Make a Quilt Block with Soft 3D Parts – video tutorial

Make a Quilt Block with Soft 3D Parts - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

It’s so much fun to add extra 3D embellishments to your applique quilts!

There’s a post here showing how to add small 3D pieces to an applique block – teeth and small bear ears.

And I teach several 3D options in my Cute Quilt-As-You-Go Applique Monsters class on Craftsy. Here are a few examples.

Applique quilt blocks with 3D pieces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

You can see that these are mostly longer pieces that you want to flap and dangle. But what if you want them to stand up – like bunny ears?

You can do that fir quilts – just like you can do it for stuffed animals.  Here’s the tutorial for stuffed animals.

The technique for quilts is basically the same – but it’s a tiny bit more involved because applique template pieces have no seam allowances – and you need to account for that if you’re going to sew them into flappy ears.

Don’t worry – it’s easy. I show you how to do it in this video.

See? Not hard at all.

Here are a couple of links you might want.

Happy stitching!


Using Fabric Markers and Paints for Small Eyes

detail of applique dinosaur face with shiny black eye

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!

For years I’ve been recommending fabric markers as an option for people who don’t want to applique small eyes, but I’ve never recommended a particular brand.

Until now.

On a recent trip to Joann’s I grabbed one of every black fabric marker and paint they carried. Then I brought them home and tested them out on some dinosaur quilt blocks.

First, let’s talk about the markers. That’s definitely the easiest option for eyes.

Dinosaur eye made with a Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

Of all the brands I tested, I liked this Tulip fine-tip marker the best.

Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

It has a bullet tip, which is nice. I used the fine tip to outline the eye, and then filled in the center using the broader side of the tip. It took two coats (I let it dry between coats) to get the really opaque coverage I wanted – but that wasn’t a problem. Here’s a close-up of the finished eye.

Dinosaur eye made with a Tulip fabric marker - recommended by Shiny Happy World

Nice tip. No bleeding. Good coverage.

Now – what if you want to get a little fancy with a 3D eye?

Applique Dinosaur eye made with Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

About a year ago I got an email from a customer telling me she had done her eyes using fabric paint, and I’ve been wanting to test that out ever since. I think she had used a puff paint, but I wanted to try the shiny finish, thinking that would add a nice spark of life to the eyes.

I tested out several brands and this one from Scribbles was my favorite.

Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

The black was truly black, not just dark grey. It had a nice shine on it after it dried, and the bottle has a VERY fine tip which made it easier to control. It does take a little skill to use these squeeze bottles – I recommend practicing on some paper before you try it on your almost-finished blocks.

Here’s a close-up of a finished eye.

Dinosaur eye made with Scribbles fabric paint - recommended by Shiny Happy World

A couple of things to note. . .

This finishes to a nice smooth dome – but be aware that the dome is a lot taller when the paint is wet. It will compact down as it dries.

I tried – and was unable – to pick off the eye after it was dry. Just a little testing for kids who like to pick at textures like this. 🙂

You won’t be able to iron over the applique after you apply the paint – your iron will melt it. So you need to fuse down all the applique pieces, then outline stitch, then paint the eyes. You could possibly paint the eyes before outlining, but some of the edges of the dinosaur heads are pretty close to the eyes and I was afraid the rubbery eyes would grab at my presser foot and keep things from flowing smoothly.

Yes – it’s more than a little nerve-wracking to add paint to an otherwise finished block. I wasn’t joking about practicing on paper first. It took me a few eyes to get a feel for how it squeezes out of the bottle.

So there you go – more options for small eyes if you don’t want to do tiny applique. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Two New Rainbows in the Shop!

Solid Rainbow Fabric Bundle - nine vibrant solid fabrics in one easy-to-use bundle perfect for Shiny Happy World quilts

There are two new rainbow bundles in the shop today.

One is the Solid Rainbow Fabric Bundle you see in the photo above. These are the bright, vibrant solids I use in a lot of my quilts – like Cats and Playful Puppies.

But wait – there’s more! I also created a thread bundle that matches this fabric bundle. When I run out of thread I have to drive over an hour to get to the nearest store that sells it. 🙂 I’d love to order it online, but it’s almost impossible to match thread colors on a monitor. So I did it for you!

