#sewingforluke continues

One of the many factors that went into the “should I stay or should I go now?” decision was my ability to work with Luke Haynes. I really adore the guy, I’m an admirer of his creative ways of looking at quilting and I’ve been incredibly grateful for the chance to work with him on several projects. I was pretty sure that if I moved northward, our opportunities to work together would evaporate and I’d have to give up that fun aspect of life in Los Angeles.

But two weeks later, I got the call I’d been waiting for… Luke wanted a little help again. So off we go, on a new yellow and white piece. He shipped me a whole big box full of old clothes and linens that had been cut down into wide strips.

box full of Luke scraps

And I set to work cutting smaller strips out of those.

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There’s a whole pile of white variations, too. I’m stitching them together, cutting them, and stitching them again (you know.. that crazy thing we do when we are quilting).

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I managed to whip up a few that came to the right size, so now that I’ve got the technique down, I can start chain-stitching these crazy fabrics together like a mad woman. I’ve only got 480 of the small squares to make in a week (ha!). If you need me, you’ll know where to find me — right in front of my sewing machine.

Follow along via Instagram: @teresacoates


(Quick health update for those who’ve asked: It was definitely the right move. My lungs no longer hurt and I’m able to run more than a mile straight, outside. In LA, I was getting winded walking through the mall and would have to take periodic rests whenever we walked anyway. I’m feeling much better overall; thank you all for the support!) 

Settling in and sewing

It’s been two weeks since we moved in and the house is still a crazy wreck, a mix of our things and what the owner left behind nearly a year ago. It’s a weird situation and one I wasn’t quite prepared for, tbh. The carpets won’t be cleaned until the first of August, every room has to cleared out and cleaned, and the garage needs to be re-arranged to fit all of her belongings that are still here.

There might be boxes are strewn throughout the house, half-open and rifled through, but the sewing area is nearly finished. There was no way anyone, let alone the carpet cleaner, was going to convince me to wait any longer to set it up. My soul needs it too much.

When days are rough and I feel the nervous energy zipping through me, I can sit down at my trusty old machine, run a through seams through it and suddenly feel much better.  Yesterday was one of those when I just told life to suck it ’cause I need to sew.

So I whipped up this little prototype of a pincushion (more will be coming to the Etsy shop as soon as I can start really really sewing again). Made with a denim bottom and pieced vintage feedsack prints on top, I think I like the way it turned out.

What do you think? Cute? Silly? Sellable? Or back to the drawing board? feedsack pincushion

 

Road Trip to Sisters

For years I’d heard about the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show over in Central Oregon, but it wasn’t until my first visit a couple years ago that I realized just how amazing it really is.

Sisters is a tiny town near Bend, a place you’d drive through without a second glance most weekends. But the second weekend of July? There’s no way ! They even close off the streets for hundreds of quilts and thousands of quilters. (I’ve hear it tops 12,000!)

Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon

Each summer for 39 years, Jean and Valori Wells have been the driving forces behind this celebration of quilting. And their shop, The Stitchin’ Post, is at the bustling center of it all. This wall, in fact, is where it all started back in 1975 when Jean hung up some of her students’ quilts and the idea just took off. Now quilters from all over the world come to Sisters for the show. Pretty amazing, indeed.

My first stop was the shop in hopes of seeing Valori again. I’d worked with her a bit at Robert Kaufman and love her Quill collection (along with the upcoming Ashton Road). Alas, I didn’t see her, but I did see a new-to-me Quill quilt design that I fell in love with. It shows off the huge design so well, don’t you think?

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In addition to her lovely bold prints, Valori has a great collection of blenders that are rolling out over the year called Blueprint Basics. Each week she focuses on one fabric from the collection and then mixes it up with other fabrics, yarns, etc. to focus on her Color of the Week. While I was there, Cinnamon was the focus and I absolutely adored what she did with it in this display at the front of the storm. I hate knitting and I still wanted to pet those yarns!

