What’s Inside My Handwork Bag?

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

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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!

Using a Glue Stick to Hold Appliqué Pieces

Fabric glue sticks are handy!

Using a fabric glue stick to hold appliqué pieces in place while I sew has been one of my best discoveries ever.

Maybe a bunch of you do this already?

I have a very fraught relationship with glue. There are the glues that make your paper bubble and warp. The glues that seep beyond where you put them on fabric. The glues that stick your fingers together. The glues that don’t really stick like they should.

I have glue issues.

Usually my strategy is to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve glue – like this method for hooping finished embroidery pieces.

But last year I started using glue to hold my appliqué bits in place and I fell in love!

Let me count the ways. . .

  1. Fabric glue sticks are designed for use with fabric. They don’t seep through, and they’ll soften up after washing. They’re perfect for a temporary hold.
  2. They work really well on slightly napped fabrics like velvet and cuddle fleece. The beaver bits on that face you see above didn’t shift a smidge while I sewed them on with the machine.
  3. I especially love using fabric glue for hand appliqué. Pins distort the fabric and – even worse – my thread was constantly getting hung up on them. With the fabric glue stick I can position all the pieces right where I want them, stick them in place, and then whipstitch away. Everything stays perfectly flat and I never catch my thread on a pin. Joy!

I tried a few brands and they all worked well, but I’m carrying this one in my shop because it works well and is a great price. 🙂

If you have ways that you use fabric glue sticks, I’d love to hear them!

Happy stitching!

That's me!

To Prewash or Not to Prewash

Do You Need to Prewash Your Fabric?

This is a weirdly divisive question in the quilt world.

It’s also one of the most common questions I get. Do you prewash your fabric?



How’s that for a definitive answer?

Let me clarify. . .

I prewash all quilting cottons. Always. They go straight into the laundry hamper when I buy them and they’re not allowed into my sewing room until I wash them.


I have had bad experiences with the fusible adhesive not sticking to fabric because of the sizing in it.

I have had dark colors bleed onto light colors in a finished quilt, washed for the first time. (Absolutely heartbreaking!)

I have had shrink issues with doll clothes where the fabric puckers badly along the seams because it had not been prewashed.

Sure – most fabrics won’t cause these problems if they haven’t been prewashed. But some do! And you never know which will be the problems until AFTER the heartbreak.


I prewash all knits and flannels.

They have more of a tendency to shrink than wovens and I want to get that shrink out of the way. I’m getting ready to start handsewing some clothes for myself (using this fabulous book my husband got me) and I definitely don’t want those to shrink after the fact.

I don’t prewash faux fur, satin, polar fleece or cuddle fleece.

They don’t have shrink issues. I’ve never had any of them bleed. The ones I buy never seem to be coated with excessive sizing so they don’t feel icky. There’s no real reason to prewash them.

I don’t really use any other fabrics – so I have no advice to give about rayons, voiles, challis, etc.

One more note. . .

A lot of people say they don’t prewash quilting cottons because they like the crinkle effect they get after washing. I’ve found that I get plenty of crinkle – even with prewashed fabric – by using cotton batting. I use Warm & Natural brand 100% cotton batting and I do NOT prewash it.

Want quick access to a bunch of other posts about fabric?

Here are links to all the posts about cutting your blocks.

Here are links to all the posts about quilting your blocks.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about how to applique.

Happy stitching!

How Durable is Applique with Fusible Adhesive?

How Durable Is Straight Stitching for Fusible Appliqué? Don't I need to use a zigzag?

How durable is applique with fusible adhesive? I get that question a LOT. People really want to know if it’s really ok to just straight stitch around the edges of the pieces in applique with fusible adhesive. People worry that they have to zigzag to make everything durable.

The best way to answer that is with a picture!

This is a close up of one of the cats on the quilt I made for my daughter almost two years ago. She uses it all the time – usually on her bed, but also dragged to sleepovers and occasional stints in the yard. I have no idea how many times it’s been through the washer and dryer – but it’s definitely been washed a LOT.

How Durable is Straight Stitching on Appliqué?

Look how great it still looks! There’s just a tiny bit of fraying on the edges. A very tiny bit.

This is mostly because the quality of the fabric is excellent. The fabrics that you buy in independently owned quilt shops are better quality than just about anything you can get at a Joann’s or a Hancocks, which is itself higher quality than what you get at a discount store like Walmart. A higher thread count and tighter weave makes for less fraying – and a more durable quilt overall.

If you’re using good quality fabric, you can definitely use a simple straight stitch around the edges with no worries.