Solid Rainbow Thread Bundle - nine spools of thread that perfectly match the vibrant fabrics in the Solid Rainbow Fabric Bundle

Update: Sorry – the thread bundles have been discontinued. But you can still get the fabric bundle! It’s one of the most popular things in my shop. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

New Fabric Bundles in the Shop – Green Batiks!

Green Batiks Fabric Bundle - all the pretty shades of green I use in my woodsy and gardeny applique blocks. :-)Ever since I added fat quarter bundles to the shop, I’ve had people asking if I’ll also add some bundles of the fabrics I use for my backgrounds.


At least one of them. 🙂

These are the green batiks I used for all of these quilts. . .

They make a beautiful, richly dappled background for your applique!

These are not fat quarter bundles, because that’s a really inefficient way to cut the fabric for background blocks. Instead they are bundles of 12″ strips of fabric cut selvedge to selvedge. That makes it really easy to cut the 11″ blocks I recommend for most of my quilts, with minimal waste.

I’ve got bundles in three different sizes, for the different size quilts I include in my patterns. See the shop listing for more details.

Before you ask – I know a lot of you have asked about the bright solids I use in so many of my quilts. They’re coming soon! I just got word that the last color shipped and I should have it early next week.

So get your green batiks bundles here.

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Heat & Bond Ultrahold Is Now in the Shop!

Heat & Bond Ultrahold - no sew fusible adhesive perfect for eyes and other small bits

If you don’t like sewing around the eyes and noses in your applique quilts, try using this Heat & Bond Ultrahold fusible adhesive for those fussy parts. I stock it in the shop now!

This stuff is very different from the Heat & Bond Lite that I use for all my quilts.

  • It is NOT available in printable sheets. It comes in a smallish package (17 inches x 1 yard) that is more than enough for eyes and noses for several quilts.
  • It’s not printable. You’ll need to trace the pieces.
  • You don’t need to sew it. In fact – you shouldn’t even try. When I did a test it left a gummy, sticky residue on my needle and skipped a lot of stitches. It sticks very well without stitching – so enjoy the ease!
  • Wash and dry on low heat. A higher heat might actually loosen the adhesive. It is heat activated, after all. 🙂
  • It’s stiff. I don’t recommend it for your entire quilt, but it works great for eyes and noses and any other teeny tiny pieces you might not want to stitch around. And you’ll never notice the stiffness on such small pieces.

Get a pack here and give it a try!

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Tips for Quilting a Cuddle Fleece Back – video tutorial

 alt text

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!

I love using cuddle fleece for my quilt backs.

When I made the first cat quilt for my daughter Jo, she asked for cuddle fleece on the back. Until then I had only used it for stuffed animals, but she thought it would make an exceptionally cuddly quilt.

She was right.

After sleeping under it the first night she came to me and very seriously said, “Mommy. You should never use anything else on the back of your quilts.”

She was right again. 🙂

Wonderfully – I’ve found that it’s no harder to work with than a woven fabric on the back!

A lot of people have asked me whether they have to do anything special to use cuddle fleece on the back of their quilts.

  • Do they need to use a special needle?
  • Do they needle to use a particular thread?
  • Do they have to use a walking foot?
  • Can I show actually doing some of the quilting?
  • Can I show what it looks like from the back?

I can show you all of that!

I’ve made a bunch of these now and I’ve found that I don’t really need to treat it any different from using a woven fabric background. In fact – I think it’s even less likely to get tiny folds or puckers in it. 🙂

A note about the fluff. . .

By the time I get to the backing/quilting/binding step of a project I’m always super excited to finish – and I don’t take the time to tumble the backing in the dryer to get rid of the fluff on those cut edges. 😛 If you’re more patient than me. . .

  • Cut the backing to size
  • Toss it in the dryer on air dry for 15-20 minutes. That will pull almost all of the fuzz off the edges and catch it in the lint trap.
  • Proceed as normal – baste, quilt and bind wearing whatever you want and not worrying about getting too messy. 🙂

Cuddle fleece makes an extra cuddly quilt with (in my opinion) the perfect weight. And it washes and wears beautifully!

