I like to think I am fashionable, but in reality, I have a fairly consistent history of questionable fashion choices. Prime example: This Banana Republic poncho I bought in 2004. I loved this poncho so much that I blogged about it THREE times: here, here, and here. It was basically just a rectangular piece of knit fabric with a hole for your head, but I thought it was cool.

Sadly, after purchasing the beloved poncho, I fell out of love. I think I wore it three times. BUT! I had this brilliant idea! I could make a nice striped pillow cover out of the poncho! So… I moved that poncho across the country with us twice, sure that I would enact my pillow plan soon… very soon…

It only took me nine years! I finally made the pillow cover this week. Sweet. It was super-simple. I used one of my existing store-bought 20-inch pillow covers as a template and basically just folded the knit poncho fabric around the template and created an overlapping envelope closure on the back. Then, I stitched straight lines down the sides with my sewing machine. I reinforced the stitching a bit, trimmed off the excess fabric, then turned the whole thing right side out and stuffed a pillow inside. I think it took me fifteen minutes!

Well, nine years and fifteen minutes… ha.

i want to send you a valentine!

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday! I love making Valentines.

You know what else I love?? Helping to find a cure for cancer. Yes.

I have started my seventh season with Team in Training. This season I am mentoring and training for the New Jersey Long Branch Half Marathon and the Memorial Day Road Trail Challenge. I am also raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Want to help?? And, want to receive an awesome hand-crafted Valentine sent from me to you via Snail Mail??

Make a donation (of any size! big or small!) before my birthday on February 10th and I will mail you one of my Valentine matchboxes. The tiny box of fun will be a one-of-a-kind creation made just for YOU and it will contain some sweet Valentine goodies. (I once taught a craft night class at Etsy on how to make these little boxes… so I guess you could say I’m a pro!)

••• Donate Now! •••

More info: The LLS is an awesome organization that funds cancer research and supports patients both emotionally and financially. The research they have funded has led to medical advances and extreme increases in blood cancer survival rates. Your donation will go 100% to the LLS. I pay for all of my own race and travel expenses for every event I do with TNT so that all of the money donated via my campaign goes directly to the LLS mission.

BurdaStyle book launch party in Soho

This post was originally published on the FaveCrafts Blog. A version also appeared on the Ace Department Gazette.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook is an online community for people who like to sew. The website, which has more than 600,000 members, offers free and inexpensive sewing patterns, step-by step sewing tutorials, skill sharing, and inspirational project ideas. On November 10th, they launched their very first book, The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook.

BurdaStyle projects

BurdaStyle co-founder and author of the new book, Nora Abousteit, and her staff hosted a large and exciting book launch party last month at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. Examples of finished items created using sewing patterns from the new book were on display throughout the loft-like space. There were snacks and drinks, craft tables with make-and-take projects, and a photo booth from There was even a cake printed with the Sewing Handbook cover image!

BurdaStyle cake

My first stop at the event was at the Singer make-and-take table. I used a Singer sewing machine and Spoonflower fabric printed with the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook cover to make a quick, little, drawstring bag. I was nervous to put my sewing machine skills on display since I was surrounding by so many talented and creative seamstresses, but the project was easy and basically error-proof.

BurdaStyle glitter tattoos

Next, I headed over to the glitter tattoo table. Megan Nicolay of Generation T and was applying sparkly designs to any willing party guest using stencils and Tulip Body Art Glitter. I played it safe and got an abstract flower on my hand.

Copies of the The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook were available to purchase at the event. The 200-page, spiral-bound book contains over seventy step-by-step variations of five basic patterns: a blouse, skirt, dress, bag, and jacket. It has a large intro section that can help those new to sewing get started using patterns. There are also plenty of full-color photos of the finished projects, plus profiles of members from all over the world. The full-size patterns are also included in an envelope inside the back cover of the book.

