Con Survival Part 1

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Hello and welcome to Sunday, readers! I mentioned last week that we would be prepping for Gen Con this week (it’s so close!) and since I’ve been attending so many conventions in the last year, there are certain things I’ve learned to depend on when it comes to having the best experience possible. So in the upcoming weeks, I will share with you some of the hints and tips I’ve formulated to help you survive your next convention. This week I bring to you Con Survival Part 1: Packing.

Maybe we should have packed the kitchen sink, too?

Maybe we should have packed the kitchen sink, too?

There are always a number of things to consider when packing for an event but conventions are a special sort of animal. There are definitely some questions that need answering before we even start making a packing list:

  1. How far away is the convention and how are you getting there? If you are driving, you may be a little more accommodating in your packing as you are only limited by how large of a vehicle you are taking. If you are flying or taking some other form of public transportation, you will be more limited on how much you can cram in to your bags. If you are close to home, fantastic, but you still aren’t going to want to lose valuable con time because you had to go back for something.
  2. Where will you be staying once you get to the convention? If it’s a hotel, snacks may be limited to non-perishables if there will not be a fridge to store them. If you have rented a condo or apartment, you may be able to stock up at the local grocery store. If you are lucky enough to be staying with friends in the area, don’t forget a thank you gift. Scout out the distance to the convention center and where local stores may be just in case you forgot something.
  3. What will the weather be like? Even if you plan on being in the convention center for the entire weekend, you will still need to travel back and forth. You definitely do not want to be stuck under a vent in a freezing cold complex while dripping wet because you decided not to pack a jacket or umbrella. You also don’t want to get a nasty sunburn because you did not pack sunscreen and were stuck in the food truck line for an hour (not that I would know that one personally).
  4. Are you cosplaying? This is a very large consideration since all of the props and pieces will have to be transported and stored as well.

Ok, have you answered those questions? Good. Because next we make THE LIST. I am a master list maker, if I do say so myself. My significant other often laughs at the lists I have for my lists but you know what? They get the job done. Over the years I’ve used grocery list paper, the backs of used envelopes, napkins, and even tried a list making app but I hadn’t quite found something that really helped me remember everything every time. Until I found the Pack This! pre-printed lists from The Container Store*. Man, these things are awesome!

Even if it's not already on there, the categories are the biggest help.

Even if it’s not already on there, the categories are the biggest help.

Ok, so now you’ve got your list going. The one big consideration for packing we mentioned was the cosplay bit. There are special considerations for the care and keeping of your costume pieces! I found this lovely article from Cosplaying on a Budget about cosplay con survival kits that should pack pretty easily if you plan it right:

Also useful for making new cosplay friends if costume repair is needed!

Also useful for making new cosplay friends if costume repair is needed!

The last but no less important thing to consider for packing is snacks. Going to conventions is an expensive endeavor and you can save yourself money with added health benefits if you bring some of your own little nibbles to keep you going through the weekend. I found some great ideas for snack tackle boxes on the web, including this one (wherein I’d probably include more nuts and dried fruits):

The chocolate can stay, though.

The chocolate can stay, though.

This should hopefully give you a good start on packing for the trip. Next week, I’ll give you my con bag packing tips so that you don’t strain your back nor have to make a dozen trips back to home base.

Stay crafty!


*CraftHackers is in no way affiliated or sponsored by The Container Store, we just happen to be really big fans.

Quilt a Long – NES Sampler Megaman

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Time for the ninth block of the NES Sampler Quilt a Long, the Megaman 1-up.


To remind you, this is what the entire NES Sampler Quilt will look like.


The NES Sampler quilt will have a finished size of 51″ by 67″.

For those not familiar with a Quilt a Long we will be releasing the pattern for one block each month on the 1st.  You then have the entire month to make the block.  Don’t feel rushed though.  The patterns will always be free and available in the forums so you can join and catch up at any time.  You can pick and choose which blocks to make and in what order you would like to arrange them on the quilt.  You just don’t get the instructions for the next block in the series until the following month.

