Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet My Machines

A reader recently left a comment inquiring what type of sewing machine I had.
Unfortunately, there is no way to access an email address or blog to answer her question, so hopefully she will read this post.  All of you also get to meet my machines!

This is the Singer machine on which I learned to sew and my mother made many clothes for herself, my sister, me and a few fortunate dolls!  She also repaired many a knee and seam on my father's weekend work khakis!
In later years, Mother would upgrade twice to other Singer machines.  However, this is the one I especially remember from my childhood.
I do not use it much for sewing, but keep it for sentimental reasons.  I do believe that many of the older machines have the prettiest straight stitch, and I have used it to stitch very straight stitches on very fine fabrics.

During college, Mother gave me a very basic sewing machine. 
  I managed to mend many garments for myself and college roommates and whip up costumes and decorations for my sorority's rush parties.  A few years later, it would churn out simple home decor projects for my post-college apartments, and our first home.  I created a dust ruffle, bumper pads and special sheets and blankets for our son's nursery. 
Little rompers, pants and shorts, Halloween costumes and super hero capes came to life with the assistance of that machine.

Making costumes for Dallas Junior League's Ball, our major fundraiser, my machine and I stitched into the wee morning hours turning out an assortment of sea themed garments for Makin' Waves!  After stitching yards and yards of sequins, polyester and chiffon, I almost swore off ever taking another stitch.

Shortly afterwards, both Mother and Grandmother passed away only months apart.  I was determined the art of sewing within our family would not die with them.

So, I purchased my Pfaff 7550 in 1995.
I had fallen in love with smocking and heirloom sewing along the way.  I wanted a machine with the capability of heirloom stitches, such as Point de Paris and Entredeux.
This was the first computerized machine I had owned, and the learning curve was steep!  I took all the classes I could find.  I poured over pages of Sew Beautiful and Creative Needle, learning all that I could.  I began attending Martha Pullen's School of Art Fashion in Huntsville and local SAGA workshops.
I especially like the built-in walking foot of this machine.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, as the machine that introduced me to heirloom sewing.  I still use it quite often when stitching special little garments.

Of course, then I needed an embroidery machine!
I first purchased a Viking Rose, which I loved except for one thing.  It only accommodated the smaller embroidery hoop, and many designs and monogramming required larger hoops.
Approximately eight years ago, I traded up to the Viking Designer 1.
This is the machine I use for much of my sewing.  I truly love many of the features.  However, I must be honest and admit there are many features that I don't use, and probably never will!  I definitely do not use this machine to its fullest capability, and that is a shame.
It is the machine that has created all of the embroidered or appliqued items I have shared.  Like my Pfaff, it also has heirloom stitches that I use.

When I opened BessieMary approximately five years ago, I purchased this Viking Interlude 435. 
I wanted a smaller machine to keep at the store.  It has also come in handy when traveling for classes and sewing events.  I really enjoy the simplicity of sewing on it.  However, it does not have any heirloom stitches, which poses a problem if I wish to attach lace or Swiss embroideries with the Point de Paris or Entredeux stitch.

Those are my machines!
Well, there is a serger that is banished to the floor of my sewing room closet.  It and I do not seem to speak the same language!
Unless all of these machines suddenly quit, I do not foresee purchasing a new machine anytime soon.  While there are many wonderful new machines on the market, many offer features that I would simply never use.  So, I am quite content with my somewhat obsolete machines!

I do hope that the inquiring reader will stop by and let me know that she has received the answer to her question..  Hopefully, I did not bore the rest of you!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Not Such a Scaredy Cat!

I just happened to find this darling shirt recently, and loved the little glow-in-the dark face!  It reminded me of fun glow-in-the-dark garments that my son wore so many years ago.  Unfortunately, the glow-in-the-dark print seems to prevent the true colors and cuteness of the shirt to be captured in photographs.  So, just use your imagination that those eyes have almost the exact yellow glow as a cat's eyes in the dark.  Those cute little ears and nose are really a bright orange!  The shirt also has little crochet trim around the wrists and neck.  Just sweet and not frightening at all!

Black is not my favorite color for young children.  Halloween is an exception to that rule.  I selected a Michael Miller by Paula Prass, Cobblestone in Black, for a pair of little ruffled pants.  The pattern is Jackie Clark's Britches and Bloomers.  The ruffle is edged with orange medium rick rack.

It looks a little like a costume now that it is completed, but Halloween is all about imagination and fun -- and candy!

