The Perfect Scissors for Making Rag Quilts

Remember when I showed you how you could use any of my applique patterns to make a fun rag quilt?

When I made mine (you can see it below) I tested several brands of styles of ragging snips – and these Fiskars were BY FAR my favorite.

The spring action really saved a lot of muscle strain on my hand and wrist.

The blades are super sharp and cut through SIX layers of flannel like butter.

And my favorite bit – the blades are slightly serrated so they “grab” the fabric and cut right up to the tips of the blades – unlike many scissors that have a tendency to push the fabric out a bit as they cut.

I ordered some for the shop and finally got them in!

Get the perfect scissors for making rag quilts here.

Happy stitching!


New Colors for the Noisy Farm

I get a lot of emails from people asking for advice choosing quilt colors. I always point them to the Shiny Happy People group where they can see many, many different quilts made with my patterns – usually using different colors than what I used in my samples. Really – seeing a finished quilt is the very best way to imagine it in different colors!

So I’ll be making more of an effort to show my quilt patterns in new color combinations – just to show as many options as possible. 🙂

I recently remade the Noisy Farm quilt, using it as an example to how you can add sashing to any of my quilt patterns. While I was at it – I changed the colors too!

Here’s the original quilt in a crib size.

And here’s the new version.

In addition to adding the sashing – I used radically different colors!

I made the original sample before I had fabric bundles in my shop, so it’s not easy to say exactly what fabric packs they’d use now, but the Warm Neutrals would be the best choice for those natural-colored animals. The backgrounds are mostly greens and blues, so the closest match would be the Green Batiks and Blue Batiks.

The new version uses the Rainbow Sherbet bundle for the background blocks – pretty pale pastel solids. They really do look like soft sherbet colors. 🙂 They’re from the Cotton Couture collection from Michael Miller fabrics.

For the animals I went totally UNnatural with all kinds of fun colors and a wobbly, hand-painted gingham print. Here’s a close-up view of a silly pink sheep with a little turquoise mouse popping into the frame.

I love it!

That fabulous gingham print is called Gingham Play from Michael Miller fabrics. I sell fat quarter bundles of my favorite Gingham Play colors here.

For the sashing I used Hash Dot in linen, also Michael Miller Fabrics. I liked how it has a slightly barn-ish feel while still balancing nicely with the soft pastel background fabrics. Sorry – I don’t sell that one in my shop, but you can search for Linen Hash Dot and lots of online sellers will pop up.

So there you go! New colors and a new layout for a totally new look for a favorite quilt pattern.

Want to know how to add that sashing? Here are the posts you’ll need for that.

Happy stitching!


I’m Getting a Cricut Maker!

I’m buying a Cricut Maker!

Over the past year I’ve been getting a ton of questions about whether I use a cutting machine, which one I recommend, can I format my patterns for cutting machines, and more.

I’ve never really been able to answer them because I’ve never used a cutting machine. I watched one demo at Quilt Market several years ago (I don’t even remember what brand) and the cuts were very rough and raggedy-looking to me – so I kind of stopped thinking about it. But I think they’ve come a long way in just a couple of years!

I know a lot of people love their die-cutting machines – but you’re limited to the dies that are available. So if I was going to get one I knew I wanted one that could cut just about any shape. After a ton of research I settled on the Cricut Maker. (That’s an affiliate link. I set myself up as an affiliate because I’m going to be writing a lot about my experience as I figure this thing out, and this way if you shop from my link I make a small commission on your purchase – at no extra charge to you.)

I just ordered mine this morning and hope to be able to start playing with it next week when I’m home again. I’ve talked to people who have this machine, but I still have a lot of questions where I want to see for myself how it works.

  • How does it work on felt?
  • How does it work on paper-backed fusible adhesive?
  • How small can I cut things? Will it work on eyes?
  • Is it easy enough to use that I could start offering little packs of pre-cut eyes?
  • What about offering packs of other precut pieces? Maybe pillow kits for people to make a single block?
  • How does the pen work? Is it dark enough to be able to transfer eye/mouth/etc. markings?
  • How does the design interface work? What would be the best way to format my patterns for this machine?

These are just a few of my many, MANY questions – and now I want to hear from you!

I’ll be shooting some videos as I learn – showing you how to use this thing (and how I’m using it). What do you want to know? What do you want me to show? Leave your questions in the comments or email me at


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 for 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!


Two New Fabric Bundles – Beautiful Blues and Pretty Pinks

Beautiful Blues - coordinated fabric bundle from Shiny Happy World

There are two new fabric bundles in the shop!

The beautiful blues you see above, and these pretty pinks.

Pretty Pinks - coordinated fabric bundle from Shiny Happy World

I’ve had a lot of requests over the years for some coordinated monochromatic bundles, and now that I have a little more storage space I’m giving them a try!

I figure if blue and pink don’t sell, nothing will. 🙂

These bundles are a little unusual.

You get a stack of 2/3 yard cuts.

Why 2/3 yard? That’s a REALLY weird size.

But it works great for Shiny Happy World patterns. My applique quilts are all built on blocks cut 11 inches square – so 2/3 yard cuts are a great amount to buy so you end up with very little waste.

Each bundle contains enough fabric for your background blocks, your binding, and all your appliques. You’ll have some scraps left, but it won’t be enough for the backing so buy that fabric separately.

(I recommend this cuddle fleece. It’s what I use for all my quilt backs.)

If you’re making up one of my quilt patterns I recommend cutting the background blocks first. That gets you the biggest pieces out of the way while the fabric is still whole.

Next cut your binding strips. The pattern will tell you how many you need.

Finally, cut all your applique pieces out of what’s left. 🙂

These are really versatile bundles with a mix of solids and prints in a range from light to dark. Here’s a quilt made just with the Beautiful Blues.

