Pocketful of borders (Mary Had a Little Lamb)

x-ray of my wrist

I’ve recently resumed working in my studio after months recuperating from my fall and broken wrist in January. It was  a bad break that required surgery to put in a plate and several screws.   Two orthopedic surgeons told me the break was too complicated for them to fix and that I needed a hand specialist. Now, I look at the x-ray of my wrist and appreciate the intricacies of the hand surgeon’s fine detailed work. I’m glad that I waited the ten days after the break to have her do the surgery in Boston. Today, after 2 months of hand therapy, I’ve regained most of my wrist’s rotation, but still have limited flexibility and strength. Even though the break was in my subdominant left hand, I need the full use of my wrist to hold materials that I stitch with my right. As I work, I can feel the tendons in my hand and wrist pulling and aching, but I’m determined to sew! My physical therapist told me that she will work with me another month, to see if we can get back as much use as possible.     

"Mary Had a Little Lamb", pages 26/27 from the book, "Pocketful of Posies"

detail from "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

 Before the accident, I was going to spend the winter making borders for all 50 of the original illustrations from my upcoming book Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes . So, I have a lot of work to catch up on.     


The pictures now need to be given borders and mounted on stretched backgrounds before being framed under glass for the traveling exhibit. The illustrations were photographed a year ago for reproduction in the book and now can be reworked for their 2nd life as framed pieces of original art. I just finished the border on the double-page spread for the rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. There was already a felt border, but I needed to finish the outside edge. I made a scalloped pattern and cut around the outside so that the corners were rounded.     


Then, with some variegated cotton thread (Watercolours by Caron), I sewed a blanket stitch around the curved edge.  I added a decorative curly-cued chain stitch made with 2-ply variegated embroidery floss (DMC).     


The scalloped border looked too flat, so I sewed 26-gauge wire to the underside, near the outside edge.     


I embroidered the date and my initials to the bottom border. Then, I bent the wire to make a wavy edge, just like you’d do with pie crust around the outside edge of a pie pan. The felt artwork is then sewn to a stretched piece of upholstery fabric.    



Here’s the finished picture. In the book, the words from the rhyme will be printed in the large open spaces and the book’s gutter will be in the center.     

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" ready for framing

Note: See other posts in the Pocketful of Borders series here.

21 thoughts on “Pocketful of borders (Mary Had a Little Lamb)

  1. Hello Salley,

    My friend and neighbor had a similar wrist injury several years ago after falling down her deck steps, she is an award winning quilter and was initially devastated that she would not be able to quilt again! However, after months of diligent therapy she is now able to stitch again.

    Your work is so delightful and charming, I save all your posts and look at the work often. Keep up the therapy so that we can all continue to enjoy, good wishes to you for a speedy recovery. Can’t wait to purchase your new book.


  2. Thanks for the encouragement on the wrist recovery, Jenny. I’ll be raking and weeding today as hand therapy!

    Dee, thanks for you interest in a class, but I haven’t taught for a while and really want to spend more time in the studio, so no promises.

  3. Salley, this work is stunning – I love the colors and details! I can’t wait to see the whole book. Hoping your wrist feels better.

  4. Wow–that was quite a break. I hope that you regain full use soon. What a time for it to happen—with a book coming out and much to be done.

    I lost the use of my right hand a few years ago for over a year and it was very difficult for me to be patient and wait for the injury to heal. (I learned many lessons about patience that year. It very hard to cope when one takes creating for granted.)

    That is wonderful idea to use a wire to create a ruffled edge. Your meticulous sewing is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the process with us. Can’t wait to see the finished book!

  5. So sorry about your hand! Any time I have a minimal injury to my right hand I freak out cause it’s my life source. I’m glad you are feeling better and I love the wire detail to the border. Just what it needed!

