FREE PATTERN: Easy Sew Square-Bottomed Lunch Bag

November 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm (How To, Quick, Sewing)


I’m on a brown bagging kick right now, trying to save some pennies on my daily lunch habit.  But, on Sunday night, when I gathered my cobb salad with bread and vinaigrette on the side, I realized that a traditional brown paper lunch bag was not going to cut it.


In about an hour I was able to whip up a simple, square, drawstring lunch bag.  Sized at 8″ square it fits those nifty square sandwich and salad tupperwares perfectly.  At 12″ tall, there’s plenty of room for a bag of chips or dressing or whatever you might need to round out your meal.

I lined the bottom 6″ with plastic which created nice pockets on the inside as well.

free, downloadable lunchbag pattern is available here if you’d like to try whipping up one of your own!


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Born on St. Patty’s Day | Rainbows & Pinwheels 1st Birthday Party

March 19, 2012 at 2:33 am (Events)


My daughter was born on St. Patrick’s Day 2011. I have some mixed feelings about my baby girl being born on a day that is tied so heavily with binge drinking and cabbage, but I figure until she’s 10 or so we’ll just let her think the parade downtown is in her honor and everyone is dressed in green because her name is Olive.


When you’ve got a St. Patty’s Day baby, you’ve just got to run with the party theme God gives you: RAINBOWS!! I threw in some pinwheels and polkadots (and a whole lot of Jello) and I was pretty pleased with how things turned out. It didn’t hurt that Mother Nature blessed us with the warmest St. Patrick’s Day in 141 years and let me tell you, if I had captured a leprechaun myself, I could not have wished for a more beautiful day for a 1st birthday party! Olive seemed to truly enjoy the event – even if she was a bit mystified by the whole thing. My friend Vin took some AMAZING photos of the party. I’m so lucky to have such talented people in my life. I hope you enjoy the pics!



Yarn wrapped letters. Inspired by a post on (via Craftzine).




Adorable handmade birthday outfit from SweetLollipopKisses on Etsy. I debated how crazy I should go on the outfit, but I thought to myself: there’s only so many times in a woman’s life where she can really get away with wearing a rainbow tutu. I didn’t want her to miss out.


Beautiful and delicious Rainbow Jello Cups inspired by the post on but sans Cool Whip per the hubby’s request. A huge hit with the kiddos (and adults!)


Jake made yummy, yummy Rubens…. because it’s not St. Patty’s Day if there’s no cornbeef!


I had a bunch of gold forks and spoons left over from New Years and I have to admit I felt pretty clever when I thought to make them my “pot of gold.”


Polkadot Wall: Just need a circle cutter, a book of colorful craft paper and some scotch tape.



Who’s up for a Piñata!?


My favorite part was when my dad put the unicorn’s head on a pike, all Game of Thrones style.


I saw these rainbow cakes on several blogs, but I’ve got to say, when Jake cut into his beautiful creation and pulled out that first piece, the whole room gasped. It was really something to see. And it may be the best d@mn cake I’ve ever tasted. My husband can COOK!





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Score! Found an Embroiderer’s Dream at a Garage Sale

January 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm (Quick, Sewing)

SO GEEKED! Just found this set of eight pain, never-used, natural cotton place mats and napkins. $11 for the set! Whoever invented the garage sale should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


Since we painted the dining room that awesome shade of dark teal I’ve been thinking that I should embroider a set of place mats that would really pop. But the thought of sewing up all those rectangles just sounded so boring I couldn’t get myself to start on it. Now, I get to jump straight to the fun part… figuring out what I’m going to embroider on them!

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January 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm (How To, Indie-Craft, Sewing, Zero Spend)

So have I mentioned I’m an NPR-lovin’ nerd? Yeah, I know you’re not surprised.

A few weeks ago, I posted to Marketplace Money’s facebook page about the belt tightening Jake and I did during his unemployment and I was awarded their Piggy Award where they send this awesome blue piggybank to people who make good financial decisions.


