So, it turns out, I wasn’t done with Project Princess Dress.  No, we aren’t going to Disney World any time soon that I know of, but V really, really, really wanted a Princess Elena dress for her birthday or Christmas.  She saw one of her friends receive one at a birthday party, and instantly from that point onward, Elena was her favorite princess.  “A princess-superhero, Mommy!”


Vivian’s birthday is a whole ‘nother story (to be blogged soon!), but as Christmas approached, I started looking at purchasing an Elena dress.  And I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I had to make it myself.  It couldn’t be that hard.  Ha!

I had only about a week to make the dress.  I’d already committed to making a quilt for my son for Christmas, and the PhD ornaments went later into December than I’d been expecting.  I worked on the dress in every spare moment that I could eke out of that last week before Christmas day.  But it was absolutely and completely worth it in the end.  The joy on my daughter’s face when she opened the box on Christmas morning was priceless.  (She even said, as she started unwrapping the gift, her last one of the morning, “I hope this is an Elena dress!”  Thank goodness it was!)

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

I began by using the bodice pattern pieces from Simplicity 1507 and grading them up to an approximate size 5 (My pattern is the set of smallest sizes) by mimicking the spacing between sizes shown on the printed pattern (does that make sense?).  Then I cut the neckline wider and slightly deeper in the front and back.

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

To shape the skirt, I started with the petal panels Husband and I drafted for the Sofia dress (modified for the increased bodice size) and basically created a full A-line underskirt by redrafting them and changing the angle.  Husband was moral support as I eyeballed the side slit featured on Elena’s overskirt.

I had the red fabric on hand, and I turned to my old-faithful collection of white sheets for the underskirt and bodice lining.  The ruffle was another story.  I spent quite a bit of time in the fabric store trying to find just the right material.  In the end, I layered a pale pink glitter organza over a bright coral crepe for just the right color– and the abstract glittered roses gave just the right swirly look.

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

But it was also a royal pain to gather!  I kept the layers together by doing a rolled hem on the outer edge and a narrow overlock on the inner, to-be-gathered edge.  Since I don’t have a ruffling foot, I gathered all of those ruffles by hand with a double basting stitch!  Thankfully my math worked out right and everything looks good in the end.  I tapered the ruffles at the top of the side slit so that they wouldn’t be too floofy.  Oh, and the glitter.  Good heavens.  It is not glued onto the fabric securely, so my craft room looked as though a glitter bomb had detonated!

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Last (well, almost) came the belt.  Before I inserted the zipper,  I secured two layers of ribbon around the waistline.  The gold striped ribbon is actually lightly wired!  It came from a gift package we received this season–it was so perfect, I couldn’t not use it, so I machine-stitched it into place.  Along the center of the gold ribbon, I used fusable tape to adhere a narrow coral ribbon.  Finally, I hand-stitched a rhinestone buckle to the dress using clear thread (that was a bear!!).  Husband used wire clippers to remove the central bar, since it went lengthwise rather than along the short direction that I needed.

Vivian is Elena of Avalor!

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

It makes my heart happy to hear this girl go charging through the house to save the day!


At the beginning of December, in a tiny lull between PhD ornaments, I decided to take a little bit of “selfish sewing” time for myself and make a new pillow cover for a small rectangular pillow that I have in our living room for myself.


This particular pillow was originally in my daughter’s nursery, and it fits behind my back just perfectly to keep me comfortable when I’m sitting on the couch.  Even though I’ve wanted to make a (more than one, really!) new cover for it, I just haven’t in all of this time!  Now that our house is decorated for Christmas (for at least the second or third year since that pillow stopped being used on the nursery rocking chair…ha!), I decided it really was time.

I love the “pattern” for the pillow covers I made for my daughter and son’s nurseries (my son’s is still on the rocking chair)– a pieced strip between two solid strips.  I’ve made two of them already, and I still hadn’t written down those silly measurements!  Now there is a sticky note in my home decor pattern binder for the next time I make one.  Phew!

Christmas pillow cover-- made from leftover strips from my tree skirt!


As I thought about what fabrics to use for my Christmas pillow cover, I remembered that I have a bag of strips left from making my quilted tree skirt (finished in 2007!).  I pieced them straight-up-and-down across the central strip (rather than improv/wonky shapes) to mimic the tree skirt, which still graces our tree.  I added some strips of red fine-wale corduroy that was handed down to me from a friend, and voila!  The pillow only took a couple hours to complete (those strips are quite narrow, so piecing them wasn’t super quick ;-))

Christmas pillow cover-- made from leftover strips from my tree skirt!


How long do you think it will be until I make another cover for this pillow?!

Before it gets too late in the year, I’m going to share some Christmas projects!

During Sew Mama Sew’s Handmade Holidays series, I saw this idea and wanted to try it out!  I made this pillow as a gift for friends of ours.  The pillowcase itself is a basic envelope made from a red fine wale corduroy.  But the fun comes in with the reversible band!

