Sisterhood is Powerful!

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…

National Sister’s Day is Sunday, August 6, and so we asked two of Moda’s sister-designers, Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick, to share how it was they came to work together and how they balance their design duties. Here’s what they had to say. (You’ll note that Laurie is a woman of fewer words than Polly. She did tell us though, that they have made it their “life’s work” to avoid cameras, which is why if you ever see them together, snap a photo! You may not get another chance.) :

Does it surprise you that you work together?

Laurie: Yes! Because we never really had a relationship when I was a kid because she was grown up, married, and gone.

Laurie (right) was the flower girl at Polly’s wedding.

Polly: Yes and no. It is such a wonderful opportunity and we have enjoyed it, so I guess a surprise would be that are both so lucky to work together AT MODA. It was beyond both of our thoughts and wishes, but when the opportunity appeared we jumped in, very excited, and felt lucky and privileged.

It was not a surprise in the fact that we are both self-taught artists. We don’t work in the same field and neither of us was totally aware of what the other was doing, but when we started working together we realized that while one uses wool and the other cotton, we both love scrappy techniques and both love to use as many colors as we can. For me, a blue-and-white rug could have 40 blues and 12 whites, so that is the same for both of us. We both like folky and quirky and we both love the old and traditional, so for that reason it’s not a surprise.

Do you have other siblings who share the same interest in textiles? Were others in your family interested and did they teach you to sew, draw, paint, etc?

Laurie: Hah! Only brothers, and I don’t remember any handwork or crafts from anyone.

Polly: We have two brothers and no one else in the family that we know of does anything like we do. Our mother did not and no aunts that I can remember did any type of handwork.  And being from a huge Irish family, it’s kind of a surprise that we are the first.  Laurie taught herself to quilt as a very young gal, maybe aged 12, and is totally self taught, saving money to buy little scraps of fabric.  As our house did not have fabric stashed, as no one did quilting or any handwork.  A few years later I taught myself to hook, mainly because I was an avid antique collector and was on a mission to hook two rugs to go with my decorating. After the two rugs were done, I expected to be done with this craft.  Surprise!

Minick and Simpson’s Lady of the Lake quilt at Market featuring Ann’s Arbor -in shops this month.

How do you work together—what’s the process?

Laurie: We work digitally and get together maybe two or three days a year, but it’s by mostly cellphone and email. Polly gives me lots of room for quilt designing. We both have input on the fabric. Arm wrestling solves all disagreements. (Kidding.)

Polly: We live miles apart and work together only a couple times a year, and we use Quilt Market time to work.  Other than that, I find things I like and send them to Laurie.  Remember I do not sew, so I find goodies and she finds goodies, but she has to make them all.  When another great quilt appears I have one suggestion: “Make it in blue for me.”  Now that is probably something Laurie could say that irritates her.

Laurie has to do all the sewing, so to try and balance that I am the travel agent and help in any way I can that does not involve sewing.

What’s great about working with your sister? 

Laurie: We know each other’s strong suits.

Polly: Everything is great working together. There is an age difference of 15 years, so we were not close at home at a young age.  I was out of the home when Laurie was a little girl, so finding that we liked to do somewhat same type of handwork later on was a nice surprise.  I cannot think of anything that is not good working together.  Laurie is sweeter and quieter than I, so if there is a problem, I would have to take the blame for sure.

So, Happy Sisters Day to Laurie and Polly (Minick & Simpson), Mary and Barb (of Me and My Sister Designs), and Susan and Lisa, the sisters who make up two-thirds of Sweetwater.  And how about you—do you have a sister with whom you share a love of quilting? Let’s hear about her!

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21 comments on “Sisterhood is Powerful!

  1. Sharla Dial Anderson says:

    What a sweet story.

  2. Susan R says:

    Love hearing about these two (yes, sweet story) and of course, love their products! I’ve been working on their summer beach quilt – red, white, and blue with sand toys etc. I haven’t worked on it diligently, but need to!

  3. Adeline says:

    Yes, I’m fortunate to have TWO dear “Sisters” with whom I share a deep love of quilting and everything that it entails: my Sister-in-Law of 49 years, and my Dearest Friend whom I met through a quilt guild several years ago. In each case, it’s a wonderful give and take that is boundless as well as a mutual admiration society.

  4. Marti Morgan says:

    Wonderful story.

  5. Myra says:

    SISTERS – a magical word to me. I’m the very fortunate big sister to my twin sisters and today is their 65th birthday! Neither of them quilt nor do they get ecstatic when they cross the threshold of a quilt shop like I do. But they are ever so patient and mill around, feigning interest so well, it is almost comical, but oh so endearing! You can tell – I love ’em dearly – even though they have the “don’t quilt flaw”.

  6. Terry Hughes says:

    Lovely interview!! My sister Meg, is 12 years older than I. She left for the Air Force when I was 6 so we did not get to share the growing up experience with each other. And we had 4 brothers in between us, two roses and 4 thorns!! LOL! I am the quilter who has forced the love of fabric and quilting onto Meg and she embraces it well. We get together as often as we can, a few times a year, but share many of our quilting experiences with the wondrous Skype and FaceTime calls! Thanks for the Minnick and Simpson tale, the opportunity to shout out to my wonderful sister and for being the great company you are!

  7. Deb Mac says:

    My sister does not quilt. We took a road trip (the first in many, many years) to meet our other sister and just happened to drive thru Hamilton, MO so of course I had to stop and visit MSQC. My sister trudged along, carried my bags and openly said she was mystified by the whole “quilt thing”. I explained the concept of pre-cuts, showed her how they could be used in different quilts, and told her to think of pre-cuts as Legos for quilters. A few miles down the road, she said “pre-cuts would save a lot of time, right? Maybe there is something to this quilt thing after all”. She hasn’t asked for quilt lessons yet but I am waiting…..