It was such a blast to be interviewed by the show’s host, Tess Vigeland. It was like having the radio come to life over my phone. Everyone at Marketplace Money was so sweet, even their producer, Stephen Hoffman who lined up the interview.

I wanted to do something nice for them, and I got inspired to stitch something up. I thought it apropos since I picked up embroidery because I needed a thrifty hobby to keep me busy while we cut back on other types of entertainment like going out. Mashing up some images I found through a Google Image search, I came up with this quick and easy pattern featuring the famous blue pig:


If you’d like to stitch this up yourself, feel free to download the pattern here! If you’re new to embroidery, I highly recommend the tutorials at I used mostly back stitches – a bit of a chain stitch on the hills.

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Mommy/Daughter Crafternoon: The multitude of benefits from crafting with kids.

September 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm (How To, Sewing)

Karen Walrond (@Chookooloonks) was sweet enough to tweet me pictures of her and her daughter making the Swap-O-Rama-Rama 10-Minute purse together!


Karen titled this “Future Fashion Designer at Work”


I’ve got to admit I’m jealous as all get out. I’m trying like crazy to enjoy every minute of Olive as a bitty baby but I am dying for the day when we can craft together!


“Ladies & gentlemen, the very first Alex Bag!”


Didn’t Alex do a fabulous job?! Obviously Karen is proud of her daughter. And I’ve got to say, I am proud of Karen for sharing the joy of hand-making with her baby girl at such a critical age.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just want to say it into the internets for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet: crafting with your children is incredibly good for them.

Not only is it a great bonding experience when you craft with your kids, but crafts like sewing, weaving, drawing, painting, clay sculpting, even Popsicle-stick-house making, stimulates so many parts of the brain, helping children develop:

* Dexterity and Fine Motor Skills
* Creative Thinking
* Decision Making Skills
* Spacial Reasoning
* Teamwork (if they are working with others)
* Independence and Self Assurance (when working alone)
* Measuring and Math
* Following Instructions

The more self-directed a craft can be, the more parts of the brain they stimulate. Don’t feel like you need to buy them an expensive kit with a pre-planned outcome. The best crafting can come when you pull some clean cereal boxes, empty paper towel rolls and coffee cans out of the recycling bin and say, “Let’s make a castle!” or a doll, or a car or whatever they can imagine. Being creative is the whole point! And if you can teach them to “make their own fun” so to speak, they are a lot less likely to come to you with those three annoying words… “Mom, I’m bored.”


(from DeclutterOrganizeRepurpose)

Of course, we all need a little inspiration now and then so I’ve started a Pinterest board for Kids Crafts if you care to follow it. I have focused on gathering ideas for projects that can be done with very young kiddos but there’s some great boredom-busters in there for any age.


Some people will ask, how old their kids have to be to craft. I personally plan to do age appropriate crafts with my baby as soon as possible. My mother, who is a weaver and a teacher told me she’s found that 5-7 year old kids LOVE weaving and looms and they really “get it” at that age, sometimes even better than adults. So they don’t have to be as old as you may think to be into more complicated crafting.

Ok, preaching done. Now, go get your craft on!

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Karen Walrond So Sews (and I won a dollar)

September 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm (How To, Indie-Craft, Sewing, Web & Technology)

When I sat next to Karen Walrond of at the BlogHer Handmade/Creative Connection lunch today I had no idea it would lead to a crafty showdown in the hotel lobby!

Karen is an amazingly talented, gracious and joyful photographer who wrote (and photographed) the book The Beauty of Different.


(Photo from Karen’s Website)

During lunch, each table was told we could split up our centerpiece consisting of GORGEOUS fabric by Kaari Meng of French General (provided by Moda). And because I just can’t seem to help myself sometimes, I brought out the purse I made last night from the fabric swag given at dinner the night before.