Fabric, pattern and trim for pants available at

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Reflect upon your present blessings,
of which every man has many;
not on your past misfortunes,
of which all men have some.
~Charles Dickens~

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Pumpkin in a Small Size!

Do we ever grow tired of Jack's toothy grin?
I think not!

I selected Children's Corner Lucy, View B, and shortened it to tunic length.  Fabric Finder's orange and white polka dot twill was the perfect background for Ellen McCarn's Ready to Sew Applique, Punkin' Face!

The bottom edge of the top is trimmed with jumbo black rick rack.

I purchased a pair of little black knit leggings to complete the ensemble!

Now, this is making me hungry for candy corn, and all things pumpkin and spice!

~All fabrics, trim, pattern and applique available at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

According to the Calendar

It is 90 degrees and the leaves are still green where I live, but according to the calendar it is Fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What You Might Not Know

A very sweet fellow blogger, Julia, bestowed the Beautiful Blogger Award on me!
I am to share ten things you might not know about me.
So, here goes!

1.  I attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas for two years before becoming seriously ill.  My plan was to major in Business -- possibly following my father's steps in Accounting.  Instead, the illness prompted me to transfer to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.  It was closer to my parents and doctor in Amarillo.  I changed my major to Horticulture. 
In the Spring of my senior year, several of us were chosen to participate in a national competition at Mississippi State University. 
Let's just say that the plants growing in Texas, with which we were intimately familiar, did not in any way, shape, form or blossom resemble those in Mississippi!  I am embarrassed to admit that our group ended up in the bottom rankings when it came to identifying plants in their natural habitat surrounding Starkville.
We returned to Lubbock, a little dismayed, and graduated.  I do not believe many of our group ever used our degrees in Horticulture.
I will always support Texas Tech University, the Red Raiders and their College of Agriculture.  Just don't expect to attend a school in Texas and become an expert on plants more commonly found in the true South!
 I still love to dig in the soil and play with plants.  It is when I feel the closest to God.

2.  Following the above-described incident, I later became a Legal Assistant.  I was employed by large national law firms in Houston and Dallas, before becoming a stay-at home-mother and community volunteer.

3.  I adore pigs and bunnies! 
No clue why.  They are just cute.  It was a complete surprise -- and blessing -- that my mother-in-law also adored bunnies.

4.  I crave macaroni and cheese almost constantly.  Never the type in the blue box, although it was my favorite as a child.

5.  My sewing room is painted lime green with a black and white checkerboard floor.

6.  I always wanted a little girl.  Her name would have been Elizabeth.

7.  My husband makes the bed each morning.  He informed  me very early in our marrige that he did not like the way I made it!

8.  We spent 12 years renovating and restoring a 1916 Mission style house.  I left a part of my heart in that house, and discovered that I really do not like living in a newly built house.

9.  I drive a 2007 Lincoln MKX, when I can see to drive.  I may lose my driver's license next month when it expires.  A vision exam is required for renewal, and I may not pass.

10.  I am a native Texan.  Have always lived in Texas, but would really love to move to Tennessee or North Carolina.  My husband and I will be buried in Memphis, Tennessee with his parents.  That may be the only way I ever have a non-Texas address!

I believe that many of my blog friends have already received this award.  So, I invite you to become better acquainted with some of my favorite people and blogs by visiting those listed in my sidebar.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There in Spirit and Kits!

Many of my sewing friends are gathering in Norfolk, Virginia for the opening day of this year's Smocking Arts Guild of America Convention.
My wonky eyes may keep me from attending in person, but a little of me is there in spirit by way of Wee Care Bonnet kits!
I first shared in this post that I was making kits for these tiny little bonnets.

I completed the pleating, as well as rolling and whipping the narrow lace edging.

A casing was stitched, with ribbon inserted, to gather the back of each tiny bonnet.

During Convention, attendees will be able to simply add a few rows of smocking along the brim, and a beautiful wee bonnet will be completed!

In order for the bonnet to be smocked, each little kit also included a skein of white embroidery floss, ribbon to attach as streamers so the bonnets may be tied under the chin, needles and a sweet surprise!

Normally, I cut heart or flower shapes from craft felt as needle holders.  I recently spied these cute little felt pumpkin cutouts in a craft store and decided they were perfect as needle holders!

