How to Make a Cotton Mask – pattern and video tutorial

yellow mask on a blue background - How to Make a Simple Cotton Mask - photo and video tutorial

My daughter Jo has been a mask-making machine. She made over 1000 masks and donated them to our local United Way who is distributing them to the clinics and organizations that need them.

I don’t want to get into a debate here – so please don’t send me an email or comment about how you read these aren’t effective. Medical people in my area are asking for them, and right now I’m going to give them anything and everything they ask for. 

When I mentioned making and donating masks in my most recent newsletter, I was INUNDATED with emails from patients, nurses, mothers of nurses, hospice workers and more telling me how much these masks are needed and appreciated.

And when production has ramped up and hospitals and clinics are getting all the PPE they need, there will still be a need for masks to help reduce transmission when we all start leaving our homes again. I thought this article laid it out especially well. The short version is – everyone should be wearing masks when they’re in public. My favorite line in the article is, “My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.”

In addition to people saying they wish more people were making and donating masks, there were a lot of emails from people asking for the pattern I’m using. Keep reading for the complete tutorial.

This is a no-elastic mask. Everyone is sold out of elastic and I’ve heard from a number of health professionals saying that a behind-the-ears elastic mask is very painful when worn for hours at a time – which is what they’re having to do. I’m also hearing that some places are washing these masks multiple times a day, and the elastic is wearing out quickly under those conditions. So our mask uses fabric ties. One ties up at the crown of the head (it doesn’t seem like it would stay put there, but it really does) and the other ties behind the neck. This size fits any size head.

If you’re keeping a mask for yourself to wear to the grocery store, walking your dog, etc. make sure to remove it properly. Don’t grab it by the front of the mask and toss it on your kitchen table. Remove it by the ties, put it in the laundry, and then wash your hands.

Whew! That’s a lot of preface. Here’s how to make it. Scroll past the video for written instructions with step-by-step photos.

And here are the written instructions.

For each mask you’ll need two 6×9 inch rectangles and two 1 3/4 inch strips. I read several studies that said NOT to add any additional layers to this kind of loosely-fitted mask. Yes – additional layers will increase the filtration, but they make it harder to breathe THROUGH the mask, resulting in more unfiltered air being drawn in around the edges. Use tightly woven cotton – quilting cotton is great. T-shirt fabric also tests very well, but I don’t have any so I haven’t tried that with this pattern. It should work fine, though.

The ties need to be 1 3/4 inches wide and at least 40 inches long. We went with the full width of the fabric – selvedge to selvedge – because that’s 40 – 45 inches wide. Don’t trim off the selvedges. That finished edge means you don’t have to hem, which will save time. 😄

With this method, every 3/4 yard will make 4 masks.

If you prefer to use purchased bias tape – that will save time and stretch your fabric stash. Make sure you get 1/2″ double-fold bias tape. There are TONS of people selling large rolls on Etsy

If you use purchased bias tape, then 1 yard of fabric will make 12 masks.

Press your strips into double-fold bias tape. There’s a video tutorial here showing two different methods for doing that. Jo is using a 25 mm bias tape tool to make hers. That’s the right size for 1 3/4 inch strips of fabric. If you have a different sized tool at home, you can adjust the size of your strips accordingly. Just don’t go too skinny or it will be hard to catch all the mask layers when you sew it in place.

Put the two rectangles of fabric right sides together. (Nurses are recommending using two different fabrics so that if they have to remove the mask and put it back on, they can easily tell which is the outside and which is the inside.) Sew them together along the short sides, using 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Turn the mask right side out and press it flat.

Now it’s time to pleat the sides. You need to put three evenly-spaced pleats in each side of the mask.

If your fabric has a direction to it, make sure the pleats are pointing down.

You can eyeball the position of the pleats, but Jo has been measuring to keep things nice and even.

Measure up one inch from the bottom edge of the mask (turned sideways here). Then fold the rest of the mask down over the end of the ruler, and fold it back up at the half-inch mark.

Hold that fold with a pin and continue up the side of the mask with two more pleats, each starting one inch from the fold of the previous pleat.

Pleat up both sides, then sew those pleats in place by sewing 1/4 inch from the short edges.

Time to add the ties.