One note – if you’re using flannel – even an excellent quality flannel – the small amount of fraying will be more visible because it will be white, so you might want to zigzag those edges as an artistic choice. But as far as durability goes – you’re good.

In 2022 I started using my own fabric designs from Spoonflower for all my quilts.

(It’s so much fun using fabrics I designed especially for applique – and knowing those designs won’t go out of print in a few months!)

Before I started using it, I (of course) needed to know how durable is applique with fusible adhesive when the fabric is Spoonflower fabric? I did what I always do – extensive testing to see how it frayed. You can see the results here. I use the Petal Signature Cotton for my background blocks because it’s a little less expensive, and I use the Organic Cotton Sateen for my applique pieces because it just about doesn’t fray at all, and the colors are a smidge brighter.

One more note – all of this is assuming you’re using the right weight adhesive. I use Heat-n-Bond Lite for my quilts. You can see the results of my fusible adhesive testing here.

Do you like that cat face? It’s one of the blocks in the Cuddly Cats quilt pattern. 🙂

Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.

Freezer Paper, Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy or Fusible Adhesive? Which Stabilizer to Use When?

Freezer paper, Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy or Fusible Adhesive? Which product do I use when?

I rely heavily on three products/stabilizers for the work I do.

  • Freezer paper
  • Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy
  • Heat & Bond Fusible Adhesive

I recently had someone ask when I use each one – and that’s a great question.

Here’s the rundown. . .

Freezer Paper

Freezer paper is an excellent stabilizer.

I use it most often to cut out felt pieces. I print the pattern pieces directly onto the freezer paper. (You can trace if you’re not as lazy as I am.) I iron the paper to the felt and then I cut the pieces out – cutting through the felt and the freezer paper at the same time. Since I label all my pieces it means I have a nice pile of labeled felt pieces, cut perfectly accurately, waiting for me to stitch them together. Awesome!

Freezer paper also works this way when cutting out regular fabric, but I only use it on fairly small pieces – so small that I can’t use pattern weights. I use it for ALL my felt cutting.

Freezer paper is also excellent for fusing to the back of any fabric that you’re going to draw or paint on. If you’ve ever tried to do that without a stabilizer, you know that the pen or marker will tend to drag the fabric along with it. It can be really hard to keep it flat and smooth. Freezer paper makes the fabric act like paper. Handy!

Finally, people use freezer paper for this appliqué method. That used to be my favorite method – until I tested some of the new fusible adhesives out on the market and found a new favorite. 🙂

In all cases – the freezer paper will peel right off when you’re done. It doesn’t leave any residue behind, and you can reuse it a LOT of times before it loses its ability to fuse.

You can find rolls of freezer paper in the grocery store, or shop for these printable sheets.

Fusible Adhesive

Fusible adhesive is what I use in all my appliqué projects. That’s mostly quilts, but also T-shirts, tote bags, pillows and more. Unlike the freezer paper – which sticks temporarily to the fabric – the fusible adhesive is a permanent glue.

So the only time I use this product is when I want to permanently stick one piece of fabric to another.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE using Heat & Bond Lite fusible adhesive on printable sheets, as opposed to the stuff you can buy by the bolt. It’s more expensive – yes – but it lets me skip over the tedious tracing step and jump right to the fun part of my appliqué project. That’s worth money to me. 🙂

Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

The Magical Embroidery Stuff! This amazing invention has made every part of my crafting life easier and more fun. (I wrote a whole post about its awesomeness here.)

I use it to transfer embroidery patterns to EVERYTHING. There are other products you could use to transfer a pattern to light-colored, smooth, woven fabric – but Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy makes embroidery on every surface possible. And it makes stitching on smooth woven cotton easier and better.

With this stuff you can embroider stretchy fabrics like T-shirts and baby onesies (no extra stabilizer needed). You can embroider dark fabrics. You can embroider nappy fabrics like velvet and terrycloth and fleece. You can embroider felt. Oh! How I love embroidering on felt!

I use it to stabilize stretchy fabrics when I appliqué on them. It just washes away – leaving no itchy stabilizer behind.

I freehand all my quilting designs – but if I did anything fancy I would print or draw it on this and stitch through it, then soak it away later.

Freezer paper vs. Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

I think this is where most people get confused, because I use both of them extensively when I work with felt.

If I’m just cutting the shape out – I use freezer paper. It’s cheaper and doesn’t require soaking to remove.

If I’m embroidering something on the shape and then cutting it out – I use the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy. Sometimes you’ll see me recommend both things in one project – like this snowman ornament.

Happy Snowman Felt Ornament Pattern

The hat, hat band, and carrot nose have no embroidery on them. Neither does the back of the ornament. I cut all of those pieces out with freezer paper.

