Monday, November 19, 2012

To My Customers . . .

The website of BessieMary is now closed.
Thank you for your loyal patronage during the past seven years.
Each of you has touched and blessed my life.
While you may no longer be a customer, you will always be a friend.
I wish the very best to each of you.
May you continue to be inspired and enchanted by the many wonders of the world.
May stitching and creating heirlooms always bring you, and those who receive it, great joy.
May you always be blessed with just enough, but not so much, that you become complacent and blind to the needs of others.
May you appreciate quiet times, but never know loneliness.
May there always be the hand of a loved one and the smile of a friend ...
just as so many of you have been there for me.
May the grace of God be with you always.
Now, I may have more time to visit here at my blog, or to sew what I want, when I want . . .
as long as the wonky eyes cooperate!
I also wish each of you a very blessed Thanksgiving.
May you be surrounded by those you love, either in person or spirit.
From the bottom of my heart,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Stole

The internet can be a curse.
It distracts us when we should be working.
It never works when we need it.
It is too complicated for adults, but too easily accessed by children.
There are times the internet is a blessing.
It brings people into our lives that we might not otherwise meet.
It allows us to live far apart, yet engage in conversations as if in each other's living rooms.
In the subject of this blog post, the internet is definitely a blessing!
I have a friend, Anne.
She and I first met many years ago through a message board for heirloom sewing and smocking.
Eight or so years ago, we were able to meet in person at the SAGA Convention in Atlanta.
Since then, our lives have taken many paths as children grew, other activities and responsibilities demanded our time and attention.
Through Facebook (another one of those complex mixtures of blessings and curses!), we were able to reconnect and remain in touch.
A few years ago, I was elated to learn Anne had answered the call to the ministry.
She and her family left behind familiar surroundings and friends in South Carolina.
They packed and moved to Sewanee, Tennessee, allowing Anne to attend University of the South School of Theology.
I admired Anne for taking this great leap of faith.
I also admired Anne's family for the many sacrifices, as they leapt with her.
Many are called, but few will actually answer.
So, what does this have to do with a traveling stole and some sort of sisterhood?
Next June, Anne will complete her three years of seminary and become a candidate for ordination.
During the ceremony, the ordinand is dressed with a red stole.
Anne has chosen to wear a stole once belonging to a dear friend and mentor, Carolyn.
Carolyn passed away last year, due to cancer, making this stole even more meaningful and special.
As Anne travels through her final year of classes, the stole is on a journey of its own.
It is spending a few days with friends across the country, as we pray for Anne's upcoming ordination.
I must admit, when reviewing the list of fellow sisters, I felt very inadequate.
I am no Bible scholar or theologian.
I lead a very common and somewhat dull life.
There are times I completely stumble and lose faith.
Anne never knew that one of those falters was around the time she first contacted and requested my participation in the sisterhood.
God works in mysterious ways, and His timing is always perfect.
The best way to help ourselves, is often to help others.
About a week ago, the stole arrived at my home.
Compared to places it has recently traveled, the time here was most likely different.
I decided it would accompany me on most of my daily activities, while safely wrapped in plastic, of course!
It often accompanied me in the car, as I ran errands;
delivered orders from my online business to the local post office;
shared dinner with two more of Anne's sewing sisters, Kathy and Chris;
attended orientation for a new adventure I will soon begin;
spent time in my sewing room;
and even joined me on a quick shopping trip to Neiman's.
While there, especially in honor of Anne, it and I browsed the shoe department.
Anne has always appreciated the fact there is nothing better than the perfect pair of shoes!
Yes, the stole probably had a very different experience during its week with me.
As I waited for the stole to arrive, I reflected on my friendship with Anne.
It took me back to that sewing connection.
Many of us were always on the hunt for the perfect fabric and lace.
Meanwhile, Anne saw beauty in the mundane; potential in the simple.
She would take dish towels, sometimes embellished for the holiday or season, and transform them into darling garments for her precious daughters!
That is how I see Anne's ministry, too.
She will be the hands and feet of Christ in ways we, and she, cannot even begin to imagine.
It is why I wanted the stole to accompany me, as I completed common daily tasks.
She will transform the most simple lives.
She will stitch together broken hearts.
She will see beauty and potential where others cannot.
She will help lost souls rediscover hope.
These years in seminary will provide Anne with knowledge and tools she will need.
Her life has already prepared her in even greater ways.
I am so grateful to call Anne my friend.
I am even more honored that she allowed me to be a part of her journey toward ordination.
For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord . . .
plans to give you hope and a future.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Catching Up!

