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Retracing the Roots of Our Bishop

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

The Children’s Corner has given its beloved Bishop a 21st-century makeover – honoring the pattern’s legacy, while at the same time streamlining and updating it for today’s sewers. The classic -- first issued in 1979, the third in Children’s Corner’s catalog of more than 200 patterns -- remains true to the original Betsy, Gwen and Ki bishops by designer Elizabeth Travis Johnson and the Children's Corner Pattern Company, but features revised, step-by-step directions and an expanded size range, Newborn to 24 months and 3 to 6. The pattern is a key part of the Children’s Corner story through the decades. “I think the bishop is the most special of all the smocked garments to learn,” says Lezette Thomason, one of Children's Corner founders. "I think it's a little more challenging to make with the smocking tension and that perfect bias neck band. The design is perfect for little girls, because they can wear it so much longer since the only place it fits is in the neck."

Elizabeth Travis Johnson taught sewing for more than 30 years at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, then known as Watkins Institute, where Lezette was one of her students. After she retired from Watkins, Elizabeth traveled around the country teaching the discipline she loved so much. Lezette and the other Children's Corner founders approached her about drafting patterns for their fledgling business, a relationship that continued for years.

Pattern designer and sewing teacher Trisha Smith was a dear friend of Elizabeth’s, and traveled with her after her husband, Glenn Johnson, passed away. She says Elizabeth was “honored to be asked” to be involved with Children’s Corner. “She wanted the love of smocking and fine children’s sewing to be continued,” Trisha says. The bishop was a favorite of Elizabeth’s – the Gwen version is named after her only child. “She was just crazy about smocking and loved teaching smocking.”

Whether the Children's Corner Bishop is new to you or a cherished part of your sewing repertoire, it’s time to make this timeless treasure! Written by Anne Gillem

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