One of the most beloved Once Upon a Thread posts came from today's guest, Sachiko of Tea Rose Home. Her little felt food for the Little Hungry Caterpillar is amazing. Go here if you missed it the first time. Sachiko has one of the biggest hearts I know. She's amazingly creative and has a wide range of projects from home dec, to clothes, to refashioning, to quilting. I also find the voice of her blog endearing, like she's just sitting down to chat with you. I love the book she chose today, and I'm warning you that it's a tear jerker of a post! Welcome, Sachiko!
Rusty Bucket Photography
✂ ✂ ✂Hi No Big Dill readers! This is my second time participating in “Once Upon a Thread”. The first time, I chose “Little Hungry Caterpillar”, this time I chose "Big Sister and Little Sister" as my inspirational book.
This book was published in 1966, written by Charlotte Zolotow, and illustrated by Martha Alexander. Thank goodness it was translated into Japanese, because I really enjoyed this book throughout my childhood years.
This book has been one of my most favorite books growing up, but the story became even more close to my heart in my late teen years. I will share the incident later, but now let’s read it together just in case this is your first time hearing about this book.
There were two sisters...
The big sister loves little sister, she makes sure her little sister won't go on the road while she is playing jump rope...
Takes her for a bike ride, she holds her hand when they are crossing the road on the way to school.
When they play in a field, she makes sure the little sister doesn't get lost.
She even teaches her how to thread a needle, how to use scissors when they sew. Big sister knows everything. The little sister thought there is nothing the big sister can’t do.
The little sister cries sometimes, but the big sister comforts her and takes care of her...
But one day, the little sister wanted to be alone. She got tired of being told what to do.
She snuck out of the house while the big sister was preparing a snack.
She left home, the garden... and walked away...
She just sat in the field of daisies. In a short while, she heard her sister's voice calling for her.
But little sister kept silent. Big sister is kept calling, her voice got closer and closer... then got further away. (At this time, the little sister is really enjoying being by herself, and relaxed).
Big sister's voice came near again. She could touch the big sister if she reached her hand.
The big sister sat down and started to cry. The little sister realized that, when little sister is sad, the big sister is there for her to comfort her, but right now she has nobody to do that for her.
The little sister stood up and put her hand on big sister's shoulder, then said "here, wipe your tears away".
Big sister did. They hugged each other. "Where were you?", asks big sister. "Don't worry." little sister replies. "Let's go home and have some lemonade."
From that day forward, they help each other out. The little sister learned a lot from big sister. She can do anything now.
I read this book over and over again, and I thought "They are just like my sister and I!".
I am the oldest of three girls, but my youngest sister wasn't born until I was 20. So, this story is about my younger sister and I. My sister and I were so different. I love dresses and skirts. My sister hated them; she was always wearing pants and shorts. I loved sewing, reading, cooking, playing some piano (just a little), and organized spaces. My sister on the other hand; she was good at any sport, enjoyed wood working, loved eating what I cooked, playing drums and guitar, and she would bribe me to clean her room.
See how different we were? Also, let me share a couple of my childhood memories too...
Our family moved several times growing up. Whenever we went to a new place, our whole family was busy unpacking, except my sister. She was nowhere to be found. I thought "uhg! she is probably outside playing with a new friend."
When I was in about the 4th grade, one of my sister's friends rushed in to my class room and said, "Your sister is fighting, you have to stop her!" I thought "Oh my gosh, what is she doing?"
I always had a sense of responsibility to teach her, and take care of her. Just like the big sister in this book. Then, something happened right after my high school graduation to totally change my perspective about my sister and our relationship.
I have to give you a little back ground about myself to tell the story. I will not go into detail here, because I could really write a novel. But here goes; I was born with a disorder and because of that I had an amputation at age 2. I still had to deal with the disorder throughout my life, so I was in and out of the hospital all the time. Usually my hospital stay was months at a time.
Right after high school graduation, my condition got really bad, my mother and the doctors decided that I needed to be hospitalized again. I was thinking about a lot of things in bed, about my life, my future, and my past. Then I guess I was finally starting to mature... I was thinking about my sister. How my illness affected her and her life growing up.
My sister was born a month after my amputation. My mother needed to stay by my side to take care of me, so, my sister was sent to live with my grandmother in a different city. The first couple of years of her life was pretty much that way. Even after that, because I got hospitalized at least once or twice a year, she had to live with my grandmother or with a close family friend for months. But I don't remember her complaining about it even once. If I can't go outside, she would bring something back for me, a rock, a flower, and some funny stories to tell.
