark

Mixtro

Otto

Plarko

Sparkie

Taggle

Zoink

Have fun with these weirdos! 🙂

Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.

Free Beaver Pencil Case Pattern

I’m participating in the Back to School Sewing Series with Sulky. You can make this fun pencil case!

That beaver can’t wait to chomp on all those colored pencils. 🙂

See a little sneak peek of that beaver design here – including a look at all the beaver designs I didn’t use. 🙂

Materials

Step 1

Download the embroidery pattern here.

Step 2

Print or trace the pattern out onto a sheet of Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy at 100% size. The rectangle should be 4 x 9 inches.

Step 3

Peel off the paper backing and stick the pattern onto the fabric. Make sure you position it so that the whole image will fit in the hoop, with fabric all the way around.

Step 4

Choose your threads!

So many pretty colors. 🙂

Step 5

Embroider the design using two strands of Sulky 12 wt. thread. Stitch right through the stabilizer and the fabric.

I used backstitch for all the lines. Learn how to backstitch here.

I used satin stitch for the pencil leads. This video shows how I satin stitch pointy shapes.

Look closer!

I decided partway through stitching that I wanted a little more color on the barrels of the pencils – so I added some stripes running down them.

Your pattern has the added stripes. 🙂

That nose!

I wanted the nose to be solid, but instead of satin stitching I decided to applique it with a tiny scrap of black felt for a velvety soft texture.

At this point I just left it unstitched.

Step 6

Trim the fabric down to 1/2 inch outside the rectangle.

Make sure you do that now – once you soak away the stabilizer that handy line will disappear. 🙂

Step 7

Soak the piece in cold water for an hour or longer. I often leave mine to soak overnight with no problem. Rinse it in clean water, gently squeeze out the extra water, and iron it dry face down on a fluffy towel. This video shows how I iron my embroidery dry without smooshing the stitches.

Step 8

Whipstitch the nose in place using matching thread.

For a small piece like this I like to use a glue stick to hold the piece in place while I stitch it down.

Step 9

Stitching done!

The front piece for your pencil case is all fancied up. Now it’s time to sew it up into a pouch.

Cut a back piece from the main fabric 10 x 5 inches.

Cut two lining pieces, also 10 x 5 inches.

Step 10

Follow the instructions in this post to sew up your fancy lined zipper pouch. 🙂

Finished!

Now – go check out the rest of the series! It’s a fun group of free projects!

Happy stitching!

Try my new embroidery book! Over 500 fun motifs – all embroidered using the easiest, most basic stitches. Get the book here.

Summer Beach Ball – a free crochet amigurumi pattern

Get ready to have fun in the sun with this great stuffed beach ball! This beach ball measures about 4 inches tall when completed with worsted weight yarn – the perfect size for lots of different amigurumi softies. 🙂

To complete this pattern, you will need. . .

  • 7 colors of worsted weight yarn (assign each a number, C1, C2, C3, etc.)
  • size H (5 mm) crochet hook – or size needed to get a good tight fabric with your chosen yarn
  • polyester stuffing

The skills you’ll need for just about any amigurumi are. . .

You can go through all those posts now, or just hop to them as you get to those points in the pattern – whatever works best for you!

Yarn

This pattern can be used with any weight yarn! Just use the hook recommended on the ball band, and adjust as needed (see ‘gauge notes’ below). For a bigger, human-sized beach ball, try a bulky weight yarn! Just keep in mind that you’ll use more yardage than recommended. The sample is crocheted in worsted weight yarn, and all yardage/hook recommendations are calculated based on the sample.

Materials

  • Size H crochet hook (or size needed to get a tight fabric)
  • 7 colors of worsted weight yarn (fewer if you’d like to repeat colors)
  • a couple of handfuls of stuffing

Gauge Notes

This pattern doesn’t specify a gauge. It’s a stuffed ball, and you don’t need to be too picky about exact sizing. 🙂 The most important thing is that you use a hook size that creates a nice looking fabric for your yarn. If you use the recommended hook size, and your fabric looks very loose (so that stuffing would show through), then you will want to use a smaller hook. Other than that, no measuring required!

In case you’re curious about getting the exact gauge Stacey does, it’s 5 rounds=2 inches.

Stitch into the Back

All stitches in this pattern are worked through the back loop only. Look at this picture.