The first side is dark green upholstery fabric with a stylized Christmas tree design machine-embroidered onto it.  I added a faux piping using some red and gold striped fabric.

pillow with reversible band

The other side of the band is a red and gold snowflake pattern that in my opinion can be used in November and January– and maybe into February for Valentine’s day!

pillow with reversible band

Since the pattern doesn’t have a particular orientation, this side of band can also be used vertically.

pillow with reversible band

The cool thing about the pillow band is that it can be removed, and you could add another one– I was imagining hearts for February, blue and white stripes or stars for July, colorful leaves for fall… Or even a family monogram…


In the past almost six years, I have made approximately 100 regalia ornaments for about 63 different schools.  I have had some incredible interactions with some wonderful customers.  I have learned a lot about academic regalia.  I have learned a lot about owning a tiny self-run custom order business.

Including: having a custom-order business is not healthy for me.

And so, as I closed custom orders for the 2016 season, I also made the decision that my Etsy shop will be closed for the foreseeable future (read: forever).  I will be accepting NO MORE custom ornament orders.  I am grateful to all of my customers, past and present, for your support!

Below, you can have a look at the final regalia ornaments that I made for my Etsy shop.


Auburn University

Auburn University

Auburn University

Another for Auburn University

Florida International University

Florida International University

Kennesaw State University MS Nursing (with honor cord)

Kennesaw State University – Masters in Nursing

Regent University (Theology)

Regent University

Stanford University

Stanford University

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Layfette

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

Univeristy of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

University of Rochester

University of Rochester


University of South Florida


Happy new year!

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already embarked upon 2017, and I (you won’t be surprised here) have many ideas about the projects I’d like to work on, start, and of course, complete!

I’m hoping to share at least twice per week on the blog, maybe sometimes three times per week.  November and December 2016 were a whirlwind of completing ornaments and then finally having some time to make some of the gifts I’d planned for my own family.  Oh, and a very special birthday party for my (can you believe it?!) five-year-old daughter!  In the next weeks, I’ll be mostly sharing those November and December (and earlier!) projects as I get started on my new projects for the new year.  Who knows, maybe I’ll slip in some current ones, too! 😉

Like I wrote above, I have a huge list of things I’d like to accomplish this year.  I’ve made a big master list (read:brain dump) on sticky notes in the front cover of my planner.  I’ll be setting my monthly goals from that big list…and of course, any other projects that come up in the meantime, because there are always more!  Rather than sharing my goals on the blog at the beginning of each month, I will just keep track of them in my planner (it has great monthly and weekly goal planning pages, I just love it!).  I’ll just share projects here.

Even as I dream and plan about my sewing, papercrafting, home, and other projects, I have been contemplating how these hobbies of mine can be more intentional, with the focus on glorifying God in the things I do with my hands.   I want to have in mind the concerns of God, not merely human (especially selfish!!) concerns (Matthew 16:33).  “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent [Jesus]”  (John 9:4).  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23).  God has given me the desire– really it is almost a compulsion– to create… and He gives the brilliant flashes of idea or insight that are clearly not my own.  Any gifts that I have are from Him, and I think that it glorifies God to do what we do with excellence.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17

Happy Thanksgiving


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100 (NIV)

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

~ ~ ~

P.S. Due to commitments to my Etsy shop customers and taking time to celebrate God’s myriad blessings with my family, I will be taking a break from posting on my blog for a couple of weeks.  

~ ~ ~

I think this is the last page for my 2009 scrapbook album!


When I was thinking about how I would arrange this layout, I had originally chosen a different layout to use as inspiration.  However, when I opened my album and looked at the pages around where this one would go, I discovered that one of the layouts just a page or two later had such a similar sketch that I thought it would be awkward.  I went to my Scrap Pinterest board and scrolled through, looking for something that would use my landscape 4×6 and 3×4 photos.  When I came across this one by Stephanie Buice for Crate Paper, I knew it was just right!  I trimmed my 4×6 to a 4×4 and it was perfect.


I’d say that I followed the inspiration layout pretty closely.  I pulled out my (dwindling supply of) Christmas papers and started layering scraps under the photos until I was happy with how they looked.  (I sort of coordinated the colors with the rest of the layouts in the Christmas 2009 series, and especially the layout on the facing page of the album.)  I pulled coordinating embellishments from my (dwindling supply of) Christmas embellishments and tucked them here and there around the photos.



The title is cut with my Silhouette SD– the very same one I’m holding in that photo!  It’s seven years old this year, and I have gotten SO much use out of it.  It is a fantastic little machine.  I used the font “the Nightly Poem” from the Hungry JPEG, and I stretched it a little bit to make the word have a more horizontal feel (the font itself has a very vertical aesthetic, I think).



I even imitated the machine stitched frame around the focal photo+paper+embellishment block, but also added some hand-written journaling under it.  I didn’t add ink splatters (I forgot, plus I didn’t have an appropriate color), and the background was looking bare to me.  I added a simple strip of patterned paper to the left edge and two rows of stitching, and suddenly the layout looked bound and finished.

textured creamy white cardstock
patterned papers: BasicGrey “Nordic Holiday” and Crate Paper “Peppermint”
embellishments: BasicGrey “Nordic Holiday,” Lily Bee “Christmas Town,” as well as miscellaneous other sources
alphabet stickers: October Afternoon Mini Market