What’s Inside My Handwork Bag?

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

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

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?

  • A seam ripper because I’m human
  • A thimble just in case
  • My teeny tiny scissors
  • Wonder Clips are wonderful and you never know when you’ll need an extra set of hands
  • The two spools of Sulky Petites thread are the quilting colors for the current block of Controlled Chaos that I’m quilting
  • a felt circle holding a few extra needles in different sizes
  • a felt circle holding a few pins – just in case
  • Thread Heaven – because it is awesome

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!

Best,
Wendi
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Wool Felt and Thread Color Bundles Are Here

wool felt and embroidery thread in lovely color palettes from Shiny Happy World

New in the shop! Bundles of wool felt and/or embroidery thread in three pretty palettes all ready for you to grab and start stitching.

wool felt and embroidery thread bundle from Shiny Happy World - in a pretty palette inspired by sunny flower gardens and the magical creatures who live there

The Fairy Garden bundles are inspired by sunny gardens full of flowers and magic. They’re 10 sheets of felt and/or 10 skeins of matching thread.

wool felt and embroidery thread bundle from Shiny Happy World - in a pretty palette inspired by shady forests and the critters who live there

The Enchanted Forest bundles are inspired by shady woods and all the critters who live there. They’re also 10 sheets of felt and/or 10 skeins of matching thread.

wool felt and embroidery thread bundle from Shiny Happy World - in a pretty palette inspired by Fruit Stripe gum and rainbows

The Tutti Frutti bundles are a bit bigger – 12 sheets of felt and/or 12 skeins of matching thread. We needed all twelve to get two shades of every color of the rainbow. 🙂 This palette is definitely inspired by Fruit Stripe gum.

Felt and thread bundles are sold separately. Get just what you need – or get them both for a perfectly matched crafting collection.

You get a discount too! By buying the bundles instead of individual items, you get one sheet of felt or one skein of thread free in each bundle. 🙂

I’ll be putting together some specific projects for each bundle, but for now you can use them for lots of things already available! Here are a bunch of free felt patterns.

The Enchanted Forest bundle has all the colors you need to stitch up every animal in the Woodland Critters quilt. You can see the raccoon I shrank down and stitched up here.

Raccoon wool felt applique - from the Woodland Critters quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

And don’t forget about the Valentine’s Day wool felt and thread bundle! I won’t be restocking these and we’re down to just two in the shop.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
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New Quilting Supplies in the Shop

12 wt. Thread for Quilting and Embroidery

Some time ago I wrote a post about playing with thread weight, showing how you can get a thicker line with your quilting. You can read that here.

I’ve heard from a lot of you that you’re having a hard time finding thread of that weight in your local quilt and fabric stores. That’s a good signal to me to add it to the shop!

So now you can get the 12 wt. thread I use here.

I use this thread for machine quilting when I want a thicker line, like on the face and whiskers of this cat.

Maurice - cat applique pattern from Shiny Happy World

I also use this weight for big stitch quilting. Right now I only carry black, but if there’s interest I’ll start stocking other colors.

Finally, I recently experimented with machine stitching the faces on the Dress Up Bunch dolls and I was very pleased with the results.

Mollie's face is all machine stitched! Just a simple straight stitch - nothing requiring a fancy machine.

Just trace the nose and mouth from the pattern and stitch right over the line with a simple straight stitch and this heavy thread. Easy peasy!

You do need to use a special needle in the machine – I’ve found that a size 90 topstitching needle works best.

You can get the thread here.

You can get the needles here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

New in the Shop! Fat Quarter Bundles and Leftovers

Leftover Fabrics - available from Shiny Happy World

Fat Quarter Bundles are back in stock!

These are the Rich Neutrals – perfect for so many different kinds of animals. You can get them here.

And now there’s something new as well. Leftovers!

When I order fabric for fat quarter bundles, I order 1 bolt of each fabric. But I’m learning that the amount that comes on each bolt can vary from 12-16 yards! That’s a bummer for me because I need to use the exact same amount of each fabric in my bundles. So if one bolt comes with just 12 yards and all the others come with 15, I paid for (and now have to store) 3 extra yards of eleven colors. Yikes!

My studio is not equipped to handle tail ends of a lot of different bolts of fabric.

So! My lack of storage space is your gain!

I’m selling the last bits off all the extra bolts at a discount. You can order them by the half-yard.

Right now it’s all colors from the Rich Neutrals bundles, but as I add more fat quarter bundles I expect a rotating offering of leftovers.

You won’t be able to get a lot of yardage this way. Right now I have from 1/2 – 5 yards of the various colors. But if you want a little extra of your favorite, or a full-width piece for some reason, or want to buy what you can of a couple colors to make up enough for a quilt back – this is a great way to get it at a discount.

Shop my leftovers here. 🙂

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

How Durable is Appliqué with Fusible Adhesive?

