How to Make Denim Shorts for The Dress Up Bunch

How to Make Doll-Sized Denim Shorts with all those cool details - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Here’s how to make some denim shorts for a doll and give them that cool hem and seam treatment that jeans have.

Steal it!

Start with the legs from a cut-off pair of jeans (you do save those, don’t you?) and the free Play Clothes shorts pattern.

How to Make Doll-Sized Denim Shorts with all those cool details - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

The instructions for the shorts say to turn up the bottom hem 1/2 inch and then another 1/2 inch. We’re going to steal the already-made hem so we need to shorten the pattern by 1 inch. Just turn up the bottom edge one inch and crease it to hold.

How to Make Doll-Sized Denim Shorts with all those cool details - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Make sure the edges of the cut-off denim leg are all lined up – the outside seam running right up the side and the front and back edges of the bottom lined up with each other.

Place the pattern on the bottom of the cut-off denim leg. The folded hem of the bottom of the pattern should be lined up with the bottom edge of the pants, and the edge of the pattern that says to place it on the fold should be butted right up against the flat-felled seam at the side of the cut-off leg. Cut around the pattern. It should look like the photo up there. Repeat with the other leg for the other side of the shorts.

How to Make Doll-Sized Denim Shorts with all those cool details - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Follow the rest of the pattern instructions without any more changes. You’ve got a cool pair of denim shorts with nice hem and seam details!

I call them Cheater Pants. 🙂

Here they are, modeled by Bean.

How to Make Doll-Sized Denim Shorts with all those cool details - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I used the same technique to give Karl here that classic hem treatment to his denim shorts too.

Karl (with a K) - boy doll wearing denim shorts

You can use this technique with any doll-clothes pattern!

Happy stitching!

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!

What the Heck is the Grain of the Fabric and What Difference Does It Make?

An Experiment with Fabric Grain - two elephants from Shiny Happy World

I talked about fabric grain in this video about working with polar fleece. Fleece is stretchy across the fabric (when you stretch from selvedge to selvedge) and much less stretchy when you stretch the length of the fabric (along the selvedge). Watch the video to see that stretch in action.

But what difference does the grain of the fabric make when you’re sewing softies?

I thought I’d make two softies – one with the pieces cut on the grainline indicated, and the other cut the exact opposite way.

Two Elephants - different fabric grainsI made both of these elephants from the same pattern. I made them both from similar weight polar fleece. I stuffed them with the same amount of stuffing. The dark grey ones has larger eyes, but other than that they’re identical.

Except for the grain of the fabric.

I made the light grey one exactly as the pattern indicated – with the stretch running across his body. I wanted to emphasize his fatness. 🙂

I made the dark grey one with the grain running opposite of what the pattern indicated – so the stretch was running up and down his body.

Can you see the difference?

Jo said the light grey elephant looks fat, and the dark grey elephant just looks bloated – which I thought was pretty funny. 🙂

The dark grey elephant is clearly taller – that up and down stretch made a big difference there. And there’s a subtle difference in the seam between his face and his body. It’s a tiny bit more defined, because his body bulges a bit more above and below it. It’s also clear in person that the tummy of the light grey elephant bulges out more than the dark grey.

The dark grey elephant doesn’t look bad. And if you make a softie (especially a big bulky one like this) with all the grainlines cut wrong you won’t have a disaster on your hands. But your finished softie will look subtly different from the one on the pattern cover – and the results will be much more pronounced on a softie with skinnier, more precisely shaped parts.

So now you know!

Any other fabric mysteries you’d like me to tackle? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Oh – and if you want to make that elephant yourself – you can get the pattern here. It comes with a pattern for her little mouse friend too. 🙂

Happy sewing!

That's me!

How to Give Your Softies Flat Feet and Flat Bottoms – video

How to Give Your Softies Flat Feet and Flat Bottoms - video tutorial

I love making softies with flat feet and flat bottoms.

This is Napoleon and Josephine.

Josephine the Elephant Softie from Shiny Happy World, shown with tiny felt Napoleon the Mouse

Like any self-respecting elephant, Josephine has nice flat feet at the bottom of her trunk-like legs.

She also has a flat bottom that helps her sit nicely.

Napoleon has a flat bottom too. See?

small felt mouse laying on its side so you can see the flat bottom

Franklin the Fat Cat, the Eggheads and the Oddballs all have flat feet and/or bottoms.

Nellie the Pig has a flat bottom and a flat snout.

Nellie the Pig - stuffed animal pattern from Shiny Happy World

You might be a little daunted at sewing a flat bottom to what is essentially a tube of fabric – but it’s really not that tricky.

