Sewing Project: Paris Sightseeing Dress (a.k.a. The Dress of Many Failures)

PROJECT: A faux-wrap dress to use up the rest of the Paris-themed fabric

TIME: several days

MATERIALS: Paris-themed fabric, ribbon, decorative flower, notions

Arista in the Dress of Many Failures

The Paris Sightseeing Dress… a.k.a. The Dress of Many Failures

I was so thrilled to find this Paris-themed fabric for my mom’s surprise apron, I decided I’d use the rest to make something really nice with it. My first thought was a summery dress – something modern but with a nod to the full-skirted mid-century dresses I love so much. I found the Frill Seekers Dress by Forever 18 Inches on Pixie Faire and decided it’d be perfect for what I had in mind.

The only tricky part? It’s an Intermediate pattern. No problem, I thought! I’ve been hanging out in Easyville for awhile now, maybe it was time to crank up the difficulty. Boy, did I…


The Frill Seekers pattern is actually really well made. It comes with three variations of the dress and detailed instructions on how to create the lined bodice. The only minor issue I had with the pattern was that the layout of my pieces had to be reversed because of the way this print faces. I was originally going to opt for the easiest version of the pattern (with the ruffled sleeves)… but even that seemed a bit too difficult at the time, so I opted for the super-easy version and left it sleeveless. Baby steps, right?

Fabric Close Up

You, Me, Oui!


I love this fabric so much. It just looks like something American Girl would’ve created. I got mine from a mom ‘n’ pop fabric store nearby, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at Joann’s, but I’ve since learned that this print is made by Timeless Treasures and is called “You, Me, Oui!” It may be easier to get online than in stores. Definitely worth the hunt, though. This fabric features a lot of elements from Grace’s collection.


OK… So let’s talk about why I keep referring to this dress as the “Dress of Many Failures.” I was expecting the bodice part to be the most difficult (especially after seeing the instructions dedicated solely to its creation). It really wasn’t too bad, though. The hardest part I had was sewing along the curves. As a result, my dress’s bodice doesn’t lay perfectly flat around one of the arm holes, but over time it’s kind of relaxed into submission (and luckily, it’s at the back, so you don’t really notice it). Then came the skirt…

So this is where impatient and slightly harebrained Jennifer took over. I was having issues trying to gather the skirt by basting, so – and I’m not really sure how I thought this was a good idea at the time – I decided I would gather and sew the skirt onto some ribbon (I think I thought this way it’d create a clean line on the inside of the dress, too? And of course, I decided I’d try to just eyeball the gathers instead of actually pinning them in place. Did not go well.

After undoing everything, I decided to do it the correct way by pinning and then sewing. It was only after I’d finished sewing the skirt on that I realized I’d sewn it on inside out. I debated for several minutes about ways to make this error work… and then started the reluctantly undo the stitches.

After finally getting the skirt and bodice to unite (which may or may not have also involved a lot of fray check, because of all the sewing and resewing), I proceeded to stab myself a few times while hand-sewing on the Velcro and decorative trims. The fabric glue that had worked so well to keep the decorative flowers in place on the aprons also turned against me and made a slippery, goopy mess where it should have held tightly.

But, for all of it’s many, many issues, I’m happy with how the dress turned out. I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect (even though I have a tendency to think I can sew more difficult things more easily than I actually can). It was definitely a good learning experience.

Finished Dress

Arista in the Paris Sightseeing Dress (with Grace’s City Outfit accessories)

Bonus: Sienna in the relatively drama-free Paris apron:

Paris Apron

Forget sewing, let’s bake!


Sienna and Saige

I brought my Sienna to my parents’ house over the weekend to compare her to my mom’s Saige. These two definitely look like cousins! I actually thought they might look a bit too alike, but in person, there are enough differences between them that they don’t look like twins.

