Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



I’m interrupting M&M Workbook posts for a different story. I could have titled this post – The Power of Sewing or The Happy Ending or Quilts For Forgiveness or Making Up – but in the end I settled on what I named my latest quilt. I have a sister; you will not have heard her mentioned on the blog for as long as I’ve been blogging, and a little bit longer, we haven’t spoken to each other. About 5 years now.

My sister is younger than me, prettier, very sociable and personable, fitter and slimmer, and life and soul of any party. But this is not why we fell out. My sister has three boys and they were born within a few years of my son; our boys grew up with one another. Every Saturday and bank holiday when the boys were young we would go to a park or the beach or just to one another’s house. We went away for days at a time to the coast and had a laugh – a truly wonderful childhood we provided for our sons.

Like all family fall outs it’s simple and it’s complicated.

A month goes by, then two and before you know it a year has passed. It gets easier not talking. Another year and another. It broke my heart. It was easier to not think about what we’d lost and still time passed.

My sister has been sick, I mean very sick. As she was dealing with chemo and radio and drugs and all the side effects, I wasn’t there and it just about empties my soul thinking about it. Guilty, yes but more like sadness, a profound and overwhelming sadness.

In June this year I texted my sister and told her I sewed and was now making quilts. I gave her this blog address as I’d just posted about my son’s Big Bang quilt. I asked what colours she liked. I wasn’t really expecting a reply.

However, I did receive a short answer – blues and turquoise.


Immediately I sought out fabric and spent many happy and involved hours deciding on a pattern.Every summer when we were children we spent months by the seaside, climbing over rocks, investigating rockpools and swimming. My sister loved to swim when she was young, she loves hot climates by the sea and loves bright, happy colours.

This is her quilt – Rockpools:


For the last 5 years we have given our nephews their Christmas and birthday presents through a third party – our parents.  However, if I make anything for someone else then there is one condition that must be adhered to – I hand over the item in person. A neutral location, a time arranged with a limit and the quilt would be given over to its new owner. I don’t mind telling you that I was nervous: What would we say to one another? Would she even like the quilt? How would it end?


And this is the happy part. My sister loved, I mean loved, the quilt. We talked easily and freely for half an hour, smiled and even laughed a little. I received more texts from her that same afternoon about the quilt and we were still texting each other well into the next day.


I’m not claiming that the last five years have all been erased or the hurt and pain has gone, but it’s a start. A very positive and encouraging start.


Without this quilt we wouldn’t have had this opportunity. It’s up to me to make the most of it…….


39 thoughts on “Rockpools

  1. What a touching story, Ruth. I do so hope that you and your sister will become close again.
    On a entirely separate note. That is the nicest quilt I have ever seen. Such beautiful shades of colour together.

  2. Beautiful! Hope you can further mend the gap.

  3. I am not a fan of quilting, but this is really beautiful, I love the pattern and the colours. I hope you can restore your relationship with your sister.

  4. How beautiful. I am crying as I write this. I hope that all continues to go well for you and your sister.

  5. Oh Ruth what a touching story, I do hope the healing processes (in all meanings) continue for both of you. It’s a lovely choice of colours, and all that machine quilting too!

  6. It’S a stunning quilt, what pattern did you use? It must feel wonderful to have your sister back 🙂

  7. It is amazing how you poured so much love into making the quilt, and that it has started on bringing you back together. My brother had cancer too, and sadly he eventually died, and I am glad of that period of illness because it forced us to sort out the petty issues that had spoiled our relationship over the years. I hope you can come closer Ruth. Family is important.

  8. Dear Ruth The quilt is very beautiful and a testament to your thought and care. But even better is how wonderful it is that it has formed a bridge between you and your sister.
    I hope your relationship continues to grow.

  9. I rarely comment on blogs but this touched my heart. I love your quilt and hope so much that you can build on your relationship with your sister. I am in a similar position with my son, and how it hurts. Family is so important and we waste so much of our precious time falling out with each other. Good luck to both of you, I hope things work out well for you all.

  10. Thanks for sharing that Ruth…. I have certainly had fallings-out with my sisters as well and it is often easier given the distance that we naturally have as adults to allow the rifts to drift on and on. Really hope your beautiful quilt, which must have taken many hours to make, is the first step to healing the gap.

  11. This is really touching, Ruth. And I appreciate your sharing this story. My sister and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship for over 45 years. And yes, there’s some guilt and lots of wishing it could be some other way. But friendship takes two people, not one. Can be hard and have unexpected turns. We’re born as family, , and family is a nice foundation – but we’re also individuals, particularly once we achieve adulthood. The quilt you made for Claire is exquisite and certainly reflects the feelings you have for her. What a lovely and thoughtful way to open the door. Coco

  12. It is so beautiful…in itself and in the fact it renewed a bond that hopefully will continue to grow. When we envy other people their beauty, skills etc, we are counting “their” blessings, not our own. So many times when the conversations start and people open up we realize others secretly have been envying “our” blessings all along and wishing they had our skills and outlook on life. Wishing you both can count your blessings together in the future and mend some fences for the sake of your boys as well…sewing brings people together…that is for sure with this gorgeous rockpool quilt.

  13. A beautiful quilt and a touching story. I hope your sister has beaten the cancer and that the two if you will have the opportunity to rebuild what was previously a great relationship.