  8. amq97 says:

    Wonderful interview to get to know Polly and Laurie better. I tried numerous times to reel my younger sister in, but to no avail. I’m fortunate to have many quilting “sisters” to fill the void. I’m grateful for them every day!! Allison Bayer, Plano, Texas

  9. Karen says:

    Happy Sisters Day everyone!
    My sister does not quilt but she IS a fabulous encourager and favorite cheerleader and sometimes an enabler. Seeing a fabric or pattern SHE loves sometimes gets mailed to ME. 😀 It’s all good. We live miles and miles apart but have met in the middle of the country for a vacation. I took a paper piecing project along and she was so happy to tear away the papers! It was fun!

    Thanks for the wonderful interview with two of my favorite designers!

  10. Stephani in N. TX says:

    My sister, 9 years younger than myself, says I put her on to sewing when I bought my first black Singer portable machine with my first job. I love hearing that. In turn she pushed me over the edge when it came to quilting. I had been going to shows, loving quilts especially Baltimore Album quilts. Going to shows together, she taught me how to look at quilts in terms of the “put together,” finding the building square that starts the pattern. And a quilter was born. Probably 150 quilts later, it’s the stitching that holds my life together between friendships, fabric, classes, a quilt trip to AK with most of my siblings. Minick and Simpson are among my favorites as designers. We have a third sister (and two brothers) who does not quilt. But, we have a great cheering section. Quilters Rule!

  11. Love the Minick and Simpson line and work. I have 4 sisters. A couple of them have dabbled in quilting, but my brother is more interested than they are. I’m moving to the next generation, and I have been teaching my nieces to quilt.

  12. Tracy H says:

    Thank you for sharing! Though I have heard of you two, I have just begun to explore your fabrics and I love them! I have an older sister who use to quilt that I admired her work. I was busy raising my family and couldn’t ‘afford’ the hobby! Now I quilt and she doesn’t!

  13. Phyllis Brown says:

    I am one of 5 sisters…..one my twin. She did not quilt, was not interested in sewing but encouraged me and loved it when I made her something. Sadly I lost her two yrs ago . One sister crochets beautifully although a stroke took that away. I have been encouraging her to take it up again and it was always “I can’t”. Yesterday she told me she had started again after 7 yrs and I cheered. Older sister knits, crochets but no quilting. One other sister is a talented artist and sews beautifully but no quilting. However she does show an interest but raising her toddler grandson keeps her pretty busy. I am, however, not without a quilting “sister”. I made a baby quilt for each of my granddaughters(2) and my daughter in law was very interested. She asked me to teach her and I complied. That was 14 yrs ago and she has not looked back. Being a talented artist helps a lot with that. She flew by me and for the last ten years had been quilting on commission and making a living at it. She talks to her clients about what they want, who is it for, colors they like,etc then designs a quilt and makes it. She does that but she also spends a lot of time with me doing quilty things together. We so enjoy each others company and this quilt thing that we both love. She also loves “shopping” in my stash………..lol.

  14. Donna Lee says:

    My sister is 8 years younger, and unfortunately had a terrible Home Ec teacher. She is totally not interested in sewing. Out mother has been a seamstress all her life, and I bought my first sewing machine–a Singer–in high school. My sister does other crafts–just nothing that requires a needle! lol

  15. Sharon says:

    My sister is responsible for getting me started in this adventure we call ‘quilting’. We too, see each other only a few times a year and enjoy spending that time sewing or even just hunting for that perfect project to start. We have made several scrappy projects as sew alongs with each other and it’s always fun to see how different our quilts are. She is my long arm quilter extraordinaire! I am so glad to have this hobby to share with her, thanks Libby!!

  16. Leigh Ann Prange says:

    Not of quilting but of creating!! Being the younger sister by ten years I grew up with a Mom & sister who sewed & crafted, so, I followed suit!! Many years later a friend & neighbor taught me to quilt!! But all 3 of us- my Mom, sister & I bead!!

  17. Jo Morton says:

    Wonderful sisters story, sharing a lifetime of friendship, all tied together with cotton and wool.

  18. Stephanie Woodward says:

    I don’t have sisters or even one sister, but the gals in my guild have become quite close. We do a lot together, and I enjoy them all.

  19. Laurel says:

    I come from a family of six, five girls and one boy. Fortunately for me, one of those sisters is also a quilter, a very fine one. She has taught me many things. Our grandmother always had a quilt in hand and I do mean hand. All her quilts were hand pieced and hand quilted including the 25 double wedding ring quilts that she made for her grandchildren. My sister and I like to think that we have some of her genes. Just recently we both moved to Provo, Utah for our retirement years and it has been wonderful to spend more time together making quilts.

  20. Lee Hoskins says:

    I love hearing all the sister stories. I started quilting about 7 years ago when a friend of mine suggested I start quilting. She owned a quilt shop at the time so I was around other quilters and admired their work. I was hooked immediately!!! A couple years later my younger sister started quilting. She loved it so much she bought a long arm machine. We have traveled together from Tennessee to Utah to learn how to use the long arm, done many shop hops and talk “quilting” all the time. I am blessed to have my sister and best friend live in the same town as I do. We will definitely celebrate National Sisters day!!

  21. Lee says:

    I have three sweet high school friends who are like sisters. We all started quilting at different points in our lives. About five years ago we reconnected and became sisters of the cloth. We get together twice a year. We drive to the big show in Paducah. We stay in a cabin on Ky. Lake and have loads of fun. In August we all meet in Michigan and spend a week visiting shopping and eating.
    Life is good. We will have to have a four way messaging session tomorrow.

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