It's been awhile since we chatted!
Let's see if I can remember how to do this.
First, thank you so much for all the kind comments, encouragement and support
regarding the closing of my business.
The main reason for my absence here has been the flurry of activity on my website.
Seems I spend the majority of my time filling, packing and shipping orders.
My husband and I also took a few days off to attend his 40th high school reunion and visit family and friends in Tennessee.  It was a delightful time!
Now, the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing, and my life is heading in new directions. 
There are still some orders to fill and merchandise to sell, but the website will soon be closing permanently.

Many of my sewing friends are busy packing their bags for Atlanta.  The 2012 Convention of the Smocking Arts Guild of America begins on Tuesday.  How I wish I could be in attendance with them.
I am certainly there in spirit, and anxious to hear their reports afterwards.
A small part of me is also there in this chatelaine.
I made and contributed it to the Delphi Heirloom Sewing and Smocking raffle basket.
The chatelaine, combined with a silk embroidered hussif, reticule, scissor case and handmade scissor fob, will be won by a lucky attendee!
Some of you may have already seen the photographs shared on Facebook or at HS&S.
The chatelaine is made of blue silk satin ribbon, woven through mother of pearl rings.  A pair of small embroidery scissors is looped on one end.  A ribbon pouch, embellished with seed pearls, can hold a thimble.  The silk strawberry, filled with emery, is for polishing needles.
A small mother of pearl heart-shaped button holds the ribbons together at center back.
The chatelaine can be draped around one's neck. 
I use mine mostly to just keep track of those small scissors on my often cluttered sewing surface!
It also comes in handy while sitting and stitching on a comfy couch or chair.  It is more difficult for everything to disappear among cushions and pillows, when they are all linked together!
The photograph prompted many inquiries and requests for additional chatelaine instructions and information.  I thought I would share a few similar chatelaines and sewing accessories I have made over the years. 
The chatelaine above was made and donated to the Wee Care raffle basket during the 2004 SAGA Convention.
This particular chatelaine included hand embroidery on the ivory silk satin ribbons.  A small pincushion and more elaborate ribbon thimble pouch were also included.
Another SAGA member generously donated various decorative sewing tools.  They, and the strawberry and pincushion, were attached to the chatelaine after this photograph was taken.
This is a chatelaine I made for myself several years ago.
While perusing photographs, in search of chatelaines, I stumbled upon this silk ribbon embroidered mouse pincushion!  She was made and contributed to the Wee Care raffle basket for the 2005 SAGA Convention.
I also rediscovered this pincushion and emery strawberry.  They were made to coordinate with a pair of Gingher designer embroidery scissors, and given as a gift.
It is so much fun to make these sewing accessories, whether you keep them for yourself or share the joy with others.
None of these ideas, for the chatelaine, pincushions, strawberries or thimble pouches, are necessarily original.  I have taken ideas from a variety of sources, and fitted them for specific persons or events.
Due to the many requests, I will try to soon share basic instructions or resources for making some of your own.
In the meantime, happy stitching -- whether in the solitude of your own home or sewing room, or while gathered with fellow sewing sisters!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Chapter Ends

For six and one-half years, fabric, lace, thread, patterns and sewing notions have filled my days, as I assisted BessieMary customers.

A little over a year ago, I closed my brick and mortar store, but continued business through my BessieMary website.
Fabric, lace, patterns, buttons and notions were tied with a bow, tucked within boxes, and whisked to the Post Office.

I have now made the difficult decision to close the website.

My vision continues to present challenges.  I am no longer able to provide the level of service my customers deserve, and on which I always strived to base my business.
Additional surgery may be in my future.  I need to focus on my health and family.

In some ways, I am sad. 
In others, I am relieved.
In even more ways, I am anxious to see what lies around the next bend in the road.

I am not sure how long it will take to complete the closing sale
So, it may be awhile before I am back to regular blogging or doing much besides finishing up the last details of business.
If you wish to keep up with information regarding the sale,
you may check my website New Arrivals page, or the BessieMary Facebook page.