The snowman front and the scarf both have embroidery on them, so for those I printed the pattern on Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy, stuck it to the felt, embroidered the details, cut it out on the lines, and soaked off the stabilizer. (You can see how this works in this post.)

All of my patterns tell you which product to use where.

I hope that answers your questions about which product I use in which situation! Let me know if you have any other questions about any of them. I love them all and I’m always happy to share info about products that make your crafting easier and more fun. 🙂

These links go to all my posts about quilt supplies.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about cutting and quilting your background blocks.

Happy stitching!

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

I get a lot of questions about 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.

Multicolor Prints

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.

If you really want to work with these kinds of prints, these two posts will help you out.

  • Using Fabric Print Wisely – this post shows how you can use prints like stripes to do some of the work for you in an applique project
  • Applique with Prints – this post has more info about choosing colors to pair with these multicolor prints

One-Color Fabrics

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 (also called blenders).

How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt

When I choose fabrics for a quilt I work with these categories. I often start by choosing a category for my background blocks. I choose one of those groups and use those fabrics for ALL of the background blocks in a quilt. That makes the finished top look very cohesive.


This sample of the Lovable Mutts pattern uses solids for all the backgrounds. The quilting REALLY shows up on these solid blocks, so this is my favorite choice.

I’ve got fabric especially designed for this kind of background blocks in my Spoonflower shop. They’re 12-inch squares of solid fabric with easy-to-follow quilting lines printed right on the fabric – grouped in handy color palettes. You can find them all here.

Lovable Mutts applique quilt pattern


This sample of 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


This sample of the Woodland Critters quilt pattern uses tone on tone prints for all the backgrounds.

The quilting won’t show as much as it does on solid fabric, but it will show up more than it does on a batik, so these tone on tone prints are a good middle of the road choice.

I design LOTS of blenders especially for my applique patterns, and they work for both the background blocks and for the applique – which means they’re very versatile fabrics to have in your stash.

In my Spoonflower shop you can shop by color collection – like this collection of Gemstone blenders. This is a great option if you want to have a lot of different colors in your backgrounds, but you want them all to go together.

Another option is to go for a more monochrome look. You can shop by color and get pale to very dark shades of the same color, all in different one on tone prints. Here’s an example of the Amethyst collection.

That Woodland Critters sample uses all Avocado Blenders for the background blocks.

Choosing all your background blocks from one type of fabric helps create a unified look right from the start. But what about the appliqués?

How to Choose Fabric for Applique Quilts

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

Whoa! They have almost the exact same value!

Let’s audition some fabrics. . .

Even though that green/orange combination above 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.

Want an even deeper dive into what colors go together? Check out Color Theory 101.

Here are links to all the posts about choosing fabric.

And here are links to posts about using specialty fabrics.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Happy stitching!

Book Review – All Points Patchwork

All Points Patchwork book review

I may have mentioned once or twice here that I really love handwork. 🙂

I love the feel of the fabric and thread in my hands.

I love the little pop I hear when the eye of the needle with the doubled-over thread passes through the fabric, followed by the low shush of the thread.

I love that I can take it anywhere.

I love the slow, meditative pace – and the fact that it allows me to sit and watch TV guilt-free. I’m “working” while I watch. 🙂

I can not believe that it has taken me this long to try English Paper Piecing.

I got interested a year or two ago when I started seeing fun projects popping up on Pinterest – but then I heard that Diane Gilleland was writing a book and I decided to wait for that. I’ve read Diane’s books before and they are always amazing and comprehensive and inspiring.

All Points Patchwork is available now – and it’s everything I knew it would be!

Quite simply – it’s the best craft book I’ve ever read. Even better than Anatomy of a Doll – the book that got me interested in 3D sewing.

Like Anatomy of a Doll, there are no projects – it’s pure instruction and inspiration from start to finish – exactly what I look for in a craft book.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. . .

I love that the front of the book shows a block with some of the pieces flipped over. On the back of the book you see the same block, entirely from the back (so you can see the construction details) and the most basic instructions for English Paper Piecing.

All Points Patchwork book review

Really – that’s all there is to it. Choose a shape and cut it out of paper. Baste some fabric around the shape. Join the bits together.

If it’s that simple, why do we need a whole book?

Because Diane teaches you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.


The pros and cons of different template materials.

Where to buy pre-cut templates.

How to design your own blocks – on the computer with high-tech drawing tools or on paper with nothing more complicated than a compass and a straight edge.

Different basting techniques.

I could go on and on and on. It’s all in here.

And she doesn’t just throw the information out there. She anticipates any possible problem you might have and helps you fix it. I love this bit on getting the perfect, invisible whipstitch seam, with good and bad seams shown, along with several troubleshooting suggestions.