  14. That is a very touching story and a very beautiful quilt.

  15. Your beautiful quilt is a huge step towards healing. I’m from a large family & there are always many issues … Baby steps

  16. Your quilt is beautiful. More importantly though is the fact that you stepped up and closed the gap between your sister and yourself. Don’t you girls ever do that again, ever. Life is to short. Fuss fight, and fume, then get over it. My younger sister is Taller prettier, personable very sociable, etc, but with all that we still need each other. Thank God you didn’t make that beautiful quilt as a testament to a lost life. As my Mom use to tell me “you’re the oldest, you know better”. I’ve had to wait days after my sister has fallen out with me over the caretaking of our Mom who has dementia. Then I call as if nothing has happened, or every once and awhile, she calls. Again Life is to short. I’m through crying now, so I will end this long post by saying…both of you live and love healthy and long. I love and need my sister in my life and am pretty sure she feels the same. P.S. you are such an inspiring and awesome seamstress.

  17. There’s nothing like something made by hand to say you care. I’m not one to expect happy endings where everyone ends up saying how silly the reasons for the falling out were. In many cases they’re serious, and in some cases they can’t and shouldn’t be laughed off. Even so, as long as there’s life, there’s an opportunity for communication, insight, forgiveness of self and of the other party. This beautiful quilt was a grand opening move and it sounds like she’s willing to grab your outstretched hand. Good luck.

  18. Such a profoundly beautiful quilt, Ruth, made only more so as an offering. I love how each side is different, and yet part of the whole. Blessings on you both for the future.

  19. Gorgeous, gorgeous quilt, and what a heart warming story behind it. Along with the other posters, I really hope that this is the beginning of the good stuff for you and your sister. My sister passed away unexpectedly 10 years ago, completely out of the blue, and I miss her desperately (gosh, this is making my eyes leak). I know that all relationships are different, and I hope yours works out. Sisters are very special xx

  20. That quilt is a true work of art. It is a gorgeous creation! But if you looked in the mirror and saw what I see in your pictures, you’d see that you, Ruth, are a gorgeous creation yourself, just as you described Claire. 🙂 You willingly labored to create such beauty and then freely gave it to Claire. What love! I pray it’s the beginning of restoration for your family.

  21. Beautiful quilt, beautiful story. I hope your relationship with your sister continues to mend.

  22. What a beautiful Quilt! and such a beautiful story. I have a few “sister stories”, too, and they are complicated. It’s amazing what a sincere act of kindness, (that requires such care and time and effort) can do to bring loved ones back together. Thank you for sharing your sewing and your heart.

  23. A wonderful gift – and whilst the quilt is fabulous that isn’t what I mean. You have opened a door with your sister and I hope it stays that way.
    My sister is a treasure, but my mum…. I need to work on that.
    Good luck and lots of love. Kim

  24. It’s a lovely quilt. Thank you for sharing your story. Estrangements are painful and it seems that yours is on the mend. Hugs!

  25. Good for you for taking a giant first step, and for following up with such a thoughtful gift. I’m glad for you and your sister–and glad for the boys as well. I remember from my own childhood certain familiar people seeming to disappear, never to be seen for years. Breaks are painful for children too.

  26. I love quilts and this one is a beauty! Love is a hard road to walk sometimes, but I believe at the end of our lives we will not regret it. I pray healing and restoration for you and your sister. xx

  27. A beautiful bridge…as someone who’s also had a difficult relationship with my sister, I was touched by your story. Thanks for sharing it.

  28. If you can hurt each other so deeply you must love each other equally deeply… It’s hard to find common ground again I know from my own life. The quilt is a lovely beginning, and it is truely beautful.

  29. Dearest Ruth,

    On a personal level I so identify with your story and I am not sure what the ending will be for me.
    However, I am pleased that the beautiful quilt you have made was a way of breaking the ice and that you are communicating again.
    Hoping that your sister gains in strength, both physically and emotionally and that you enjoy many more years sharing with each other. Huge hugs.xx

  30. Ladies, thank you all for your own stories and sharing. Families are fragile and resilient at the same time. I’m offline for a few days so I’m commenting on my own blog……. But I just wanted to extend a deep appreciation for your support. Thanks again and I truly hope that any issues you may also have are resolved.

  31. I’m crying as I read this. It all rings true for me too. Families are complicated. ” A stitch in time – saves a sister”.

  32. This quilt is gorgeous, the colours are just beautiful. I’m so glad that your sister loves it, and it’s lovely that you have reached out to her, and that it went so well – it’s can’t have been easy. I really hope things continue to improve with you both, and also that her health improves too. Lynne x

  33. It is a beautiful quilt… in a heart-touching story! Thank you for sharing.

    Best wishes!

  34. The quilt is gorgeous…one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I grew up on the east coast and the ocean is in my blood, even though now I’m far from it. I can see the water and rocks in your quilt and where the green is it looks to me like the sun shining through the water. We all have relationships we need to mend so that we won’t be living with regrets. You are doing the right thing!!!

  35. The clothing you make is always worth noting, but I do believe you have found your niche in quilting. You are 2-0 and they are STUNNING!!

  36. I wish the very best for you and your sister and your families. Mending the relationship is hard but so worth it.
    Your quilt is breathtaking.

  37. Glad things are getting better between you two and the colours you have chosen are beautiful. Very nice work!

  38. What a beautiful piece of work. I hope when your sister uses the quilt and feels enveloped in your love and care.

  39. Pingback: and counting… | corecouture

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