After several months of trying to find time to finish this project, I think it's done! There is one flaw that I'm not sure I can live with, but I'm going to let it rest for a little while before I decide.
Here it is:
I made one change to what I had envisioned... I squared the edges instead of leaving the top part freeform. I think I will wait awhile before doing another one with as much handwork... I like how it came out, but really found it hard to find a lot of time to devote to the beading and hand stitching!