For the second of our randomly scheduled member spotlights we reached out to one of the guild's newest members, Tess Gobeil. Read on to get to know Tess.
What is your earliest sewing memory?
I had lots of sewists in my life, but I don’t actually remember seeing any of them sewing! The first time I recall doing it myself was for a fourth grade Christmas craft, cross-stitched ornaments.
How did you learn to sew?
I learned the foundational skills in Home Economics, in middle school (grade 6-8). I picked it up for the occasional project over the next ten years (making a quilt for my first partner at age 17, and DIY tailoring from ages 16-20), but it was mostly self-taught and often frustrating. About 6 years ago, I decided to take the plunge and did a domestic sewing class from Langara and an industrial course at VCC (both with garment making in mind). Around the same time, I started doing the bulk of the sewing repairs for a shoe repair shop. Later, I worked in a local boot factory, clicking and sewing shoe/boot uppers in 15+ different styles.
Do you have a sewing mentor or idol?
I don’t find myself idolizing a single person or mentor, but I follow lots of quilters that inspire (usually to go out of my comfort zone!). Zak Foster, Heidi Parkes, Amanda Nadig, Coulter Fussell and more – but generally improv quilters
What led you to join the Vancouver MQG?
I attended the VMGQ 2022 Showcase (on my birthday!) last year and felt inspired to finish a quilt that I had started in 2019 (and then worked on intermittently since). At the time, it was the largest quilt I’d ever made, and the first one that I deeply enjoyed working on. I decided to join an online quilt guild (The Quilty Nook!) and, while I really like it, I knew immediately that I’d prefer an in-person meeting. I finished that quilt in January 2023, joining the VMQG the same month. Community and community-building is something I enjoy, so it’s no surprise to me that I’m enjoying being a VMQG member.
What’s under your needle these days?
After taking the English Paper Piecing class in April with Erin Grogan, I decided I wanted to do a hexagon paper pieced baby quilt for a close friend of mine who is due with their first child any day now. It will probably amount to the most hand-sewing/handwork I’ve ever done on a quilt thus far, but it’s going to be cute at least.
Tell us a bit about your business.
I co-own a leather and shoe repair shop in East Vancouver! We do leather garment alterations and repairs, re-dyeing, shoe and bag repair, small upholstery, custom leather goods, etc. We are focused on sustainability, repair culture and circular fashion, so we often find ourselves mending or making something outside of the ordinary. Since so many of our jobs are sewing-specific, between work and home, I have six different types of industrial and domestic sewing machines to choose from (13 machines total, eek).
Click links to visit the Awl Together Leather website and Make Do Mending Instagram. Note: Tess recently paused the visible mending services, as the demand had become untenable to sustain.
Do you have other hobbies or interests?
Hah! Beyond reading, most of my hobbies are garment or textile related. I enjoy making shoes and garments for myself, from pattern and scratch. I recently swapped out my rug tufting machine for a hand-operated chainstitch embroidery machine. If I’m at my desk, I usually have a podcast playing, but if I am on my couch, it’s probably reality tv in the background.
What’s your favourite make?
I’m going to choose the one I get the most use out of, and the one I finished as I joined the guild in January! It lives on my bed right now and the wool blanket it’s backed onto gives it a nice weight and warmth. Photo above of Warm Butter.
Complete this sentence: I’ve always wanted to make….
Large scale applique! I’m scheming up a king-size quilt.
Tess, you’re a talented go-getter. It’ll be fun to follow you as you continue to try new things and add to your already long list of skills. Thank you for being in the spotlight!