There are two techniques – one for use with larger pieces going through the sewing machine, the other for smaller, hand sewn felt softies. I’ve got a photo tutorial for the first one and a video for the second one – because the second method involves faith and I know some of you won’t believe it until you see it. 🙂

Sewing a Flat Bottom With the Sewing Machine

Cut your round foot and sew your leg or body into a tube. Do not freak out when you think about putting them together. We’re going to break it up into sections and take it one section at a time.

grey fleece circle divided into quadrants and marked with pins

Fold the round part in half and put a pin in the fold at each side. Open it up. Fold it in half the other way, so the pins match up, and put pins in the two new folds. You’ve divided the circle into perfect fourths without using a protractor. 🙂

grey fleece tube divided into four equal sections and marked with pins

Now we’ll divide the leg into fourths. Fold it in half so the seam is at one fold. Put a pin in the opposite fold. Now refold it so the pin and the seam match up and put two pins in the new folds. See? Perfect fourths – no measuring.

grey fleece circle pinned to the end of a grey fleece tube to make an elephant leg

Put the two pieces together, matching pins.

grey fleece circle pinned to a grey fleece tube - showing how to sew a flat bottom when making stuffed animals

Now take it just one quadrant at a time, fitting the curve of the round piece to the edge of the tube. Add more pins as needed. Fleece (like I’m using in this photo) is a dream to do this with. The fleece just stretches right into the curve and doesn’t need many pins. Non-stretchy fabrics might need a few more. I like to divide the quadrant in half and put in a pin. Then if it needs more, divide each half in half and put in a pin. Keep going until you feel like it’s all held together neatly – then run the thing through the sewing machine. I like to sew with the flat part down so I can see (and control) the excess fabric in the tube.

Sewing a Flat Foot by Hand

For smaller, hand sewn felt softies it’s even easier – but you do need to have faith in your pattern designer. It looks like there’s NO WAY this the little round bit will fit on the tube – but it will. I show you the whole process in one shot from start to finish.

See? That flat bottom fits right on there – almost like I used math or something to calculate the exact size needed. Which is exactly what I did – and then I tested it a couple of times to make sure I did that math right. 🙂

(In case you’re curious, that’s whipstitch I’m using to sew the foot on. There’s a tutorial here showing how to do it.)

Ready? Go give your softies some flat feet and cute sittable bottoms. 🙂

Happy sewing!

How to Applique ONTO Fake Fur – video

How to Appliqué onto Fake Fur - video
Do you like this softie with one giant eyeball? (from the Eggheads softie pattern)

Hugh the Egghead Monster from Shiny Happy World

How about this quilt block with a fleece bird/monster?

Applique using cuddle fleece - so soft and snuggly!

Both of them use appliqué onto faux fur or fleece to sew on those eyeballs.

This video showed you how to cut faux fur without leaving your sewing space looking like a Muppet abattoir, and how to sew the pieces together so all the lovely fur ends up on the outside of your softie (without tedious seam-picking).

Now I’m showing you how to appliqué directly onto the fur. This is a good way to attach eyes, mouths, bellies – any smooth surface you want on top of all that fur. It’s surprisingly easy!

Appliqué onto fur. Give it a try!

Then try this video to learn to appliqué fur onto regular fabric – great for bushy eyebrows. 🙂

Happy sewing!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

Intraux to Faux Fur Fabric – video

Close up of a grey shaggy dog stuffed animal. text reads "Intro to Working with Faux Fur." Post about working with fake fur fabric - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Using faux fur (or fake fur) can add a really special – and professional – look to your handmade stuffed animals and quilt. Furry dogs! Furry cats! Furry monsters! They’re all wonderful!

But fake fur is not an everyday fabric, and a lot of people feel like it must require a lot of special knowledge or skill to use it, so they avoid it. That’s such a shame because it’s actually fairly easy to use – if you know just a couple of simple tricks.

So here’s the first in a little series of videos showing you some tips and tricks for working with faux fur. This video covers the most basic basics – how to cut it out without having fur fly all over your sewing room, and how to sew it together so the fur ends up on the outside of your softie, instead of hidden inside your seams. 🙂

Here are a few more helpful posts about working with faux fur. . .

My favorite sources for buying fabulous fake fur

How to applique faux fur fabric (video)

How to applique onto faux fur fabric (video)

And here are some of my favorite patterns that can be used with fake fur. . .

Spot the Dog – that’s Spot made up in a fabulous scruffy grey fur in the top photo. He’s actually a dressable rag doll, so you do need to be careful when making him with fur. If your fur is too full and shaggy, his clothes will be quite tight. 🙂

Scary Squares Monster Quilt Pattern

Munch – a stuffed monster with a pocket mouth

Eggheads – mix & match monster softie pattern

Knuckleheads – mix & match monster softie pattern

Happy sewing!

