Tag Archives: Christmas

Handmade Christmas

2 Jan

This year I decided to make many of the gifts that we gave for Christmas. I’ve been meaning to write a post about what I made, now that Christmas has passed, but I’m struggling with the photo part of this effort.


First I made the girls Christmas dresses. The pattern is the Carla C Precious Dress, and the fabric is Tanya Whelan Darla. I also made them matching hair bows.

And then I went overboard, and made their dolls, the matching dress, sans bustle.


The girls got only handmade items from us for Christmas this year too.  They each got the sleeping bags for their dolls, a bathrobe for them and one for the dolls, and then I had my cousin make them aprons for them and their dolls.

The bathrobe is a Simplicity 5874 pattern with soft and cozy dotted minky from Joann’s.

I also made nightgowns for the girls and myself  using Grinch Flannel and the Butterick B5433 pattern, and matching PJ pants for my husband that went horribly awry and could not be worn. I thought i could sew them from memory instead of following the tutorial along like last time.  First I sewed 2 tiny legs instead of a waist, then I sewed one ginat leg and two crotch halves.  When I finally discovered that these errors were due to cutting errors not sewing, I fixed the problem, but by then the pants were too small to fit over his knees.  I sewed in panels and fixed it as best I could but in the process, the waist and crotch ended up short.  The end result was PJ pants that were obscenely tight and revealed more than a little plumbers butt.

I made my husband a log carrier, which turned out nicely, so I think it made up for the bad pants.

The kids and I made Christmas card wreaths and snowglobes for friends, family and teachers.  All of which were big hits!

It was nice to make so many things, and maybe next year, I’ll start everything sooner!


the Polkadot Chair


Christmas at The White House

29 Dec

With 8 grandparents and plenty of great aunts, uncles, and cousins, there’s lots of family for us to try and see on Christmas.  Since we moved to our current home, two+ years ago, we have all the grandparents come to us and it makes for a fabulous day!

It starts at 7am when my mother and step father arrive.  And this year we had the pleasure of having my sister’s boyfriend join us as well!  She sleeps here in Isabelle’s bed on Christmas eve.

We opened presents, enjoyed a nice breakfast and then they went home to get ready for the rest of the day.  We cleaned up, got food ready and rested for a bit before the next group arrived.

From about 11:30 til 4:30 we hosted Colin’s mom, dad, step-dad, step-mom, and brother and my dad, step-mom and step- sister.  The girls opened more presents than should be legally allowed and basked in the attention that was heaped upon them from every direction.

Then we cleaned up, and headed out to Colin’s brothers house, my mom’s sister’s house and my dad’s sister’s house.  Lelia passed out on the way to my mom’s sister’s and remained asleep as we carted her in and laid her on the couch, socialized, picked her back up, and drove to my other aunt’s, where she slept on her couch until we left at around 10pm.

It took all of Monday and part of Tuesday for us all to recover from the festivities.

It truly is my most favorite time of the year and I love every last second of Christmas day. However, come December 26th, the tree is too big, the lights too bright and the Christmas music is more than I can bear to hear. So today, I de-Christmasized our home and am enjoying the much less cluttered feeling that a lack of garlands dripping from every surface brings!

Ready to ring in the new year and get to work on my resolution: To sew most of my girls wardrobe and to make a good portion of mine as well! Already completed 2 coats for me and a dress for Lelia!



Christmas Baby Boy

22 Dec

My good friend had her third baby and second son on Tuesday, so I went to the hospital to meet him yesterday.  I didn’t want to go empty handed, and I wanted to make him something, as I had done for my other two girlfriends, sweet babies.  This girlfriend, is ever so practical and since she already has a boy, she has lots of baby stuff.  But her other children were born in the spring, and certainly nowhere near Christmas so I settled on a soft Santa hat and matching minky blanket.

I googled, newborn Santa hat patterns and found this one from FleeceFun.com.  Both projects were fairly quick, other than the general PITA that is sewing with minky, and I’m happy to report that the items were well received.  The blanket is red on one side and white on the other, with a red trim, so it’s not overly Christmasy and can be used for the whole Winter.


Minky Newborn Santa Hat and Blanket


Christmas Tree at the White House

22 Dec

This year, I let the kids do most of the decorating of the tree.  I gave them a few simple instructions an let them go nuts.

Decorating the Tree

Noodlebell watched from his perch in the window.


The main instruction was  to hang the bulbs first and to hang them in the tree as opposed to on the edge of the branches.  Right away Isabelle wanted to know who came up with the rule and why we had to follow it.  When I told her that that is what my mother taught me, she asked me if Lolly (my mother) would be getting a tree and following these rules.  When I told her that Lolly wasn’t getting a tree, Isabelle thought that was reason enough for us not to have to follow the rule: If Lolly wasn’t going to follow it this year, than why should we.

