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So i'm trying to figure this out why you put a の with a 作る(to make)...i.e. mary さんはすしをつくるのがへだです...

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の is used to make a noun clause just like こと is.
For this function, の and は are roughly interchangeable.

I think の is more frequently used than こと in daily conversation, because の could be pronouced more easily than the other.

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In order to describe a verb or add more sentence onto a verb you have to first turn it into a noun, with either の or こと. So, here the whole phrase すしをつくる acts as one noun when の is attached, and then you just continue as normal. ~がへたです。

Other examples of this same this happening:

本を読むのが好きです 読む + の

やったことないです。 (やる)やった + こと

そうなんです。 (です・だ)な + ん(の)

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