How to Embed Rickrack in a Seam – video

How to Embed Rickrack in a Seam - video

Rickrack is THE BEST.

When my daughter was little I made her a fabulous pair of pants. They were a super simple pattern, made of deep green velvet. What made them extra special was the pink rickrack I embedded in the side seams so the little waves peeked out between the two layers. That turned them from nice, soft velvet pants into Dragon Pants – and she wore them All The Time. Such a simple addition – and so much fun.

In this video I show you how to embed rickrack in a seam. Use it to make some Dragon Pants of your own – or add it as an easy (and sturdy) embellishment to all kinds of things.

Using rickrack this way makes a great trim at the top of a lined purse or tote bag – and it makes perfect monster teeth in lots of projects – like this tissue pack. . .

Monster tissue case - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

Get the free tissue pack cover pattern here.

Or this Rice bag cover. . .

Vicks-Scented Rice Bag - to ease a cough and sniffles without having to use the sticky stuff - a tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Get the free rice bag pattern here, and the free pattern for the monster cover (complete with rickrack teeth) here.

Here’s the video how-to.

Get ready to add rickrack to all the seams! And have fun with it!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

Tips and Tricks for Working with Fleece – video

Tips and Tricks for Working with Fleece - video

I love making softies with fleece. It’s sooooooo soft and cuddly and (mostly) easy to work with.

I say mostly. There are a couple of things you need to be careful of when you sew with it, and I show you in this video.

Update: After making this video I discovered sewing clips. Most people use them for binding quilts but they are AMAZING for holding fat fleece together – without distorting it like pins can. These are the ones I use. If you work much with fleece – get them. You will love them.

One thing I didn’t mention – buy the good stuff. It’s called no-pill or anti-pill fleece and it costs $1-2 more a yard and is totally worth it. Some of the less expensive fleeces can start to pill after only a little bit of play and they look pretty dang grubby pretty dang quickly.


I designed the Franklin the Fat Cat pattern especially for fleece – and that’s what you see me working on in this video. If you want to make your own you can get the pattern here.

Happy sewing!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)

How to Miter Corners with Double-Fold Bias Tape – video

Close up photo of one mitered corner. Text reads: How to Miter Corners with Double Fold Bias Tape - video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Ever since I did this video showing how to make bias tape I’ve been getting questions about how to miter corners neatly when you use it. How do you get that neat corner? Do you wrap the whole thing and pin it and then start to sew? Do you sew one side at a time? How do you pivot at the corner?

So many questions!

Here’s a video showing how to miter corners with any double-fold tape.

I used this technique just recently when I made this roomy tote bag. (It’s a free pattern! Get it here.)

Big Bag - from Shiny Happy World

I used custom bias tape and mitered the corners to bind the edges of the big pocket on the side.

I also used this technique to bind the edges of the beach blanket in this collection of beach/pool accessories for Dress Up Bunch dolls.

Bathing Beauty pattern for Dress Up Bunch Dolls

Here’s a close up of the towel, showing how I mitered the corners neatly.

Bathing Beauty pattern for Dress Up Bunch Dolls

You can even use this technique to bind the edges of your quilt entirely my machine!

(Full disclosure – I don’t. I use a half-machine/half-hand binding method that makes an absolutely perfect and durable double-layer quilt binding. This video shows how I bind my quilts.)

Happy stitching!

When do you need to "true up" fabric?

Back in this video about cutting strips using a rotary cutter I showed folks how to “true up” the edge of your fabric. That is – make sure that you’re cutting straight strips with the grain of the fabric.

Loretta asked. . .

This makes sense for when you have a piece of fabric that you might get from the store that has selvedge edges. But what if you are using scrap fabric – like you are cutting up an old shirt or pair of pants to make bean bags? Do you need to make sure that your fabric is true?

Ooooh – good question! It’s really a judgement call and depends on what you’re making.

A good guideline is to ask yourself if the finished thing you’re making is going to hang – on the wall, in a window, on your body, etc. If it’s going to hang, you usually want to make sure you’re working on the straight grain. As it hangs, it stretches, and if it’s not cut on the straight grain it will stretch unevenly. Have you ever had a T-shirt that got all twisty over time? Where the side seams stopped running straight up the sides and instead kind of spiraled around your body? That means the grain was messed up. It can happen with pants too. So annoying!

For stuff that won’t hang it’s not as important. So for most softies and beanbags, most patches for scrap quilts, etc. just cut out your pieces to maximize the fabric you have, or to get the pattern to run in the direction you want.

For really precise pieced quilts (like super-fancy stars and things like that) the pattern will often include cutting instructions and a good pattern will let you know if the direction of the grain is important.

Got any other questions? Send them to me here.

Happy stitching!

Applique Wendi (with fabulous hat)