Stitching in the Back Loop

See how one loop is highlighted in black? This is the back loop, and it’s what you’ll stitch into. Stitching into the back loop creates ridges on the right side of the piece.

Want to see crocheting through the back loop in action? Check out this blog post. It talks all about why Stacey crochets through the back loop and even has a handy dandy video showing how to find that loop. 🙂

Abbreviations

  • ch: chain
  • sc: single crochet
  • sc2tog: single crochet 2 stitches together
  • st(s): stitch(es)

Ready? Let’s jump in!

The Pattern

With C1, ch 2 (I like to start with a sloppy slip knot. This video shows how. And this video shows how to chain.)

Round 1 sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook (6) This post will help you find that second chain from the hook.

Round 2 sc twice in each st (12) This video will help you if you find it tricky to start the second round.

Round 3 [sc twice in next st, sc in next st.] 6 times (18) This video shows how to increase with single crochet.

Round 4 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (24)  This video will help make those color changes cleanly.

Round 5 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 3 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (30)

Round 6 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 4 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (36)

Round 7 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 5 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (42)

Round 8 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 6 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (48)

Round 9 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 7 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (54)

Round 10 With C2 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 8 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (60)

Round 11-20 With C2, sc in next 10 sts. With C3, sc in next 10 sts. With C4, sc in next 10 sts. With C5, sc in next 10 sts. With C6, sc in next 10 sts. With C7, sc in next 10 sts. (60, 10 rounds)

Round 21 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 8 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (54) This video will show you how to decrease with single crochet – that’s what that sc2tog is.

Round 22 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 7 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (48)

Round 23 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 6 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (42)

Round 24 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 5 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (36)

Round 25 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 4 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (30)

Round 26 With C2 [sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts.] 6 times, each time using a different color C2-C7 (24)

Round 27 With C1 [sc2tog, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (18)

Stuff the ball.This post has tips for stuffing amigurumi (it’s a little different from sewn softies), and this video has some terrific help for closing up those last few rounds.

Round 28 With C1 [sc2tog, sc in next st] 6 times (12)

Round 29 With C1 [sc2tog] 6 times (18)

Use the drawstring method to close up that opening.

Ta da! You have a finished little beachball!

Aren’t you proud? You should be!

Snap a photo and share it with us over in the Shiny Happy People group! If you share it on social media, tag with with #shinyhappyworld so I can see it. 🙂

Want to make something else now? You can find some more free crochet patterns here. Shop for even more crochet patterns here

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Want to learn how to make adorable crocheted stuffed animals with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make Amigurumi here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make an easy amigurumi from start to finish using simple crochet stitches.

It’s a fun, inexpensive, and totally portable craft. You can do it!

Burnie Bee – Free Crochet Bee Pattern

Burnie Bee - a free crochet bee pattern

It’s a bee… but he doesn’t sting! Make a cute little bumbler with this free crochet bee pattern!

This is Burnie. (His full name is Vanburn von Bumble Bee.) He’s 3” tall and 4.5” long when made with worsted weight yarn. He’s super quick and easy to stitch up!

The skills you’ll need for just about any amigurumi are. . .

You can go through all those posts now, or just hop to them as you get to those points in the pattern – whatever works best for you!

Yarn

This pattern can be used with any weight yarn! Just use the hook recommended on the ball band, and adjust as needed (see ‘gauge notes’ below). For a bigger, super-cuddly animal, try a bulky weight yarn! Just keep in mind that you’ll use more yardage than recommended. The sample is crocheted in worsted weight yarn, and all yardage/hook recommendations are calculated based on the sample.

Materials for this crochet bee pattern

Gauge Notes

This pattern doesn’t specify a gauge. It’s a stuffed animal, and you don’t need to be too picky about exact sizing. The most important thing is that you use a hook size that creates a nice looking fabric for your yarn. If you use the recommended hook size, and your fabric looks very loose (so that stuffing would show through), then you will want to use a smaller hook. Other than that, no measuring required!

In case you’re curious about getting the exact gauge Stacey does, it’s 5 rounds=2 inches. Note that you will need to have this gauge for the yardage suggestions to provide an accurate estimation.

Stitch into the Back

All stitches in this pattern (that are worked in the round) are worked through the back loop only, unless otherwise directed. Look at this picture.