To all my customers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Each of you has richly blessed my life and stitched a small piece of yourself into my memories and heart.  I can only hope that BessieMary and I brought you a small amount of pleasure, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Flirty Skirt

Now you can faint.
No posts for months.
Then, two in four days -- and both about sewing!
Sometimes I even surprise myself.

I must warn and apologize, though, the photographs are not stellar.
It was either spend time retaking photographs, or actually get this posted.
I decided on the latter.

I started this skirt last summer.  It was never completed for several reasons.
Nothing like an event this weekend to prompt me to pull it out, and give it another go.

The instructions I used are from Anna Maria Horner's blog, and can be found here.

The fabric is a voile from a quilting company.  To me, it seems more like a lawn.  It is the perfect weight for a summer skirt, and I really enjoyed working with the fabric.
 I lined it with a very sheer Swiss batiste.

A few summers ago, I purchased a skirt with a similar shirred waist and loved it.
It is easy to pull down on the hips a little, giving a smoother line and less fluff where many of us do not need more.  Yet, the elastic waist is so comfortable and easy to wear.

For now, it looks great with a white or cream t-shirt or tank and sandals.
I plan to pull in some of the darker colors with tops and cardigans this fall, and extend the wear a little.  It should still work nicely when I have to put away the white jeans and capris and linen slacks, but am not ready for winter wool skirts and slacks.

I have noticed many ready-to-wear summer skirts with hemline tucks.  This is one of my favorite techniques for hemming little girls' dresses.  It is quick, adds a finishing touch, and is very sturdy.  While I may not worry about pulling hems out on the playground, I have been known to rip out hems with my big feet when trying to get dressed too quickly!

For the lining, I simply turned a narrow hem twice, and machine stitched.

Here is a photograph of the shirred waist on the inside of the skirt. 
It gives a better idea of the four rows of narrow elastic casings which form the waistband.
Many mothers complain their young daughters do not like skirts that sit on the waist.
This might be the perfect solution!
The elastic could be adjusted in the casings to better fit the body, as it changes
from waistline to hip area,  Although, most little girls do not have as much variance as us big girls!
I did tweak the pattern a little, cutting my skirt rectangles more narrow to remove fullness.

I believe in trying to make the inside of my garments as finished as the outside, and often use
French seams in my construction.  Even with lightweight fabric, French seams might be too bulky in the waistline/casing area.  Instead, I turned the edge of each seam allowance to the wrong side, stitching close to the edge.

After giving the finished skirt a good pressing, I laid it on the ironing board and smashed the shirring and gathers flat, just slightly, and only for a few inches beyond the bottom casing.  I think it will help the gathers lie more smoothly, looking more like a flirty skirt and
less like a poofy dirndle skirt!

I am so glad this project is no longer in the UFO pile!  While I have not jumped on the maxi dress wagon, I do think this style would be darling in a maxi length.  I may consider that route for another piece of voile in my stash.  If so, I may remove even a little more fullness.

Have you made any summer skirts? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tea with Dolly

Don't faint.
It really is me.  I have not fallen off the face of the earth, yet.
I have really enjoyed being unplugged for awhile.
I may, or may not, share some of my thoughts on that at a later date.
I may, or may not, stay plugged in after sharing this post.
Time will tell.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little something I whipped up in my sewing room today!
For the past few years, I have made and donated a doll garment to an auction raising funds for a hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

Here is this year's contribution.
This was not my original plan.
Funny how often that happens, isn't it?
I decided to try and be a little more trendy than usual, and began making something completely different.
Then, frustration set in.
The pattern directions were lacking.  I could tell the garment might not fit.  While it was meant to slip over the doll's head, little impatient fingers might have a difficult time.  My larger, and supposedly more patient, adult fingers were already having problems with it.

So, I turned to a beloved tried and true pattern -- a doll sized version of Children's Corner Mary De.

I also turned to one of my favorite fabrics, pinwale pique, for the bodice.
Adding lace and Swiss embroideries only made it better!
I was a happy camper, and the sewing machine was humming again!

The skirt is Garden Pindot in Azure by Michael Miller.
Embroidery floss is woven through the entredeux borders of the Swiss embroidery insert.  It is further embellished with Spanish lace edging on either side.
Spanish lace is a little heavier than the French laces often used in heirloom sewing.  I felt these were a better choice for a slightly more casual dress, and sturdier for a little girl's play time.