Fold the mask in half to find the center. Mark the center top and center bottom with pins. Fold the ties in half to find their centers. Wrap the center of one tie around the raw edge at the center of the top of the mask and pin. Repeat with the second tie and the bottom edge of the mask.

We’re only pinning at the centers to hold the ties in the right place. You can get the bias tape wrapped around the rest of the mask edge when you get to it while sewing.

Now it’s time to sew up those ties.

Start at the end of one tie and sew the folds together as close as you can reasonably get to the edge. When you get close to where it starts to wrap around the edge of the mask, pause, make sure the mask edge is tucked all the way up into the fold of the bias tape, and keep sewing. Continue past the edge of the mask, and on to the other end of the tie.

Repeat for the second tie.


A few more notes. . .

If you have elastic and want to make a mask with behind-the-ear elastic loops, there’s a pattern here.

If you have smaller pieces of fabric and don’t mind taking a little more time, this center-seam pattern might work best for you.

Before you make any masks, you can contact a local organization to see if they’re requesting a particular pattern or materials.

If you’re looking for where to donate your masks, reach out locally first. I found our local United Way by contacting our county health and human services office. United Way has taken it from there, finding out which organizations can use DIY masks and handling distribution to them. There’s probably someone in your county doing the same thing.

If your local hospitals/clinics/hospice care workers/etc. don’t need masks – fantastic! You can still make them for regular people. Maybe your grocery store employees need them, or your friends and neighbors. You’re also welcome to sell masks made with this pattern. In the Czech Republic, a grassroots effort provided ten million masks in just three days.

If you post on social media, please use the hashtags #coverourcaregivers and #masks4all to help spread the word.

Thanks so much!

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. 🙂


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. 🙂


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.

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!


  • 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. :-­)


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!

Free Receiving Blanket Pattern

baby's receiving blanket with fox fabric and fox applique

Make an easy baby gift with this free receiving blanket pattern.

A receiving blanket is seriously the easiest baby gift you can make. Choose fabulous fabric and no embellishment and you can make one in 15 minutes. Even if you add an applique (like the fox shown) you can still make it in less than an hour.

Here’s how. . .

Step 1

Cut two squares of fabric about 36 inches square.

Any kind of fabric is fine. I’m using quilting cotton here (from the GORGEOUS Into the Woods collection from Michael Miller Fabrics) but I’ve also used flannel, terry cloth, baby corduroy, and more. Just about anything goes.

I like to use one fabric for the front and a different fabric for the back, but you don’t have to.

And when I say “about” 36 inches I really mean it. I bought one yard cuts of fabric, but by the time I washed them and squared off the cut ends they were more like 34 inches. So I cut two 34 inch squares. No problem.

Step 2

Put the two squares of fabric right sides together and pin all the way around the edge.

Take a little care here and make sure you get everything laid out and pinned neatly. If your squares aren’t really lined up, it will show in the finished blanket – and make the pressing in Step 5 hard.

Step 3

Sew almost all the way around the edge, leaving an opening big enough to fit your hand for turning right side out. I usually leave 4-5 inches. Use a quarter inch seam allowance – or something close. I use the edge of my favorite presser foot as a guide which makes a seam more like 3/8 inch and that’s just fine. 🙂

Step 4

Clip the corners right up close to the stitching.

clip corners to avoid bulk

This will eliminate bulk in those corners when you turn it right side out.

Step 5

Turn the blanket right side out – taking care to poke out the corners and smooth all the edges. Press the edges flat.

Step 6

Now you have a choice. You can leave the edges as they are and hand sew the opening. I like to use ladder stitch (that links to a video tutorial) for invisible stitching.

Or (if you want a no-hand-work project) you can topstitch your blanket all the way around the edge. That will make your seams extra secure and sew up that opening at the same time.

close-up of the topstitched edge of a receiving blanket made with a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

Here’s how close to the edge I typically stitch.


But that’s not all. This receiving blanket pattern is basically a blank slate for you to play with.

Sure – you can use fabulous fabrics and make it just this simple. How beautiful is this?

deep blue fabric with foxes - Into the Woods collection

Honestly – no further embellishment needed at all.

But if you want to add something fancy, you can.

You can add some embroidery. Maybe stitch baby’s name and date of birth in the corner? There’s a free alphabet pattern for hand embroidery here.

