Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, Project Life scrapbooking, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

TEAS Test Thoughts

The last ‘to do’ list item for my nursing school application was the TEAS Test.  At my school your score is not a factor as long as you ‘pass’ the test with a score above the national average (which hovers around 65%).  Given that a score of 67% and 97% would have the same impact on my application, I figured my time was not best spent studying any more than absolutely necessary.  And so I began studying for the test the evening prior to taking it.  I used this TEAS book (which I recommend buying used and then selling on amazon used so it will cost you about $10-15  when all is said and done).

As I began reading it I had one very big thought: “oh darn–I should have taken this in the fall–I used to know this stuff.”  I would highly recommend taking it right after taking your chemistry/biology pre-reqs.  The science content will then be freshly in your mind.

I let the online comments psych me out a little bit, but I took the test with my three hours of prep and came out with a score of 94% in the 99th percentile.  Ironically my lowest score was in the English section (this is ironic because I have an English degree).  Stupid writing classes teaching you to break all the style “rules.”  (note that prior sentence is not an actual sentence.)

So, moral of the story: the TEAS test is actually kind of easy, especially if you have good multiple choice test techniques.  Luckily for me, this is the kind of thing they teach you if you attend high school in England.  That and how to drink your weight in alcohol and then pour a cup of tea without spilling.  Here is my fool proof method for not sucking at multiple choice question tests:

a)  Read the question and then imagine the answer.

b) Look through the answers and see if your answer is among them.

c)  It is? Awesome!  Make a little – next to it.

d)  You are not done yet.

e)  Read all of the answers one by one.  If they are completely impossible make an x next to them.  If they are kinda maybe possible under some interpretation of the question put a – next to it.

f)  If you have one – and three xs circle the answer with the -.  (But you’re not done yet.  See step h.)

g) If you have several – answers, read through the question again and the answers again and pick the best one.  You’re still not done though.

h) Finish the test.  Now go back and reread all of the questions and answers and see if you still agree with your original answer.

i) If you are using a scantron, NOW is the time you fill it out.  And then you go back through your scantron and look at them all again and make sure you didn’t make a mistake and fill in the wrong bubble.

Yes, this method will mean you are usually one of the last people to leave the test.  But I’ve never run out of time on a test using this method.  AND then you get to be all smug about how you did everything possible within your being to do the best you could at that test.  So feel free to go all British afterward, keep a stiff upper lip, and wear nude pumps like Princess Kate.

The Plucky Obsession

If you knit and haven’t tried plucky yarn, well…actually…keep that up.  It’s like crack.  It’s brilliantly marketed and limited and hoarding becomes inevitable.  Avoid it.  But if you are a knitter and HAVE tried plucky, then you’ll appreciate these lovelies that came in the mail today (camomile, top hat, punchy, and thank you note on primo fingering):


Jessica - It’s really good I have mostly given up knitting for sewing because I need another thing to hoard like I need a hole in my head. But those are so pretty!!

Easter bunny dress: Simplicity 1208 by Ruby Jeans Closet

We had a little Easter miracle occur around here: I finished Ellie’s Easter dress in time for Easter morning Mass!  It came down to the 11th hour (or more accurately, the third hour), and I ended up quickly sewed the hem between showering and breakfast, but it’s done and I was super happy with it.

I wanted to buy her a dress, but I just couldn’t find anything I liked this year.  So I resigned myself to making something in colors to coordinate with the shirt I got for Will for $6 on clearance at Gymboree several years ago (sadly I never did find a sweater vest to go with it).  When I went to buy the fabric for it Monday, though, the Joanns lady gave me all sorts of attitude about how I wouldn’t have enough time to make it before Easter.  Now, that was actually a little true given my test, assignment, and work schedule this week, but she didn’t know that!  All she knew was that I was at Joanns at 10:30am on a Monday!

