Speckled Rainbow Fabric

When I find the perfect fabric for one of my quilt patterns, I like to add it to the shop.

This is the perfect fabric for making the Polaroid quilt! (There’s a free tutorial here.)

Take a look at this small Polaroid quilt. I used the same speckly red fabric for the background behind all the Polaroids. That way it looks like the “photos” are all scattered over the same surface.

Fun!

For that effect to really work, I needed to find a fabric that had a random, scattered print. Stripes, a regular pattern, and anything directional were all out – they would make the seams between the blocks too visible. I also nixed the idea of using a solid, because the seams are fairly visible on a solid too. I wanted a small-scale overall print that would hide those seams most effectively. Garden Pindot is perfect!

I picked a rainbow of my favorite colors – one that would work best with a lot of the fabric bundles I use in my quilts and sell in my shop – and I’m selling them here by the half yard. I’m calling them Speckled Rainbow. 🙂

The listing tells you how much you’ll need for each size of Polaroid quilt. The fabric will also work well for basic background blocks in any of my applique patterns, so I included some fabric requirements info for that too.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

Cuddle Fleece Is Discontinued

I have sad news today. I can’t reorder cuddle fleece any more, so it’ll be going away from the shop.

The company has been discontinuing colors over the last few years, and they are finally down to so few colors that I can’t meet their (extremely large) minimum order.

I love this stuff! I use it for softies and all my quilt backs. It’s not hard to sew with, and it wears beautifully. But I just can’t get it anymore. 😢

The good news is – I’ve found a good replacement. I can’t sell it in my shop – it appears to be exclusive to Joann’s. But I can point you to it and let you know that it appears to be the same as my beloved Cuddle Fleece. It’s called Sew Lush and it comes in some really terrific colors. Here’s what the bolt end looks like.

At $14.99 per yard it’s a dollar cheaper than what I carried – and Joann’s always has good coupons. You’ll find it near all the polar fleece. In my local store there’s a short case near the aisle that has their “specialty” fleeces – the ones that are really nice quality.

In the meantime, when my stock is sold out – that’s it. I’m almost out of red, white and camel, and violet is getting very low. I still have a fair bit of brown, navy, pink and turquoise, but once people start shopping for fall and holiday projects I think they’ll run out pretty quickly too. Get it while you can.

For most of my softies, you need just 1/2 yard.

For bear and bunny lovies you need a full yard.

For most of my quilt patterns you need 1 1/2 yards to back a crib quilt, 2 yards to back a napping size, and 4 yards to back a twin size.

That also means I won’t be restocking any of the softie kits that use cuddle fleece. 😢These are the kits that are still available. . .

I hope that helps you with your holiday planning! And I hope Joann’s continues to carry/manufacture the Sew Lush fleece. It really does come in some lovely colors!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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!

Best,
Wendi

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. 🙂 

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!

Best,
Wendi

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 smile@shinyhappyworld.com.

Best,
Wendi

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!

Best,
Wendi

Try one of our newest quilt patterns! Get the Kevin Koala pattern here. Or join the Funny Faces Quilt Block of the Month Club to get a new block every month. 🙂

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!

Best,
Wendi

My Sewing Machine and Why I Love It

My Sewing Machine - a Bernina 710 - Shiny Happy World

I get a LOT of people asking me to recommend a sewing machine and I never really feel like I can answer that.

Before I recommended a fusible adhesive – I tested a bunch of different brands.

Before I recommended fabric paints or markers for eyes, I tested a bunch of different brands.

I just haven’t sewn on enough different sewing machines to recommend one. Plus – a machine that’s perfect for me might not be perfect for you. It all depends on what you like to sew!

What I CAN do is tell you what I sew on and why it’s perfect for me. 🙂

My current machine is a Bernina 710.

Before that I had a Pfaff Lifestyle (no longer made) that I really liked, but I went shopping for a new brand when we moved to the mountains and I was suddenly 3 hours from the nearest place that would service Pfaffs. So – number one – make sure whatever brand you buy is one you can easily get serviced. You should take your machine in once a year for a deep clean and you don’t want to have to drive for hours. 🙂

So – back to my Bernina.

I LOVE HER!

Here’s why. . .

I mostly sew quilts – and mostly applique – so these features knock my socks off:

  • I can set my machine to stop with the needle down and it automatically raises the presser foot halfway so I can pivot my work. This is my favorite feature!
  • My machine ties knots for me at the beginning and end of my stitching. And at the end of my stitching it also pulls the threads to the back and clips them. Magic!
  • I can adjust the amount of pressure on my presser foot – which is handy when I’m quilting really wavy lines without basting the layers first. This is also nice when I’m sewing softies and sometimes need to sew through 6 layers of cuddle fleece. 🙂
  • I love the built-in walking foot. I basically keep it engaged all the time.
  • It has a supersized bobbin which is great for quilting. Not as much running out of bobbin thread in the middle of a long line of stitching! (The next level up has an alarm that lets you know when you’re about to run out of thread – but I wasn’t willing to pay extra for that.)

It’s got a lot of general features that I really love too – not specific to quilting:

  • It’s quiet (for a sewing machine) and doesn’t shake the table too much.
  • It’s easy to change the needle and the feet.
  • It has a nice big slide-on table (not shown in the photo).
  • I don’t sew much clothing, but the free arm is great for sewing softie heads. (Most people use it for hemming pants and sleeves.)
  • It’s got a good strong light.
  • The controls are easy to use. (Though – honestly – it has a LOT of features that I never use.)
  • It handles any fabric I throw at it with no problems.

It does NOT have the built-in Bernina Stitch Regulator. I’ve tried it and think it’s pretty awesome, but I don’t do free motion quilting so I didn’t want to spring for that expense. I might try free motion in the future, though, so I made sure to get a model I could add that to at a later date.

My advice if you’re shopping for a machine is to test sew – al LOT. Do not be afraid to take up the people’s time at the sewing machine store! It’s a big investment and you should make sure you’re getting something that will work for you.

Bring in swatches of any specialty fabrics you like to sew with and make sure the machine you’re considering can handle them. I’ve heard several reports of Brother machines simply not feeding cuddle fleece through. We think maybe their feed dogs are less grippy than other brands? I LOVE using cuddle fleece for quilt backs so that would be a deal breaker for me – but it might not matter at all to you.

My last bit of advice is to ask other sewists. Nobody can recommend one machine above all others, but we can all tell you what we like and don’t like about what we use. The Shiny Happy People group is a great resource and I’ve seen many helpful discussions of different machines there. Hop in and ask about a machine you’re considering!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

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!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World