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

It was exciting to meet the people behind the huge BurdaStyle community and to see much of the creativity from the website translated into book form. The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook is a fun project book for both beginners and experienced seamstresses that will help you endlessly customize your wardrobe.

more than a blogging conference

I am trying to wrap my brain around my experience last week at The Creative Connection/BlogHer Handmade conference while also trying to catch up on work here at home. It was a great event, but also overwhelming. So many new people to meet, so many sessions, so much info… so many tweets to send!

The event was held in a lovely hotel right on the Mississippi river in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. I shared a hotel room for the conference with Crissy, the owner of She had the awesome job of hosting and speaking on a panel during the BlogHer Handmade portion of the event. The panel was titled “Using Content and Community to Grow Your Reach” and she did a great job. I was in the front row and snapped the photo below. (You can read Crissy’s recaps of the conference here and here.)

There were approximately 2-3 sessions per day, plus keynote speeches at the lunches and dinners. Since I have been to a few similar conferences before, I had already heard a lot of the info about using social media and blogging to promote your business, but it was still interesting to hear the stories of how other women created and run their businesses. There were a few “a-ha” moments during the more inspirational talks. These are a few of my favorite quotes:

“Work/life balance is like juggling several balls – some are glass and some are rubber. Don’t drop the glass ones.”Stacy Julian of Big Picture Classes

“A happy ending is possible from any beginning.” – Holly Becker, decor8

“The difference in you is your super power.” – Karen Walrond,

Everyone needs a little shot of inspiration every once in a while… It helps me to be reminded that running my own business is not so weird and that success is a possibility.

I had to include a photo of the food! We had some great meals and very tasty desserts. Starbucks was a sponsor, so there was always coffee to be had and we each got to take home our own big bag of beans. We were also given little bundles of swag at each meal. My favorite was the “Aspire” necklace from The Vintage Pearl that we received at dinner the first night. Very sweet. And, amazingly, I also won a Cricut Expression machine in a random drawing at lunch the second day! It is a machine that cuts intricate shapes out of paper and fabric — I am very excited to try it out! (It is being shipped to my apartment.)

The Creative Connection was sponsored by Sterling Publishers and Where Women Create magazine so there were lots of books, magazines, and authors at the conference. I couldn’t resist purchasing the new Celebrate: Where Women Cook book and had it signed by the author, Jo Packham.

There were many crafty internet “celebrities” — hey, they are celebrities to me! — at the conference, and despite not wanting to be an annoying fangirl, I posed for a few photos with some of the very sweet, creative women…

Crafty Chica spoke on a couple of the panels. She is an awesome, positive person who basically has a craft empire. She blogs, write novels, and even has her own line of craft supplies. I was pumped to get some of her glitter in our swag bags!

I’ve already gushed about Holly Becker from decor8, but I really admire her. She gave the keynote speech on the first night and was just wonderful. She talked about her life and growing her blog and business. She just seems like a very authentic, kind, professional person and I plan to keep following her story.

On the very last day of the conference, I finally got to take a true crafting class. (I was trying to be a good business lady and took all of the educational, business classes prior to the last day. Trying to learn how to do this whole LLC thing correctly…) My craft class was Inspiration Boards with Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint. Leslie was awesome, so stylish and nice, and we had fun playing with pretty paper, washi tape, ribbon, and Leslie’s own beautifully styled photos. We created color-based inspiration boards that can be used as a starting point for larger design project. I loved it and wished that I had taken all crafting classes at the conference… next time!


If you’d like to read more about The Creative Connection/BlogHer Handmade, check out these blog posts from other attendees here, here, here, here, and here.

For Swap-bot users: I am hosting a giveaway on the Swap-bot blog for a giant pile of some of the conference swag. Go comment to enter!

the creative connection continues…

It is now the morning of Day 3 at The Creative Connection. I am getting ready to head to a photography class…

Yesterday, was a fun, but overwhelming day. I went to a marketing class in the morning and then a law class in the afternoon. The law class was tough. SO much information. Much of it I already know and have implemented, but running a legit, legal business is so complicated — laws, insurance, taxes, accounting, licenses — at least it feels that way to me. I’ll get it all 100% in order some day…

I guess I should wait until the end of today to give a final report, but this has been a really fun conference. Different than the traditional BlogHer conference, but still plenty informative and inspiring. There are lots of very smart women out there in the world. Anyway… Stay tuned! I’ll have more to say tomorrow, I am sure.