Remember I told you about how she was gone when our family was unpacking? My mom later told me that when she went to look for her, she was standing on one of the moving boxes, and had gathered the neighborhood children and said; "My big sister is missing a leg, if one of you are mean or teases her, I will not let you get away with it. You will be sorry!"
So back to my fourth grade story; she was fighting a boy in her class, I rushed in to her class room to stop her. They were both grabbing at each other. I said "Stop! What are you doing?!". She turned around and saw me, she had a bloody nose, then she started cry and said "He said, your sister is a one legged freak." She was fighting for me, she was trying to protect me.
What a loyal sister that she would do that. She has always been there for me no matter what, and at the same time, I was finally seeing and thinking how much I took away our mother's attention from her. How lonely and sad she must have felt all those years...
The night of my high school graduation my sister came in to my room to spend some time with me and we were just chatting. I really felt that I need to say sorry, for what she went through because of me. I started talking what was on my mind.
She was quietly listening then said, "There is no need to say sorry big sis. You weren't born with your disorder on purpose. You had no control over the situation. I never once thought that it was your fault, or wished you weren't born.” Then as she spoke, tears started flowing down her cheeks. "Besides, I always admire and look up to you. How you live your life; it's to your full capacity, how you are dealing with your medical issues and pain. You have such a cheerful and strong spirit, big sis. I am proud to be your sister."
That did it. She made me cry. We held each other's hands and cried for a while. She was only 16 at the time. I was amazed how mature she was. I always thought I was supposed to teach her and lead the way. Ok, maybe I taught her cooking and how to organize her sock drawer, but she taught me something much more than that. She taught me not to hold grudges, how to forgive, and above all how to love unconditionally. That day I totally changed how I see my sister.
Eventually I got better, but my condition wasn’t stable as always. My sister always told me that she will take care of me the rest of her life so I don't have to worry about anything. Then God had a different plan for us, I got married and moved away. REALLY far away; all the way to America. Now my sister is also married and has become a mother of two beautiful girls. We talk on the phone all the time, even though we haven't seen each other for 10 years, I feel like nothing has changed. She is my sister, but also my best friend.
Every time when I turn the pages of "Big Sister and Little Sister" I think of my sister and I as little girls and how we were. That's how this book has become so special to me.
Oh, and then this little missy... She is the most special little girl in my life.
I know, that starts with me. :)
As you can see in the above pictures, I made a quilt inspired by "Big Sister and Little Sister". I was thinking about the flower field the sisters were in in the book. I call it "Vintage Flower Field Quilt". I will show you what I did to make the quilt top.
I had some vintage pillowcases that were perfect for what I had in mind...For this quilt; you will need 180 triangles. You should be able to cut out about 30-36 triangles from one pillowcase, so you should have at least 5-6 pillowcases, but if you want more variety in you should have more. I mixed and matched with some vintage sheets too, so I am not exactly sure what that would do with the calculations, go figure. :)
2. Some of the pillowcases like this one below, the pattern is all over, so I cut 6 1/2" wide strips to match with the length of the triangle ruler and cut out triangles.
3.Now, they are ready for piecing. Put right sides of the fabric together and sew the triangles as the picture is showing. Press the seam to one side and snip off the excess. Piece 15 triangles to make a row.
You need 12 rows.
4. Press the seams with the iron to one side. Press the seam to the opposite side on the next row. That way, when you are going to piece the rows together, the seam will be less bulky.
5. Keep piecing and when you are done piecing all the rows, press the seams and cut the sides to make it straight...
6. I won't cover the basting, and quilting part on this post, but there are lots of tutorials and helpful tips you can find online. I quilted mine with a machine, and I used vintage sheets for the back. I wanted to create the flower field feel with the quilting pattern too.
7. Time to enjoy! I think this quilt looks its best outside on the grass. Even though there are no flower fields; I can create one in an instant. Voilà! How awesome is that?
I hope you enjoyed my post today. Katy, thank you so much for having me over to your wonderful place!
✂ ✂ ✂
I warned you about needing tissues! What a beautiful story and beautiful book. It seems even more touching that it's in Japanese. Thank you for sharing your project and your life today, Sachiko!