Here is one Wee Care Bonnet Kit ready to go!
It joined a stack of others which a dear friend transported to Convention for me.  Fabric, a shabby chic sewing basket, patterns, smocking plates and miscellaneous sewing notions had already been donated and shipped from my store to join other wonderful donations for the fabulous Wee Care raffle basket.  It, along with other baskets overflowing with stitching delights of every type, will be raffled during Banquet on the final night of Convention.    

I wish all my friends safe travels, wonderful moments of learning, fun visiting with old friends, the joy of making new friends, and a winning ticket for your favorite raffle basket!

To my dear readers and friends, I want to say thank you for the continued outpouring of encouragement and support regarding my vision.  The last few days have been exceptionally difficult.  I am afraid the double vision is worsening, instead of improving.  I am adjusting and preparing for possible life altering changes in the near future --  kicking and screaming all the way!  I will not give up seeking solutions.  I simply must accept my life is now different.  I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for accompanying me on this journey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Music on Monday

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Some people despise the little thing life.
It is their mistake, for they thus prevent themselves from
getting God's greatness out of these little things.
~Meister Eckhart~

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There Is a Way

Don't you just love those days when, as if by magic, a song on the radio delivers the words you so desperately need?  The catchy tune did not hurt either!
May it bring joy to you, too!


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Go on your way in peace.
Be of good courage.
Hold fast that which is good.
Render to no man evil for evil.
Strengthen the fainthearted.
Support the weak.
Help and cheer the sick.
Honor all men.
Love and serve the Lord.
May the blessing of God be upon you and remain with you forever.

~Benediction inscribed at Gloucester Cathedral~


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Never forgotten.
September 11, 2001

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eye Update

I cannot begin to express how touched I am each time a dear reader inquires about my eyes and the healing process.  While this is definitely not one of the prettier entries I have posted, I thought maybe it would be healing in its own way for me.  I seem to have hit a wall in believing that I will ever be back to normal, and am trying very hard to accept my new "normal" and limitations.  Perhaps by looking back to where I have been, I will realize how far I have actually come.
So, reader beware!  There are some rather unattractive photographs to follow!

This is my right eye, the first to receive orbital decompression surgery.  These photographs were taken approximately six days after surgery, and just prior to the stitches being removed.  Much of the swelling, and some bruising, had already subsided.
Lovely, no?

This is the left eye, about one week after surgery.  My surgeon is so proud of his tiny stitches!  Maybe we need to teach him the fine art of hiding those knots, though!  If you look closely, the last stitch on the right includes a huge knot.  That thing hung on for dear life, even after all the other stitches were removed or dissolved.
These stitches remained in place for approximately one week after surgery.
For the first 24 hours immediately following each surgery, there were large basting stitches that ran from my eyebrow down to under the eye.  They were removed just before I was discharged from the hospital.
Since these photographs are gruesome enough, I won't even begin to describe some of the other very frightening and ugly things that happened to my eyes, nose and face immediately after surgery and during the first 7-10 days of recovery.

This is my left eye today. 
The scar will eventually fade, and blend into other creases and wrinkles at the corner of my eye.  You may also be able to detect that my upper eyelid remains somewhat swollen.
There is still numbness surrounding both incisions, sides of my face and forehead, and extending back to my ears.

Overall, my surgeon is very pleased with my progress.  He does admit to being a little mystified about the swelling of my left eye.  The current suggestion is to try sleeping with my head more elevated, and not sleeping on that side.  Therein lies a small problem!  I have always been more of a left side sleeper.  However, I do notice a difference that various sleeping positions make.

I had a follow-up appointment with the retina specialist yesterday.  There was some improvement in the weak spots detected last month.  He believes the blobs and flashing lights I continue to see will lessen over time.  Patience seems to be a running theme here.

The biggest problem is a continued presence of double vision.
My left eye is not moving in sync with my right eye, causing an ovelay of images.  Upon waking each morning, I see two of everything.  Sometimes seeing two of certain things is a blessing.  Many times not!  I have to determine which door or wall is real, so that I will not end up with even more bruises and scars.  There have been a few juice glasses and cereal bowls broken when I chose the "wrong" kitchen counter or breakfast table!  A sense of humor and non-attachment to material items is necessary in this healing process.