I decided it needed a little fun punch of color, and added lime green microcheck gingham piping at the waistline.
There are also three folded tucks at the hemline, to add one more finishing touch!

One of the sweet features of Mary De, is the wrap back closing.
The dress opens completely down the back, hopefully making it easy for little fingers to dress dolly.
Two fun flower shaped buttons close the back.

Her stylish bonnet began as a plain, and rather rough looking, straw hat purchased at a local hobby store.  I dug through my box of trims, finding a lime green ruffled trim that echoed the color of the dress's waistline piping.  I also discovered a floral ribbon garland, with tiny pearls decorating each flower's center.
Of course, we know everything is better with a bow, too!

This adorable miniature tea is the final part of my donation.
I used to sell these in my store, and still have a few left.
It makes me happy to know some little (or big!) girl will enjoy sharing tea with her dolly.
I made two little cloth napkins, using one of the decorative stitches on my machine to finish the edges.

It was good to be sewing again, and especially for a worthy cause.

Thanks for visiting!
Maybe it won't be as long before I have something else to share.
Have a wonderful week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank you . . . and an update

That bit of a break turned into more of an extended hiatus.
Thank you for the emails, calls and cards inquiring about my recovery.
During the last couple of weeks, my finger is beginning to look more like the finger I remember.  There is still some residual swelling. 
It is still numb from my knuckle to fingertip.
I am so relieved that my fingernail hung on, and has started growing again!
I have never had great nails, and thyroid disease only makes them worse.
I am even more thankful to still have all ten, and not have lost any to Mr. Snake's snack.

There are still pricks of pain when I try to grip objects, or hold heavy items.
It improves with each passing day.

So, the physical recovery is going well.
The emotional recovery is taking a little longer.

I have attempted to conquer my fear and return to my yard.
I will not lie.
It is difficult.

Playing in the dirt and tending my plants was always therapeutic and relaxing.
Now, I am tense and always vigilant.
I no longer let go and allow my mind to wander.
I miss that.

As the photographs show, Spring brought new life and blooms to my yard.
I do sneak out with my camera to capture the growth.
But, the grass no longer tickles my bare toes. 
There are always shoes on my feet.
My eyes are always on the ground, and not gazing upward or all around at the marvels of nature.
I miss that, too.

Since the bite, there have been more frequent and prolonged bouts of double vision.
It is unknown whether they are due to the bite, stress of the incident, interaction of drugs, or simply the unpredictable progression of Grave's disease.

So, there is still some healing and recovery ahead.

I wish there was a report that my closets are all cleaned, my spice cabinet organized, and desk completely clear.
Or, that I spent time playing in my sewing room, creating wonderful things.
Dream on!
While it may have been quiet here, life continued at its usual hectic and demanding pace.
Air conditioning units broke, hot water tanks leaked, automobiles needed servicing, and family situations required attention.
My online store remains open, and days are spent filling and shipping orders.
In the midst of pain, healing and concern, I am grateful for the day-to-day normalcy of life.
Although, some days are easier to be grateful than others.

And I am grateful for the little surprises of life!
As if they knew there are times only chocolate can help.  I now can head toward a certain fast food restaurant and have my favorite milk shake and cookies to go!

I have always believed that God's timing is perfect; that all things work together toward the good.
Shortly before Mr. Snake slithered into my life, I had considered closing my blog.
I never dreamed a snake bite would provide the opportunity and time to give greater thought to the idea. 
Over the past weeks, it has been nice to be unplugged; to have one less item on the agenda.
On the other hand, I miss visiting with all of you.
The coming weeks are crammed with obligations, responsibilities and events.
It may still be awhile before I resume regular blogging, and the possibility of stopping is still on the table.
The only thing constant in life is change.

I have been so deeply touched by the outpouring of concern, the warmth of your compassion, and the power of your prayers.
Thank you for continuing to visit and care, even in my absence.

It is difficult to believe that it is almost June.  Summer is here!
As we close May, I am grateful our son successfully completed his first year of law school.
I congratulate family members and friends who are graduating and beginning the next phase of their life.
I look forward to long days of sunlight, the better to see and sew.

As we celebrate Memorial Day, I am forever in debt to those who serve and protect our country, so that we might enjoy all these things and so much more.

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