2013: Favorites and Flops

Happy New Year! Well, December 30th, but it’s really close. This whole week is dedicated to rebooting into the new year. New calenders, new to – do lists, new habits and routines. New recipes to try and new patterns waiting to be sewn (Black Friday was not a good choice! I think I added at least 12 new patterns? Give or take.)

Before I go too far into the new, I want to take just a minute to flip back through 2013’s sewing accomplishments. It was by far my most productive year yet! And this is only my personal sewing projects – I don’t photograph/blog customer projects for privacy reasons (although you’ll find one customer project in the collage because I’m CRAZY about how it turned out!). So total count for the year? Nearly 40 different sewing projects. In addition to the 28 photos below, there’s at least half a dozen others that went out to customers or gifts I didn’t photograph.

collage 1 copycollage 2 copyFrom left to right: let’s play school; chocolate covered cherry tutu; stripes and spots; just like daddy; toddler ruffle tote; birthday tulips; stripes sundress; yellow rose “Anna”; kissed by a rose; bubble pocket skater girl; linen top; purple polka dot tutu; stretch poplin shorts; the Tuesday dress; pitty flowers; Sweet Little Starburst; plaid pajamas; butterfly princess; little things to keep her warm; khaki skirt refashion; layered look hoodie; Thanksgiving dress; fleece playground dress; Grace’s baby quilt; Christmas dress 2013; felt cookies; felt tea bags; Heartlake Friends lego play mat


My favorite pattern for 2013 is by far the Birthday Party Dress by Lily Bird Studio. It’s super simple. I’ve made it 3 times so far (once in Dec 2012 – going on it’s 2nd year!). It’s not uncommon for all three of them to be in the wash at the same time. There will be MANY more of these in my life! I’ve even made a pattern for Grace’s favorite doll, so she can match 2 of the 3 dresses. I’m a little sad that she’s about to outgrow the blue snowflake version. It’s really short now.

bpd copyAnother favorite is the “Let’s Play School” dress I made for week 1 of Project Run and Play. It’s a casual interpretation of a party dress tutorial. This one is also almost always in the wash. It’s holding up beautifully and will fit for a very long time. Grace is going through this thing where she will only wear dresses and the more they spin, the better. The 88″ of skirt in this one makes it a clear winner.

And for me? My pink and gray roses dress comes out all the time. It’s very easy to wear with flats or heels or even boots and a cardigan. I really love it. (The fact that the waist is loose with a sash helps some days, too…)


No one likes to talk about their failures do they? And I don’t have many this year, but one stands out as an epic flop: the stripes and spots dress I made for Project Run and Play back in January. She wore it for the photo shoot… and that’s it. It’s too short to be a dress, too long for a tunic, gapes funny in the back… It’s one of those projects where my grand ideas got away from  practical life. Cute  though. Maybe it’s time to try it again as a top, if I can ever find a pair of leggings that coordinates with the somewhat odd colors. I mean, it coordinates with nothing! It’s somewhat ironic looking back that in almost every photo, Grace is flopping. She knew it from the first!

Bring on 2014!

I’m really excited to the new year. I already have some ambitious projects planned, like finishing the Little Things to Sew sew-along hosted by Bartacks and Singletrack out of Australia (see my progress here). I’m also hoping to get some more customer projects. I’ve got one underway right now. And of course, my growing girl is now a size 3t on the top and 6 in length, so I’ll be making her a bunch of regular every day clothes as well. And who knows what else.

The one thing I’ve learned more than anything from 2013 is that the plan often changes, and quickly. So I’m hoping to start 2014 with an open heart and my eyes on Christ – since He alone actually knows the plan!

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. James 4:13-15

So, my dear friends, if the Lord wills it, Happy New Year!

Crafting the Christmas Story

For the past several years, I’ve been somewhat disillusioned about Christmas. I’m sure you’ve heard it – “Christmas is for kids.” Whether that’s true or not, it’s how I’ve felt. After getting married and having Grace, we’ve waffled back and forth on what role we want Christmas to have in our family. I’m sure it’ll be an annual conversation, but for this year we wanted to focus in on the Bible story and actually celebrate!

Which sent me into the crazy twilight zone that is Pinterest, where I was promptly overwhelmed. I thought about combining a little of this; doing a little of that; modifying the creepy elf thing; calenders, paper chains, oh my! And then a friend pointed me to Truth in the Tinsel. It’s like the best parts of what I was trying to create, except already created! (which was good, since it was already December 3 at this point).