All Points Patchwork book review

The tone throughout the book is warm and encouraging – like she’s sitting on the sofa next to me helping me learn this new craft. Just what I need!

The book isn’t just for beginners, though. She includes more advanced techniques too, like how to add a pieced, finished edge to your work.

All Points Patchwork book review

So fabulous for a table runner or mug rug where the back will be seen and where you don’t want to square off the edges!

Or this bit, where she shows two different ways to baste diamond shapes, and then explains when she uses each method. Throughout the book she shows exactly what she’s doing (with really terrific photos), and also explains why. This is so rare – and so helpful!

All Points Patchwork book review

After a general intro with all the basics, she moves on to more detailed sections for each type of shape you might use. This, to me, was the real meat of the book.

For each shape she shows how to draft it by hand, and exactly how best to baste it.

All Points Patchwork book review

Then she shares a couple of pages showing sample layouts, the different kinds of arrangements that each shape lends itself to.

All Points Patchwork book review

Finally, she gives tips for how to join individual pieces and larger units together.

All Points Patchwork book review

She does this for hexies, diamonds, jewels, triangles, tumblers, octagons, pentagons and even curved shapes. It’s so comprehensive!

And then there are the “Project Inspiration” pages. They’re scattered throughout the book, and each one shows a finished project, with suggestions for fabric choices and alternate ways of using it.

All Points Patchwork book review

This lovely book cover, for example, is a great way to showcase tiny scraps of favorite fabrics – really setting the bits off surrounded by a frame of solids – and would also be good for placemats, a pillow, or a table runner.

Or this one, showing a softie made with EPP fabric.

All Points Patchwork book review

Basically, she’s showing us how to create fabric using EPP, then showing us how we can use that fabric with any of our favorite patterns!

I’m not sure I ever would have thought of using EPP for a softie, but now that I’ve seen this image, I can’t stop thinking about how great Bailey Bear or Bartholomew Bunny would look with this technique. Their construction is very simple, just like this little guy, and I’m going to have to try it now.

(If you don’t have a favorite pattern for a project, go to www.allpointspatchwork.com where Diane has collected links to tons of different patterns and organized them by category. Handy!)

Most of the projects shown are small, or are larger projects with smaller bits of EPP incorporated into them, like this quilt.

All Points Patchwork book review

These are a few EPP appliqués added to a whole cloth quilt, and she also reminds us that we can add them to a store-bought blanket, or even use them as patches to give a second life to a stained or worn quilt. I love that!

But I also love this. . .

All Points Patchwork book review

It’s a feature of someone who actually made an entire hexie quilt – in less than a year! She shared exactly how she did it – a totally doable approach for anyone who wants to tackle a big project.

All Points Patchwork is a craft book designed for the way most of us actually use craft books. It’s got. . .

  • Instruction! All the information we need, and a lot we didn’t even know we needed – the kinds of tidbits that you pick up from your mother or grandmother, or from years of practice and trial and error.
  • Clear organization with a solid table of contents and index.
  • Beautiful illustrations – terrific photos for all the how-tos and clear diagrams for all the layouts.
  • Inspirational eye candy – also beautifully photographed, and with extra tips for how to take each project in your own direction.

I just finished my first EPP project – this doll quilt.

my first EPP project!

It was so much fun to make that I already started a new project last night – and you can bet there will be more projects to come. I know I’ll be referring to this book again and again for years to come. It’s an incredible reference book for anyone – of any skill level – interested in EPP.

Get All Points Patchwork here. And get it now.

Happy sewing!

How I Care for My Fabric Scissors

The Great Scissor Rotation - how to get the most use out of every pair of scissors

Everyone knows not to use your good fabric scissors on paper, right?


Today I thought I’d go beyond that very basic info with some extra detail on how I manage all my scissors – including my fabric scissors. This is going to answer a few questions that I get all the time.

Do you use expensive scissors?

Nope. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of high quality tools. I KNOW that quality scissors are better than cheap ones. But I also know that I am terrible at things like. . . bringing scissors in to get them professionally sharpened.

Good quality scissors that are painfully dull because I don’t know how to sharpen them myself and I can’t seem to coordinate my life well enough to get them professionally sharpened are worse than cheap scissors.

I can get a decent pair of Fiskars sewing shears at any big box fabric or craft store for under $20 – and then replace them every year. More on that replacement in a bit. . .

Which scissors do you use for cutting fabric and paper together – like with fusible adhesive or freezer paper?

Ah – that brings me to The Great Scissor Rotation.