Obviously, I’ve gotten more into Instagram during the conference. All of these square, funky photos you see are taken with that iPhone app. The spools of thread above are from the Tinsel Trading booth at the TCCW Marketplace.

BlogHer Handmade – getting started…

I am already handing out lots of these business card packs here at the BlogHer Handmade conference in Minnesota. We already had breakfast, did some “speed dating,” and now we are in our first session. So far, I am having a really good time — meeting lots of people and handing out Swap-bot postcards. Sweet.

I am also wearing my new shoes…

minneapolis, here I come!

I’m traveling today to Minnesota for a blogging/business/craft conference. The event is actually two conferences combined into a three-day experience.

Thursday is BlogHer Handmade, a conference more focused on the online community and business of craft. I am taking a few business classes (community building, traffic building, and monetization) that day and hoping to learn more about expanding and improving Swap-bot. and Ace Department.

I am excited that Holly Becker is the keynote speaker on Thursday — you already know that I love her blog!

The final two days of the event are The Creative Connection. It is an annual craft convention that includes a marketplace, keynote speakers, and classes. I’m taking a marketing class, a law class, a photography class, and an “inspiration board” class. SHould be fun!

Even though I am sure I will learn new things, my main goal of the conference is to network and meet new people. Since I work from home, it is nice to have an opportunity to get out and interact with other humans. Ill be sure to report back on the entire event!

product review: Teresa Collins Stampmaker

This article was originally published on…

Custom stamps for my personal crafting needs have always been a wish list item for me, so I jumped at the chance to review the Teresa Collins Stampmaker. With the Stampmaker, you are able to make your own clear polymer stamps, stencils, and embossing templates using just about any image. It won First Runner-Up for the 2010 CHA Innovative Award!

The Stampmaker set sells for $169 and comes with the light unit, magnetic clamp, ten stamp pacs, two emboss and two stencil pacs, acrylic block for mounting your finished stamps and two sheets of Stampmaker Cling (for mounting stamp to acrylic block), wash brush, post exposure tray, CD with the imagepac artwork modifying program and many exclusive Teresa Collins designs, two sheets of negative film for inkjet printers, eight pre-printed samples of exclusive Teresa Collins designed artwork negatives, plus written and video instructions.

For my first session with the stampmaker, I created seven images to turn into stamps. Above is the set of negative images that I created in Photoshop. I love sending snail mail, so most of these first stamps are graphics that I can use over and over on my outgoing packages.

If you do not have Photoshop or a similar program, the Stampmaker comes with “Imagpac” imaging software for PC computers. Or, you can download free negative stamp images from the Teresa Collins blog

I work on a Mac and am comfortable with Photoshop, so making the negative images was a breeze. You can scan, type, or design just about any black and white graphic and then invert the colors. I printed all seven of my stamps negatives onto one sheet of transparency film (provided with the Stampmaker) using my HP deskjet printer. You can see the resulting transparency below.

You want to be sure to print on the correct side of the transparency film (it is slightly sticky when touched with a damp finger) and the images must be printed very opaque black. If you are running low on ink and your negative images are streaky, they will not produce nice stamps.

Before proceeding, I watched the video instructions for stampmaking twice and then referred to the written instructions while creating my actual stamps. The procedure is a bit complicated, but by following the directions step-by-step I managed to avoid any mistakes (full disclosure: I made polymer stamps using a similar process once before in a print making class, so I was already somewhat familiar with the Teresa Collins Stampmaker procedure).

To create a stamp, you press a negative image on top of one of the “stamp pacs” in between the provided magnetic clamp, and then place the clamp into the light unit for three minutes. The clear areas of the image allow light to hit and harden the liquid polymer in the pac, creating the raised areas of the stamp. The strong magnetic clamp ensures that the liquid polymer is flattened into a perfectly flat surface for your stamp.

