Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update


It has been more than 2 weeks since returning from the magical event called Craft NAPA. I feel blessed to have participated. I stood among friends, watched their connection to one another, ate chocolate covered strawberries and drank deep cups of coffee while also teaching and meeting new friends.


This is the view from Pokey’s art barn. Like so many of you, I have watched the blazing beauty that Pokey spins wherever she goes. To watch her build this barn, to see Crafting a Life unfold, to participate in her first event is an amazing endeavor. I feel gratitude, and I am honored to know her and to be able to lend my talents to her efforts.


Indigo Perez is such a lovely person. I have watched her unfurl her wings and fledge the nest of my good friend Judy over these last few years. I have to say, Indigo is so talented, such a good person, I couldn’t wait to hug her. 


Here are Pokey, Larissa and I. Both of these women are crazy mad talented. Larissa took my, You Can’t Resist This! soy wax resist with paint class. Her color sense and use is amazing. Not to mention, she now owns a class sample I donated to raise funds for Okizu, an organization that helps families affected by childhood cancers. 


Jamie Fingal, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Pokey, Judy Coates PerezJane LaFazio and I recreated a photograph we took perhaps 8 years ago at MIU in Long Beach Quilt Festival. What an amazing group of people. This photo mash up was taken by Jamie.


Midge and Libby became fast friends. I now own pieces of art made by each of these women. Happy sigh.


Cheryl Sleboda and I were able to connect too.  She is a powerhouse. Smart, sassy and fun. Go check out her website! I bought one of her skull tShirts!

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You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.


Journal Embroidery class photo.

Unfortunately I did not get a photo of my Small Works/Big Impact class. I am sorry about that. 

My take away from participating in this great event? I can see Craft NAPA being a creative home away from home, one that I look forward to visiting yearly. The food offerings, 8 Noodle, OxBow Market, the Napa Valley Art store? The community and commeraderie in this event sparkled bright. I hope I am asked to teach again, and I would love to take a class too.

There are so many more photos that I could have put in this post. I think I am going to upload them to Facebook instead. 🙂 Great fun, friendship, learning, and wine blending! So good, I still feel the glow of having had a great time.



Upon my return and in wanting to establish creative balance after the participating in this great event, I have been stitching away the days. I am compiling a new class content for The Clever Guild. It feels great to be engaged with my creative process again and I look forward to providing opportunities to connect and learn from one another. I hope you will follow along as I dust off the site and start having some fun with it.


I am hoping a few of you might volunteer to take the class (for free-of course), I would love some help in making sure the content is amazing. Stitch work, questions and participation is required. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post and I will contact you with more information.


I have been pushing the limits of layering and stitch and am quite pleased with my results. The Gather your Sew-plies purse is a great format to learn about and play around with stitch. The main purse piece is 6×14″, which makes it large enough to make a great purse, but small enough that filling it with stitch is an enjoyable affair.

Please speak up if you would like to be on my Journal Stitch crew.



And then we get caught up to last night, when Joules Evans arrived in Brooklyn to attend the opening at Site:Brooklyn called American Road Trip. This is the first time Joules has had a piece shown in a gallery, and for it to be a great Brooklyn Gallery is no small feat. Congratulations Joules.


To celebrate Joules’s accomplishment, Isis Charise photographer of Grace, Joules and I attended the opening and then walked over to Bar Tano to toast, eat and be merry. These women have been a strength and a balm to me. 


Life is better than good.


A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Back to gallery


  1. Mary Ellen Gale says:

    Would love to be a volunteer for your class as long as I don’t have to show up in Brooklyn.

  2. I am interested in being in your Journal Stitch Crew. I’ve been volunteering with our local Girls and Boys Club and I have a group of 5 girls who want to sew purses and we don’t have sewing machines there. So if I can get good at sewing your pattern by hand, I can pass that on to them. Plus, they love embroidery.

  3. I’d be honored to take your stitch journaling class. Thank you for sharing your experience of craft Napa. Now I think it’ll need to be on the calendar for me.

  4. Crazy about your stitching. I love to stitch. I do grunge stitching. If I can help I will. Let me know. Great post. You are one special human being.

  5. Thank you for sharing all your photos. It looks like a great event which I hope to attend someday. So many talented women sharing what they love most! Just wonderful!

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes on so many levels. To see so many of my favorite artists in Pokey’s barn and to see her dream materialize is so heart warming and exciting. Just to be the proverbial fly on the wall would be heaven. I am crossing my fingers that one day I can again attend conferences and Pokey’s would be first on the list. I am thrilled for Joules! What an an exciting time for her. I love the stitching you are doing on your cloth. I’ve been playing with how stitch can change the visual impact of cloth – making parts receed or pop – and of course the loverly texture stitch adds. Of course, my heart skipped a beat when you said you were opening up the Creative Guild again. You know I will be waiting with excitement for another online class with you. (I’m always available for testing and stitching.) Live life to the fullest isn’t just a quote for you. You are doing it and this makes me over the moon happy. Love you!

  7. I would love to be a stitch-guinea-pig for you. You managed to capture the essence of our experience in Napa at the inaugural Craft Napa so well. I, too, am still basking in the warmth of that amazing event. xoxo L

  8. Libby Williamson says:

    Hi Melly,
    Funny thing…I was in the backseat riding home today from Road to CA (local quilt show) and was stitching on some of my treasured bits of my Napa fabrics. On of the first posts I saw as I checked my phone was this post from you regarding your stitching class. I’d love to join in! I’d love to stitch with you and learn more from you and help you and have more fun! Please let me know if I can help!

  9. I am just coming to terms that I am going to have to change my method of working, going smaller and doing more hand stitching. This has come just at the right time and I would love to be considered as a volunteer for your class.

  10. It was wonderful to see you in California – I am still coming down on off of my Craft Napa high! Great post about the experience (I could go for a bowl of the Pho at Oxbow Market right now!) I loved what I learned and am excited to continue my journey. I have been stitching on the projects I started in Leslie’s class and would be happy to be guinea pig in your online class. You are one talented, inspiring lady!!

  11. <3 wonderful memories of such a great event <3 Now we just have to get you out to the west coast full time 🙂

  12. Hi Melly, I would love to volunteer to participate in the testing of your new online class! Stitching is one of my most favorite things

  13. Such a fun evening!!! Love hanging with you Melly!! xoxo

  14. Karen Amelia says:

    4ES3I’d love to be part of your stitching class.

  15. Karen Amelia says:

    Yes, I’d love to be part of your stitching class.

  16. Susan Krueger says:

    Hello ! I stumbled upon this blog, and I’m not sure what all is involved with the stitching class, I would like to give it a go! I do love hand-stitching and, altho I feel like I’m stuck in a creativity block, maybe this would jostle my world in a good way.