Stitching in the Back Loop - crochet

See how one loop is highlighted in black? This is the back loop, and it’s what you’ll stitch into. Stitching into the back loop creates ridges on the right side of the piece.

Want to see crocheting through the back loop in action? Check out this blog post. It talks all about why Stacey crochets through the back loop and even has a handy dandy video showing how to find that loop. 🙂

Abbreviations

  • ch: chain
  • sc: single crochet
  • sc2tog: single crochet 2 stitches together
  • st(s): stitch(es)

Ready? Let’s jump in!

Body

With black yarn, ch 2 (I like to start with a sloppy slip knot. This video shows how. And this video shows how to chain.)

Round 1 sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook (6) This post will help you find that second chain from the hook.

Round 2-3 sc in each st (6) This video will help you if you find it tricky to start the second round.

Round 4 sc twice in each st. (12)

Round 5 [sc twice in next st, sc in next st.] 6 times (18)

Round 6 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (24)

Round 7 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 3 sts.] 6 times (30)

Rounds 8-11 With yellow yarn, single crochet in each st. (30) This video will help make that color change cleanly.

Round 12 With black yarn, single crochet in each st. (30)

Round 13 [sc2tog, sc in next 3 sts.] 6 times (24)

Round 14 [sc2tog, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (18)

Fasten off with long tail.

crocheted bee body - free Burnie Bee pattern from Shiny Happy World

Wings

Make 2

With white yarn, chain 2.

Round 1 sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Round 2 sc twice in each st. (12)

Round 3 [sc twice in next st, sc in next st.] 6 times (18)

Round 4-5 sc in each st. (18)

Round 6 [sc2tog, sc in next st.] 6 times (12)

Round 7 [sc2tog, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (6)

Fasten off with long tail.

crocheted bee wings - one step in the free bee crochet pattern from Shiny Happy World

Head

With yellow yarn, chain 2.

Round 1 sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Round 2 sc twice in each st. (12)

Round 3 [sc twice in next st, sc in next st.] 6 times (18)

Round 4 [sc twice in next st, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (24)

Round 5-6 sc in each st. (24)

Round 7 With black yarn [sc2tog, sc in next 2 sts.] 6 times (18)

Fasten off with long tail.

crocheted bee head - one step in a free crochet pattern from Shiny Happy World

Insert two safety eyes into round 3 of the face and embroider a little mouth.

crocheted bee face with plastic craft eyes and an embroidered smile

Antennae

Make 2.

With yellow yarn, ch 2.

Round 1 sc 6 in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Round 2-6 sc in each st (6)

Fasten off with a long tail. (This post has some tips for crocheting skinny pieces like those antennae.)

two crocheted yellow bee antennae - part of a free crochet pattern

Time to start putting the pieces together!

Stuff the head and the body and attach. This post shows you how to attach the head to the body and keep a shapely neck.

Flatten wings in half and attach one wing to each side of the body, in the black stripe just behind the head. This video shows how to attach a flattened piece.

Attach the antennae to the top of the head, just behind each eye, using whipstitch. This post shows how to attach with whipstitch.

Finished!

finished Burnie Bee - made with a free bee crochet pattern from Shiny Happy World

Here’s a side view so you can see that cute stinger!

side view of finished crocheted bee

I’m so glad he doesn’t sting. 🙂

Congratulations! Please post a photo over in the Shiny Happy People group! We’d love to see the adorable bumblebees you make with this free crochet bee pattern!

Happy stitching!

Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.

Make a Wall Hanging! Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

If you’re like most quilters – you have a LOT of patterns. 🙂

It’s always great to come up with another use for one of your favorites – especially if you can make an accessory to go WITH one of your best quilts.

You can turn a single block into a wall hanging and hang it just as it is. But it’s extra fun to give that block a special frame to really set it off and make it into a piece of art. 🙂

And it’s even more fun if that frame uses a wonky version of a traditional quilt pattern.

For this wall hanging I used one of my favorite blocks from the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern – no resizing. So it’s a 10 inch block in the center, with a wonky churn dash frame around it. The entire wall hanging is 16 inches square.

Here’s what you need. . .