You can add some applique. On this sample I added the Fergal Fox applique pattern in the lower right corner of the blanket.

Finished receiving blanket made with a free pattern - plus an added fox applique face.

No resizing needed – and it’s a great way to get extra mileage out of patterns you already own. If you do this, make sure you place the bottom edge of the neck right up against the raw bottom edge of the blanket.

applique fox face added to the corner of a receiving blanket pattern

That way the raw edge will get sewn up in the stitching that sews the front and back of the blanket together and it will look like the fox is peeking into the frame rather than like a decapitated head floating in the corner. 🙂

There are lots more single block applique patterns available here – perfect for adding to this pattern. And there are a few free applique patterns here. Add a free applique pattern to the free receiving blanket pattern for a perfect low-cost gift!

Have fun with this pattern! Be sure to tag any photos of your finished work with #shinyhappyworld – or share it in the Shiny Happy People group on Facebook.

Want some other free patterns for projects you can make with a single quilt block applique pattern? Here are a few of my favorites. . .

Happy stitching!

Free Trick or Treat Bag Tutorial

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

Need to whip up a super easy trick or treat bag for Halloween this year?

Then I have the pattern for you!

It’s fully lined (which actually makes construction easier), requires no hand sewing, can be made with any of my square quilt block patterns with no resizing – and you can make it in an hour or less. 🙂

This project will work with any of my square applique patterns. If you’re using someone else’s pattern, you may need to resize it to fit a 10 inch square.

I’m using two monsters from the Scary Squares monster quilt pattern.

If you have a witch who needs a black cat, you could use the free Spooky Cat applique pattern.

If you have a farmer who needs a few farm animals, you could use any of the blocks in the Noisy Farm pattern.

If you just want to customize it with a name or Halloween greeting, use a fun Halloween print fabric and this free alphabet applique pattern.

The sky is the limit!

What You’ll Need

  • 1/2 yard medium weight fabric for the main bag (I used black cotton twill)
  • 1/2 yard light weight fabric for the lining (I used a Halloween novelty print)
  • fusible adhesive (I recommend Heat & Bond Lite)
  • fabric for your applique (I used prints from the Rainbow Brights and Little Stripes fat quarter bundles – plus a bit of black and white solid)
  • black thread
  • applique pattern of your choice

Cutting Instructions

  • Cut two 11″ x 11″ squares from the main fabric.
  • Cut two 11″ x 11″ squares from the lining fabric.
  • Cut two 14″ x 4″ rectangle from the main fabric for the handles.

Put It All Together

Step 1

Applique the main fabric squares with the design of your choice. If it’s one of my portrait designs, make sure the cut edge of the body is lined up with the bottom edge of the square.

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

If you’ve never done applique with fusible adhesive, it’s super easy! You’ll find instructions with video links in any of my patterns, and there’s a general video tutorial here.

Step 2

Fold the rectangles for the handles into double-fold strips and press.

There’s a video here showing how to do that if it’s new for you.

Stitch through all the layers down each long edge.

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

Set the handles aside.

Step 3

Layer the two lining pieces right sides together. Sew down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side using 1/4″ seam allowance.

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

I clipped the corners here out of habit, but you don’t need to do that. They’re about to get chopped off in the next step.

Repeat for the two main trick or treat bag pieces.

Step 4

Box the corners  of the lining so the bag is 1 inch deep

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

If you’ve never sewn boxed corners before, this video will show you how.

Repeat for the main bag.

Step 5

Fold the bag in half to find the center of the top edge.

Pin the handles to the bag so that the inside edge of the handle is 2 inches from the center pin, and the raw edge of the handle is lined up with the raw edge of the bag.

Pin the handles in place on both sides of the main bag. You can baste them in place if you like, but I usually just hold them with pins for the next step.

Step 6

Leave the main bag right side out, and the lining inside out.

Slide the lining over the main bag, so that the right side of the lining is facing the right side of the applique, and the handles are sandwiched between the two layers. Match the side seams and centers and pin the two bags together around the top edge.

Sew around the top edge of the bag using 1/4″ seam allowance and leaving an opening on one side between the inside edges of one of the handles.