You may be able to tell from this photograph that my eyes are not looking in the same direction.  My left eye tends to gaze downward and to the right.  I have a lovely view of my nose!
You can also see it is more swollen and puffy, compared to the right.
It takes about two to three hours each morning, and lots of concentration on my part, to finally have more-or-less single vision.  The double vision will sometimes reappear during the day, especially if I am tired or using my eyes a great deal.  It is also more likely to reappear when I attempt long distance viewing.  Therefore, driving and other activities remain difficult or impossible.  I am able to drive on neighborhood streets, but driving on busy multi-lane thoroughfares or expressways is not a good idea.  Sometimes watching television, viewing movies in a theater or walking through large stores is difficult.  I really miss my freedom and independence.

I currently wear my glasses, but may be able to return to contacts once the incisions have fully healed and swelling subsides. 

Through all of this, the important thing for me to remember is that I still have vision!  Everything else is really just small inconveniences and points of vanity.  My surgeon promised that he would not let me go blind, and he has delivered on that promise.

Patience, determination and faith seem to be my best prescription and hope for a return to my previous lifestyle and activities..  Again, I am so grateful for each and every prayer offered on my behalf, for each sign of friendship and kindess extended in my direction. 
Even with wonky eyes, I am truly blessed.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Prayer is neither black magic nor is it a form of demand note.
Prayer is a relationship.
The act of praying is more analogous to clearing away the underbrush which shuts out a view than it is to begging on the street.  There are many different kinds of prayer.  Yet all prayer has one basic purpose.
We pray not to get something, but to open up a two-way street between us and God, so that we and others may inwardly become something.
~ John Heuss ~

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Mother's Hats

Figuratively, mothers wear many hats as they raise and care for their famlies.
My mother also wore actual hats, as was the fashion, when I was a young girl.  I especially remember shopping for new hats for Easter Sunday and other special occasions.
The three hats pictured above belonged to Mother.  They now reside on a shelf in my sewing room.

There are a few more in my closet, some still kept in their original boxes.

In the bottom of the boxes, are faded receipts bearing names of department stores I remember so well.  Stores where my mother, sister and I would shop for clothing and household items.  Stores where you "dressed up" to shop.  Stores with elevators and elevator operators wearing thick white cotton gloves.  Stores in downtown Amarillo.  Sadly, none of them remain in business.

Some of the boxes also hold bits of netting, ribbon or other millinery trim, perhaps removed and exchanged for another shade of ribbon or embellishment more suitable for the season or ensemble.

Sixteeen years ago today, not a hat, but a heavenly crown was placed on Mother's head. 
Daddy and I held her hands and bid farewell.  She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1990.  A diagnosis that shattered and changed my world forever.

During the next four years, Mother would once again don hats to hide her hair loss.  A former middle school teacher, she would also put on her teacher hat and instruct all of us about faith, strength, determination, humor and grace.

Cancer is a horrid disease, but it is kind in one way.  It allows us time to say goodbye.  Nine days before Mother passed away, I wrote her a letter.

Three pages of memories, gratitude and love.  Daddy read the letter to her when it arrived in the mail.  Many years later, I would find it neatly folded in its envelope and resting in the top drawer of Daddy's desk.

As the years have passed, I discover that Mother has never really left.  I look at my hands and see her hands.  I catch a glimpse in the mirror and see a marked resemblance.  I listen and hear her words tumble from my mouth.  She is up above, watching over and continuing to love and guide me.  My prayer is that I am at least a tiny fraction of the person she was.
She was extraordinary.

I will see her again some day.  I am trying to determine how to lovingly ask her why eating all those carrots, which she promised would be good for my eyes, did not do the trick!  She will give me that beautiful smile of hers, hug me as she always did, and all will be well.
Until then, she is only a breath away.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

We All Start Someplace!

Meet Peggy.
She was my much loved baby doll.  Santa brought her for my 4th Christmas. That would make her more than 50 years old, and vintage like me!
She is photographed wearing one of the first garments I recall stitching on the sewing machine.  I do not remember how old I might have been at the time of this creation.  Hopefully, I have perfected a few of my machine sewing skills.

Must not have realized there was a curve ahead.  Looks like I even went back for a second attempt, too!

Wonder what I was thinking here?
Along with another fine example of double machine stitching, there are a few oversized hand sewn stitches.

Continuous piping was evidently not yet an acquired skill.
Neither was matching seams.

If one row of stitching is good, five must be even better!
If one is on top of the other, at least at some point along the way, it is especially good.

Close enough.
Just whack that piping off.

Fine seam finishing was yet to be discovered.

At this point, I am fairly certain my mother was having difficulty maintaining her composure.

No doubt, she still gave me a hug and proclaimed my work perfectly beautiful!
Peggy thought so, too.

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