This quilt can be made by experienced quilters, or those new to quilting.  You only need to know how to use a sewing machine and a rotary cutter.  New quilting tips will be highlighted so experienced quilters can skip over them.

You can find the pattern to Megaman here.

Please let us know if there is anything in the patterns that are confusing or need to be explained further.  If the the NES quilt is successful then we plan on releasing our own line of patterns for you!

Happy Quilting!


Meet the Hackers: ConBravo

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Today is the start of Con Bravo in Hamilton, Ontario.


From the ConBravo site:

ConBravo! is a three-day festival of YouTube, gaming, music, anime, and just about everything else your geeky heart desires. The festival is dedicated to fandom, equipped with consoles, arcades, LAN parties, panels, workshops, concerts, guest appearances, and a whole lot more.

Most of all, we’re focused on independent and community creators; people who bring fandom to life. It’s what makes us different from any other show out there, and promises an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Craft Hackers will be there!  Toni from Quiltoni and Megan from Absynthetika will be at table M01 in the Artist Alley.


Toni will have her special NES Sampler quilt and the Lap sized Tardis quilt with their patterns available.  In addition to bringing you quilts, pillows, and Corsets Toni will also be on two panels.

Copyright Basics for Crafters and Artists
Webster A
9:30 PM – 10:30 PM

Copyright must be considered when creating art. Learn what you can and can’t do based upon copyrighted images. Non copyrighted items are also covered.

Artist Alley 101
Webster C
8:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Ready to hawk your handmade wares at cons, but have no clue where to start? Come get the low-down on all the basics of artist alley participation!

So if you are in the Hamilton area, swing by and say hi!


Finding the Balance Part 1

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Good morning, Thursday Crafthackers!

I’m going to bring you something a little different, and you’ll be seeing a little more of these types of posts coming over the next number of months. Many of us want our job to be something we love, and those of us that are crafty often think it is a brilliant idea to turn our hobby into a business. It can be a great idea! But, I find that when it comes to business, especially making a business out of a hobby or something that you love, finding that balance between work and life, between complete immersion and sanity is a very difficult thing.


This may not be quite a DIY, but a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to take care of yourself when you’re looking at running your own business. As soon as you become serious, it can be so easy to lose yourself in the thing that you’re doing. It’s easy to put in the hours because you love it, easy to put all your energy into it because it’s your baby. Is that the right thing to do, though?

I will share some of the things that I’ve learned, and also the things that I had to come to terms with, as I post these articles. I found that working from home on my own business was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. When I went to an appointment with my doctor, she commented on how nice it must be to work from home, how stress free and how you can eat healthy and clean the house whenever I have time. I looked at her and knew that she could never understand the struggle of finding the work life balance as an at home entrepreneur.


One of the most important things in finding this balance is knowing yourself. Really knowing yourself. Are you a great solo worker, or do you like to work in a team? Even if you’re great at working on your own, do you like to have people around? I learned the hard way, myself, that I need people around me on a regular basis. I like people, I like to be social, I like to have the movement of others around me, even if I’m doing a solo project. I had to make a difficult decision, when I learned that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be, working from home to create my dream.

I needed to be productive and interacting with the public. So I got a part time job working in a retail environment. It took a little while to understand that I wasn’t giving up on my dream by taking this other job. It sure did take some time away from my business, and that’s a hard thing to get used to. After working for a couple of months I realized I made the right decision. I was happier, I was making friends, and I found that my at home work time was more productive and energy filled. I think it’s super important to take an extremely close look at how you work best, and find a compromise that works for you. I think it’s important to note that your mental well being will translate to the well being of your business, and you need to make sure that you’re taking care of all parts of yourself.


Do you have the discipline to make a schedule, to make deadlines and stick to them? Working from home can make it easy to shrug a job off and to procrastinate. To, say, leave your work for an hour and then come back to it. To do a chore or just take a couple hours for yourself. The beauty of working from home is that you can do these things, but sometimes it can be easy to forget – you’re working, and while doing the odd chore to give yourself a break isn’t a bad thing, it can be a slippery slope to pushing back the work you need to do because… well… let’s be honest. It’s work.