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

This is easiest if you start sewing right at the inside edge of one handle. Sew through that handle, around the side seam, through both handles on the other side, around the second side seam, and through the last handle. Stop as soon as you sew over the last handle (remember to backstitch!) and you’ll have an opening about 4 inches wide.

Step 7

Turn the bag right side out. This step is a little mind-bendy if you’ve never done it before, but it’s actually really simple.

First pull the main bag out of the lining so that both parts are inside out.

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

Now reach into the opening, grab the main bag and pull it through the opening so that it’s right side out. Keep pulling and the lining will follow – also right side out.

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

Now just tuck the lining down inside the bag. 🙂

Step 8

Smooth and press the top edge of the bag.

Fold under the seam allowance from the turning opening and press that as well.

Edgestitch all the way around that top edge. This will finish your bag, sew up the turning opening, and reinforce the handles – all in one step. 🙂

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


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

Now go out and fill your trick or treat bag with lots of yummy candy. 🙂

For a slightly smaller tote bag, made with the same method, head over here.

Happy Halloween!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World


Tutorial – Make a Tablet Cover

blue quilted tablet cover with circles

This post is originally from November 2013. I updated it in July 2017 to add the quilted batik tablet cover I made for my iPad Pro.

The day before I left for Quilt Market I decided that a really efficient use of my time would be to make myself a tablet cover using some of my new patterns. 😛

Here’s the result.

pink tablet cover with green applique dogI posted it on Facebook and I got a bunch of requests for a pattern.

How about a free tutorial instead?

First you’ll need to measure your tablet. Of course, they’re all just a little bit different.

Add one inch to each dimension – length and width. This is your cutting size. If your tablet is 8″ x 11″ your cutting size is 9″ x 12″.

Cut four pieces of fabric to your cutting size. Two are for the outside and two are for the lining.

Oh yes – it’s lined.

Applique whatever you like to the two outside pieces, using whatever applique method you prefer. Click here for a free workshop teaching Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method.

The puppy is Harold – one block in the Playful Puppies quilt pattern.

Of course, you can use any applique pattern you like! Maybe one of the critters from the Safari Quilt? Or a Silly Sloth?

For those who don’t like applique – how about embellishing it with some stitching? I’ve got a bunch of easy embroidery patterns here.

Or just make it out of the most fabulous fabric you can find!

For the new iPad cover, I used a fabulous hand-dyed batik fabric from Malka Dubrawsky of Stitch in Dye and added Big Stitch quilting around all the circles.

quilted circles on blue fabric

These are the tablet cover front and back, all quilted, trimmed to size, and ready to assemble.

Shop for Malka’s fabulous fabric here.

Learn how to do Big Stitch quilting here.

Back the outside layers with some thin cotton batting and hold the layers together with some machine quilting (if you didn’t already quilt it as part of your embellishment). For the cat/dog cover, I just followed the line of the zigzags in the fabric. Easy peasy! Since the tablet is lined you don’t even need to back the batting.

So. You’ve cut your pieces, added any fanciness you like, and quilted in some padding. Time to start sewing it all together. This is super easy.

Sew your front to your back, right sides together, using 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side. Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching.

Do the same thing with your two lining pieces except leave a 3-4 inch opening in the bottom for turning the whole thing right side out later.

Turn both the outside and the lining right side out and press.

pink fabric with a pocketI’ve got my turning stick poked through the opening I left in the lining. See how I pressed that too? That’ll make it a cinch to sew up when you’re done.

Now turn the outside inside out again. Leave the lining right side out.

Measure a strip of elastic 3 inches long. I used soft fold-over elastic in a pretty color (you can buy it here) but you can really use any elastic in any size or color.

Fold the elastic in half and pin it to the center of the front of your cover. (Fold the cover in half to quickly find the center.)

loop of pink elastic pinned to a work in progressI like to leave a little extra hanging over the raw edge.

Slip the lining (right side out) inside the cover (inside out). Line up the side seams and pin or clip the layers together around the top. The elastic loop should be sandwiched between the two layers.

layers of batting and fabric clipped togetherYou can really see my quilting lines here on the batting.

Sew the outside to the lining all the way around the top using 1/4″ seam allowance.

stitching detail in white battingI go back and forth over the elastic a couple of extra times. It’s a stress spot and I like to reinforce it.

Now comes the fun part.