I keep three pairs of big scissors in my fabric room. (This is only about the big scissors (shears, if you want to get technical) – I also have spring-loaded snips at the sewing machine and an assortment of tiny scissors for precision work.)

My newest pair of scissors is for fabric only.

When I bring in a new pair, the old fabric scissors become the scissors I use for fabric fused to paper.

(Update! I’ve discovered some specialty scissors that I REALLY love for cutting applique pieces, so now I use these for that purpose exclusively, and I leave this step out of my rotation)

The old fabric-fused-to-paper scissors become my paper scissors.

My old paper scissors move into the kitchen for snipping herbs, cutting waffles into dipping strips, cutting open packaging, etc.

And my old kitchen scissors move into the toolbox for real heavy duty work.

The scissors that were in the toolbox are usually totally destroyed by this time and they finally go in the trash.

I buy a new pair of scissors about once a year. While that may seem wasteful at $20 a pair when I could buy a quality pair that will last a lifetime for just under $100 – every pair of scissors I bring in gets used for about five years. Not bad at all! And I never need to coordinate bringing them in to be sharpened. 🙂

I mentioned above that this rotation only applies to basic shears. I do have some other specialty scissors that I love and am very particular about.

By the way – because I know someone is going to ask. I do sharpen my kitchen knives – but sharpening scissors is a different matter, one that I’ve been told repeatedly is best left to professionals. The angle of the sharpening is very different and you need to get both blades to work together. It’s more complicated and beyond my rudimentary knife-sharpening skills.

Here are handy links to all the posts about quilting tools and supplies.

Sewing Machine


Rotary Cutting Tools


Other General Sewing Room Supplies

One More Hugely Popular Post that Seems to Fit Here Better than Anywhere Else

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the posts about choosing your quilt pattern.

Happy stitching!

How to Care for your Craft Scissors

I have three pairs of scissors: a pair for cutting fabric, a pair for cutting tape and an all-purpose pair (that happen to be child-safe so I can use them for travel).


Having different pairs for different craft purposes allows you to keep them in tip-top-shape, and makes your crafting easier! Here are some tips I have for keeping your scissors healthy.

Mark your Scissors

Do you have a family member who might be tempted to use your fabric-only scissors for cutting construction paper? Add a label to them! And consider keeping your special scissors away with your fabric stash.

Clean Scissors with Rubbing Alcohol

I have a pair of scissors just for cutting packing tape. Because tape leaves a residue that makes scissors icky!

When mine get too icky, I use rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to clean the blades. The sticky comes right off!

Get them Sharpened

Many craft stores have an occasional sharpening service. Just like nice knives, it pays to get your scissors sharpened!

Any tips to share?

How many scissors do you have? And what types are they?

Do you have any care tips you’d like to share?

Read about Wendi’s “Great Scissor Rotation” here.

How to Piece Batting Together – a Thrifty Trick

Thrifty Tip - How to Piece Batting Scraps

Did you know you can piece together batting scraps?

Sometimes when I’m cleaning out my sewing room, I ask myself why I’m keeping all these long skinny strips of batting around. They’re mostly strips cut off the edge of a quilt after quilting and can be anywhere from 5-10 inches wide.

This week I was sooooo happy to have them!

I ran out of batting with just a few blocks to go on the Wild Flowers quilt. I’m doing Quilt As You Go, so small pieces work, but they needed to be at least 10 1/2 inches and I had already used all the bits that size.

I’m trying to finish the quilt by this weekend, so it was time to grab some of those scraps and piece the batting together.

Did you know you could do that?

Yep! And it’s pretty darn easy.

Step 1

Set your machine to the widest, tallest zigzag you can.

Step 2

Butt the edges of two batting scraps and run them down the machine so that the seam runs right down the middle and the zigs and zags catch some of the batting on each side.

How to Piece Batting Scraps - a thifty trick from Shiny Happy World

My machine often skips stitches when I do this. Don’t worry about it as long as most of them catch.

Step 3

Use the new, bigger piece of batting.

How to Piece Batting Scraps - a thifty trick from Shiny Happy World

Butting the edges keeps you from getting a fat ridge of overlapped batting in there, and the zigzag stitch is plenty to hold the pieces together during construction. And look how nicely it all holds together once I add some quilting! Click on the image if you want to see it bigger so you can really see where that seam is.

So that’s it! I used up some of those bulky batting scraps and I’m ready to finish the last blocks for my quilt. No shopping needed!

Want to know what my favorite quilt batting is and why? I lay out all the details in this post – My Favorite Quilt Batting.

These links go to all my posts about quilt supplies.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about cutting and quilting your background blocks.

Happy stitching!