  6. Every time I see the close-up of one of your pieces it catches my breath and I am struck with the tiny detail. That you have done this all by hand – every tiny stitch – is beyond miraculous. And that is simply the surface – the well from which you draw your inspiration – the imagination from which you fashion each stitch has me shaking my head. My prayer is that your hand will heal better than it was before. It holds a huge part in making too many smiles and untold gasps of wonder.

  7. Salley….glad to see your hand is healing; it’s amazing what surgeons can do. I love all the detail in your artwork and it’s especially impressive that it’s all done by hand. I’m looking forward to the book.

  8. dear salley,
    close to ten years ago, i shattered my left wrist in a biking accident. it was called a comminuted fracture. like you, i was lucky to have an orthopedic surgeon who knew what he was doing and he did it well! my x-ray looks so much like yours. i felt as if i had a bionic wrist with the plate and screws. i regained full use and range of motion of my wrist and it is even stronger now than my dominant right. i am so happy for you that you are recovering and i want you to know that your wrist will feel better and pain free soon. a year out from my surgery i was astounded to be pain free. the most frustrating part of injury and recovery were the little things i took for granted before the bike accident… shampooing my hair, getting dressed, being able to do the dishes! (?) ! i have so much empathy for what you’re going through.

    i am a huge fan of your work and although i cannot afford an original piece, i have started a collection of your books. i i am in awe of your attention to detail and use of materials and color. you are an inspiration and a treasure.

    thanks for sharing the latest on your borders, and the update on your recovery. btw, genius idea to use the wire for structure!

    • Sheila, thanks for sharing the story of your broken wrist and the successful outcome. I wasn’t sure about putting the x-ray on the post, thinking it might be too graphic, but there’s nothing like a photo to communicate what’s real. I wish that I could sign all of the books in your collection!

  9. I was kicked by my horse and had my ulna on my right arm broken in two places. I elected not to plate it, but had it in a cast for 9 weeks. As a result, my wrist was immobile for nine weeks. On top of that my shoulder froze. I spent 12 weeks in therapy unfreezing my shoulder, which was incredibly painful. My wrist got full mobility back when I started playing the piano with my kids. I played as a kid, but I am not a real pianist by any means, but 15 or 20 minutes a day at the piano, and my strength and mobility came back.
    Good luck and hang in there.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Susan. We can break our precious limbs in any variety of ways and living without full mobility is an unforgetable experience. I’m glad to hear that a creative act like playing the piano helped!

  10. That wire is a stroke of genius, Salley — I love it when you share your magic (er . . . process)! The world is lucky that you’re regaining the use of your wrist. Hopefully you’ll continue to see a little improvement every day.

  11. As always, lovely Salley. I will continue to hold good thoughts that your arms makes a total recovery… allowing you pain free sewing. It must feel wonderful, however, just being able to get back to it, though. Best wishes and thanks for continuing to share your gifted talents with us!

  12. Hi,
    I hope you are felling better! It is curious how I bought your book about six years ago while I was recuperating from a similar intervention in my back. If this helps, I had titanium implants: my spine was sawn off and replaced by metal rods and now I run two miles everyday!

    Anyway, your book inspired me so much during that time I was bedstruck that I even wrote a story about little fairies that live in the forest…I would love to share it with you! I know you would love it! Let me know if you would like to read it and I will gladly send it out.

    Greetings from Costa Rica, hope you feel better soon so you keep working your magic,

  13. My youngest son fell this weekend and luckily only fractured his radius in his left arm. He didn’t need surgery just a cast but wow I am greatful he is six – as he is already running about and shouting “FEAR ME” LOL. The panel is incredibly lovely as always !!!

  14. I shattered my right wrist last July, so can relate to what you are going through. I have found time is a healer only at xmas I felt it would not completely recover, but it improves all the time.
    There is a fine line to over using it too soon, take it slowly at first.
    I only discovered your work through your blog. It is delighteful oh so neat and colourful, and I can’t wait to get a copy of your book.
    I live on a tea estate in Malawi Africa so it will have to wait until I return to the UK. Happy sewing and fast healing.

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