Pull the lining out of the bag. Then pull the whole thing through the opening in the bottom of the lining. Sew up the opening in the lining using either whipstitch or ladder stitch and tuck the lining down into the bag.

Flip down the elastic loop to see where you need to position your button and sew the button in place.


pink quilted tablet cover with a blue applique cat

Here’s the back of my cover. Of course I had to decorate the back too!

And here’s a full view of the batik cover.

blue quilted tablet cover with batik and quilted circles

It’s the same font and back. 🙂

Happy sewing!



Fast & Easy Free Placemat Pattern

Free Fast & Easy Placemat Pattern - perfect to use with any quilt or applique pattern

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!

Use this free placemat pattern and get a little bonus use out of your favorite blocks from your quilt patterns!

I love seeing people make things besides quilts with their Shiny Happy World quilt patterns.

Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing your finished quilts!

But if you make quilts – it’s a great way to get extra use out of your patterns.

And if you’re new and a little nervous about making a whole quilt, it’s a nice small, single-block project to dip your toes in. 🙂

Today let’s talk placemats.

They’re so easy to make!

Placemat Pattern Instructions

A typical placemat – one that easily fits a standard place setting – is anywhere from 12″ to 14″ tall and 18″ to 20″ wide.

(A fat quarter is typically 18″ x 20″ so any placemat in this size range will take two fat quarters and some batting.)

I cut my rectangles (a front, a back, and a batting) 13″ x 19″ – right smack in the middle of the normal range.

If you’re going to use Quilt As You Go and you like to quilt before you applique (that’s what I do) layer your placemat top with the batting (no backing yet!) and quilt however you like. Press it flat.

Next – add your applique character.

Positioning the Applique

Almost all the characters in my quilts are designed to fit in a 10″ square, and I find they work really well with this placemat pattern without any resizing. If you’re using another designer’s pattern, just enlarge or reduce the image to be 8-9 inches tall.

I like to position my image to one side or the other. If it’s centered it gets completely hidden by the plate, plus I like things to be asymmetrical. 🙂

Look at the way the image is framed/cropped. Maurice (my favorite cat from this Cats quilt pattern) is chopped off straight at the shoulders. I designed him to look like he was in a portrait. You’ll want to be sure to position that straight cut edge flush with the bottom edge of the placemat – like he’s popping into the frame and we just snapped a photo.

gold applique cat on a blue placemat - made with the free placemat pattern from Shiny Happy World

This bird from the Chirp pattern, on the other hand, isn’t cropped anywhere. Position complete images like this fairly close to the bottom edge of the placemat (that will anchor the image and keep her from looking like she’s floating in space) – but not so close that any part of her gets cut off when you sew up the edges.

chubby pink applique bird on a light green placemat - made with the free placemat pattern from Shiny Happy World

See the difference?

Applique your image in place using your favorite technique.

You can find all my applique tutorials here. I used applique with fusible adhesive and outlined with simple straight stitching in black thread.

Now comes the extra fast and easy part of this placemat pattern.

Finishing Your Placemat

You can, of course, layer on the backing and bind the edges just like a quilt. I love binding and would choose this technique unless I was in a hurry.

But not everyone shares my love of hand-sewn binding. 🙂

For all of you – here’s a fast and easy finish.

Layer the placemat front and back right sides together. Pin or clip all the way around the edges.

partially-sewn placemat marked to show leaving an opening for turning when you sew up the edges

Sew it up around the edges (I used a 1/4″ seam allowance, but you can fudge that a little) leaving a few inches open on one side for turning.

Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching!

sewn corner of fabric shown with attention drawn to how you need to clip the corners

Clip the excess seam allowance off the corners – very close to your stitching. That will allow you to get nice crisp points.

Turn it right side out, smooth and straighten all the edges, gently poke out the corners, and press. Turn the seam allowance of the opening inside (so that folded edge lines up with the sewn edges) and press that too.

No need to sew up that opening by hand! Topstitch all the way around the edge of the placemat and that will close up the opening.

zoomed in detail showing edgestitching

I like the topstitching around the edge of the placemat to be about the same distance from the edge as my topstitching on the applique pieces. That keeps everything looking neat and unified.

pink applique pig on a brown placemat made with the free placemat pattern from Shiny Happy World


There are so many possibilities for this! You can use any applique pattern. (I used blocks from Cats, Chirp, and Noisy Farm.)

