Teresa Coates is a woman of many talents. She’s a writer, editor, PR expert, sewist, sewing teacher, Etsy seller, and fabulous quilter. She organizes community sewing drives to send boxes of clothes and accessories to orphans in Vietnam. She knows American Sign Language. She’s a mom of two. Let’s just say this: Teresa’s a powerhouse. Her creativity and drive are inspiring (when they’re not making me feel like the laziest person on Earth)!
Luckily for us, Teresa took some time away from kicking ass to shed some light on what makes her tick and share some gorgeous photos of her work. You can follow Teresa at her blog Crinkle Dreams, visit her Etsy shop, and see her gorgeous work on her two Instagram accounts.
What’s your sewing story? How have you made sewing an integral part of your life?
Sewing has been an undercurrent for my entire life, growing up with a mom who sewed, a great-grandmother who quilted. I started sewing clothes as a young teen and, years later, making them for my own kids when they were young.
It’s only been in the last decade or so that sewing has become an integral part of my professional life as well. I started making bespoke vintage-inspired garments while I attended university, then aprons and bathing suits. A couple years later I got a writing job with an industry magazine and fell in love with that side of it all. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that I’d been blissfully unaware of as a consumer, so it was a constant learning experience. That education continued full-force with my job at Robert Kaufman Fabrics, too. The sewing/quilting industry is absolutely amazing and I’m often awed that my whole life now revolves around fabric, patterns, designers, notions, machines, all of it!
What is your quilting style?
My quilting style is still evolving because I do far more commissioned work that for myself, but there are a few things that I’ve found I really do love: traditional designs, handwork, and precision. I’ve been making Alturas blocks and hand-quilting my great-grandma’s quilt. I make pincushions with traditional block patterns. I love the connections with generations past, which is probably why I tend to buy reproduction prints, deadstock fabrics, and vintage patterns.
Where do you find inspiration for your quilt designs?
From my clients, for the most part. Generally people have something in mind, whether it is super vague (“Something pink for a baby girl”) or incredibly specific (“A 60” square quilt in this design with these fabrics”). On my own, I tend to gravitate toward the rhythmic variations in a single color for quilts.
Who are some other quilters you admire?
I admire anyone who quilts, really, because it’s a test of endurance and dedication to finish a big ol’ quilt. These aren’t quick weekend projects, and sometimes it takes years! Specifically, though, I admire my Great Grandma Emmie Mae Massengill, who stitched together dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of quilts over the years, all by hand. She used old clothing from her children and grandchildren to make them, and every one is totally unique with an array of fabrics that would make Luke Haynes proud.
Current quilters I admire? The above-mentioned Luke, whom I’m lucky enough to work with, has taught me to look at fabrics in a whole new way. Jen Carlton-Bailly does curvy work that always gets my attention. I love everything I’ve seen Elizabeth Woo make, especially her Farmer’s Wife (it’s been on my bucket list for a couple of decades now!). And I want to grow up to be Jacquie Gering.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in sewing, what would it be?
I like to remind new sewists that the wide-eyed wonder of “I can make that?!” is something that should never ever go away. Part of that is remembering that perfection is not the goal; it is truly the process of cutting and stitching, cutting and stitching that brings both solace and joy.
Which of your projects makes you the proudest?
Sewing? It would have to be the cashmere/wool peacoat that I made for my son a few years ago. I loved the challenge of interlining, bound buttonholes, and in-seam pockets. It turned out great and he’s worn it so much, I just bought wool to make him a new one this fall.
Quilting? The white-on-white Winding Ways quilt that I sewed for Luke still makes my jaw drop. There were at least eight different fabrics ranging from sheer organza to twill so it was a bit of a beast to construct, but seeing it in the window with the sun shining through was amazing. So worth all those hours bent over the machine!
MOMENT OF TRUTH: How many times have you sewn through your finger?
I hate to even write it and I’ll knock on wood immediately, but I’ve never sewn through my finger. I’ve never had a rotary cutter injury, either! In 34 years of sewing, I feel like it’s a little bit of a miracle and I’m just waiting for either to happen at any time. But here’s hoping it’ll be years from now… [knocking on desk]