Hello Kitty Drawstring Backpack

Awhile ago I had posted about wanting to make something for my niece with some Japanese Hello Kitty fabric I had purchased.  Not long after that, I saw some cute drawstring backpacks that Amy had made (check them out at Stitchery Dickory Dock) for her girls. I knew as soon as I saw them that it was exactly what the Hello Kitty fabric was supposed to be.

She had used Jeni’s tutorial for her lined drawstring bag that has been everywhere in blog land. Around Christmas everyone was whipping these up to put their gifts in instead of wrapping paper.

So I based my drawstring backpack on Jeni’s tutorial, with a few modifications as suggested by Amy.

In the original tutorial the bag is 13 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide. I made mine 15 inches by 11.5 inches. So, I cut the main exterior fabric 10 inches by 11.5 inches and the coordinating exerior fabric 5 inches by 11.5 inches.

This then made the lining piece 14.5 inches by 11.5 inches.

For the straps I made them wider and longer than the original tutorial. I cut the material 4 inches by 57 inches. I used Jeni’s method to fold and sew them, so when they were done they were 1 inch wide.

I was worried about how I was going to sew the straps into the bottom corners. But in the end, it was easy peasy.

I just followed all the directions (on Jeni’s tutorial) and before sewing the interior lining closed I seamripped one inch in the bottom corners, inserted the straps and then resewed it. It worked beautifully.

I can’t wait to mail this to Lana, and am even more excited to get a picture of her wearing the backpack.

– erica

Nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty six

9,726: the number of visits I have had on my blog in one year. I have nothing to compare this to since this is my only blog and it’s my first year. But it kind of sounds like a lot of views. And it’s really close to 10,000.

Last year, today, I posted my first blog post. I can’t tell you how many times I reread that post wondering if it was okay. Now, I just kind of write.

I can’t believe how many things have happened in the past year:

  • Sewed many baby quilts, bags, pouches… and bought a little bit of fabric…
  • Joined the Boston Modern Quilt Guild
  • Took sewing classes at Laura’s Sewing School
  • Bought a kitty, who is part bengal
  • Left my job in Cambridge, MA
  • Started working in Los Angeles, CA
  • Moved across country due to above job change
  • Went to Sewing Summit 2011
  • Had two miscarriages
  • Had my one year anniversary (can I just say: best husband ever)
  • Started a sewing group at my house in LA
  • Diagnosed with Lupus
  • Became vegan

And I’m still kickin’ it! Seriously, how many changes can you have in one year?

Thanks for following along, I’m excited for year number two!

– erica

Hello Kitty

I have the most adorable niece in the world. And I’m not biased. There is nothing that makes my spirit happier than spending time with Lana. This past weekend we went to the Minnesota Zoo.

Seriously, how cute are we together? (You’ll be seeing lots of hats, visors, and long sleeve shirts in the future since Lupus flares can be triggered by sunshine).  

Lana LOVES hello kitty. I actually think it’s a bit alarming how excited she gets, and also wished I got that excited over something so simple. I found some japanese hello kitty fabric last year and bought 2 yards with the intention of making her something.

Anyone with any good ideas or patterns? I think I would prefer to make a cute bag or pillow, probably not clothing.


Monkey Feet


These shoes may fit until the end of this week. I guess I’ll just have to make another pair. I think he liked them. I could tell by his giant smile.



Baby Shoes

I have been behind in sewing, and behind in blogging. This past month has been difficult for me since being diagnosed with lupus. I am adjusting to my new paradigm in life of living with a chronic disease. It’s definitely not something I expected, but I guess most people don’t expect to get sick. Time is one of the ultimate healers and I am trying to stay strong in knowing that as time passes I won’t be so scared. And I am truly thankful for AMAZING friends and family that have been spending extra time listening to me and offering encouragement and support. I am blessed.

But, on to a happier topic. Baby shoes!

My sister had her second baby a few months ago (OK, maybe more than a few months…. Elliot was born in September…), and I actually haven’t gotten him a baby gift yet. She assures me that he is little and won’t remember.

But look at these guys:

It will be totally worth the wait. I saw this Simplicity pattern (see below) at JoAnn Fabrics and I had to buy it. I immediately fell in love with the monkey shoes.

Their shoes were all brown, but I wanted to add in a little color, so I chose a blue polka dot print. I used a fusible web to fuse the wool felt to the fabric (um, WAY cool).

They have little velcro flaps to open.

Way cute, right? I hope his feet aren’t too big already.




The Important Stuff

I follow a lot of different blogs. Mostly fellow quilters. Normally I’m really excited to read all the new blog posts every day but for the past month I have not been reading them. It just felt like one more thing on the “To Do” list.  Last night I finally sat down and enjoyed some of my favorite blogs. And it felt a little bit like the good ‘ol days.