Caramel: Val's Color of the Week

The whole shop is full of color and texture and you really can’t help but be inspired by it all.  I particularly love the Journey quilt on the far left below and the star quilt on the far right (anyone know what it’s called?)

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After roaming through the crowds at the store, I headed down the street to admire the quilts. There are literally thousands of quilts and I wish I could show them all to you, but we’ll both have be satisfied with sharing a handful of my favorites…

Nel’s Wordplay was made by Irelle Beatie from Santa Barbara, CA and was just a fun way to showcase some quilting lexicon. I love crossword puzzles, so there’s something extra interesting to me about this. Plus who can resist red/white/black combos?!

Nel's Wordplay Quilt

I love traditional quilt patterns, so it’s kind of a n0-brainer that I’d love how Linda Marlow of Lyle, WA hand-sewed and hand-quilted her Grandma’s Flower Garden (76″ x 84″). According to the tag, she bought “a few blocks in a box and a lot of hexagons cut out” at an estate sale and decided to finish it up. So sweet! If there’s a heaven, some quilter is happy to see it finally finished.

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Since I’ve been working on my great grandma’s quilt for so long, I’m always a bit curious to see other’s hand-quilting. I feel better about mine not being perfect either because this was a beauty. All.those.hexies!
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Jane Adams of nearby Bend, Oregon used the Log Jam method to put together this wonky log cabin quilt she called Working It Out (81″ x 81″). This one really grabbed my attention for the bright colors and slightly wonky nature. It’s something I’d love to do, but for some reason I’m still scared of putting together in such a free form method. It’s like the one part of my that is a perfectionist, but really, I need to get over that and just make one. I love the results so very much.

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I also ran into a couple quilting stars at the HandiQuilter booth. Angela Walters gave Heather Braunlin-Jones some stern advice (but only for the pictures!). I adore these two ladies–both have been so supportive these last couple years, with shoulders to lean on and always up for a chat about life, motherhood, and working in the industry. #fangirl
Angela Walters and Heather Braunlin Jones

Then they let me have a turn! I wasn’t a natural by any stretch, but it was an awful lot of fun to give it a try. I even managed to write my name (with an enormous cross on that T!) IMG_8506

And then ran into my recent co-workers, too. Kyle, Ken and Elisabeth were all up from Los Angeles, visiting with the beautiful Valori Wells. Robert Kaufman was sponsoring the children’s booth, their first time at Sisters, so that was pretty exciting. And really nice to see people I enjoyed during my time in LA. Kyle and Ken were so super kind to me during all my sick time there and I will be forever grateful for them.

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The quilts continue around town, but this is one of favorites. So Old West looking!

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Friends from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild had their own exhibit and it included some beauties. This geometric quilt called Balls and Bowls (40″ x 46″) was made by none other than the talented and uber-kind Rachel Kerley of 2nd Ave Studios. I love all the neutrals and crazy variation of  quilting designs. The woman knows what she’s doing in ways I can only dream about.

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Violet Craft showed off her new Brambleberry Ridge collection (with Michael Miller Fabrics) in this graphic quilt she calls Flying Falcons (50″ x 56″). It looks a bit washed out, but really that’s just the sun doing its thing. And in the back, that’s Cherri Langley’s Converging Corners quilt (the Film in the Fridge tutorial is here). There were a few versions of this quilt pattern around and I think I want to do it sometime because it it pretty cool. 
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I really love the bright colors in this, even though it really isn’t my thing personally.  Joni Reading of Boulder, Colorado did a beautiful job blending values and colors in her Garden Path (90″ x 90″), so it’s not really surprising that it sold. I must say that I was pretty impressed with the $950 price tag, too.  (Put that on my bucket list, too: Sell a quilt for almost a thousand dollars.)

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It was a beautiful day and after strolling and ogling and chatting, I headed back through the absolutely stunning scenery of Oregon. I’ve so missed all this green.

the road to Sisters, Oregon

I’m happy to be home, among quilters, designers, family, friends and this stunning natural beauty.