  • 18 inch square piece of batting (I use Warm & Natural cotton batting.)
  • 10 1/2 inch square background block
  • scraps (less than 1/4 yard of each color) for the cat applique, the churn dash frame, and the second background around the frame
  • fat quarter for back of wall hanging

Here’s how to make it using Quilt As You Go. . .

Step 1 – Quilt Your Background Square

Press your batting square. Center your background block in the center of the batting.

grey square quilted to batting

Quilt the square to the batting.

I used double wavy stripes on mine. You can find a tutorial for that here.

Step 2 – Applique the Face

Applique the design to the block – being sure to line the lower edge of the applique up with the lower edge of the background block.

cat face and shoulders - appliqued to grey background square

Add a backing to your wall hanging (I used spray adhesive to baste it to the batting) and outline your applique. Here’s a closer look at the placement and the outlining.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

You can find a complete video showing how I applique with fusible adhesive here.

Set that block aside while you make the pieces for the churn dash frame.

(That adorable fabric I used for the cat is Hash Dot in Lime from Michael Miller Fabrics, available here.)

Step 3 – Sew Churn Dash Corner Triangles

Cut four background corner pieces each 5 inches square. I used dark grey for mine.

Cut four right triangles with the legs (not the hypotenuse) anywhere between 4 and 5 inches long. The triangles should all be a little different.

Lay one triangle face down over the corner of one square, so that the points of the triangle (at each end of the hypotenuse) just hang over the edges of the square, as shown.

Triangle sewn unevenly to a grey square - making one corner of a wonky churn dash block

Sew the triangle to the square. Your seam allowance doesn’t need to be exactly 1/4 inch.

Step 4 – Open and Press Triangles

Trim away the excess fabric from the corner.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Fold the triangle out and press.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Step 5 – Trim Churn Dash Triangles

Trim the triangle down to a 3 inch square. (There’s a tutorial here showing how to use a square ruler for easy trimming.)

Triangle block for corner of wonky churn dash square - labeled to show required dimensions

Make sure there is more than 1/4 inch between the points of the triangle and the edge of the background fabric square. That will make it impossible to accidentally chop off the points when you assemble the whole frame. 🙂 Yay for foolproof tricks!

Repeat for the other three squares, so you have the four corners of your churn dash block. The sizes and angles of the triangles should all be a little different.

Set them aside.

Step 6 – Preparing Background Rectangles

Cut four background strips 12 inches x 3 inches.

Cut four frame strips 12 inches x 2 1/2 inches.

Sew the frame strips to the background strips and then trim those rectangles down to 10 1/2 inches x 3 inches. Make the seam between the two strips go at a slight angle – and make all the angles a little different to make your finished block more interesting.

You can see my finished rectangles in the next step. See how some are wider than others? And they all slant a bit?

Step 7 – Laying Out the Churn Dash Block

Lay out all the churn dash components as shown.

Laying out the pieces for a churn dash frame around a cute applique cat

Play around with the placement of the frame pieces until you’re happy with how things look.

Step 8 – Sew the Side Rectangles

Sew the side pieces of the frame to the sides of the block, sewing through the batting and backing too. For this and the rest of the project it’s important to use an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Applique cat with side pieces of frame sewn in place

Press the side pieces open.

Step 9 – Sew the Top and Bottom Strips

Sew together the corners and strips for the top and bottom rows of the frame.

applique cat with top and bottom strips of frame sewn together

Press your seams in toward the strips – away from the corner triangles.

Step 10 – Finich Sewing the Churn Dash Block

Sew the top and bottom rows to the center of the block, being careful to line up the seams.

Applique cat with a wonky churn dash frame - all finished except the final trimming and binding

Press the whole block flat.

Step 11 – Quilt, Trim, and Bind

Quilt the frame if you want to. (It doesn’t need it structurally, so just do it for looks if you like.) I stitched in the ditch around the outside edge of the frame and that’s it.

Trim away the excess batting around the edges and bind your mini quilt.

Make a Wall Hanging - How to Add a Wonky Churn Dash Frame to Your Favorite Quilt Block - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This video shows my favorite binding method.

If you like, there’s a tutorial here showing how to add a hanging sleeve to the back.

Finished!

Hang it on the wall and enjoy!

You can use the same method to make a fancy framed pillow cover. 🙂

Want to see more ideas for things you can do with a quilt pattern? Check out this round-up.

