Meet the Designer: Wendi of Shiny Happy World

 Meet Wendi Gratz, the designer behind Shiny Happy World! Wendi designs the most adorable PDF quilt patterns. She worked over 20 years in the children's book industry and that left a mark on her, visible on Shiny Happy World's quilt designs - mostly whimsy animals that seem to be telling a story out of a children's book. Wendi loves to make designs suitable for beginners and is on a mission to teach people that anyone can quilt!  


Why do you sew?

 I love to see something grow under my hands - to watch it come together step by step.


When did you started to sew? And what was your first make?

 I started sewing when I was in college. The first thing I made was a tablecloth. You wouldn't think you can mess up a tablecloth - but I did. It was for a big table so I had to seam two pieces together - which I did right down the center of the table. And not only did I have a seam right in the middle - I didn't prewash the fabric, I didn't trim away the selvedge and I used this weird buttonhole twist thread (I didn't know there were different kinds of thread and just grabbed a random spool in a color that matched) so the first time I washed it that seam puckered up really badly. And I thought it would be fun to use a fancy decorative stitch for my hem. I was using that thick thread, so it just looked like a messy bunch of blotchy knots on the surface of the fabric. What a mess! (I got better after that.)


When did you start to draft patterns? How was the learning process?

 I'm entirely self-taught (before there was an internet) so learning to draft patterns was just one more round of trial and error. It was just like learning to sew. :-)


How is your creative/design process?

 I think about a design for a long time before I ever even make a sketch - imagining it in a lot of different colors or layouts. By the time I start sketching I usually have a pretty good idea what the finished project will look like and how it will be assembled. If I'm doing something different - like adding 3D applique or trying out a new kind of QAYG sashing - I'll work through a few prototypes to figure out the easiest way to get the effect I want.


Woodland Critters, quilt pattern by Shiny Happy World


What sewing machine do you own? Is it the machine of your dreams?

 I sew on a Bernina 710 and I LOVE IT. I do a lot of applique, so the needle down/presser foot hover feature is like magic! And I love the way it ties knots and cuts my thread for me. :-)


What is your favorite make ever? Why?

 My Mix & Match Monster quilt. It was so much fun to create all the pieces and then see how many different monsters I could come up with. I've made hundreds by now - all different!


What is on in the background while you're sewing?

 Nothing. I'm usually really focused when I work. And it's weird - but I really like the sound of the thread being pulled through the fabric - and the little pop when the eye of the needle goes through fabric stretched tight in a frame. :-)


Which is(are) your favorite pattern(s)? 

 Oooh - that's hard. I think my favorite patterns are the Playful Puppies and Cuddly Cats. They have such personalities - and I like combinging the two patterns together in one quilt.


Who's your sewing/blogging/style/fashion/designer/quilter hero(s)?

 I love Lisa Congdon. She has a distinctive, quirky style that really appeals to me - and I admire the business she's built.


Cuddly Cats, quilt pattern by Shiny Happy World


What are your favorite sewing techniques?

Big Stitch Quilting. Seriously - I can do that for eight hours at a stretch and be perfectly happy.


What is your least favorite sewing technique/step?

I hate tracing. The day I discovered printable fusible adhesive was one of the happiest days of my life.

3 Favorites - color, texture and fabric:

  • Puple. Crosshatching. Quilting cotton.

3 things that make you happy: 

  • Good food.
  • A good book.
  • Hand stitching in front of a crackling fire on a cold day.

3 random things about you:

  • I don't like chocolate much - I'm more of a caramel person.
  • Before I was a designer I worked in children's publishing for 20 years.
  • By the time I graduated from high school I had been to 18 different schools.

    Life or sewing motto: 

     Perfection is overrated.


    Parliament of Owls quilt pattern, by Shiny Happy World

    Thank you, Wendi! 

    Enjoy 20% off on all Shiny Happy World patterns through this week! (Good until Friday, July 21st 11:59 PM PST)

    Make sure to come back next week to meet another pattern designer!

    Happy sewing!



    July 17, 2017 by Sara Soares
    Older Post / Newer Post

    Leave a comment

    Contact Form