So how do you balance yourself at home? There’s no simple answer, and truth be told, it is no easy task.  One of the best ways I’ve found is to set a schedule for yourself, including breaks and lunches, to keep yourself on the right track. Outside of your scheduled hours is when you can do some of the household upkeep or taking time for yourself. Unless you know when you are working and what your expectations are of yourself, then how can you perform in the way that you would like? Just like a job outside the home, you need to know what is expected to be able to do it. Working without direction is one of the hardest things to do, and there’s no reason for it.

To flip the coin to the other side… how do you know when you’re working too much? Or when you’re throwing yourself so hard at the business that other things that were once extremely important to you, just don’t seem to matter so much? The flip side of setting your own hours can mean that you don’t have a limit – that you just keep working until you can’t work anymore. If I’m going to be honest with you, readers, I have struggled with both these problems, and both of them result in me feeling the scales of my priorities being tipped too far in one direction or another.

When you throw your everything into your work, it can be easy to lose sight of family, relationships and friendships. It can become easy to say that you just don’t have time for these things, or that your work matters more. My question to you becomes this: Would you say that if someone else were writing your paycheques?  That being said, running your business is a full time job that often requires overtime. But it shouldn’t consume you. Schedule your time off, make time for the family and friends to help you to relax.

I hope that you found some of my revelations helpful to your own well beings, and if you were thinking of going into your crafting business more full time, that you will know to look at these things in your life and try to figure out how to manage yourself to make your life about living, rather than just living to work. I have several other insights which I’ve learned through my years running my own business, and I still continue to learn things constantly. I have to say though, I wish I had someone who had sat me down and had a conversation with me about how emotionally and mentally hard being a business owner can be. That being said, if you can manage yourself well enough, it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have.


Happy crafting!



Technique of the Week – Season 2

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Cheryl Sleboda is back with another season of the technique of the week!


For those that didn’t catch the first season last year, Cheryl spent an entire year teaching us cool techniques that we can use in our sewing.  One of my favorites last year was learning how to make a Quilters Knot.

Yesterday she launched a new season all about Reverse Applique!  She created this amazing quilt using the technique.

You can watch the video about Reverse Applique over on her blog.  If you want to watch past videos or subscribe to her YouTube channel to be notified when each week is posted, head here.

DIY Cosplay Boots

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Much like con season, Cosplay season is in full swing and I wanted to share some simple info I found that could help change your daunting footwear tasks. Instead of shopping for the right boots and dumping tons of money on something you’ll not wear more than a few times, why not make your boots?







Based on this free deviantart Doll Boot pattern, tumble user pitoftharkun created their own boots by scaling it up to size and using craft foam for the sides and a cheap $5 rubber mat to make the soles. The end result looks pretty great, imho.

The fabric used was a micro suede of some kind, but I imagine a faux leather would work just as well. You will need to be somewhat experienced in sewing (and ideally have a sewing machine) but anything that saves me hours of shopping and stress is always a win in my book. 🙂


The Painted Wallpaper

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Is wallpaper still used that often nowadays? I know when I was younger it was very not ~in style~ and having done house work myself, I know how much of a pain taking it down can be. Well I have a lovely solution for those of you who like the look of wallpaper but don’t like the hassle of it.

UK based artist Clare Bosanquet saw these patterned rollers that have been used in countries like Denmark for almost 100 years and fell in love with them. When she got back she decided to create her own system that would allow the user to use the roller for longer periods with her dual roller brush design. There’s even a custom one if you want to paint your fabric with these patterned roller instead!

The finished look is simple yet detailed and can really add some pop to your room without all the headache wallpaper would bring. She’s got a sop of full designs that you can find here at her etsy page. ^_^


Cool Off in the Hot Sun

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Whew! Sunday readers, it is a hot one out there today! It appears that there will be more hot days on their way as well and since it’s summer here, that also means outdoor events. How are you going to keep cool and still not become a hermit? How about making some neat fans to help with the heat.

Since there are a variety of summer events out there, we can start with a very lovely fan for all occasions:

So pretty and simple!

So pretty and simple!

If you are attending a wedding/commitment ceremony, this second style of folding fan would also make lovely favors:

Perfect for personalizing.