Happy stitching!

The Big Bag – a free large tote bag pattern

The Big Bag - a free large tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

Here’s a free pattern for my favorite large tote bag.

I LOVE this roomy bag!

This one hangs in my studio to hold packages ready to ship, but I also have a few that I take grocery shopping and to the farmer’s market.

I’m a big fan of reusable bags for grocery shopping, but a lot of them are on the small side. I need something that will hold more than one bag of chips! Or one of those big bags of grapefruit! This large tote bag fits the bill exactly – and you can’t beat a free pattern!

Materials

  • two fat quarters of the main fabric
  • two fat quarters of the lining fabric
  • 1/3 yard fabric for straps
  • scraps of fabric for pocket and pocket binding

Cut Out All the Pieces

These straight edges are great to cut with a rotary cutter. If you’ve never used these tools before, here’s a video showing how.

  • Main bag – cut two pieces, each 21 inches wide x 18 inches tall
  • Lining ­- cut two pieces, each 21 inches wide x 18 inches tall
  • Straps -­ cut two strips 6 inches wide x 28 inches long
  • Pocket ­- cut one piece 11 inches wide x 6 1/2 inches tall
  • Pocket binding ­- cut one piece 1 1/2 inches wide x 40 inches long

Ready? Let’s sew!

Step 1

We’ll start by prepping the straps. These are essentially double­fold strips -­ you can watch a video showing how to make them here.

sewing the straps for a tote bag

Fold one of the fabric strips in half the long way, right sides facing out. Press. Open the strip back up and fold each long edge in toward the center fold. Press. Fold in half again along the center fold so that you have one long strip, four layers of fabric thick. This makes a nice, sturdy strap. Press.

Topstitch along both long edges, about 1/8 inch from the edge.

Repeat for the second strap. Set them aside for now.

Step 2

Now to prep the pocket. Fold and press your pocket binding fabric into double­fold tape – just like the straps, but don’t topstitch the edges. Here’s that video again.

large tote bag pocket made with Ed Emberley crocodile fabric

Now we’re going to fold the bias tape around the raw edge of the pocket. Start in the bottom corner of the pocket.

Step 3

Stitch down the binding right up to the edge of where the pocket fabric ends. Don’t keep stitching! If you need to stop a stitch or two before the edge that’s ok, but don’t stitch farther.

binding a tote bag pocket with double fold tape

Stop. Backstitch a bit. Take it out of the machine.

Step 4

Open up the binding and fold it into a neat miter, wrapping it right around the corner of the fabric. Slide it back under the presser foot, backstitch a bit, then stitch down to the next corner.

Mitered corner - close up

This video shows how to miter those corners.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’re back where you started.

Step 5

Trim off the excess binding, leaving about 1/4 inch extra to finish the raw edge.

The Big Bag - a free tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

Stop stitching a few inches before the end so you have room to open up a bit of the binding at the end.

Step 6

Open up the last bit of the binding and fold that extra raw edge under.

folding over the edge of the binding

Make it so it’s even with the edge of the pocket.

Step 7

Wrap the folded end back around the edge of the pocket piece and stitch it in place.

pocket for a tote bag - edges bound in contrasting fabric

The pocket should be bound on all four sides and ready to attach to the bag.

The Big Bag - a free tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

The binding is especially nice to have at the top edge of the pocket to help reinforce it and keep it from stretching over time.

You’re almost done!

Want to add a cute applique face to that pocket? You can use any of my single block patterns here. Just print the pattern at 60% of the normal size and it will be a perfect fit.

Step 8

Fold the top edge of one bag piece in half and mark the halfway point with a pin. Do the same thing with the pocket.

The Big Bag - a free tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

Use a clear ruler to position the pocket 5 1/2 inches from the top raw edge of the bag. Line the 5 1/2 inch mark along the top of the bag, and make one of the vertical marks line up with the center pin on the bag. Line the center mark on the pocket up on the same line and your pocket will be perfectly centered -­ with no measuring or math. :-­)

Detail

Here’s a closer look showing how to use the pin markers to center the pocket.

The Big Bag - a free tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

See how both the pins are lined up at the 13 inch mark?

