Emília and Luzia dos Santos, orphaned when they are children, grow up under the protection of their aunt in the hillside village of Taquaritinga, Brazil. Raised as seamstresses, the sisters learn how to cut, how to mend and how to conceal. Emília treasures pretty, girlish things and longs to escape from the confines of the little town. Captivated by the romances she reads in magazines, she dreams of finding love in the bustle and glamour of the city. Luzia, scarred by a childhood accident that has left her with a deformed arm, knows that for her, real life can not be romantically embroidered, and so she finds solace in her sewing and in the secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life.