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!