Step 9

Stitch the pocket in place down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side. Make sure you backstitch a couple of times at the stop and start of your stitching to give extra reinforcement to the stress points at the top corners of your pocket.

finished pocket attached to a large tote bag made with a free sewing pattern from Shiny Happy World

Done! You’re ready to put the bag together!

Step 10

Let’s start with the outside of the bag. Pin the two main fabric squares right sides together. Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch around both sides and the bottom of the bag. Repeat with the two lining pieces.

Now we’re going to box the corners of the main and lining bags­ so that your bag will have depth. A free pattern for a large tote bag is much more useful when the base of the bag is wide enough to hold those bulky items you need to carry.

 Watch a video demonstrating how to box corners here.

Step 11

Open out one bottom corner of the bag so that the side seam and center bottom seam line up, and the corner of the bag makes a point.

Measure down 2 1/2 inches from the tip of the stitching (NOT the tip of the fabric triangle -­ ignore that flap of seam allowance) and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam.

Boxing the corners of a tote bag

Step 12

Stitch right on the line you drew. Trim away the excess fabric.

boxing the corner of a tote bag

Repeat for the other corner, and for both corners of the lining.

Step 13

Turn the main bag right side out. Leave the lining inside out.

Pin the edge of one strap to the top edge of the bag, 4 1/2 inches in from the side seam.

measuring for strap placement on a tote bag

Repeat for the other end of the strap.

Repeat with the second strap on the other side of the bag.

Step 14

Put the main bag inside the lining, with the straps sandwiched between the two layers. Since the lining is inside out and the main bag is right side out, you should end up with the right sides together. Line up the side seams and pin the layers together around the top edge of the bag.

Step 15

Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch almost all the way around the top edge of the bag. Leave the space between the two ends of one handle unstitched, so you can pull the bag through the opening. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching. There will be some pressure on the edges as you pull the bag through.

Step 16

Reach into the opening and pull the main bag through. Pull through the handles, then pull the lining right side out and tuck it down into the bag. Press around the top edge, being especially careful to press the open edges evenly.

Step 17

Topstitch around the bag, about 1/8 inch from the top edge. Be sure that the folded edges of the opening you used for turning are lined up and that you catch both layers in the topstitching to hold them together. No hand stitching!

I wanted the topstitching thread to match the fabric of the main bag AND the lining, so I used green thread as my main thread and blue thread as my bobbin thread. The stitching is green on top and blue on the bottom. Neato!

Finished! One large tote bag made with a free pattern.

The Big Bag - a free large tote bag pattern from Shiny Happy World

The handles are the perfect length for throwing over your shoulder and the bag is roomy enough to hold three big bags of chips, or a bunch of veggies from the farmers market – including lots of healthy but bulky green leafies!

Maybe you don’t want such a large tote bag? I’ve got two more free patterns!

The Trick or Treat Tote Bag is great for trick or treating – but also for carrying library books, lunch, and more.

Trick or Treat Bag - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

The Mini Tote Bag is quite a bit smaller. It’s great for small toys and snacks. When my daughter was very little we kept a few of these packed with “special” toys that we only played with on outings – like at a restaurant. One had a few trucks and cars, another had crayons and a cute notepad, another had a handful of action figures. They were great grab and go bags. 🙂

Mini Tote Bag pattern - free from Shiny Happy World

Happy stitching!

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. 🙂

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%. 🙂

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Penelope Panda – a free applique pattern

Penelope Panda - a free applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

Want to learn how to make a quilt with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make a Quilt here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make a quilt from start to finish using Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive.

It’s the easiest, most fun way to make an applique quilt. You can do it!

The Bunches of Bears quilt pattern has thirteen different bears in it.

But you can never have enough bears! And it didn’t have a panda so I decided to make one more block – and make it free. 🙂

Here’s how to make it.

This video shows all the steps for working with fusible adhesive – if you’ve never done it before you’ll find it helpful.

Below you’ll find two video tutorials, followed by the downloadable pattern templates and complete written instructions with step-by-step photos.

This long video shows in complete detail how to assemble the panda block.

This short video just has a quick overview of how to layer the pieces together, with no additional explanation.

Step 1

Download the template pieces. If you’re using paper-backed fusible adhesive and cutting by hand, use this link to download the PDF. If you’re using an electric cutting machine, use this link to download the SVG.

If you’e using an electric cutting machine like a Cricut. . .

