DIYdiy projectskate pruitt

diy project: kate’s cold weather picnic pack

by Grace Bonney

my sister lives in grace’s neck of the woods (prospect heights, brooklyn), and she was telling me on the phone the other day that she and her boyfriend went for a walk in prospect park after the big snow. they watched snowball fights and dogs romping; it sounded like a perfect winter moment, and made me quite jealous of all you new englanders (i know some of you may shake your shovels at this…i admit it. like a true NH to CA convert, i tend to romanticize the winter weather when i don’t have to live through it. guilty as charged!). i decided to create a project for those of you who might be able to enjoy a “cold weather picnic” of sorts. this is a cheap project found mostly in the thrift shop: a few belts, and old purse, a blanket and a thermos. but the result looks pretty luxurious, and it will last a long time. you can attach some mugs and fill your pack with cookies, hot cocoa, and a book; hopefully you can steal a few scenic moments in the snow before it melts. have fun!! – kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


1. three leather belts (at least two should be thick and long and about the same length – about 36″. the third can be shorter and thinner)
2. old leather purse (could be any material, should have a strap and be fairly small)
3. drill with 1/8″ and 3/16″ drill bits
4. throw blanket
5. thermos
6. two mugs
7. needle and thread (heavy duty thread and strong needle for leather or heavy weight fabric)
8. super glue or e-6000
9. scissors
10. two standard pencils, un-sharpened (or a dowel the same length)
11. twine
12. big eyed needle (to fit the twine)
13. sew on snaps (available at craft or fabric stores)
14. pen


– belts, purse, thermos: $10
– mugs, blanket: on hand
– sew on snaps, heavy duty needle and thread: $5
– glue: $2


2-3 hours



1. roll up your blanket and get your thermos. wrap the two long belts around the blanket so it is held snugly. you will probably need to add belt holes to the strap because it is much smaller than a waist would be. mark on the inside of each belt where the hole should be to snugly fit the blanket.

2. drill through the belts to create holes at the spots you marked. re-belt your blanket to check your new holes and adjust if necessary. your belts should be spaced about 8″ apart from each other on the blanket.

3. with the belts closed around the blanket take the end of the straps that extends past the buckle and wrap around the thermos. then slide the belt strap back through the leather belt loop that sits near the buckle (the loop uses to hold the belt strap against the body if there’s extra). pulling this snugly should create a firm grip on your thermos, and you should still have a good amount of belt strap left on each side. if your belts are the same length, this is ideal and you will have the same amount remaining on both sides.

4. take a sew-on snap and place it near the end of one belt strap on the inner side of the strap. using a pen, mark the holes in the snap on the belt (these are the spaces where you would sew through to connect the snap to fabric). drill holes through each of these marks with the 1/8″ drill bit. this is going to make sewing much easier. if you have a needle and thread (and muscle!) that can handle thick leather, then you can just sew the snap on. but i used the drill holes to pass the thread through, and sewed the top half of the snap on that way.

5. when the top of the snap is secure, connect it to the bottom of the snap. slide the handle of a mug onto the belt strap and pull the belt strap tight, marking where the snap lands on the belt when it is pulled taught. this is where the bottom of the snap should go. mark it with a pen and drill holes like you did in step 4 (you will need to take the belt off the blanket to drill through this part, because it lays against the blanket.)

6. sew the bottom half of the snap onto the strap of the belt. when you are done, put the belt back on the blanket and the thermos, slide the mug handle on again and make sure the snap reaches its bottom half and snaps securely.

7. repeat steps 4 – 6 with the second belt.
8. take the purse and push the strap through behind the two main belts on the opposite side from the mugs. cut the strap so that the two sides will meet in the middle and that the total length is just the width of the distance between the two main belts.

9. sew the now shorter purse straps together in the middle to create a closed strap. disassemble your pack and loop the belt straps over the purse strap so that the purse is hanging on the opposite side of the blanket from the mugs.

9. with the blanket, thermos, purse, and mugs secured by the belts, take the third belt and slide it underneath the two belts at the top of the blanket roll. this will be your handle buckle the belt to create a closed circle, and hang the pack on your shoulder to gauge where the weight distributes.

10. when you have determined where the handle needs to be for the pack to hang correctly, hold it in place and mark the third belt on either side of where the two main belts hit it. mark on the two main belts where the third belt hits it as well

11. disassemble the pack and hold the third belt underneath the two main belts where you marked. at the intersection of the straps and the handle, drill four holes through both the main belt and the third belt with the 3/16″ bit.

12. thread your bug eye needle with twine and sew a criss-cross pattern through the four holes, securing the two belts tightly together. repeat this with the second strap.

13. now the handle is secured to the two main belts. you should reassemble here and check that everything is in the right place.

14. disassemble again and flip the belts upside down so you are looking at the underside of the handle and where ti meets both main belts. tie the two pencils (or dowel) onto the underside with twine right along the center of the underside of the strap. this will give the strap more strength and keep the belts from pulling towards each other with the weight of the pack.

15. take the leftover purse strap (or twine, or handlebar tape if you prefer – any of that will work but i like the consistency of using the purse material) and glue the one end to the pencils right at the edge of where the handle meets the left main belt strap. continue to wrap it around the handle and the pencils, securing with glue on the pencil side, until you reach the other edge of the handle, where it meets the right main belt strap. glue to the pencils to secure and cut any extra purse strap. now you have a nice, wrapped, reinforced handle.

16. reassemble everything and fill your pack!


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  • What a great idea! I was drawn by the beautiful images but very confused by the instructions. Perhaps it would be better with an image for each step. I got lost in the instructions.

  • I love the look! But I’m with @Celine – I got really lost in the instructions. Any chance we get some more process photos or a drawing for steps 4 – 9?

  • OH man – I’m in Boston and I hear ya on the New England winter outing! Anyhow – I LOVE this – great idea! I’ll start keeping my eye out at the thrift shops for the perfect bag and belts :)

  • Supergenius! I live in the NW, and even though we’re having a fairly mild winter, it’s still cold. And then – bang! It’s like you read my mind, because I’ve been dreaming about picnics despite the cold. This is too perfect. Thank you!

  • You wouldn’t have missed NH today! Parts have had 16 inches of snow and still going strong, with at least another foot expected tomorrow into Friday!

  • If there’s feet of snow I’d rather be under that blanket indoors with that mug of chocolate. Saving this project for summer though, since it’s a cute idea.

  • neato~! I will have to try this. The ice is starting to melt over here in Berlin, but it’s not too late… also I love that painting in the background. The road seems to go right through the lake.

  • Love this. However:
    a) NYC is not New England,
    b) NYC and everywhere else is stealing all of New England’s snow!!

    This winter has been bizarre — very little snow, only rain and clouds and misery. You aren’t missing anything, believe me….

    Grumpily yours,

    Emily, from VT

  • I am so making this! I live in Northern Norway and we like to go out to hunt for auroras, usually we just throw everything in the car. This is a bit more organized. I could even make it possible to optionally attach a strap for my tripod and other equipment, nice!