Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Once upon a Thread / Big Sister and Little Sister

A couple weeks ago, I guest posted at No Big Dill for the "Once Upon a Thread" theme. This is my second time participating in this; the first time, I chose "Little Hungry Caterpillar". This time I chose "Big Sister and Little Sister" as my inspirational book.
I am going to post it today here on my blog.

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 couldn't give her a sister like I had, but I really hope that she will be blessed with "sisterhood" throughout her 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. :)

1. I used my 60 degree pyramids to cut out some of the fabrics. It is easy to see the design and see where to cut.

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. The Once Upon a Thread is still going on and there are amazing guests posting everyday. So hop on over and check it out.


  1. Wow, what a special post. And what sweet memories!

  2. I’m Yanti from Malaysia, a country much more nearer to Japan compared to States! :)
    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story of yours. I can’t help but to have watery eyes reading it. The book is indeed lovely, so is the quilt.
    I tried hard to recall my sparse Hiragana reading the first line on the cover : Ne e san to i mou to

  3. I was so moved by your story that I just had to buy this book. I am all the way over in Australia and purchased via Amazon but thought this book would bring beautiful meaning to my two daughters who are very much like the girls characters in the book. Thank you.

  4. I was so moved by your story that I just had to buy this book. I am all the way over in Australia and purchased via Amazon but thought this book would bring beautiful meaning to my two daughters who are very much like the girls characters in the book. Thank you.

  5. Oh how I loved your story! I was so touched at the special gift of love you provided your sister and the special love the two of you share. You provide much inspiration. Thank you! I know of several special people I want to share your story with that they too may be gifted by your love.

  6. I love how you used this inspiration for your quilt, brilliant :-) x

  7. What a wonderful story. Yes I cried because your story is very moving. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

  8. Great post, just touched my heart.Your little sister is very inspiring and sweet. I have two sisters, we are like friends. This beautiful books just reminds of my big sister. Thanks for sharing with us.


  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. From quilts to children to courage in the face of challenges, you continually inspire me. Thank you!

  11. Hi

    I love your blog and different projects. I'm a host for creating success around the world. I would like to interview you and feature in weekly publish. would you be interested please let me @daffysdream@gmail.com


  12. Your story is very touching, I have three daughters, and the youngest is a cancer survivor who lost her eye at the age of 21 months...this story made me cry. My girls also have felt great responsibility to protect their sister. Who is now almost 21 years old! Is this book written in english? I would love to purchase it.

  13. Oh, that is the sweetest post ever. I have tears rolling down my cheeks at your little sister story. I'm thinking of my own two sweet little girls who are now grown. Little sister loved, admired, and followed her big sister around, doing everything she did, exactly. Big sister always watching out for the little one, soothing her when she was sad, protecting her, and teaching her what she knew. Sweet memories. Thanks for this post.

  14. I have tears in my eyes as I read your wonderful story and looked at the beautiful quilt. All of us should have that same compassion and thoughtfulness for one another.

  15. How special! I am just as close to my sisters, and I can't imagine not seeing them for 10 years. I hope you can see your sister soon!

  16. What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing your special memories. You must love your little sister a ton.

  17. Your story was so touching!Signe gave me the link and I am so glad I was able to read this beautiful story. I too, had tears running down my face.

  18. So much love and consideration in your story - thank you for sharing such tender and sweet memories with us.
    And I just absolutely love your quilt!! It is sweet and tender too.
    Thank you for the tutorial!

  19. Awesome story - so glad you shared. And I think you really captured the feel of that book in that quilt. Wonderful! I hope you and your sister can get together sometime soon!

  20. What a lovely story - both the book and that of your relationship with your sister. The quilt is spectacular; it really does feel just like the book and is incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing this sweet sweet post.

  21. I love, love, love this post. I am fortunate enough to have FOUR sisters plus TWO more that married my brothers. :) I hope to be able to give birth to a sister for my daughter (I already have a brother for my oldest boy!). There's just nothing quite like a sister.

  22. Your story is beautiful as is the book and the quilt. Thanks for taking the time to share all this.

  23. I loved (and love) this post! It's such a sweet story and beautiful quilt!

  24. Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Whoever is wondering about where you can purchase the book, I found it on Amazon;

  25. This is such a sweet post. How sad that you haven't seen your sister for so long! That's good that you still feel close to her. There definitely is something special about sisterhood. I'm feeling very blessed to have 3 girls in a row!

  26. In 1973 my mother gave that book to my big sister, two nights ago I read it to my daughter... She is the big sister now. Such wonderful memories.
    Love your quilt. Thank you.

  27. This post is so beautiful- what a fantastic, touching story... and a beautiful quilt to create memories with!

  28. What a very special story! Thank you for sharing your real life story, it is much more interesting and beautiful than the story in the book too.

  29. Thank you so much for sharing. Posts like this make blog reading an honor and not just a pleasure. The quilt is very beautiful and so is your little girl. I send my best wishes to you and your family. Thanks again.

  30. Oh Sachiko, You made me cry with that post. I have seen sisters to share a very special bond, unfortunately i don't have any.

  31. Thank you for sharing your tender, sweet sister story. It touched my heart. I also love the softness of the flower quilt.

  32. What a sweet story! I also have a younger sister. I wish I had been the kind of big sister you were. We are very close now that we're grown!

  33. この本、ウチにもあったよ~!!どこ行ったのかなぁ・・・。

  34. Sisters are the best, beautiful story (both the book & your own!)

  35. Lovely... Your sister story and your quilt. Thank you for sharing!

  36. Hi Sachiko,
    I so loved your story...thanks for posting and I love your meadow quilt.
    Iris from Canada

  37. Love the story and the post of the quilt, looks so cuddly so off to my linen cupboard to see if I can dig out some and make it too! Thank you for the inspiration!

  38. And love from Auckland New Zealand! Shortest day coming up so we are in winter and the sun is shining and 15c! Brrr for us but looking forward to summer again!

  39. That's so much for sharing your story I have a twin sister and we where so close until she changed her ways and eating habits and is 60 pounds lighter than me. She is so skinny now and do t remember thinks and her skin is grey looking and I worry about her. But Weight Watchers is her God. So sad and we did celebrate our 62 birthdays together a few weeks ago and I am teaching her different quilt blocks to sew. She do t seem to remember. But a week here was stressful for me. My hubby did the cooking and made her eat. But she was in bathroom lots. Anyways I love quilting and my sister loved to sew when she was young and made wedding dresses and men's suits etc. I have my own quilt shop and looks like a Quilt Shop. Sew Happy


Blog Widget by LinkWithin