A whole host of ornaments can be found on the bottom branches of our tree

Once most of the ornaments were hung, I took a couple of the nicer ones and hung them at the top.  I also redistributed some of the ornaments so that the top of the tree wasn’t completely bare.

Lelia's candy canes

Playing with my camera's settings


I pinned a couple camera tutorials (exhibit A, exhibit B) for getting a shot of the Christmas tree at night, in which it looks like it’s glowing.  But no matter what i did, I couldn’t get it!


Here are some of our fancy ornaments

Big Santa




Pink angel crab


This is a Christopher Radko ornament that was given to us when we were married. One would assume by it's pink color that it's a cosmopolitan, however, it's got an olive as a garnish....always makes me wonder if it's a screw up by Radko...





Tutorial | 18″ Doll Sleeping Bag

6 Dec


The girls have a long list of American Girl Doll requests for Christmas and to ease the cost of the  all of the accouterment, I decided I’d make some of it myself. Plus I love being able to make it just exactly how I’d like it, color combo’s and all.

On a side note, I’ve decided that sewing is even better than shopping as a form of therapy.  You get to enjoy the shoppers high, because for me, it’s the thrill of the hunt, and I can spend hours hunting fabric and patterns and inspiration.  And then there’s the satisfaction of making it yourself.  And again, the idea that I can find something to make, and tweak it to make it just exactly how I want it, instead of when I’m shopping for something and have to settle for what’s in the store.

My inspiration for this project was this pin on Pinterest. A sleeping bag for the girls dolls is perfect, it can lie in the dolls bed, and can be rolled up to travel with us when we visit grandparents!


1/2 yard outer fabric ( I used Michael Miller Children at Play Pink Hopscotch)

1/2 yard inner fabric (I used a minky from Joann Fabrics)

1/2 yard batting

3 yards of bias tape



Pattern Materials


wrapping paper

straight edge





To start, I used my daughter’s existing doll bed quilt for measurements.  It is 12″ x 18′ (in the future I might extend this to 19″). I allotted for a 5/8″ seam and drew rectangles to represent the underside of the sleeping bag. I decided that the top of the bag would be 2/3 the length of the underside (12″) and that the most logical way to join them was by the foot of the sleeping bag.

In doing so I had to remember to leave a 5/8″ seam on both foot sides of the bag.

Once the rectangles were drawn, I cut out the pattern, then I used a bowl to make the corners rounded.

I drew the first corner, then folded the pattern in half lengthwise to copy the corner exactly. then unfolded that and refolded it width wise to copy the corner’s again.

Once the corners were cut out, I then pinned my pattern to the minky and cut it out.  Then I repeated with the hopscotch fabric and the batting.




I then pinned all three layers together as they would appear in the finished product.


Once all the layers are pinned, I used my new serger to sew all the layers, but you could just as easily use a sewing machine.

You could just sew the top and bottom together now, but I liked the quilted look so I sewed straight lines up and down the bag, using the hopscotch pattern as my spacing guide.



Next up, pinning the top and bottom together so that it now really looks like a sleeping bag.


Since I made two of these at the same time and I’ve never actually used bias tape, I had to guess and go with the process.  Lessons learned:

  1. start with the top of the upside of the bag, and work around the bottom of the bag and back to the top of the underside of the bag til you are back where you started.
  2. iron the tape in place before you sew.
  3. Also I believe I read something somewhere about something called wondertape that would help this stay in place better.

That’s it! Sleeping bags finished!


Rolled up, I think I'll add some ribbon so it can be tied like this!









Christmas Dress aka I Made Puffy Sleeves!

11 Nov

I’ve been sewing since home ec in middle school.  When I was 12 or so, I spent the weekend with my grandmother (an avid seamstress and quilter) sewing a dress for myself from a pattern.

In middle school and early high school, I would invite friends over to sew with me and we made nightgowns out of muslin.

When I moved into a house in college, I sewed myself a quilt, stripes on one side and a starry moonlit sky on the other.

After college I sewed trim to the bottom of jeans like it was going out of style, and in fact, it was going out of style.  THANK GOD!

I got my own machine for my 23rd birthday and promptly sewed myself 800 purses and jewelry pouches and the like.

Then life took over and I put the sewing machine away. I got married, I moved, I paid someone to make curtains, I had babies and I moved again. I bought curtains from Target and forgot about my sewing skills.

Pinterest came along and I got the crafting bug and I spray painted some stuff and thought about getting out my machine.  One day my mom said she’s buy my girls American Girl Dolls, and my girls became obsessed with the idea of matching clothes.  So I began scouring the internet for outfits that were nicer than the AGD ones and perhaps more affordable.  I found them  in the form of MakMay Designs, my trusty Christmas/Birthday/Halloween outfit designer.  She’s super talented and equally creative.