And when catching up on my blogs I read Lisa’s post Spinning Your Way Through Life and it really hit home for me. Lately I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to do everything I want to do. And it really does feel like anytime you do one thing, another thing gets left behind. And the more things I start doing the more I struggle with the frustration that I feel like I’m not doing anything well anymore.

So, I thought, how do I deal with this? I think the first thing is letting go of the idea that I have to do everything really well (easier said written than done), and the other thing is to reevaluate what is really important to me so I can focus my time and energy on those things.

Here we go: What’s Important to Me:

Being a great partner for my husband. Which means: Loving him by paying attention to what is important to him (for example I may believe that having the dishes washed and the house clean shows him that I love him, but to him that doesn’t mean anything compared to greeting him at the door when get gets home with a hug and kiss).  Supporting him in his professional endeavors, and being patient while he figures out what that is.  Listening to him (especially since after a day of listening to other people’s problems all day, I like to be the TALKER). It’s important to constantly be present in the moment and focusing on US together.

Being healthy. I feel like I am diagnosing pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all day long. It is super alarming. When I met my husband I did not have very many healthy habits: I ate a lot of packaged and cafeteria food (um, residency anyone?), didn’t exercise, and honestly didn’t really think about things too much. The combination of seeing a lot of unhealthy people with watching a few documentaries and reading some different articles, has really changed me. I want to eat mostly vegetarian, eat as little processed food as possible, and start to work out regularly. I feel fortunate to have just found a great fitness teacher at my gym (I am majorly externally motivated).

Staying in touch with friends and family. Since I grew up in Minnesota, lived in Costa Rica for a year, lived in Boston for a few years and now live in Los Angeles I have accumulated friends all over the world. And my family is still in Minnesota. So, other than moving everyone here to Los Angeles, I am stuck doing the long distance thing with lots of people. I am trying to Skype regularly with my niece and nephew and talk on the phone and email family and friends. All of that spells: T-I-M-E. So the first thing I did was increase my phone plan last month to account for this. I have learned that my commute is a good time to multi-task (don’t tell the traffic cops). And I am also trying to get back to Minnesota about every 3 months.

Quilting/Dancing/Reading/Blogging. Here’s all the other stuff I am trying to do. Each of these seems to go through its ups and downs depending on my mood and energy/fatigue level. These are the things that make me really excited, but seem to be at the bottom of the list and only get done when everything else has already happened. And then the guilt starts to creep in, and all the “shoulds” start to crowd my brain.

I just need to focus on what things are meaningful to me. And worry less about the rest.



Jake and I went back to Minnesota for Christmas. We were really hoping for a WHITE Christmas.  I can’t remember ever having a BROWN Christmas in Minnestoa, but this year we had one. The weather was very mild, averaging around 45 degrees during the day. Crazy!

My family is German/Norwegian/Sweedish and we have had Lefse at many family gatherings growing up (thanks to my Norwegian/Sweedish side). My mom decided we would make homemade lefse on Christmas Day this year. She was able to get all the tools we needed (um, it takes a lot of stuff to make lefse).






I think my mom boiled about 30 lbs of potatoes to get the lefse ready. She used this recipe (but tripled it):

  • 4 cups riced potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

We had lots of opinions on how to make the lefse: thinner, thicker, more flour, less flour… it’s definitely an artform!

Here is Jake making the lefse “balls”:

Weston and I were at the “rolling” station. The rolling pin is corrugated and has a sleeve on top. If the lefse dough got too warm or if the rolling pin didn’t have enough flour on it, the dough would stick to the pin and then wreck the lefse you were trying to roll out. We refered to it as “cancer”.

Then we had to pick up the lefse (using the long, wooden stick) and bring it over the the griddle. You have to be very careful during this stage because the lefse is VERY THIN. If you’re not careful it will break. Then you put the lefse down and roll it out using the long stick.

I’m not sure how people make their lefse round.

Then, top the lefse with butter and white or brown sugar. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas! What family traditions does your family have?



I’m taking a break from everything right now and spending time in Minnesota with my sister. I flew out here yesterday and then took a shuttle down to Rochester. When I got off the shuttle my niece was in my sister’s car screaming “ERICA, ERICA!” At the top of her lungs. I could not think of a better greeting.

Lana refers to Elliot as “my baby brother”. I haven’t heard her call him by his name yet. She’s been a little more of  a stinker than normal, which I’m guessing is an adjustment phase.

We went out for dinner last night and Lana is still obsessed with werewolves. At the restaurant they were playing music which she claimed was “Werewolf Music”. She did an amazing dance.

Check it out:

Elliot is a super chill baby. He mostly sleeps. And he is just a little lump in your arms. I’m trying to hold him as much as I can over the next few days to get my Elliot fill before I go back to CA.

I love being home.


I’m in LOVE

I have a nephew! 6lbs 1oz. He doesn’t have a name yet.


– erica


My niece is deathly afraid of werewolves after watching Michael Jackson’s thriller video. But, strangely, she wants to be a werewolf for halloween. I CANNOT get enough of this picture.


– erica