Other helpful links. . .

Have you got any other questions? Just ask! I may make another video to answer it. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

New in the Shop! Klip It Sewing Clips

Klip It sewing clips - so much better than pins!

Ever since I discovered sewing clips, I rarely use pins anymore.

(I wrote a review about my discovery of Wonder Clips here.)

Don’t like the way pins distort thick fabrics like fleece and felt?

Use clips instead!

Sewing laminated fabrics and don’t want to leave holes?

Use clips instead!

Sewing on a quilt binding and having a hard time with pins?

Use clips instead!

Tired of pins sticking you while sewing or appliqueing by hand?

Use clips instead!

Sewing with kids and they have a hard time managing pins?

Use clips instead!

I love sewing clips and use them all the time!

This pack holds 25 large clips. They’re bigger than basic Wonder Clips – 1 3/8″ long and 1/2″ wide. Here’s a photo of one side by side with a standard Wonder Clip for comparison.

Klip It sewing clips - so much better than pins! Here's one next to a standard Wonder Clip for size comparison.

I have yet to find anything they can’t handle, and 25 is just the right number for most people.

Give them a try – you’ll never turn back. 🙂

You can get them here – choose your favorite pretty color!

Happy sewing!

That's me!

New Sulky Thread in the Shop!

Sulky Thread - I love these Sulky Petites spools of 12 wt. thread!

A lot of people have reported having trouble finding my favorite Sulky thread in their local fabric stores – especially the smaller spools of 12 wt. thread that I like using for Big Stitch quilting. That’s always a pretty good signal to me that I should add it to my shop. 🙂

So I brought in some Sulky Petites in nine pretty colors.

Sulky Thread - I love these Sulky Petites spools of 12 wt. thread!

If they do well I can definitely add a bigger color selection.

When I Use This Sulky Thread. . .

  • When I embroider the faces on my Dress Up Bunch dolls (both my hand and machine)
  • When I machine applique and want a thicker line outlining my pieces – especially for faces and whiskers
  • When I do Big Stitch Hand Quilting
  • Anytime I do hand embroidery and don’t want to use regular 6 stranded floss – especially in summer when I have gnarly garden hands that tend to really snag the DMC stuff

The 12 wt. thread is the same thickness as two strands of regular DMC 6 stranded floss.

You can use it for hand or machine work. For hand work I use a #8 embroidery needle. For machine work I recommend these topstitching needles.

You can see it used for hand embroidery in these free patterns, and in this freestyle mandala project. You can see it in some Big Stitch Quilting here. You can see it used in machine applique here.

Grab some pretty spools here and get stitching! 🙂

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How I use my favorite Sulky Petites 12 wt thread - I love it!

What’s Inside My Handwork Bag?

A peek at what's inside my handwork bag - from Wendi at Shiny Happy World

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

You know how I talk ALL THE TIME about how much I love handwork because it’s so portable?

Would you like to see just what I keep in my handwork bag? I’ll show you what tools are inside and how I keep everything organized so I can pull out my work whenever – and wherever – I have a few minutes to stitch.

All right then!

I’m currently working on two projects – hand quilting the Controlled Chaos quilt (not portable – I do this on the sofa)

Controlled Chaos handwork - big stitch quilting in progress

. . . and this little bit of thread therapy.

Thread Therapy handwork - a WIP from Shiny Happy World

My Handwork Bag

First let’s talk about the bag.

My Handwork Bag

I made it using the largest size option of the Stitch & Stash Project Bag (pattern from Betz White) with an added kitty applique from my Cats Quilt Pattern. You can read more about the bag and how I made it here.

The quilt won’t fit in it 🙂 but the 7 inch hoop does. I work on both projects on the sofa – but I also carry the hoop with me for random moments of handwork.

Here’s what’s in the bag with that hoop. . .

What's inside my handwork bag?

I’m using the Tutti Frutti embroidery thread bundle, so I pulled all of those colors off of my main embroidery ring and keep them together using a simple binder ring – available at any office supply store. (Here’s more info about how I organize my embroidery thread.) The last item in the bag is an Altoids-sized tool tin.

