Sewing Superstar

Shiny Happy World

Sew along with Wendi from Shiny Happy World

Wendi Gratz
Penland, NC
Owner/Designer/Order Packer at Shiny Happy World

When did you first start sewing and how did you learn?

I made some really dreadful stuff sewing by hand as a kid (a teddy bear with a skinny floppy neck made out of the legs of a pair of cutoff jeans - very creepy). My Mom had a treadle machine and I was too scared to try to use it.

I bought a sewing machine when I was in grad school and taught myself to use it.

Can you remember the first thing you made?

The first thing I made was a really bad tablecloth. You might think you can't mess up a tablecloth - but I'm proof that you can. I used some awful poly-cotton blend fabric. I sewed a seam right down the middle. I didn't prewash it or cut off the selvedges, so that seam puckered like crazy the first time I washed it. I also managed to buy buttonhole twist thread instead of all-purpose (I didn't know there were different kinds of thread) so the whole thing is sewn with this horrible fat chunky thread. AND I used one of the decorative stitched on the hem. With the fat thread - so it just looked like masses of thread knots all around the edge of the tablecloth.

I got better after that. :-) But I really with the internet had existing back when I was teaching myself. It would have made things a lot easier.

Do you have any favourite pattern designers or celebrity sewers?

Not really. I'm more inspored by some of my favorite children's book illustrators - Lauren Child, Dan Yaccarino, Eric Carle and more.

What's your sewing room like and how do you organize your stash?

I have a nice sewing room with one table for my machine, a big 4' x 8" table for cutting and working, and a nice wide ironing board. My stash is all sorted by color in milk crates on shelves below my cutting table.

What music/podcasts/TV shows do you love to stitch along to?

I embroider while I watch TV - Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, whatever I'm currently watching on Netflix. Music depends on what I'm doing. If I'm moving around between my cutting table, my sewing table and my iron I like to listen to loud jazz - like Black Saint and the Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus. For just sitting and working I like listening to women sing - Adele, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Stacey Kent, Norah Jones, k.d. Lang - I have a whole list on Spotify.

Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?

I love to read and try to read a couple of books a week. I also love to cook and work in my garden. And eat.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I love designing things for kids! I worked in children's publishing for 20+ years before becoming a designer and children's book illustration has definitely had an impact on my aesthetic.

Wendi Gratz
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Favorite TV Show: Favorite Band: Favorite Book: Favorite City: Favorite Movie: Favorite Fabric Brand: Favorite Colour: Favorite Sewing Accessory or Tool:

What's your favorite...

TV Show
Hey Marseilles
About a Boy
Just one? Umm. . . The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
dark purple
Fabric Brand
Sewing accessory or Tool
Tube Turners