Friday 20 February 2015

Crafty Ladies: Meet Wendi Gratz

Time to meet another Crafty Lady

Wendi designs wonderful, joyful sewing patterns. She's a master of lots of stitchy skills, creating patterns for machine sewing, quilting, handstitching and embroidery which she sells in her shop, Shiny Happy World

She creates video tutorials for every technique you need to complete her projects (such a great idea!) and also shares lots of free patterns and sewing lessons.


Hello! My name is Wendi Gratz and I design sewing, quilting, and embroidery patterns especially for beginners. All of my patterns include links to videos teaching you every skill you'll need to complete the project – and you can find all my patterns, videos and tutorials at Shiny Happy World.

I live in the US in a pretty remote area - the nearest fabric store is over an hour away. I'm up high in the mountains in North Carolina with my husband (Alan), our daughter (Jo), our dog (Augie), and way too many chickens. :-)

If I don't have a needle in my hand, I probably have a book. Or a spoon. I love to cook and eat good food and I post a lot of recipes on my blog too.

Recently I've been making. . .

Softies! I love designing softies and I've got three “collections” going on right now – so I've been making a lot of them. :-)

The Cuddle Club softies are cuddly and huggable and made from the amazingly soft cuddle fleece I discovered a little over a year ago. I've been moving from big, fat pillowy stuffed animals to some lankier guys with long arms and legs and weighted hands and feet that are lots of fun to pose and play with.

The Party Animals are smaller felt critters. They're more at home on a shelf  - not really designed for vigorous play and trips through the washing machine. :-) These guys are all hand-sewn, which is good because I'm completely incapable of sitting in front of the television without a needle and thread in my hands.

The Dress Up Bunch are all dolls with the same basic body so they can all wear the same clothes. It's so much fun to design outfits for them! And this year I'm starting to design some other accessories too. I'm working on a pet for them right now. :-)

I've been working on. . .

Quilts! I love non-intimidating applique quilts and I've built quite a collection of patterns. I always like to invite the maker to play with the patterns. I show them the effects they can get by tilting the head a bit, or playing around with the placement of the ears, and I make all my quilts with the same block size so makers can mix and match the blocks – like adding a single cat block to the bird quilt. :-)

I'm working on taking that a step further with a quilt that has a lot of mix and match possibilities built right into the pattern. I'm working on a bunny quilt right now, with mix and match bodies, ears and faces. I'm hoping to have it ready in time for Easter crafting! And then I've got something totally new to come by summer. I'm still trying to figure out how to make it work really well, with lots of opportunities for creativity and play – but still keep it super easy. :-)

I've been blogging about. . .

My tidy studio. Seriously – it's like I can't stop talking about it. But I did the most successful declutter of my life at the end of the year and it has completely changed the way I work.

I love it! And I'm expanding the tidiness out into the rest of my house as quickly as I can. Supply-hoarding is a problem for a lot of us creatives, so people seem ok with the fact that I've been writing about this a lot. :-) The two best posts are this one that's a tour of my whole studio, and this one that answered reader questions about how, exactly, I did the declutter.

I've been watching. . .

The Good Wife and Foyle's War. I watch an hour or two of television every night while I do handwork and right now we're bouncing between these two series. I love them both! We don't have any kind of cable or satellite – so we only watch what we can get online or through Netflix. I'm also in love with Master Chef Junior. Other favorite series I turn to are Firefly, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and Elementary.

I'll admit – it's sometimes hard to stay focused on my work when I'm watching Miss Fisher. The costumes are spectacular!

I've been reading. . .

A lot! My husband is a writer and I worked in children's publishing for about twenty years before starting my business – so we're a family of readers. I hardly ever read craft books, but I read lots and lots of fiction. I love good stories – no matter what medium – and I wish my designs were better at telling or suggesting stories. It's something I'm working on and I have the work of some of my favorite artists hanging in my studio. :-)

I read for an hour or more every night after I'm done working. Some of my favorites from the last month or so are Clariel (the fourth book in the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix), The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, and Tongues of Serpents (in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik). I just started The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley - I love the Flavia deLuce books!

Wendi's 3 Top Tips for Happy Crafting

1. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I know people say this all the time, but it's hard to take it seriously when all you see online are beautiful images of the successful projects that made the cut. But I mean it. If you're trying to learn something new, you're going to make mistakes. If you're not producing some spectacular failures, you're not pushing your skills enough.

2. Don't feel like you always have to push yourself. I know – I just talked about pushing your skills. But you don't have to do that all the time! Sometimes the happiest way to spend an afternoon is working on an easy project that you know you can nail. Don't be ashamed of doing things that are easy.

3. Don't look too closely at your mistakes. You're going to see them. You'll see mistakes that nobody else in the world will see, even if they're using a magnifying glass. But don't dwell on them – or feel like you have to rip them out and redo all of them. Just make a mental note of them so you know where to go slower or use more pins next time, and move on.


Visit Shiny Happy World to see more of Wendi's work and check out her range of patterns and tutorials. You can also keep up with the news from Wendi's world on her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.


Anonymous said...

Wendy is great. A lovely approachable way into creativity. Her videos are fab too. Thanks Wendy!

Nice to see she is a reader too. Crafting and reading are both time eaters, and both important to me but when doing one, I'm not doing the other, so always a dilemma for me.

bairozan said...

The cat quilt is fabulous! Wendi obviously has a lot of interests (and what a tidy craft room, wow)!

Jessica Barlow said...

I was hoping you would feature Wendi eventually. I ADORE her quilts and have actually made one of her Monster patterns for myself and family friends with kids. She also has an amazing newsletter that you can subscribe too, it's a regular dose of cute quilty goodness that is too hard to ignore so I definitely recommend signing up for it. Thanks for the profile, looking forward to the next one. :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Sara - I have this dilemma too! My book pile gets very neglected when I've got lots of crafty projects on the go

Bairozan - I am in awe of her craft room tidiness! I am sloooowly decluttering but still haven't got there yet :)

Jessica - thanks for the tip! So glad you enjoyed this post.