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New Adventures, Coming Right Up

When you love sewing and quilting as much as I do, it can get a little crazy and let me tell you, my storage room was absolutely insane. The amount of fabric, patterns, books, notions, and tools was out of control and when I decided to take a new job in Los Angeles, I knew it was time to finally bring some sanity back to the mayhem.

It took me two full weeks, a yard sale and a massive donation to an art teacher friend of mine before it was brought down to a manageable level. I weeded out at least 2/3 of what I was storing (knowing full well I would never have the time or desire to use it all). It was only mildly painful to watch my fabric go away, but with the cash I earned I was able to justify the extra week off work between jobs. Hearty thanks to everyone from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild who came by, said hello, wished me well and gave my stash a new home. Mwah! 

I left that whole shelf unit in Portland, but then packed up (most of ( my works-in-progress, tools, sewing machine and sole mode of transportation into a UBox. Let me say that was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I honestly thought I might actually puke watching it drive away, hoping beyond hope that I’d see it again once I got down to Los Angeles. 

A week later I hugged my kids goodbye and boarded an airplane for L.A. I’ll be staying with my pal, Luke, for a while, getting acclimated to a whole new thing here. I’m incredibly grateful for his kindness and it’s just another example of friends being the ones are there for me.

So here we are…a month since my whole life shifted. I’ve got a lot to figure out still and hoping for the best, but so far any worries I had have been pointless and things are coming together nicely.  I guess it helps that I’m always up for an adventure.

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Making lemonade

If you’ve been reading this blog for long at all, you know that while I loved working for Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Los Angeles, the actual living down there sort of sucked. I’ve had a few people ask me if the decision to move back had anything to do with the company and, in fact, the opposite was true. If anything could have kept me there, it was them. Absolutely marvelous company with the nicest managers one could imagine working for. But the air was killing me and the cost of living required me to work another part-time editor job and take on extra sewing work with a variety of designers and magazines.

There’s only so much one can take of being sick and feeling miserable  and overworked all the time, so when the chance came and our lease was up, I decided it was time to bail on Los Angeles. I’d given it my best shot, but it just wasn’t working. I knew I could take the editor work and sewing north with me to Portland and that would be enough for me to squeak by while I found other commissioned work, submitted quilt designs to magazines and worked on some dreams I’ve had percolating for a while. I would be sharing rent and utility costs with my son/housemate to keep costs down and get to spend some weekends camping with my best friend.  I had it all planned out.

Then reality happened.IMG_9015

The publisher at the magazine I’d been working for went incommunicado and I’ve had nothing but a few commissioned pieces for income. My son found a studio apartment and moved out two weeks after we moved in. My bestie fell in love with someone else while I was gone. Best laid plans went belly up within a matter of weeks.

I’d wanted it to be a fresh start and hit the ground running once we were settled back in Portland, but it seems like the dust is still settling two months later. I’m still putting feelers out for part-time work with local shops, designers and students. I’m still cleaning and organizing and trying to make the house feel more like a home.

It’s slow going, this process of change and fluctuation. The unexpected chaos that happens when other people change their minds. But I’m plodding along, one day at time. A new social media consultant job here. A custom-made quilt there. Another quilt design and some editing work. It’s piecemeal, but at least it is something.

School starts for my daughter on Tuesday, the start of her junior year of high school.  We’re both a bit nervous, but I want to believe we are on a better path here. New and exciting, anxiety-provoking and scary.  Change isn’t easy and we both know it, but we’re hoping for the best and doing what we can to make some lemonade out of all this.

 

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#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!) 

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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

 

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Making the move.

Sometimes I need a good swift kick in the pants and now seems to be one of those times. To be honest, I’ve had a somewhat rough go of it the last eight months, wondering just what the point was if I couldn’t have the things that made me happy. Then I saw this on Instagram and clung to it:
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I knew what wasn’t making me happy but wasn’t quite sure what would. I re-started the Sewing for Orphans campaign and got some sponsors, made more dresses, cheered on other sewists and sent more clothes. That whole project can only make me smile, really, so it is a great thing for me to do and I’m just gonna keep on doing it as long as there are orphans to clothe and I can get the help to ship the dresses, shorts, tees and more to them.

But I needed more. A good shake-up at life. So with a little impetus, I decided to move to southern California to be near my little sister. The whole thing took about a month to figure out and then it was a done deal.

I asked my dad to fix up my little car enough to get us there. Instead he found me a new(er) car and loaned me the money to get it now.

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The little white Escort, affectionately known as Ooben thanks to its license plate, has gotten me through a lot over the past nine years, but it was time to retire. So now I have this cute little silver Focus. Totally basic, but I love it.

Then I quit my job at the trade magazine and instead spend the next week teaching these sweethearts to sew in the morning …

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and packing everything I own into a storage unit in the evening …

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By the time I closed up the storage unit yesterday morning, there wasn’t an inch to spare. It’s stacked high and all the way to the door.And there was still stuff I couldn’t fit in–my desk, our TV, dressers, couch. We’ll be replacing all of it except the TV, which we managed to fit into the back of our car. :)

Then we hit the road, my daughter and I, for a three-day drive to Los Angeles, first along the Oregon Coast, through Sacramento and down I-5 until we reach my sister’s home sometime on Saturday evening.

20130628-071238.jpgIt’s an adventure and it makes me hopeful and happy.

 

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oh life.

Moving yet again.I keep thinking that this job/housemate/idea will be the one that changes things for me, that makes life easier. But I’m often wrong. This past month, it’s been made all the more obvious that I was wrong yet again. I’ve realized that some people just won’t click, no matter how much I cheer from the sidelines: Please, can’t we all just get along?

They couldn’t and one hurt feeling led to another and that led to doing things to purposely upset the other. It’s no way to spend every evening, every weekend, playing referee. So I stopped. I forfeited the game, I guess.

The daughter and I are looking for a new place to call home. Somewhere we can stay awhile. A place where we can deal with the ups and downs of teenage years, together.

Despite the piles of boxes while we camp out at my son’s apartment, I’m still plotting new things to sew. First two on the list: camera bag and pea coat for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. I’ve got two weeks. Think I can do it?

xo!