Once the stamp has been exposed, you must wash off any remaining liquid polymer. You trim the edges from the stamp pac and then rinse your stamp under warm water. You can use mild dish soap and the provided cleaning brush to clean out all of the details of your stamp. Once your stamp is totally clean, you re-expose it in the light unit and water tray to harden it once more.

Cleaning the stamps is my least favorite part of the stampmaking process. The polymer is a slight skin irritant, it has a strong odor, and it is messy. You must work diligently to clean out all of the stamp crevices, but not scrub too hard and damage your delicate stamp.

The cleaning step is totally worth the final product, though! All of my stamps turned out beautifully and created crisp clear stamped images. You can use the enclosed “Stampmaker Cling” tape to adhere your stamp to the provided acrylic block and start stamping immediately after cleaning and drying your stamp!

The return address stamp that you see above was more finely detailed and a bit more difficult to clean. I suggest using clear, adequately spaced text for your stamps. You can see that the bolded words “packaged with care by:” on the top line in my stamp are slightly harder to read. I would make that text more clear in a second attempt. Also, I had a very thin dashed line above and below my return address stamp design, but it was accidentally brushed off during my rigorous cleaning of the stamp.

Very fine design elements are harder to produce in the stamps, but they ARE possible. There are troubleshooting steps included in the Stampmaker instructions.

I have dreamed of creating the mailing label stamp seen above for years. I basically used to hand draw that same design on most of my out-going packages, which took way too much time. The stamp is a super-simple design, but I know it is one I will use over and over! (I mounted it on my own acrylic block.)

I love that the Teresa Collins Stampmaker has already made it possible for me to create things I have been thinking about for ages – all without having to place any complicated custom orders or deal with the price and shipping delay that would come with ordering these stamps from an office supply company.

I had a lot of fun making all of my stamps and then using them to pre-stamp multiple mailing envelopes. The stamps worked great on bubble envelopes and will make my mailing and shipping life much easier! There are so many more stamps I plan to make! And even though I do not think I will use them quite as often, I am looking forward to creating stencils and embossing templates with the Stampmaker next.

My ultimate opinion of the Teresa Collins Stampmaker? I love it. The stamps it produces are clear and crisp, and if you have a design already in mind, creating a stamp that you can immediately start using takes less than thirty minutes. The price may be restrictive for many, as will the fact that you only get ten stamp pacs and must then purchase additional pacs. But for serious stampers who have lots of ideas that they want to turn into stamps, it will be a valuable tool.


  • Everything is included in the Teresa Collins Stampmaker set to immediately start making stamps.
  • Clear video and written instructions.
  • There is no limit to what you can turn into a stamp!


  • Price of $169 is an investment.
  • When washing out your stamps the liquid polymer is messy and has an odor.
  • The stampmaking procedure may seem complicated to beginners.

Have you tried the Teresa Collins Stampmaker kit? Have you always wanted to make your own stamps? Is this a product you would consider purchasing, why or why not?


secret project

Shhh… I’m working on reviewing this for Craft Critique this weekend. It is a fun project, but my guest blog posts/reporting always takes me longer than I expect.

I always work a little bit harder on my work for others than on the work I do for my own websites. Not that I ever want my work to be lower quality, but there is less stress involved when my writing and photography will only reflect on me and my enterprises — not on others. Maybe my priorities are backwards?

cupcake craft night 2

On Monday, I attended the 5th Annual Cupcake Craft Party at Etsy Labs. This was my second time at the annual event hosted by Cupcakes Take the Cake. (See my report on the 2009 cupcake craft night here.)

This time we learned how to make little cupcake charms out of polymer clay. It was more difficult than I anticipated to make them look cute! But I got to see a lot of my Etsy friends (Hi Marcie, Tyshawn, Nichelle, and Julie!!) and admire the cute charms that were being created by others.

As always, if you like crafts and live in NY, you should check out Etsy Labs!