In the end I started sewing this dress in earnest after the Easter Vigil Mass and AFTER doing all of our Easter bunny prep…which was 12:45am Easter morning.  I’d spent about an hour the day before cutting the pattern pieces and some of the fabric, and I spent about 30 minutes Easter morning finishing up details and the hem.  All told you could definitely finish the dress within 5 hours taking your time, or 4 hours if you were all business.  The embroidery is the real bottleneck in the process.

I love the buttons–little pink bunnies that perfectly match the pink accent fabric.  What’s funny is that Ellie picked them out.  We were in the button aisle and she kept showing me things that weren’t at all right so I wasn’t really paying attention to her when she held out these and said “Look!  These are good!” I told her “beautiful, but not right for this project” on autopilot before I really looked and saw that they were perfect!

simplicity 1208 pattern review dress easter

Project details:

Pattern: Simplicty 1208 (purchased used in new condition from Etsy for $5, the dress is also available from Ruby Jeans Closet as Bunny Hop Dress as a pdf)

Fabric: Kona cotton (grey and white), cheap Joanns pink polka dot print

Buttons: La Mode (Joanns)

Cost: under $25

Time (including tracing/cutting the pattern pieces onto swedish tracing paper first but not including prewashing fabric): 4-5 hours

Pattern alterations: I used a smaller insert of color for the bunny’s ears instead of having the pink be full sized as in the pattern.  I did not do the understitching recommended in the pattern both (a) for time reasons and (b) because I don’t really understand what that is.  😛  I’m a fan of top stitching, but for time reasons I did not do it on this dress.  Maybe later this week.  I also brought up the hem.  I think in a solid fabric this can look a little Mole Woman, so I brought up the hem to make it a little more retro and a little less I’m-one-of-five-wives.

Pattern recommendations:  The kona wrinkled terribly.  When you’re looking at a definite car ride in a 5 point harness to church, some crunching is inevitable and the kona did not handle that well.  The ease included is also massive.  The pattern says multiple times that 3″ of ease is included and puts the chest measurement more prominently than the ‘size,’ but as a novice pattern garment sewer I just couldn’t bring myself to trust her measurements more than her age, so I made the 5.  It’s giant in the chest–I would have loved to try the 4 or even 3.

simplicity 1208 bunny hop dress

simplicty 1208 pattern review

Flower girl wreaths

Ellie got to model my friend Erin’s awesome floral hair wreath today.  She is completely in love with it–I’m thinking this might be a perfect Easter outfit if it gets warm enough and it would be adorable at her cousins’ baptism this summer!  Check out Erin’s Etsy shop–she makes them for adults, too!


Cinderella Disneybounding at the Movies

The Cinderella movie came out this week and Ellie and I thought it was the perfect excuse for a little Disneybound outfit fun.  Ellie and I were in disagreement over who she should go as.  She wanted to go as an ugly stepsister (?!).  I felt strongly that at least one of us should go as Cinderella and if I went as Cinderella and my daughter as an ugly stepsister…well, serious eyebrows.

I was really hopeful that the Kohls Cinderella collection would make this a no-sew Disneybound, but I was really disappointed in the quality of the clothing and decided we’d just have to figure it out ourselves.  Ellie and I came to a compromise on the whole ugly stepsister thing, and she agreed to go as CinderEllie in Rags.  I went back and forth on Lady Tremaine or the Fairy Godmother and after looking at what I had onhand I went with the Fairy Godmother.  A simple pink bow and I was done.

I made Ellie’s outfit in a record 3 hours from the portabello pixie claire dress pattern–the only thing that was ready when we got home from church today was the prewashed fabric, but it hadn’t even been ironed and the pattern templates hadn’t been made!  For her kerchief I used the fabric I had left from her apron, cut it into a square, used the rolled hem on the serger, and then sewed ribbons onto two corners so we could tie it at the nape of her neck since it wasn’t enough fabric to tie itself.  As I was working on the dress I had the studio door open and a bird flew in.  I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection immediately, but I’m sorry to say it did take me a while to realize that of COURSE a bird flew in when I was working on a Cinderella dress!  It was there to help!


