Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Sis and Me Making Stuff

by Leann

This past week I was lucky enough to have my sister visit from Seattle. We have always been close, talk all the time, but live 2500 miles apart. No fun there. She's five years younger than me and I was her surrogate mother. Our mom was an alcoholic and pretty absent. So I took care of her--woke her up, made she got breakfast before school, stuff like that. She even got married at my house and I made all the arrangements. No family except for my husband and two kids attended. Very fun. And no pictures! I know I took some, but they got lost in one of our moves.

When I started my new cat series, I decided to use family names in various forms--match one side of the family with the other. But one name I kept was hers. If you've read my first cat book, you know that the police officer friend of my heroine is Deputy Candace Carson. That's my sis. Always by my side, even in my fictional world. Now the folks at her job call her "deputy" all the time and she gets a kick out of it.

She paints and I write. She sews and I quilt. (There is a difference.) But since I'm rather hobbled by Lyme and fbromyalgia, I thought she could help me with a project while she was in Houston. I've committed to making two small quilts for cats--the kind my heroine makes. I was sure I could find a pattern, but before I could say "let me check my gazillion quilt books" she picked up her sketch pad and designed the cutest quilt. And an easy one at that.

But after the fabric was bought and the layout confirmed, it was late in the day and I was very tired. I showed Candy how to use paper piecing to make triangles and emphasized that with quilts, every cut must be precise. Super precise. While I put my feet up, she started making those half square triangles. I didn't check on her. She knows better than I do how to use a sewing machine.

The next morning, however, I was able to teach my baby sister one more lesson. When I say precise, I mean precise. She didn't quite understand that part of our conversation. Putting a quilt together with all the blocks lining up exactly right is only as good as the consistent seam allowances and those first fabric cuts. The quilt top will fit together perfectly if you remember those two things. Our little quilt didn't quite fit together. (Did I mention my sister always likes to do things her way? LOL)

I laughed, we cut and recut and she understood what I have always believed. You can learn many things from making quilts--especially if you didn't have a mom to teach you things.

1. Listen well. You will learn something.
2. Mistakes are part of life. You will make a lot and you will be better for them.
3. Turn a weakness into a strength. (If it doesn't look right, get creative. You might be surprised at the result.)
4. Laugh while you're learning. It's so much easier that way.
5. Love makes doing anything so much better.

Do you love making things? If so, what? And what have you learned from the process?