Introducing: the Circling Geese Squished Square Pincushion Pattern

With a name like that I might just call it the CGSSPP from now on.

Circling Geese Pincushion Pattern

It’s actually the first of a series of patterns that will be coming out with paper-pieced (also called foundation-pieced) tops and the funky construction of two squares sewn together to create a 3-D form.

Last fall I made the first of these, taking the idea from a pillow I’d seen that had flying geese in a circle. I’m the kind of crafter who thinks: I can do that. And this time I really did!

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It was a good lesson in working with Adobe Illustrator (something I’ve been struggling to do for years now), tweaking the size of the triangles, then the actual squares until I got something I was really happy with.

I’m super stoked to finally get to offer the pattern and hope to do a little teaching with it to show just how simple paper-piecing can be. Seriously, it’s perfect for stuff like this that needs precision. And once you’ve got it figured out, it takes the stress out of getting perfect seam allowances. I don’t know about you, but that’s a stressor I can definitely do without.

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I took a ton of pictures and my co-worker helped put together a classy looking little pattern. Natalie of Beyond the Reef Patterns is selling the pattern at QuiltCon for me and hopefully I will get the paper pattern into more shops soon. But for now it’s available as a download from Craftsy.

Thanks so much for everyone who’s bought one so far and I can’t wait to see your variation!

 

I -heart- this city

Coming back to Portland last July was one of the easier decisions I have had to make. I had everything worked out so well. Or at least I thought I did.

It wasn’t the easiest return after all with the house, job, boyfriend, home-life, etc. all disappearing beneath me as I landed back in Portland.

Six months later, life is settling into place and I’m loving my job at Fabric Depot. I work with some of the nicest, most understanding people I’ve had the pleasure of spending eight hours a day with. My daughter and I are getting settled (ever so slowly) in our new apartment. My son is busy traveling the globe and I’m getting ready to kick off all sorts of fun plans for 2015-16.

I have to thank Portland for my happiness these days. We’re stuck in the middle of winter and yet there are days like today when I get the opportunity to join my  good friend in the sky and see this city I love so much from a whole other perspective.

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I’m sort of awed when I see it like this, a city with so many memories, hopes, and friends. I’m so very, very happy to be home.

Coming up for air

Oh my. It’s been a whirlwind and a half these last few months and I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. So much has happened over the last few months (and so much is still coming down the pike) that it’s kind of crazy when I think about it.

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Me and the wonderful Ebony Love @ Market

I got hired at the sewists’ Mecca–Fabric Depot–and three days later went to Market in Houston where I was able to meet up with my ex-sister-in-law and her family after three years apart. I saw some of my favorite people in the industry. I also fell off the sidewalk and twisted my ankle so badly that three months later, it’s still swollen. Best of times, worst of times.

I found out we can’t stay in the house we’d plan to reside in for the next two years as they’ve decided to sell it. I totally understand the reasoning, but will fully admit that it caused quite the breakdown when I first was told. I had no real income source and was looking at having my car repossessed on top of losing the one place we had to call home. There was a hell of a lot of crying there for a bit. But we’ve finally found a place and are moving (again) this next weekend to a tiny little apartment in SE Portland.

I designed and made a quilt with my friend Kell’s wooden block pattern and you can find it in the next issue of Generation Q magazine. I also made a quilt for my best friend, sewed my first Mariner’s Compass block and got around to making up the Noodlehead 241 Tote pattern that I bought way too long ago.

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Patterns coming soon

I’m working on patterns to sell, starting with pincushions and moving to clothes. Plus I bit the bullet and finally submitted a book proposal. We’ll see what becomes of it, but at this point I’m just proud of getting the idea out of my head (and secretly hoping so hard it works out!).

2015 is right around the corner and I’m looking forward to being settled with a good job, living in a neighborhood I love (hello, Hawthorne!) and knuckling down to do more pattern-making, teaching and writing. This past year was a doozy, so I’m extra hopeful that this next one is going to be much, much better.

It will be, right?

Why and How-to: French Seams

I’ll be honest with you… french seams are my favorite seam finish ever. There are several ways to deal with inside seams, including just leaving them be, but for me, a French seam is a nice, tidy and classic finish for the inside of nearly any garment with exposed seams.

The one tricky thing about doing French seam is that you start with your pieces in what seems to be the wrong position–wrong sides together. With the right sides exposed, align the edges and stitch a heavy 1/4″ seam.

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Press with a steam iron to set the seam and then trim the entire seam allowance down to 1/8″.

Trimming it keeps any threads from poking out of your seam and binds the edges to keep them from fraying.

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Press the seam open, then press again, this time with right sides together as you’d normally expect to do.

Pin to keep the seam perfectly aligned align the edge.

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On this example, it’s butting up to the zipper area and you’ll notice that I left that open.

Stitch at 1/4″, backstitching at the start and end of the seam. Press well, then open seam and press from the right side, pushing the seam allowance toward to the back of the garment.

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For bulky fabrics like this denim, you can use a brayer to break down the fibers slightly and give it a flatter finish.

 

Hello September!

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End of summer hike at Tryon Creek State Park near Lake Oswego, Oregon

Can you believe it’s September already?! This summer has just flown by but I’m super happy to report that the sun is still shining here in Portland. We had one cloudy day last week, but it’s back to blue skies, sunshine and supposedly  into the 90s  again this weekend!

I may be one of the few Portlanders who actually love the forecast of continued heat. Blame a year in California with sunshine every.single.day.

September means things start changing and the daughter goes back to school. We’ll get back to a routine of work/school days with homework and weekends for fun. I’ll be teaching again and I’m thrilled. Plus I have a few consulting gigs starting this month and the pincushions and pillows are coming right along.

 

Then there are all these projects on this month’s to-do list:

  • Kell’s quilt
  • Laura’s quilt
  • Natalie’s quilt
  • Luke‘s quilt
  • Negroni shirt for class prep
  • Rae skirt for class prep
  • Sail repair for Eric
  • Plaid cape for myself
  • Wool coat for my son

I’ve got Kell’s quilt started and Luke’s is cut out. So are both the garments for class. At least there is a bit of a jumpstart, but this could very well take all of September if I’m not careful with my time.  So I’m up early again today, did some yoga and now it’s down to the studio to get cracking on that list. Welcome to September.

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.

 

Oh, how exciting!

RST Right Sides Together is featuring me today on their blog and I’m stoked. Such an honor to be asked and I’m awed by how super nice they were. If you followed their link to here, thank you.  Leave a comment below and I’ll pick a random winner to receive one of my new set of pincushions (coming to the shop this week!).

 

#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!) 

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.

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.