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Sisterhood is Powerful!

Sisterhood is Powerful!

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

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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