These dresses will hang around for a while, ready for our next Disney trip.  I will be on the look-out for a cute wand pin or necklace and probably a lighter blue or pink dress to really bring home my Fairy Godmother ensemble!


Disneyland Sewing: What we wore, an accidental Disneybouding story, and Modcloth coupon codes!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, but the opinions are 100% my own.  I love Modcloth so much I joined their affiliate network.  They couldn’t be a more perfect spot for Disneybounding wardrobe shopping! 

I have coupon links for both new and returning Modcloth shoppers

The last time we went to Disney (Disney World), I made Ellie a bunch of outfits.  One of them was a subtle nod to the style of Mickey and Minnie Mouse:

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The other, a very seriously awesome nod to the princess Snow White.  I had wanted Ellie to have a princess dress, but didn’t want it to be the cheap looking official kind.  I wanted it to be a Snow White dress, but also just a really nice dress.

disneybound homemade snow white dress sewn

See the sparkles?  Oh they have not yet invented a fabric that speaks to me more than the bolts of sparkly tulle.

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(And a backup casual place dress in case the Snow White ballgown didn’t work out.)

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I enjoyed the results of that so much that for our latest Disney trip, I wanted to do that again.  But I wanted to be involved, too.  If Ellie could be a Disney princess, so could I.  So I both bought and sewed pieces that ran from subtle to overt nods to Disney characters.  I was very excited.  I loved the outfits.  On our very last day an employee asked me “This is kind of a weird question, but I have to ask–are you Disneybounding?”  Having no idea what that meant I said “no.”  It was awkward and I felt badly.  So I left the store and googled it.  Turns out that Disneybounding is dressing in clothing to give a nod (either subtle or overt) to a Disney character or ride.  Ooops–my bad.  I was TOTALLY Disneybounding, Mr Photopass Guy.  Sorry.

Anyway, here is a peek at our very successful 2015 Disneybounding at Disneyland.

Day one, a travel and Downtown Disney day.  Sadly the only shot of me is this partial waist-up shot, but just imagine the awesomeness of a red dress, yellow belt with Mickey Mouse fabric bow, and black and white polka dot flats.  Ellie had black glittery jeans, a red and white top, and a hoodie that was black and white polka dots.  Perfect for general Mickey/Minnie awesomeness.



Day 2, and our first Disneyland day, we again rocked the general Mickey/Minnie theme.  For Ellie’s sewn-together-last-minute-with-supplies on-hand improvised circle skirt I didn’t have enough fabric to make it as long as I wanted, so I added a layer of tulle underneath…and then leggings under that.  My red tulle skirt I made from this tutorial (which I followed more or less with Ellie’s skirt too).   I made my belt using this tutorial (except that I was doing all of my sewing last minute and so I used safety pins instead of proper fastenings)  The tank I got on clearance at Old Navy for $2.  I still love this outfit, but I trashed the skirt that day.  It ended up raining and the velcro on Ellie’s coat cuffs snagged against it for hours.  If I want to wear this again, I’ll probably need to rip out and sew on a new layer or two.  If I had it to do over, I’d also use thinner elastic at the waist.  I used 1″ elastic and spent most of my time trying to hide that white elastic under my belt (in spite of many many safety pins).

disneybound minnie mouse tulle skirt

(I made an effort to have Will coordinate with us on a couple of our days–next time he gets to Disneybound too!)

disneybound tulle skirt minnie mouse mommy and daughter


These flats were adorable but dang they tore up my feet something awful.  They are the kind with an elastic heel and I knew from experience that I’d pay for it, but BLACK AND WHITE POLKA DOT FLATS, PEOPLE!

disneybound minnie mouse

You can appreciate the tulle layer to her skirt in this shot as well as her sparkle toms.  Shoes are a real problem for Disneybounding at the parks–comfortable AND theme-fitting is hard.  But these silver glitter toms definitely worked for every outfit she had (but I was weak and also got her pink ones for her Sleeping Beauty dress).  They get my thumbs up as a great Disneybounding shoe option for kids!