Add some lettering from this free alphabet applique pattern to personalize each placemat with someone’s name!

Oooh! Instead of a name, use the Paper Dolls quilt pattern to create images that look like the person the placemat is for. That would be so much fun!

Use some of my free applique patterns to make a set of holiday placemats. I have free Halloween, Easter and Christmas patterns. 🙂

Instead of applique, do some embroidery. The placemat size and construction method is exactly the same.

You can make traditionally pieced placemats too! Just start with your favorite pieced block, and add enough fabric around it to get it up to the standard placemat size. The method is just like this one for turning any quilt block into a pillow.

Have fun with it!

I can’t wait to see what you all make!

Fast & Easy Placemats - a free tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Happy quilting!

Turn a Witch Hat into a Princess Hat – Easy Peasy

Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World

One of my favorite Dress Up Bunch patterns is this one for a witch costume.

Dress Up Bunch doll Halloween witch costume

As I was making it, I kept thinking that it could easily be converted to a princess costume – just change to a sparkly princess fabric and make a tiny change to the hat.

Here’s exactly what I mean by “a tiny change to the hat pattern.”

The witch hat is a simple cone with a brim added. For the princess hat (a hennin) you just leave off the brim and add a pretty little fall of fabric to the top.

Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Take a look at the scraps you have left over after you make the dress. I had a long strip 6 inches wide. From that I cut 3 pieces, each 6 inches wide and 12 inches long. You could use a couple of 12 x 12 squares, or several skinnier strips, or make them longer than my 12 inches, or add some pretty ribbons. Just play around and see what you like the look of.

Grab your fabrics at one corner, bunch them up as small as possible, and sew them into the top of the cone when you sew the hat seam.

Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World

See the little bunch sticking out from the top of the cone? The rest of the fabric will be inside the cone (as shown) while it’s inside out.

Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Make sure you go over that little bunch a couple of times with your stitching. I backstitched over mine a few times. Princess fabric tends to be fragile and you want it to be securely attached. 🙂

Turn the hat right side out and. . .

Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World


Turn a Witch hat into a Princess Hat - an easy peasy tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Mollie approves. 🙂

Get the witch pattern here. It will fit any of the dolls in the Dress Up Bunch.

Happy sewing!

Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World


The Dress Up Bunch is a collection of cute and cuddly rag dolls. Get patterns for the dolls, plus all their fun outfits and accessories!

Easy Doll Clothes Patterns – Shirt, Shorts and Skirt – Free!

Easy doll clothes patterns - tutorials for a free shirt, shorts and skirt

New easy (and free!) doll clothes patterns for the Dress Up Bunch!

I redesigned the Play Clothes pattern for the Dress Up Bunch to get rid of the set-in sleeves and fussy collar facing on the shirt. Yay! The new shirt is so much easier to make!

These are the basic doll clothes patterns that are included with all of the human dolls so I was looking at replacing it in Every Single Doll Pattern – which would take forever. Instead I decided to just make it free for everyone!

Download the pattern pieces here.

Click here to jump to the skirt pattern.

Use 1/4″ for all seam allowances unless otherwise noted.

Doll Shirt Pattern

Step 1

Join the 2 shirt pattern pieces into one and cut it out. Place the shirt and shirt lining fabric right sides together and cut the single shirt pattern piece out of them at the same time. That way the pieces lines up perfectly. 🙂 .

Easy doll clothes - cut shirt pieces

It’s a weird-looking pattern. Here are some quick labels to help you make sense of it.

Please note! This pattern only works with non-directional fabric. Since it’s all one piece, whatever is right side up on the front will be upside down on the back – so choose something that looks good both ways. Those fizzy, swirly polkadots are from the perfectly-named Pop collection from Timeless Treasures, and the shirt lining and shorts are in my favorite Sketch.

Step 2

Sew the main shirt and lining (right sides together) up one front side, around the neck, and down the other side. Clip the curves and corners.

Easy doll clothes patterns - sew shirt neck

This video has tips for handling tight curves, and also info on the how and why of clipping curves.

Step 3

Turn the shirt right side out.