Sienna and Saige

My Sienna (custom) and my mom’s Saige

I’ve had to color correct these pictures, but I think I’ve kept the colors pretty true to life. I guess if you aren’t used to seeing the different features of American Girl dolls, you might still think these are the same doll, but there’s a lot of slight differences between Sienna and Saige. Sienna’s hair is more coppery compared to Saige’s true auburn. Her eyes are also more blue than Saige’s turquoise. Although it’s hard to tell in the pictures, Saige has a more bubblegum pink lip and blush color compared to Sienna’s coral pink lips and blush. And of course, the biggest difference is that Sienna is a Josefina mold while Saige is a classic mold.

Sienna and Saige

Sienna and Saige

I think Saige is probably my favorite of my mom’s dolls… but I’m a little biased. She’s actually the first American Girl doll I ever ordered, because she was a present from my husband and me to my mom a few Christmases ago. If I had more room, I’d definitely add her to my collection, too. She’s too cute!


Sewing Project: Parisian Apron(s)

PROJECT: A Paris-themed apron fit for Grace Thomas

TIME: 1 day

MATERIALS: Paris-themed fabric, fabric for top lining, ribbons, decorative flowers, notions, fabric glue

Arista and Aprons

 Arista modeling her apron

I wanted to make my mom something fun for her birthday that would go with the Grace Thomas doll she plans to get. Unfortunately, as I’ll discuss later in a post about the “Dress of Many Failures,” I’m still not that great at sewing complicated things… SO, I went with something easy that Grace would enjoy using – an apron!

First Steps - My local Joann’s never seems to have a good selection of prints – unless you’re looking for owls and butterflies. I don’t know why, but apparently those are the big ticket patterns for that store. Luckily, there’s a small mom ‘n’ pop fabric store that sells a wider variety of prints. That’s where I managed to find this cute Paris-themed print (and another pretty design I might use for a different outfit). I drafted a pattern using plain paper. I folded until I found a basic shape I liked, then cut the pattern out.

Sienna with fabric and pattern

My lovely assistant, Sienna

Sewing the Apron - To make things easier, and to give a cleaner finished look, I opted for a lined top. With right sides and long neck straps inserted, I sewed around three edges of the top and then turned it inside out. Next, I cut a rectangle of fabric that was twice as long as my desired width for the bottom of the apron. My mom and I are big fans of flowy, full skirts – the bigger the better! Aprons are no exception. I hemmed the bottom and sides of the rectangle, then gathered the top. Then I attached the two sections and tested the fit.

Top and Bottom of Apron

I ♥ Pinking Shears

Finishing Touches - Then all that was left was to add a large ribbon around the waist and some final decorations. I liked the final result so much, I ended up making one for myself, too. I didn’t have enough of the neck ribbon left, so I opted for a single neck ribbon that connects to the other side of the apron top with Velcro. Mine also doesn’t have as full of a base (or as nicely gathered… oops).

Paris-themed Apron

The finished apron for my mom

The Big Reveal - Yesterday, we celebrated my mom’s birthday. I couldn’t wait for her to open the apron! It wasn’t the main thing we’d gotten her, but it was the one that definitely took the most effort! I was so happy my mom liked her surprise! We tried it on my mom’s Saige, and she looks pretty good in it! Grace may have a hard time getting to use it, haha…

Sienna and Saige

Cousins! (My Sienna with my mom’s Saige)

Overall, I’m really happy with how both of these aprons came out. I think I like how my mom’s turned out slightly better because of the fuller bottom, but I’m happy with mine, too. I might eventually make more so that everyone can have a baking day at some point.


Preview: The Dress of Many Failures

This is going to be a super quick entry. I’ll give this dress a proper entry later, but I was so happy to be FINALLY finished with this dress, I had to post!

I call this the “Dress of Many Failures.”

Paris-Themed Dress

Arista and the Dress of Many Failures

It’s a more difficult pattern than I’ve made in the past. Maybe slightly more difficult than Samantha’s Party Dress. But when I made Sam’s dress, I only had to redo one sleeve. This dress has been a struggle every step of the way. For example, at one point, I got so caught up in trying to make the gathered skirt work that I actually sewed the skirt on inside out. I didn’t even realize I had until AFTER I had finished sewing!