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Day 3 was Meet Elsa day.  Ellie’s top was from Etsy.  Her skirt was a tulle circle skirt with a top layer of glittery awesomeness.  (I couldn’t talk her out of the ears and plastic necklace.  Oh well.)   My own outfit was my most subtle nod to Minnie, an adorable top from ModCloth (a shop that makes Disneybounding ridiculously easy if you just give them all your money), black jeans, and the perfect red shoes.  As was the theme of the trip, there really isn’t a good photo of me showing off the outfit (next time I will be obnoxious and insist) but here’s a group photo where you get the idea:



elsa disneybound



It is the perfect skirt for twirling.


Day 4 was Ellie’s birthday and less of a Disneybound for her and more a straight up Disney princess costume that her mother slaved over for days and days.  Ellie adores Aurora, wanted an Aurora dress, and so of course we never met her on this trip (grrrrrrr).  Thank goodness the dress is a touch big and hopefully we can try for the Ellie Aurora + Aurora Aurora photo next time.  The top section is made from Simplicity 9384 that I paid a disgusting $20 for on ebay to get my hands on.  I adapted it so it doesn’t include the attached skirt.  For the skirt I used the same tutorial I used for my tulle skirts and used various shades of pink tulle topped with a layer of sparkling tulle (none of that shows up in photos but was gorgeous in real life).  The underlayer I made knee-length because I wanted to be able to quickly trim the tulle to knee-length if the full skirt proved to be a pain during our park tour.  (It was totally fine full length.) Her peplum was also made with a layer of regular kona quilting cotton topped with sparkling tulle (I simply held the layers together when sewing the peplum).


We were in a rush to get out the door that morning and I forgot her pink glitter headband that was such a perfect match.  I’m still mad about that.  Especially since the rubberband in her hair broke about 20 minutes into the day (her aunt came to the rescue with emergency bobby pins).

sleeping beauty aurora costume homemade sewing simplicity 9384

I was so excited about this Sleeping Beauty dress–definitely the hardest thing I’ve made.

sleeping beauty homemade costume simplicity

See?  It sparkles. :)

My own outfit was also my most obvious–a tribute to the first and my very most favorite Disney princess: Snow White.  I got oodles of compliments on this outfit and luckily the skirt survived the day beautifully, so it will be back next time!  (And I have absolutely no idea why Ellie chose to make THIS face in the only photo of me taken on our camera that day.)

disneybound snow white tulle skirt

Day 5 was just me and Will, since Nic stayed back in the hotel with sick Ellie, so here’s a peek at my outfit courtesy of a Disney Photopass employee that really needs to clean his camera’s sensor:

disneybound mr toad

The dress and amazing yellow cardigan are from Modcloth.

(This, incidentally, is the day I hadn’t really had a particular character in mind but just really liked the headband with the outfit…and yet it was this outfit that prompted the question as to whether I was Disneybounding.  He thought this was perfect for Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.  I’ll take it.)

We did a little bit of other Disney sewing before the trip–Will made some pajama pants and I made a Dumbo nightgown to match Ellie’s favorite stuffed animal:


I also made some special Mickey pajamas for our first time Disneyland visitor in the group!


To wrap this up I’ll leave you with this photo of the pile I noticed as I was packing.  I felt like it was proof that we were totally winning at this whole Disney trip.

disneybounding minnie mouse

Ann - wow! That is amazing! I love all of the outfits, old and new. I had no idea this was a thing, but since I have an almost 3 yr old little girl I’m going to have to look into it! What great memories you gave your kids!

Louisa - What great fun!