Karen, the generous person that she is, made such a big deal over it, making me feel awesome and generally like a rock star. Karen’s craft is photography and as her gorgeous book attests, she is a master at her craft. But she claimed that she didn’t sew and “could never” do anything like make a purse in an evening.

Karen poured over the purse, oohing and ahhing at my small but (to me) sloppy stitches. She seemed so genuinely thrilled at the fact that I had made this little floppy clutch in my hotel room. “You keep it.” I offered.

“Oh no! I couldn’t do that.” she replied.

I looked at the beautiful fabric “swag” sitting in a neat pile in front of her, waiting to go home to her daughter, and thought about the embroidery needle and thread in my bag. “Well, you’ll just have to make one yourself then.”

“Oh, yeah right.” she said.

Having just made the purse not 15 hours previously, I was 95% sure I could get even a true novice through the project in 30 minutes, even without a sewing machine. “I bet I could walk you through it between lunch and the next session.” I said with a touch of playful challenge in my voice. I had a hunch Karen was the sort of lady who would rise to a challenge.

“Are you serious? I will take that bet.” We agreed to a 45-minute, $1-stake challenge, and as soon as the (excellent) Blogher keynote speakers were done, we rushed to the couches in the lobby to begin.


Karen, was a natch’. She already knew how to tie starting and ending knots. She even identified a running stitch and whip stitch by name when I demonstrated them for her.


As she, Mom and I all sat together in the lobby and she worked on her project we chatted about her grandmother who had been a seamstress and who taught Karen the basics of sewing. We talked about her hopes of helping her daughter learn to sew, about all the benefits that come from learning handwork at a young age, and about our shared hope that we will be able to have a close friendship with our daughters when they grow into independent adults. Karen even shared her “bucket list” wish of sewing something that she would wear in public.

After 20 enjoyable minutes of chatting and sewing (luckily I had 2 needles so I was able to embroider a bit as well) she had finished – well within the 45-minute limit. I made a sloppy bow out of a complimentary fabric and Karen stitched it on.


(photo from Karen’s Twitter Feed)

The good sport that she is, Karen happily admitted she had lost the bet and gave me and my mother a dollar each.


I told her I was going to use it as a bookmark in her book, which she was sweet enough to sign for me later that evening:


(It reads:

To Katie –

Your kindness and super generosity are your super powers.

And they’re BEAUTIFUL.

Karen Walrond

P.S. Thank you for teaching me to sew!)

Thanks for the crafternoon, Karen. You made this a truly beautiful day during an already inspiring weekend. I hope our paths cross again soon!

(And if you want to learn how to make a purse like Karen’s check out my previous post “FREE 10-Minute Purse Pattern“.)

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FREE 10-Minute Purse Pattern

September 16, 2011 at 8:27 pm (How To, Indie-Craft, Quick, Sewing, Zero Spend)


After I posted last night I got inspired to make something, anything, from all the amazing swag given out by the BlogHer Handmade/Creative Connection conference.


After staring at the delicious crafty awesomeness, trying to think of a 1 hour project I could do to expel all my pent-up, crafty energy so I could actually sleep, I remembered a super simple purse pattern Vin designed for Swap-O-Rama-Rama Chicago this year.

This is an AWESOME, 15-minute pattern perfect for fabric scraps that are too cute to throw away:


(Click image above to download and view full size.)

This project was designed to be quick and easy with a sewing machine, but honestly it was perfectly doable with just a needle and thread– though it took closer to 30 minutes. A sloppy running stitch works fine for Step 2 and a whip stitch or hidden running stitch for Step 4.


The swag kit was so awesome – it even had a short ruler, some fold-up Fiskars scissors, as well as some beautiful pink ribbon from May Arts I used to make a little embellishment. My hotel room provided a full size iron and ironing board (which helped a TON!) and I luckily had brought a needle and embroidery thread along as part of my in-flight entertainment. I wish I could tell you who the fabric was from, but I traded fabric with some of my table mates and mine ended up without a label. But it is pink and full of GLITTER!! How awesome is that!?! If any one knows who’s fabric that is, please let me know in the comments and I will update the post!