But, it’s pretty much done, and I’m satisfied with it. There’s a lot I wish I had done differently, but it works. :)


Grace’s City Outfit

Grace’s City Outfit | American Girl

I had hoped to pick up Grace’s City Outfit when I visited AGP back in January, but everyone must have had the same idea, because they were completely sold out! Luckily, I have an amazing husband who took note of this and surprised me with Grace’s City Outfit for Valentine’s Day! I really love how Sienna looks in it!

Sienna in Grace's City Outfit

Sienna lookin’ snazzy!

This outfit is so cute in person! The sweater is nice and thick, as is the collar, but it doesn’t look overly thick or constricting. The sparkly heart and “love” details are just right – sweet without being overly cheesy. If they made this sweater in adult sizes, I’d wear it in a heartbeat.

The shorts are really nice, too! The thick, textured material gives them a very dressy look. And it’s hard to tell, but they do have functioning pockets. Again, if these came in my size, I would definitely wear them.

The headband and shoes help to bring this outfit back to pre-teen age. They’re a bit more youthful and fun with their baby pink and bright red color combination.

I can definitely see each of these pieces having mix and match potential – especially the shorts. I think they’ll go well with anything brightly colored. I’m really happy to have this in my collection (and for having such a wonderful husband! But he knows that. :) )

  Sienna in Grace's City Outfit

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Valentine’s Day – and if you’re in the states, have a great President’s Day off as well! ♥


Photo Story: Sienna and Arista Discover Pride and Prejudice


Sienna and Arista Discover Pride and Prejudice

Sienna: Huh, it looks like the human left one of her books out. “Pride and Prejudice”… Oh! This is that story she’s always going on about! With the pretty Regency era dresses and sassy Bennett sisters! Hmmm… Hey, Arista!Sienna with Pride and Prejudice

- – -

Arista: …So, why are we wearing these again?

Sienna: To get the full effect of the story! C’mon, it’ll be fun!

Arista: This dress is pretty comfortable… Okay, okay, let’s see what all this Pride and Prejudice business is about.

Sienna and Arista

- – -

Arista: What the heck! Take a hint, Mr. Collins! She’s clearly NOT interested!

Sienna: And he’s known her for all of what, a day?!

Arista: “I know you couldn’t possibly be rejecting my marriage proposal. LADY CATHERINE DE BOURGH says I’m amazing. Plus, I get your house someday. And you might not get another offer. It’s a done deal, basically.”

Sienna: Ugh…What a creeper!

Arista and Sienna reading

- – -

Arista: You, too, Mr. Darcy?! Does NO ONE in this book know how to propose to someone without insulting them first?!

Sienna: “So I know you’re like THE BOTTOM of the barrel society-wise, but you give me ALL THE FEELS, so I’m willing to overlook your lowness and marry you. Awesome, right? “

Arista: “What?! You’re rejecting my beautiful proposal?! How can this be?!”

Sienna: Go Lizzy! You set that fool straight!

Sienna and Arista reading

- – -

Arista: OK, now that we’ve skimmed through the book, it’s movie time!

Sienna: Pride and Prejudice followed by Austenland, coming up!

Arista: Let’s see how much of a creeper Mr. Collins is in the movies…

Sienna, Arista, and Pride and Prejudice movies

- The End -

My husband says I watch too much Pride and Prejudice. He’s probably right – I can practically recite the movie. I just really love Elizabeth Bennett and her ability to articulate so perfectly what everyone’s thinking at those key moments. “Guess what, I’m rejecting you and this is why.” “I don’t care if you’re ‘above’ me, stay out of my business.” Ah, so good. I wish I was better at that. Movie and mini series-wise, I know everyone loves the BBC version, but my favorite’s still the 2005 movie. It’s easily one of my favorite movies of all time.