  • Upload the file to your machine.
  • Resize if needed. (To fit a block that finishes at 10 inches square, the image should be 7.5 inches wide.)
  • Ungroup the pieces and assign colors
    • Cut the belly and the face from the lightest color fabric
    • Cut the shoulders, ears, and eye patches from the darkest color fabric
    • Cut the eyes and nose from solid black
  • Cut.

Step 2

Penelope Panda - a free applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

Trace or print the pattern onto the paper side of the fusible adhesive.

I use this printable fusible adhesive so I just printed out the page. No tracing!

The image has already been reversed, so just trace or print. If you’re tracing, be sure to trace the facial features and placement guidelines too. You’ll need those for Step 5.

Step 3

Penelope Panda - a free applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

Rough cut around each shape and fuse it to the back of your fabric.

Note – if you’re making your panda in realistic colors, use the large eye template pieces to make light-colored eye backings do the dark eyes show up on the dark eye patches. Use the small eye templates for your solid black eyes.

If you’re making a panda in fantasy colors, use the large eye templates for your solid black eyes, and discard the small eye templates.

There’s a video here with more information about helping make sure dark eyes show up well on a dark background.

Step 4

Cut around each piece neatly. Cut directly on the solid lines.

Penelope Panda - a free applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

Step 5

Remember back in Step 2 when I told you to make sure you traced the facial features? Now you’re going to do that. Hold the face up to a window so the light shines through it. You’ll be able to see all the dotted placement lines, and the adhesive will stabilize the fabric so you can trace on it without it crinkling up.

Trace the lines to show where all the applique pieces are placed – the eye patches, eyes, nose and mouth are especially important. The belly piece is one you can probably place well without a guide.

free panda applique pattern

Optional – trace the lines to show where pieces overlap, to help you position the ears on the head and the head on the shoulders. These placement lines are less important – you can play around a lot with the placement of these parts.

Step 6

If you’re doing Quilt As You Go (I did) then you can quilt your block before adding the applique. So easy!

Cut your background fabric and a piece of 100% cotton batting 11 inches square.

Layer the block with a piece of 100% cotton batting. Quilt any pattern you like!

Find all the Quilt As You Go tutorials here.

If you’ll do the quilting later, simply skip this step.

Step 7

Peel off the paper backing and arrange the pieces on a background block. Tuck the ears and the shoulders behind the head.

Remember -­ those dotted lines indicate where pieces tuck behind other pieces.

free panda applique pattern

Fuse the pieces in place.

Step 8

Outline all the pieces with black thread and a simple straight stitch – or choose your favorite decorative stitch.

This video has some tips for outlining those tight curves.

I like going around all the pieces three times for a sketchy, scribbly look. This post has some tips for that.

This post has tips for using decorative stitching.

This post has some information about outlining using thicker thread.

free panda applique pattern

Done!

If you’re making a one-block project, go ahead and finish it up!

If you’re making a bunch of panda blocks to join into a quilt -­ have fun!

This video shows how to trim your finished quilt blocks.

This video shows how to sew your blocks together using the QAYG method I use.

This post has tips for quilting on a cuddle fleece back.

And this video shows how to bind your quilt.

What can you do with just one block pattern? Tons of things!

Check out this page I’ve been slowly building – 100 Things to Do with an Applique Pattern. 🙂

Have fun! And share a photo of what you make! You can share it in the Shiny Happy People group or tag it with #shinyhappyworld on Instagram.

If you like this free pattern, sign up for the Shiny Happy News! Subscribers get a weekly newsletter full of sewing tips and tricks, free patterns, special discounts, and other things to make you smile. 🙂

Happy sewing!

Adorable Easter Eggs – a free crochet pattern

Bowl of colorful crocheted Easter eggs made with a free pattern from Shiny Happy World.

Want to learn how to make adorable crocheted stuffed animals with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Let’s Make Amigurumi here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, and how to make an easy amigurumi from start to finish using simple crochet stitches.

It’s a fun, inexpensive, and totally portable craft. You can do it!

Stitch up some easy crocheted Easter eggs with this free pattern.

These little eggs are super fun to stitch up – and a great way to use up your smallest yarn scraps.

The pattern includes instructions for a plain egg, a striped egg, and a spotted egg.