My Handwork Tool Tin

I love having a metal tin so I can store sharp objects inside without fear of them poking me or poking through my bag. Here’s what’s inside the tin. . .

What's inside my handwork tool tin?

My bag is always packed and sitting at my sofa spot, ready to grab and take along in case I’m going anywhere I might have a few extra minutes for some handwork.

Happy stitching!

That's me!

Tips for Choosing Fabrics for a Quilt

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

I’ve got a post here with some tips for beginners on choosing what types of fabric to work with, and I include information with almost all of my quilts about the fabrics I used in my sample, but I realized I’ve never spelled out some general guidelines for choosing fabrics for a project – specifically choosing colors and prints.

Of course, choosing color is a pretty personal thing. 🙂 These are just the guidelines that I use to give my quilts their particular “look” and to make the blocks a cohesive collection.

First let’s look at the different groups I put my fabrics into. There are multicolor prints (fabrics that don’t “read” as a single color) which I hardly ever use. When I do, it’s often in a larger appliqué piece where the print makes sense, like this truck.

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

These fabrics are awesome and they make good quilt backs and doll clothes, but I rarely use them for appliqué, so I’m going to leave them out of this discussion.

What I’m left with is lots and lots of fabulous monochrome fabric – which makes up the bulk of my stash. Within that group I have solids, batiks, and tone on tone prints like my favorite Sketch collection from Timeless Treasures.

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

I usually choose one of those groups and use those fabrics for ALL of the background blocks in a quilt.


The Cats quilt uses solids for all the backgrounds. The quilting REALLY shows up on these solid blocks.

Cuddly Cats - an easy applique quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World


The Chirp quilt uses batiks for all the backgrounds. The quilting will tend to disappear in the dapply batik texture, so choose this if you’re not very confident in your quilting skills, or don’t want to put a ton of effort into the quilting.

Chirp - a bird quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Tone on Tone Prints

The Noisy Farm quilt uses tone on tone prints for all the backgrounds.

Noisy Farm quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Choosing all your backgrounds from one group helps create a unified look right from the start. But what about the appliqués?

For choosing those I rely on The Rule of Two Out of Three.

I look at three categories, and I only choose fabrics that have contrast in two of the three categories.


This is the easiest. Look at those categories of monochrome prints and choose two different ones. If you have a batik background block and solid fabric for the bird appliqué, you have contrast in the texture category. If you have a solid background block with a tone on tone print for the appliqué, you have texture contrast. Here’s a good example of that. . .

cat applique from Shiny Happy World


This is also mostly easy. Warm colors are fiery – red, orange and yellow. Cool colors are watery – blue, green and purple.

Things can get tricky with neutrals – there are warm greys and cool greys, for example – but mostly this is pretty straightforward. If you have a cool background and a warm applique fabric (like that cat block above), you have temperature contrast.


This one’s easy too. Dark fabrics contrast with light ones.

It can be hard to read the value contrast, especially if your fabrics are different temperatures. If you’re having trouble, try this trick.

These fabrics look high contrast because one is warm and the other is cool.

green with orange sketch

Snap a quick photo of them on your phone, then use a black and white filter on them.

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

Wow! They have almost the exact same value!

Let’s audition some fabrics. . .

Even though that green/orange combination turned out to have the same value, they still pass The Rule of Two Out of Three, so I would still use them. They have no contrast in value, but they contrast in texture (solid vs. tone on tone) and temperature (warm vs. cold).

How about this combination?

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

This one has contrast in texture (solid vs. tone on tone), contrast in temperature (warm vs. cool) and contrast in value (dark magenta vs. light green). It passes on all three categories, so it will be a very successful block. And by that I mean it will have enough contrast that the appliqué won’t get lost on the background fabric.

Here’s another one.

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

I love red and orange together, but this combination fails. 🙁 They contrast in texture, but they are both warm, and both relatively dark. They only contrast in one category, so I’ll try again.

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

This one passes! It’s the same red (photographed at different times of day and not color corrected) but paired with a much lighter orange. They’re both warm, but now I have contrast in texture and in value, so I know this is a combination that will work.

So there you go – The Rule of Two Out of Three. It’s how I choose all the fabrics for my quilts.

Happy sewing!

That's me!