A Flurry of the Furry [PICTURE HEAVY]

Rembrandt, Tutu, Nutmeg, and Bennett | American Girl


Today, Arista’s going to help me show off the small and furry members of my collection – the pets! My mini herd is comprised of Rembrandt the border collie, Tutu the cat, Nutmeg the rabbit and Bennett the terrier.

All the pets!

The Whole Herd

Let’s start with Rembrandt. I absolutely love him! He’s large and fluffy, with a sturdy stuffed body. He has a non-removable leash and does not have a poseable inner “skeleton” the newer pets have. I didn’t start collecting American Girl until after Saige’s year, so I missed out on Rembrandt the first time around. Luckily, he was re-released as “Border Collie” during the end of the year sales and my mom was able to snag one for me. He was one of my birthday presents this year.

Rembrandt the Border Collie

Rembrandt the Border Collie

I’m not sure what he’s like in Saige’s books, but he comes across as a gentle giant to me. In my photos, you’re likely to see him wanting to investigate what everyone else is doing, but in a respectful way. He’s a good example to the rest of the herd and helps to keep them in line.

…And then there’s his complete opposite, Tutu the cat. Tutu comes from Isabelle’s collection. In the books, she’s mischievous but sweet, which sounds a lot like a real cat I know…

Tutu the Cat

Tutu the Cat

My mom-in-law rescued four Maine Coon cats back in 2010 and I love them to pieces. They’re all brothers, but they each have very distinct personalities. My Tutu gets her personality from Drake, the pretty boy of the bunch (named after Nathan Drake, fellow pretty boy from the Uncharted video game series).

Drake the Cat

Forever Kitten Face (Drake the Cat)

Drake knows he’s cute, and he knows that if he acts really, really cute, he might just get away with something – or you might forget about whatever naughty thing he just did. He is generally a good cat, but he does have his moments, and in those moments, he uses his adorableness to help smooth things over.

My Tutu is much the same. She always wants to be part of the action and is very demanding of attention. She also might use you as a means of boosting herself up for a better view of whatever is going on.  But you can’t help but love her and her mischievous antics. She’s often a bounding ball of energy, but she does like to curl up with people and be calm, too.

Nutmeg the Rabbit

Nutmeg the Rabbit

Nutmeg can also be deceptively energetic. My parents got me Nutmeg for Christmas last year. She looks a lot like the rabbit I had when I was younger, a Norwegian Dwarf named Amber. I named her for her color, but she lived up to the “energy” meaning of her name, too (and lived to be 11 years old! Not bad!). My Nutmeg’s personality comes from her. Like my rabbit, Nutmeg loves carrots, but prefers the tops. She likes running around the room in circles, then settles herself back into her basket.

Bennett the Terrier

Bennett the Terrier

And last but not least, Bennett the terrier! Bennett was the first pet from American Girl I ever wanted. As a kid, I thought he was the cutest out of all the original pets. He comes from Molly’s collection and has a sort of twin, Yank, who was Emily’s dog. He’s a lot smaller than the other pets, which makes me wonder if American Girl decided to increase the scale of all pets after he was retired.

I haven’t read Molly’s books yet, but I like to think of my Bennett as a lovable little goofball. He tries to be like Rembrandt, but most of the time, he’s got too much energy to stay still for long. He loves being around people – whether it’s accompanying someone on a walk or sitting with them and watching TV. I suppose he’s a combination of my sister’s rabbit, Snowball, and my mom-in-law’s cat, Jake.

The Whole Herd

Arista and the Furry Creatures

I think my herd’s pretty complete for now. I’ve got all the bases covered – large dog, small dog, cat and rabbit. I actually think I like these non-poseable pets better than the new ones. They still have a lot of personality, even if they can’t move their legs independently or “hold” anything in their mouths. I might eventually sew some accessories for them, but for now, I think they’re good chilling on the rug with Arista.