Distracted

alturas-front-cover_low-resThe first time I saw Carolyn’s Alturas pattern I think I actually squealed out loud. You know that embarrassing, “Oh! I looooove it!” exclamation that never fails to leave me looking around, hoping against hope that I’m totally alone. But it was worth it. Alturas is beautiful and simple in this vintage way that I absolutely do love. [Check out her blog post to see the varied iterations of Alturas for more inspiration.]

I made one a while back; quilted it up as a mug rug and gave it away in some swap or another. I don’t even remember what fabric I used, but I knew I really, really liked the pattern.

So a couple nights ago, when I should have been packing for the upcoming move but would rather do anything else, I decided to break open the London Calling charm pack and make one up.

London Calling is a lovely cotton lawn collection, a tight weave but kinda floppy. I starched the bejeezus out of the charm square before cutting it (and yes! the pattern is perfect for charm squares!) and started out by basting it onto the Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen, all the way around, then clipping the curves and doing some relaxing needle turn appliqué.

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I watched a couple of episodes of Dexter and it was done. Just like that.

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My original plan had been to make a pincushion out of it, but once I got the box made and stuffed I realized it was just too big for a pincushion. So instead I have a tiny pillow.

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And the impetus to make an entire Alturas quilt, one block at a time.

Moving on, yet again

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t, but the daughter and I have moved around a lot these last few years.  It’s happening again; our fifth move in three years and I’m terribly conflicted.

Part of my really really really wants to go back to Portland, to the city I know and love with restaurants I enjoy, cheap movie theaters, the big ol’ downtown library, friends who have made me feel loved and my son, yes, I’ll be near my son again. {Really near, in fact, like living under the same roof again.}

People joke about how your kids will grow up, move out and then move back in again when they realize they can’t afford to live on their own. Ours just happens to be the opposite situation where Mom realized she can’t afford to live on her own.

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Wait, that’s not where this was supposed to go… So I am glad to be going home to the Pacific Northwest, full of clean air and forests and rivers.  My lungs will be happy, too. They are the reason I finally said Yes, I’ll go back. I’ll give up the job I enjoy at a wonderful company. I’ll give up the sunshine and warm air if I can just breathe again without hurting. If my daughter and I can go a whole month without either of us being sick, I’ll take the rain. I will. 

You see, it’s been months of breathing problems and I’m not willing to let it become years. The daughter has missed weeks of school with all the illnesses, all of them validated by my own eyes. The girl has been sicker than I’ve ever seen her; both of us have been bedridden for days with coughs, fevers, vomiting and, the ever-popular, general malaise.  And on more than one occasion.

My lungs hurt to breathe in deeply. I avoid laughing because it’ll make me cough uncontrollably, gasping for air. Walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment makes me wheeze. I can feel the difference in my lungs if the air is being re-circulated in the car or being brought in fresh.

It’s bad, uncomfortable, painful, disappointing. It totally sucks.

In four weeks, I’m packing up a UHaul and heading north again. Away from sunshine and blue skies. Away from smog so thick it hides the mountains.

In ways, I’m so very very glad. Like I said, I’ll be near friends and family and a city I know and love. But there is an overwhelming guilt about moving yet again. I’d planned to stay for the rest of my daughter’s high school years. Stay here until she graduated. I had the best intentions and instead I’m asking her gently to please at least think about packing. Again. Please do this for my health and for your own. Asking your child to sacrifice, knowing they’ve already had to sacrifice so much to follow your hopes and dreams to SoCal, is so much harder than I want it to be. I want her with me. I want her healthy. I want her to be happy.  It just doesn’t seem like there is one place that can do it all.

The push-and-pull between all the things I want and need and all the thing she wants and needs is tough and the answers aren’t easy. Each time I’ve moved us, I though it was for the best…a place of our own, an extended family, away from the relationship drama, to a good job, back to healthy air… but it’s yet to work out as I had so earnestly hoped.

Nonetheless, here we go again. Packing for another move, another adventure. Another notch in the belt and another reason to be angry.