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

I’ve been getting a LOT of questions lately asking me 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.

One more note – all of this is assuming you’re using the right weight adhesive. I use Heat-n-Bond Lite for my quilts. Featherlite is nice for apparel because it’s softer, but it will fray a bit more. You can see the results of my testing here and you can buy the same adhesive I use here.

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Freezer Paper, Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy or Fusible Adhesive? Which to use when?

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

Want to learn the basics of hand embroidery with an easy online workshop – totally free?

Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

If you already know the basics – sign up for Embroidery 201. It’s also free! You’ll learn how to stitch on specialty fabrics like felt and stretchy T-shirts. Plus you’ll learn lots and lots and LOTS more stitches – all my favorites!

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

Freezer paper

Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

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.

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 this printable fusible adhesive, 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 from last year’s Christmas Club.

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.)

If you order a kit from me, the pieces come pre-printed on whichever product is most appropriate for the piece.

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. 🙂

Here are links to buy all three. . .

Printable freezer paper sheets

Printable fusible adhesive

Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

 

New Supplies in the Shop!

new in the shop

New in the shop! Cat eyes in two sizes, bulk discounts on regular safety eyes, and Cuddle Minky fabric!

Let’s start with the Cuddle Minky. . .

cuddle minky title

It’s similar to Cuddle Fleece, but with a couple of key differences.

1. It’s even softer – if you can believe that.

2. It’s one-sided. That means you can’t flip to the fluffier side for contrasting tummies, etc. But it also means it’s significantly thinner. So for those of you who have had a little trouble with the thickness of the Cuddle Fleece, this is a big plus.

Right now I only stock one color – red and red embossed chevron – but I’ll be adding more. 🙂

Eyes!

You asked for bulk discounts on safety eyes. You got it!

Now I have single pairs, 5 pair packs, 10 pair packs and 25 pair packs. The discounts get bigger with the bigger size packs. And any discount code you have works on top of the built in discount on the multi-pair packs. Good deal!

You also asked for Cat/Reptile/Monster eyes.

They’re here!

Small (9 mm) colored eyes in 5 colors.

small cat eyes

Large (12 mm) colored eyes in 7 colors.

large cat eyes

These also have discounts for larger packs, plus multicolored pack options (get 1 or 2 pairs of each color).

When you’re choosing eye size, I recommend going a size bigger than you would if you were using black safety eyes. Your eye will “read” the size of the pupil, rather than the size of the whole eye.

So if you’re making Pip the Cat, for example, I would recommend a 9 mm black eye or a 12 mm colored cat eye. Same thing for Franklin the Fat Cat. If you ever have any questions about a recommended size, just zip me an email. There’s a contact link at the top of every page.

Get the Cuddle Minky here.

Get black safety eyes here.

Get small cat eyes here.

Get large cat eyes here.

And one last reminder. . . sign up for the Shiny Happy News! Members get a special members-only shopping day at the start of any sale! Today would be a really, really, REALLY good day to sign up. Hint. Hint. 😉

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

 

 

New Supply in the Shop – Soft & Stable

Benson Bunny

I added this new product to the shop last month – and then forgot to write a blog post about it!

Excellent business move. 🙂

I was desperately looking for something that would make bunny ears stand up, but every stabilizer and interfacing I tried was either too floppy – or downright crunchy and hard. In desperation I turned to Betz White – bag-maker extraordinaire – and she suggested this right away and even sent me a sample to try. It’s perfect!

It’s called Soft & Stable and here’s what I love about it. . .

  • It’s easy to work with. You can sew right through it.
  • It’s stiffer than batting and really maintains its shape – but is still soft and cuddly. You can fold those ears over and they’ll spring right back up.
  • It’s very lightweight.
  • It’s machine washable and dryable.
  • It gives a really professional look to your finished softies.

Want to give some a try? Get it here.

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Everything You Need to Know about Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy - one of my very favorite supplies

I call this The Magical Embroidery Stuff.

Why?

Well, partly because Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy is quite a mouthful. 🙂 But mostly because I use it for absolutely everything I stitch and it’s absolutely magical. It really is one of my favorite products ever.

I’ve written a lot about it in a lot of different posts, so today I’m bringing all that info together in one handy-dandy place.

What is it?

It’s a printable wash-away embroidery pattern transfer and stabilizer. Yes – it does all of that in one easy product! In a nutshell. . .

  1. You print your pattern right on the sheets. You can print them with an inkjet or laser printer, or photocopy onto it. You can also trace onto it – but I hate tracing.
  2. Peel off the paper back and stick the stuff right to the surface of what you’re embroidering.
  3. Hoop it up and start stitching. You stitch right through the stuff.
  4. Soak it in water and the stuff dissolves away like magic.

Want to see all of that in action? Watch this video.