Elephant Parade - an easy applique quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

Get the Beautiful Blues bundle here.

Get the Pretty Pinks bundle here.

Happy stitching!


How to Clean a Cutting Mat

blue rotary cutting mat with fuzz embedded in it

I love Quilt As You Go and use it for almost all of my quilts – but cutting the batting squares and then trimming the finished blocks to size makes a real mess of your cutting mat. All those cotton fibers get embedded in the mat and no amount of rubbing with a rag will get them out.

But there’s a really easy solution – easy, fast, and cheap.

rotary cutting mat with fuzz embedded in it and a white artist eraser

Yep. One of those inexpensive white artist erasers.

Just rub it on the mat wherever it’s fuzzy, like you’re erasing the fuzz.

blue rotary cutting mat with white artist eraser and balls of fuzz

It pulls all the fuzz right out of the cuts and balls it up so you can just brush it into the trash.

Easy peasy.

clean blue rotary cutting mat

In five minutes your mat will look almost like new, all ready for your next quilt. 🙂

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

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

Silly Sloth Fabrics

Silly Sloths Quilt Pattern from Shiny Happy World

A lot of people have asked about the fabrics I used for the Silly Sloths quilt pattern.

They’re all from Dear Stella Design.

I used five different prints, with three colors (a dark, medium and light) for each print.

I used the darks for the background blocks and the eye patches.

I used the mediums for the bodies.

I used the lights for the faces.

I used solid black for the eyes and noses.

Here are the specific prints I used. . .

Scallop Dot Fabrics from Dear Stella

Scallop Dot

  • dark – Tangerine
  • medium – Sorbet
  • light – Whisper

Wee Gallery Hearts fabric from Dear Stella

Wee Gallery Hearts

  • dark – Turquoise
  • medium – Mint
  • light – Smoke

Positive fabric from Dear Stella


  • dark – Ink
  • medium – Atlas
  • light – Smoke

Net fabrics from Dear Stella


  • dark – Mustard
  • medium – Butter
  • light – White

Polka Dot fabrics from Dear Stella

Polka Dot

  • dark – Coral
  • medium – Blush
  • light – Silver

Here’s a photo showing the binding and a bit of the back.

Finished Sloth Quilt - pattern from Shiny Happy World

I used charcoal Cuddle Fleece for the back and Steam Texture in Smoke (also from Dear Stella) for the binding.

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Working with Flannel Fabric – Durability

Working with Flannel - I found some that doesn't pill

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!

When I told folks that I was working with flannel on my next quilt, I got a lot of questions.

How do you keep it from pilling? Is it going to hold up to a lot of use? What about durability?

I got some variation of this question over and over and over again.

I understand! When my daughter was little, I made her a lot of pajama pants using all of those cute flannel prints you can find at the fabric store. Sometimes they held up really well, and sometimes they were very badly pilled after just one washing. And it seemed so random!

A lot of people also wanted to know about how well flannel would work for raw edge applique – particularly how badly it might fray.

I was worried about that too! So I decided to run a test.

I made two sample blocks – one flannel background with a cotton applique, and another flannel background with a flannel applique.

I tossed these blocks in every load of laundry I did for the last month. Everything – clothes, towels, sheets – everything. I put the blocks through both the washer and dryer with each load. That’s a lot of laundry and a pretty rugged test.

I was stunned by the results! In a good way. 🙂

Flannel background and cotton applique - a durability test

Here’s the flannel background with the cotton applique.

No pilling! Not even a tiny bit! It gets a beautiful crinkle and the applique looks great. And did I mention that there’s no pilling?

Flannel background and flannel applique - a durability test

And here’s the flannel block with the flannel applique.

No pilling – and no additional fraying on the applique!

I really expected to see more fraying around the edges but it’s pretty much the same as the smooth cotton.

The only difference I see is that the black outline and mouth line get a teeny bit lost in the fuzzier flannel surface. When I make a finished quilt (get the Peekaboo Bears quilt pattern here) I’ll use 12 wt. thread to outline the applique to get a slightly thicker line.

You know why the results are this good? I used good quality flannel! It makes such a difference.

For this test I used flannel from Timeless Treasures – the same manufacturer who makes the high-quality quilting cotton I use for most of my quilts. I’m so excited with how terrific the results are that I’m planning two quilts using it.

The first is a remake of the Peekaboo Bears quilt with flannel backgrounds and non-flannel applique. Here are just a few of those blocks.

Peekaboo Bear quilt in progress from Shiny Happy World.

And someday I’m going to make an applique rag quilt. Oh yes! I think it’ll work great to use my applique patterns for a rag quilt and I can’t wait to give it a try!

Happy quilting!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World


Halloween Giveaway! Fabric and Buttons!

Halloween giveaway from Shiny Happy World

For this month’s Shiny Happy Houses quilt blocks I made haunted houses!

So much fun!

Regular house patterns + Halloween fabric + spooky buttons = Fun Haunted Houses!

Make fun applique haunted house blocks with the fabric and buttons in this giveaway from Shiny Happy World.

Now that I’ve made my blocks – I’m giving away my leftover fabric!

There are 13 (lucky!) fabrics in the bundle and you get 1/4 – 1/2 yard of each. You’ll get a large handful of fun buttons too – spiders, pumpkins, bats, spooky eyes and more.

Giveaway closes on Tuesday 9/13 (again with the 13!) and I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday the 14th. It’s open to almost everyone in the world. (Read the fine print if you think you may be in one of the few countries that doesn’t allow this kind of giveaway.) Sorry – the giveaway is closed now.

Happy Halloween!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World

Make fun applique haunted house blocks with the fabric and buttons in this giveaway from Shiny Happy World.