It is such a privilege to attend an event where the sponsors are as generous as the amazing speakers and presenters. What fun to be treated like such a rock star!

(And speaking of amazing speakers and presenters, check out my next post for a super special story about a crafty gauntlet laid down between myself and photo blogger/conference panelist Karen Walrond.)

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BlogHer Handmade Creative Connection Event: Day 1

September 16, 2011 at 1:11 am (Indie-Craft, Marketing, Web & Technology)

Can I just say, “Wow.”

What a full day of amazing, beautiful, powerful, smart, informed, creative, talented, brave, crafty, geeky, inventive women.


Though I took notes on each session, my summaries of the sessions would never be as excellent as the live blogs from Patti Nichols and the other live BlogHer bloggers at the event so I will let you read their good stuff here. I also did an excessive amount of tweeting from my Swap-O-Rama-Rama twitter handle @SORR_Chicago (full tweet list below).


Here are the overall thoughts I have after the 1st day:

  1. Crafty people are awesome. I knew this already, but after feeling all the positive energy in every single session, after hearing Mena Trott’s (of story of being trolled-to-tears in other non-crafty blogging communities, and after hearing so many moving, inspiring stories from so many women, it has all been confirmed completely. I love this community and how inclusive, warm, supportive and inviting it is. It was also confirmed by meeting some really cool people including (but not limited to) Patti, Megan Anmah (, Kathy Cano-Murillo (the CraftyChica), and Tara Gentile ( who is pictured at the top of this post.
  2. People need positive. From what I could tell from the successful people presenting, they seemed to focus on the positive in their blogs. This seems important in this community in particular. People craft because they love it and it makes them feel good. They don’t want to find a bunch of drama in their websites. I think especially right now in America this is needed.
  3. The “Experience” is the new black. Multiple speakers said that creating a superior experience is more important than anything else. They didn’t say it point blank, but I think this means that you don’t need to have a superior or particularly new product as long as you can create a superior, unique, engaging experience for your customers. I’m mulling this. I think there’s something big in this. I need to percolate, my head is too full of awesome right now.


Ok, not sure if anyone will want to read this, but just incase:

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Fascinatin’ Ribbon

September 15, 2011 at 3:40 am (Uncategorized)

So I wanted something to make my outfits at The Creative Connection Event a little more “conspicuously crafty” so last night after the bags were packed and the kid and husband put to bed, I turned on a little Star Trek Enterprise and whipped up these fascinator-inspired barrettes…

fascinator barrettes

Made both of these from scrap fabric in less than an hour.

I found the pattern on this fabulous blog:  I Am Momma Hear Me Roar and it was just as easy to make as it looks in the pictures!

And BTW, how much do you love this new trend of awesome looking photos c/o Instagram?  Go download the iPhone app right now.  You know you want to!

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Headed to The Creative Connection Event

September 12, 2011 at 2:14 am (Uncategorized)

I’m really looking forward to an extra long weekend in St. Paul, MN at The Creative Connection Event.

I’ll be there representing Astek, seeing if anyone needs an upgrade to their blog/website, and also soaking up the crafty, web marketing ideas for future after-hours endeavors, like, say, the next iteration of this blog, or helping Mom figure out how to launch a 2nd career as a weaving teacher, or starting an Etsy business selling craft kits!

I can’t wait to hang out with Mom, meet geeky/crafty women like me, and take a class from THE Crafty Chica in all her glittery glory.  SO GEEKED!

(Confidential to Kathy: I hope it's ok I swiped this off your FB page.)

In preparation, I have ordered a new dress of terminal adorableness.  It should be delivered on Tuesday.  I am about dying to see if it is as cute in person as it is in this photo:

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