BY VANESSA HALL
Each month the Advertiser will take you on a journey through the life of people in our community – the characters, the notable ones and just those with an interesting backstory.
ADVENTURE and being creative are two themes that run throughout the life so far of local ‘sewist’ Pete Trimble who made the move north to Coolum in 2019 and runs a successful sewing and alteration business and also offers drop-in learn-to-sew classes via Coolum HeARTs.
Pete is here to assure everyone that they too can learn to sew, and that age is no barrier.
“My drop-in classes run on the first Saturday of every month and I have all ages and all genders and it’s my way to give back to this wonderful community.”
“I set up my sewing machines and I’ll have some ready-to-go projects for people to start on or then there’s the people who bring in their own machines and projects and I just guide them.”
The sessions are also for everyone with Pete able to facilitate all ages due to also being a teacher.
“I’ve had one man bring in lots of old towels to mend that he uses for his dog, and it fills my heart to see what people can achieve and then when they see their end result, it’s beautiful.”
A primary school and outdoor education teacher by way of formal education, Pete learnt how to sew by way of his mum as a teenager.
“I started making outdoor gear in the 90s and then when I was teaching in Melbourne I started making my own clothes, and then I would have all of this time off and would just make more shirts and clothes.”
Pete went on to work as a teacher in WA and along the Great Ocean Road and then took a year off in 2016 to pursue his love of the outdoors.
That year off included hiking in New Zealand and then an incredible five months cycling across Europe which included crossing the Alps twice and playing soccer in knee-deep mud in Iceland.
“Iceland was incredible and when I went there I wanted to find things that they did – a music festival or something similar where I could meet the real locals. What I did find was the European Swamp Soccer Championships which were way up in Northwest Iceland, and they accepted tourists to play soccer in this field they had been watering for two days… it was incredible and such a great way to meet the real locals.”
Pete also extended that “get to know the locals” attitude when he moved to Coolum.
“The town and the people will not come to you… you have to go to it and that’s what I did.
“I made a point of going to things when I moved here and that’s how you meet people here and by way of getting out in the community, that’s how I came across Coolum HeARTs.
“And I’ve made a point of wanting to be part of this wonderful community.”
The pandemic put a stop to Pete’s work as a relief teacher and it was then that from his little studio in Coolum that his new business venture literally got off the ground.
“No one wants a relief teacher when kids are not going to school, so I learnt a little bit about how to run a business and opened myself up for alterations and making custom garments.”
“Now I’m on this adventure of running my own business and it’s one that is also exciting.”
Whilst Pete has been sewing for many years, being a ‘sewist’ full-time is only a relatively new career move.
A love of being creative, making handmade items and having a few one-on-one sessions with a professional tailor to learn the art of pattern making amongst other things, planted the idea into Pete’s head that he could actually make this a full-time career.
“I love the idea of handmade and personally made items and having things that are going to last and trying to keep things going by way of mending or fixing them.”
It would appear that idea of being a conscious clothes wearer and mending clothing is well and truly out, with Pete stating that he now only does alterations work and rarely works on custom garments.
And people are also now more open to learning these skills too.
“In a way covid was helpful for making people get hands on and we saw people take up knitting and baking sourdough for example and then there was a push to make and create- people pulled out their sewing machines that might have been forgotten about.”
Pete said that it was after reading a book that was all about community and giving back that he decided to offer his sewing services to the community as the ‘Coolum community sewing sessions’.
“My own personal business was successful, and I had the time to give, and I know that people can feel daunted about sewing and a big goal that I have is to tell people that they don’t have to be scared of sewing at all and I started these sessions in February last year.”
“I can give some time once a month and I can teach and encourage people how to sew and to do this themselves. I’m not interested in making any money out of this and the sessions are only $20, and that money is a donation to Coolum HeARTs.”
“This wonderful community has given me so much in just a few short years… I’m so happy to be able to give back.”
The Coolum community sewing sessions started in February 2023 and run from 10am to 3pm on the first Saturday of each month at the Coolum HeARTs shed. The cost is just $20 per person with all money given to Coolum HeARTs which is a not-for-profit art group that provides art and lifestyle classes within the community. The next sewing session with Pete will be held on Saturday, February 3.