Easy doll clothes patterns - turn shirt right side out and smooth neck

Carefully smooth out the curve around the neck, poke out the corners, and press. From this point on you’ll treat the two layers of fabric as one.

Step 4

Hem the sleeves. Turn up the raw edge 1/4” and press. Turn it up another 1/4” and press. Stitch the hem in place.

Easy doll clothes patterns - shirt instructions

You can hem to the outside, so the contrasting lining shows (like I did) or hem to the inside for a more traditional finish.

Easy doll clothes patterns - shirt instructions

Here’s a closer look at one of my sleeve hems.

Here’s a little trick so you don’t have to measure that skinny 1/4 inch. Sew the two layers together 1/4” from the raw edge. Use that stitching line as a guide for turning up the first 1/4.” No measuring! Then turn the second 1/4” and stitch.

Step 5

With the shirt inside out, sew the underarm/side seam.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shirt instructions

Start sewing at the armhole so that edge is perfectly lined up and finish at the shirt bottom. Any unevenness there will be hidden once it’s hemmed. Clip the seam allowance in the curve.

Step 6

Turn the shirt right side out and press.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shirt instructions

Almost finished!

Step 7

Hem the shirt bottom the same way you did the sleeves in Step 4.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shirt instructions

Step 8

Press everything and add three snaps. I like using these pretty colored snaps.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shirt with cute, colorful snaps

For the youngest doll-owners you might want to use velcro instead. I have special skinny hook & loop tape ideal for doll clothes in the shop. And if you’re extra fancy you can use buttons. 🙂

Finished! But your doll can’t just wear a shirt!

Mollie - a Dress Up Bunch doll wearing two easy (and free) doll clothes patterns.

You can find instructions for a super easy doll skirt here

Doll Shorts Pattern

Step 1

Cut out two shorts pieces. Unlike the shirt – this fabric can be directional. 🙂

Free doll clothes patterns - instructions for easy shorts

Hem the bottom of the two shorts pieces. Turn the raw edge up 1/2″ and press. Turn it up another 1/2″ and press. Stitch the hem in place.

Step 2

Sew the center back seam using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Free doll clothes patterns - the easy shorts includes instructions for leaving a tail opening

If you want critters with tails to be able to wear the shorts, leave the tail opening (as marked on the pattern piece) unstitched. Make sure to backstitch at the top and bottom of the opening.

Step 3

Press the center back seam open.

Free doll clothes patterns - the easy shorts includes instructions for leaving a tail opening

If you are leaving a tail opening, stitch a box around the opening to stabilize it.

Step 4

Start to make the casing for the elastic. Turn the raw edge at the top of the shorts down 1/2″. Press. Turn it down another 1/2″. Press.

Free doll clothes patterns - instructions for easy shorts

Don’t sew this yet. It’s just easier to measure and press when it’s one flat piece.

Step 5

Unfold the casing creases you made in Step 4.

Free doll clothes patterns - instructions for easy shorts

Match up the center front edges and sew, using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 6

Refold the casing creases and stitch it down almost all the way around the top of the shorts.

Free doll clothes patterns - instructions for easy shorts

Leave a couple of inches open at the center back seam so you can get the elastic in.

Step 7

Cut a 12″ piece of 3/8″ elastic and thread it through the casing. Overlap the ends of the elastic 1 inch and sew them together. Slip the stitched elastic up into the casing and finish sewing the casing closed.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shorts tutorial

Watch this video for more info on using elastic in a waistband.

Step 8

Sew up the inseam/crotch of the shorts using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Free doll clothes patterns - easy shorts tutorial

Press anything you can get to with the iron. 🙂


Free doll clothes patterns - finished shorts from the front - super easy

And here’s a view from the back.

Free doll clothes patterns - finished shorts from the back - there's room for wagging tails!

It’s Spot the Puppy wearing these and he likes to have room for his tail to wag. 🙂

So there you have it – three basic doll clothes patterns – all super easy and free. The shirt, skirt and shorts will fit any of the Dress Up Bunch dolls.

Happy sewing!

That's me!

Easy Doll Clothes Patterns - a shirt, skirt and pair of short that all fir the Dress Up Bunch cloth dolls

The Dress Up Bunch is a collection of cute and cuddly rag dolls. Get patterns for the dolls, plus all their fun outfits and accessories!