Row of three colorful crocheted Easter eggs - one solid, one striped, and one polkadot

Are you new to crochet and you don’t think you have the skills? Not to worry! These crocheted Easter eggs are a really easy pattern – just increasing and decreasing – nothing to attach. Plus – the links within the pattern go to tutorials showing how to do each step.

If you’re just getting started, start with the plain egg. It’s a great way to learn the basic stitches – single crochet, increase, and decrease.

After you have one under your belt you can try some simple color changes.

Have fun!

You can use any size yarn for this pattern – but if you’re doing stripes or spots, make sure both yarns are as close to the same thickness as possible. Use the hook size recommended on the yarn band – or one size smaller if needed to get a nice tight stitch.

Plain Crocheted Egg

Start out with a sloppy slip knot.

Ch 2. This video shows how to chain stitch.

Round 1 Sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook (6) This video shows how to single crochet, and this video will help you find the second chain from the hook.

Round 2 Sc twice in each stitch (12) This video will help you with that increase round, if you need it.

Round 3 Sc in each st (12)

Round 4 [Sc twice in next st, sc in next st] 6 times (18) If you’re confused by those brackets and parentheses, take a look at this post about How to Read a Crochet Pattern.

Round 5-6 Sc in each st (18)

Round 7 [Sc twice in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (24)

Rounds 8-10 Sc in each st (24)

Round 11 [Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (18) This video will help you with this first decrease round.

Stuff the egg.

Round 12 [Sc2tog, sc in next st] 6 times (12)

Round 13 [Sc2tog] 6 times (6)

Round 14 Use the drawstring method to close up those last six stitches, leaving a perfectly smooth top. This video shows the drawstring method of closing up amigurumi.

Fasten off, pulling the knot towards the center. This video shows how to fasten off.

Done!

Striped Crocheted Easter Egg

For the striped egg you’ll be changing yarn colors. This video shows the basics of how to change colors when you’re doing single crochet, and this video has some tips for making those colors changes a little smoother.

MC is your main color. SC is your second color.

Start out with a sloppy slip knot.

With MC, ch 2.

Round 1 Sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Round 2 Sc twice in each stitch (12)

Round 3 Sc in each st (12)

Round 4 [Sc twice in next st, sc in next st] 6 times (18)

Round 5-6 With SC, sc in each st (18)

Round 7 [Sc twice in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (24)

Rounds 8-10 With MC, sc in each st (24)

Round 11 With SC, [sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (18)

Stuff the egg.

Round 12 [Sc2tog, sc in next st] 6 times (12)

Round 13 [Sc2tog] 6 times (6)

Round 14 Use the drawstring method to close up those last six stitches.

Fasten off, pulling the knot towards the center.

Done!

Polkadot Crocheted Easter Egg

For the spotted egg you’ll be changing colors for just a few stitches at a time. You do that just like the color change in the striped egg, EXCEPT you don’t need to cut and knot your yarn between those changes. Just drop one color and pick up the new color without cutting the yarn. The color you’re not using will just carry on the back of the work. This is called “stranding” and there’s a video showing how to do it here.

MC is your main color. SC is your second color.

Start out with a sloppy slip knot.

With MC, ch 2.

Round 1 Sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook (6)

Round 2 Sc twice in each stitch (12)

Round 3 Sc in each st (12)

Round 4 [Sc twice in next st, sc in next st] 6 times (18)

Round 5-6 [With MC, sc in next 4 sts. With SC, sc in next 2 sts] 3 times (18)

Round 7 With MC [sc twice in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (24)

Rounds 8-10 [With SC, sc in next 3 sts. With MC, sc in next 3 sts] 4 times (24)

Round 11 [Sc2tog, sc in each of next 2 sts] 6 times (18)

Stuff the egg.

Round 12 [Sc2tog, sc in next st] 6 times (12)

Round 13 [Sc2tog] 6 times (6)

Round 14 Use the drawstring method to close up those last six stitches.

Fasten off, pulling the knot towards the center.

Done!

And here’s a sweet little lavender version of Blair Bunny. She’s traded her Halloween ghost costume for a pile of cute crocheted Easter eggs!

Lavender crocheted bunny with a pile of colorful crocheted Easter eggs made with a free pattern from Shiny Happy World.

Happy stitching!

Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.