Perfect for personalizing.

And if you are the host of the party, perhaps you’d like to provide your guests with a program or menu that will also help with staving off the heat:

Yours will be more descriptive, of course.

Yours will be more descriptive, of course.

Make sure you are staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen, and consider wearing some sort of light hat if you expect a long event (Yes, Mom!).

See you again next week when we start gearing up for Gen Con!

Stay crafty!



2016 Row by Row – Pennsylvania & New York

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June 21st started one of my favorite times of year for Quilting with Row by Row.

What is Row by Row?


All 50 States and Canada, too!

How about this… it’s like a shop hop, but it’s not… no fees, no cards to stamp, and all summer to play! Simply visit any of the participating shops and receive a free pattern for a row in a quilt. Combine your rows in any way to create a unique quilt that represents the fun you had traveling throughout the summer. Travel with friends, discover new quilt shops and have fun collecting rows!

Prizes and collectibles!

Create a quilt using at least 8 different 2016 rows from 8 different 2016 participating RxR shops and be the first to bring it into a participating shop to win a stack of 25 fat quarters (6-1/4 yards of fabric!). Use that shop’s row in your quilt and win a bonus prize! Click here for more details.

Exclusive Fabric Plates™ by Zebra Patterns will be available in many Row by Row quilt shops. Each one is unique! Collect a bunch to create fun projects, sewing studio wall art or even a fun backing for your quilt.

Be watching for pins, t-shirts, caps and even more Row by Row licensed items featuring the Row by Row Home Sweet Home logo.

Each area has it’s own Facebook page. Like the page from the areas you visit to see pics of the rows, shop displays, winning quilts and fabric plate projects. Click here to find your Row by Row area!

After my trip to Maryland, I stopped by a few stores in Lancaster, Pa and New York on my way home to Onatario.

My favorite block in Lancaster is definitely the row created by Log Cabin Quilt Shop

row4  Plate4

Their row really captures living in Lancaster to me and the experience I get whenever I buy fabric there.  I chose the next row by the Quilt Shop at Miller’s because of the farm feeling.

Row5 Plate5

The last store I stopped at on the way home in New York was Sew What in Amherst.  Their row gave me a panel that encompasses home in a global way.

Row6 plate6

Next week I am taking a small break while I release the next block in the NES Quilt a Long, but will be back the following week with Rows and Fabric plates from quilt stores in Ontario.

Have a quilt store you would like me to feature?  Send me an email to or message me through my Facebook page.


Pokemon Battery Packs

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The new Pokemon go game is hitting the world and it is all a lot of people talk about.  My Facebook stream has been filled with pictures, articles, and comments all about the game.  I may have contributed some to Facebook myself.  Craft Hackers has been no exception and over the past two weeks we have talked about declaring you team with patches and saving your battery with a custom case.

The battery saver got me thinking.  I wondered if there was a bigger and better battery we could use while declaring our love of Pokemon at the same time.  Danielle from Magical Superstore solved it for me with her hand made Pokeball themed battery pack.


From her description on the Etsy listing:

An excellent and stylish rechargeable battery for playing Pokémon Go. The battery pack is 5300mAh and 2.1 amps, which can fully charge and revive your phone 2-3 times.

A clasp is attached to the battery to conveniently fit on your belt loop or backpack so you can walk around all day without holding it.

The battery has built in LED indicators (blue for phone charging, red for battery charging, which turns blue when fully charged) and comes with a universal micro USB to recharge the battery. (Phone connector not included.)

The interior of the plastic shell is hand-painted, carved with a Dremel, and the battery fits securely inside in a vinyl-sealed Pokeball. I made one after Pokémon Go kept draining my battery and I wanted a cool way to keep my phone charged. I love that people immediately know that I’m playing the game too. Each one is crafted to order in my studio in San Francisco. They are fragile and should not be dropped or thrown.

Gotta charge your phone!

Did you catch the part where it can attach to your belt loop or battery pack?!  How amazing is that!!?


If you would like a Pokeball battery pack of your own, head over to the Etsy listing and pick one up for yourself.