Problem fabrics

I use this on everything I embroider. EVERYTHING. But it’s especially useful on problem fabrics. You know what I’m talking about – the ones that are really hard to transfer an image to.

  • dark fabrics
  • napped fabrics like velvet, terry cloth and cuddle fleece
  • plasticy fuzzy fabrics like polar fleece
  • thick fabrics that you can’t see through to trace – like felt
  • stretchy fabrics like T-shirts

It’s awesome on everything!

Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy is great for transferring a face to cuddle fleece.

Look! You can stitch right through the stuff onto fluffy cuddle fleece.

Even felt?

YES! Felt gets its own category here because Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy is just so perfect for it. In fact – I wrote a whole post about using it with felt here.

I love it so much with felt that I include pattern pieces already printed on it in all my felt kits. It’s that awesome!

Using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy - stitching and cutting

See? Beautiful stitching and nice, accurate cutting.

I’ve never run into shrinkage problems with it – but I know a couple of people have with projects that really needed to be very precisely cut. Larissa Holland came up with a great solution to that problem here.

What about stickiness?

I never ran into problems with stickiness until I left a project sitting in a hot car one summer afternoon. The next time I picked that project up (even though it wasn’t hot anymore) I found that I was getting a sticky residue on my needle. Not fun!

And then I discovered Thread Heaven. I was using it to solve another problem and discovered by accident that it totally eliminated any sticky needle problems. Fantastic! Especially since I love to carry my embroidery around with me and there was an excellent chance it would get left in a hot car again. Now I don’t need to worry about that!

Does the ink bleed?

It depends on the ink. I usually photocopy my projects or print them on my laser printer and those have never been an issue for me. But a couple of people reported the ink from their inkjet printers bleeding a bit when they rinsed off the stabilizer. Every brand is different so test the ink from your printer if you want to be sure! If you run into bleeding, try printing it out in draft mode – that uses a lot less ink.

The good people at Sulky let me know that one person had a issue with her laser printer. She said it didn’t actually bleed when she rinsed it, but it left little black specks all over her work. Yikes! The good news is that she sprayed it with Shout, washed it on the gentle cycle of her washing machine, and it came out as good as new. So if you run into laser printer problems, there’s an easy fix. 🙂

This isn’t a bleeding-ink issue – but it’s related. One customer reported that the ink wasn’t coming out of the centers of flowers where the stitching was the most dense. It wasn’t bleeding, but it’s like it was stuck there. She has very hard water and reported that a second long soak in distilled water took it out.

T-shirts

I want to add a special note here about T-shirts. I love embroidering on T-shirts, but it can be kind of fussy. You have to stabilize the fabric so it doesn’t stretch while you’re stitching. With traditional stabilizers you have to remove it after stitching. And stretch knits aren’t a treat to transfer the pattern to. All of these issues magically go away with Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Since it’s a pattern transfer and stabilizer all in one, you take care of both of those steps. And since it rinses out after stitching, there’s no fussy (and potentially destructive) removal of the stabilizer afterwards. It’s perfect!

embroidered dog T-shirt

That’s embroidered! 🙂

Now you know why I call Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy The Magical Embroidery Stuff. I love it!

I’ve heard that people use it for all kinds of other things too – like transferring complex patterns to a pumpkin for carving! If you’ve come up with an unusual use for it – let me know. I’d love to hear!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

The Perfect Match – just the right color thread for your felt embroidery

The Perfect Match - just the right color thread for all your felt embroideryYou all may have noticed that I love a little felt embroidery. 🙂

I love how portable it is. I love the way the thread looks on the wool felt. I love the way it feels in my hands. It’s all so yummy!

Flora - a free felt bird pattern from Shiny Happy WorldThe only part of the whole process I don’t enjoy is choosing matching thread colors.

I’m not talking about choosing thread colors for the design. That part is fun!

I’m talking about choosing embroidery thread that perfectly matches the felt color for sewing around the edges. Like sewing up this bird.

It’s important to get a good match – but the process is boooring. Try this thread. Nope – but close. How about this one? Ugh – definitely not. This one? Yes. It’s not a creative decision in any way. It’s just finding the best match. *yawn*

Every single time I do it I think to myself that I ought to write it down when I find the perfect match – so I don’t have to do it again for that color.

Then I started thinking I should have a master list of all the thread colors that match all my felt colors. That would be handy!

Update! Ask and you shall receive. A few people asked for a printable list of the matching colors – so I made one! You can download it here.

Then I started thinking I should make that master list and actually carry the thread in my shop, so you can buy the matching thread when you buy your felt. Now that would be super handy!

So I did it. I waited for one of those perfect-light days and pulled out all my felt and my DMC thread card and I found the perfect match for every color felt I carry. Then I ordered in all the thread and added it to the shop – right there in the felt listing – and now it’s handy-dandy felt embroidery central! 🙂

Shop here.

Enjoy! And have a fabulous weekend!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!