But then I wanted clothes for the girls and their dolls that was outside of what Becky creates and I stumbled upon a site that had tunic tops and dresses for girls and their dolls as well as Mom’s.  The catch was that it would cost $60 to dress the girls $20 for the dolls and $80 for me.  Way more money than I was willing to spend.  And then it dawned on me! I could make these tunics and dresses myself!

Thus begun my renewed interest in sewing. I went from an A-line dress, to PJ’s and then got bold and purchased the Precious Dress pattern from the Scientific Seamstress.  I even contacted her to see if she could hold my hand through the process because it seemed a little daunting.  And of course, not only did I want to make the dress, but I wanted to add my own little flair.  She kindly agreed but before I had the chance to visit her, I decided to try it on my own, button holes and puffy sleeves and all.

The pattern isn’t just a pattern, it’s also a full picture laden tutorial with detailed instructions! I started with the skirt, which is where I wanted to add the ruffled faux bustle. I cut out the pattern pieces and freehanded the bustle pieces. I constructed the whole skirt in one night and was super pleased with my efforts.  Last night I set to work on the scary part…..the top with the button holes and puffy sleeves.  I started by watching an automatic buttonholing video on Youtube, that happened to be on a machine similar to mine.  Then I followed each incredibly well written, easy to understand step and before I knew it, I had a gorgeous top. Attaching the skirt to the top was easy and the finished product is better than I had pictured in my head!  The only thing missing is a nice thick grosgrain ribbon sash!

I relate this whole long winded story because I am so glad that I found sewing again and am finding such joy in spending quiet time piecing my patterns together.  It is incredibly gratifying to know that I can do this and I am so happy to be able to give these dresses to my girls.

Without further ado…THE CHRISTMAS DRESS!

Details of the Christmas Dress

Puffy Sleeves and Buttons...yeah I did that!!


Christmas Dress

The front and back of the Christmas Dress with the ruffle accent


Week in Review

4 Nov

Dining Room Mirror

I spray painted the IKEA mirror and hung it in the dining room.  It exceeded my expectations and looks awesome.  i’m on a tear now to complete the dining room makeover!

One coat of primer and one of the pink was all it took.

One coat of primer

Finished product, Hung!

Shoes from Ebay

I can thank Pinterest not only for my crafty indulgences but also for helping my shopping habit.  This week someone posted a picture of adorable bright orange ballet flats with an $11.50 price tag! I had to check them out and once I did I felt compelled to purchase them in pink and orange.  They arrived TODAY and are beyond precious! Cheaply made as the day is long, but who cares!

One of each color!

They’ll look super cute with my navy blue dress tomorrow when my husband and I go out to dinner!

Christmas Clothes Making

I looked and looked and finally found a pattern for the girls Christmas dresses, the Precious Dress Pattern from the Scientific Seamstress.  She also makes the tunic patterns that I’m eager to try and works with a fabric designer named Jennifer Paganelli, whose fabrics are right up my alley.  And the BEST part, she’s local! I reached out to her to see if she would help me through any rough spots and she was sooo super duper kind and nice about it and said YES!!!

I plan to adapt the dress a little for a surprise in the back (inspired of course, by a Pinterest post).

So the next part of the dresses, was to find the fabric. I searched for HOURS on the interwebs and came up with lots of possibilities but not winners.  And then I found Tanya Whalen and fell in love!   I found one vendor who had enough of the fabrics that I wanted and ordered them earlier this week.  They too arrived today! Take a peek! I can’t wait to get to work on them.

I plan to use the red as the main fabric and the other two as accent fabric.

Since I got the dresses squared away I set to work finding just the right flannel to construct Christmas PJ’s for the girls, and since I was going to make them, I figured I’d make some for me and for Colin as well.  When I asked him last night if He’d wear them Christmas morning, he was super excited about it!  (Normally he gets all dressed before he comes downstairs so this is nice of him).  It’s tough to find a gender neutral fabric that is festive and fun that we’ll all like, but I settled on this Grinch fabric and Colin approved it.  Finding enough yardage was a challenge, but the Cotton Blossom Farm on Etsy came through for me!

I’m looking forward to starting these projects and am curious to see how I fair.  With each I will have to learn to make buttonholes and I’d like to work on my finishing skills, a la a zig zag stitch and more pressing of the seams.  I really like sewing and the fact that it makes me slow down and think about each step.  It’s good for my lack of attention to detail.  Makes me pay attention to the details a little more.

Anyway that’s the sum of the week here at the White House.  Hope you have a great weekend!