Every day, there’s a short Bible story focusing in on one aspect of the Incarnation – Christ coming to earth as a man. Each scripture passage is used at least 2 days to really drive it home. Then, there is a simple ornament craft to help you remember that element of the story. We collected the ornaments on a small 3′ tree I call our “touch tree” – Grace can’t touch the big tree so I redirect her to the little one to play with as she pleases.

new tree

It was such a blessing to share this experience with our friends who join us 3 days a week. The big girls get each other all excited as we do the Bible story. They each remember different parts of it so by the end of each lesson we’ve covered all of it. Even the little guy happily joined us as we sang various Christmas carols – Joy to the World is the smash hit of 2013! I love how every time we reviewed, they knew exactly what each symbol on our calendar meant and how it pointed to Jesus. Same with each ornament. For the calendar, the green square symbols are included with the ebook. My husband made the number circles in PSE. The board was a hideous painting that I covered with wrapping paper. I may post a quick tutorial later this week.


And what did we make? A mess, mostly, of paint and glitter and straw and yarn. Fuzzies from cut pipe cleaners. Broken crayons. And lots of lovely memories! We didn’t get to every ornament this year, partly due to scheduling and partly due to ages (1.5, 2.5, 3.5 years old), but I have every intention of doing the program again in 2014. And then the little hands will be better equipped to tackle some of the ornaments. All the same, I’m super thrilled with our collection! 12 out of 24 ornaments isn’t bad, and we actually hit about 16 of the lessons through combining.

ornament collage copyFrom left to right: Row 1 – The sun; a crown; Mary and Joseph; Row 2 – a CD (for Mary’s song in Luke 1); 3 wise men; zzz (Joseph dreams of Gabriel), a candle; Row 3 – The angel Gabriel; the stable; a sheep; Bottom middle – Baby Jesus in the manger

Now that Christmas is over, I’m a little torn about not having an activity and a lesson all laid out each day. I may keep some of them up in Grace’s room as decorations. One thing I won’t miss though – glitter all over everything! (Though I did see something on the author’s blog of Truth in the Tinsel that she’s got a non-seasonal lesson guide… so we might be right back at it again soon!)

Plaid Princess

What says Christmas when it comes to dresses?

Simple, classic silhouette…

full back

Little details that make it special…


A touch of sparkle, a touch of lace…


Tiny buttons all in a row, carefully matched plaid, fountains of golden curls…


And an abundance of skirt, best for dancing in the aisles during service (and maybe enough to squeeze a second year out of it, if I’m lucky!)…


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Pattern Details:

  • Pattern: Amanda dress by Lily Bird Studio, modified for a lined straight skirt (2 widths gathered onto the bodice unmodified), size 4
  • Fabric: Red/Green poly cotton plaid with gold metallic stripes (from fabric.com); white cotton lace 1/4″ wide
  • Hair Flower: purchased

Labor of Love {Grace’s baby quilt}

Do you ever have one of those projects where you’ve got so many thoughts and feelings and things to share that it’s just a flurry in your head and none of it comes out cleanly? This is one of those.


After working on this for just shy of 3 years, I’ve finished Grace’s baby quilt. It’s a simple double Irish chain pattern in bright bold colors. I picked the pattern fall 2010. I machine pieced it in less than a week in early spring 2011. Then I spent the next several years hand quilting it with hearts, butterflies, and bold straight lines, then finishing just last night with finishing the blue binding (also hand sewn).


Part of why I have so many feelings about this quilt is that I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to make a baby quilt. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get to make one again. We’ve struggled for years with “sub-fertility” and multiple miscarriages, both before and after Grace. As soon as we knew her pregnancy was healthy, I decided on the pattern – I love the look of the double Irish chain quilt more than any other I’ve come across. There was never a back up. I love the way the bold diagonal lines set off the “feature” blocks, each of which is quilted with a pair of loopy butterflies.

close up

When we found out she was a girl in January 2013, our next stop after the sonogram was the fabric store. I found the bright butterflies and swirly pink hearts in just a couple minutes – here’s another point that there was never a back-up. Well, Shaune saw a monkey print first, but as soon as we saw this one there was no other option. I wanted bright and cheerful; full of hope and joy. Something that still makes me happy every time I look at it. The scraps have all been used up – the very last of the butterfly print is in this fall’s signature look for Project Run And Play.


This was my first ever hand quilting experience and it’ll probably be my last – quilting doesn’t come naturally to me. I improved dramatically over the years though. Some of the first stitches actually had to be removed and redone. I wouldn’t recommend balancing a quilting hoop on a 6mo + belly! It doesn’t lead to very even stitches.


And now my tiny baby isn’t so tiny any more. I’m glad I made the quilt bigger than a crib size. It isn’t all the way to a twin size, but it is close. It’s just right for an extra layer on her bed, a tea party, a snuggle with Mommy, a tent, and for wrapping up Pink Tutu her no-more-pacis bear. Exactly the right size, like Grace herself! (I’m kind of loving age 2, even if it is exhausting!)


So there it is. Three years of work and more emotions than can translate well into words. Which is why it’s perfect this is a quilt – nothing says “I love you” more than wrapping up in a quilt, in my lap, in my arms, at just the right height for hugs and snuggles and kisses. Even for just this one moment before the next crazy game begins.