Search Results for: free range

We were tired of living in a house and the finer points in the life of a #freerangetextileprinter

I couldn’t rush my current Speed Print! I would really like some Chevron single color prints to fill out the use-ability of these hand prints in a quilt top. I had previously hoped to steam and sew this coming weekend, a retreat weekend.

But. I have decided to slow down and do it all.

Check out the last quilt I made at Retreat!! The Peacock Quilt is also on page 125 of Playful Fabric Printing!!

But, this time, I will be printing the fabrics for a quilt and not lugging my sewing machine. I have taken out and am dusting it off, the Free Range Textile Printers bucket. I am taking this show on the road!

Peach inspected all sides of the #freerangetextileprinter ‘s Bucket. She admits it lacks necessary tools and will require re-inspection prior to launch.

I love retreat group. I miss these gals and I look forward to getting away, even for a short while.

I don’t know how many pieces of fabric are in this Speed Print session, but when it comes time to piece and make a quilt top, I will be one content quilter.

Are you a member of our Playful Fabric Printing community page on Facebook? We post videos, answer questions and participate in discussion about member work! There have been some great fabrics printed and shared, recently! You are welcome. Please join.

#freerangetextileprinter

So this is a whole new dealio. 

I have taken my printing out and about, I am becoming The Free Range Textile Printer in NYC.

In our upcoming book, Carol Soderlund and I contend that all you need to possess in order to begin printing your own fabrics, is a bucket and a card table! And, well? I am here to tell you, you don’t need the card table!! Wooho!!!

You do need access to water.  But most major parks in NYC have a bathroom! 

See? Easy!!!

This is a fun short post, I will happily go into more detail about small space printing, if you re interested! If so, leave a comment.

I really don’t want to go on about things that are uninteresting!!

Pre-order your copy of Playful Fabric Printing!

Playful Fabric Printing has been placed for pre-order in the Crafting A Life, LLC shop! From now until January 10, the release date, you will receive the book free of shipping cost (within the U.S. using the code SHIPFREEUS at check out), and at a discounted rate. 

It’s quite the deal!!

This book is like no other book on dyeing in the market today. We present a color triangle of 28 colors, in four gradations. What this means is, we give you the recipes to mix exactly the color you choose. Repeatably!

We explain the use of motif or designs- printed in a free-form manner. Then we help you put those motifs into a repeat, which is a methodical way to build a stash of fabrics, we call this Speed Printing. Of course, we push these ideas further by showing you how to play with our ideas to make fabrics that pair well with one another. 

While you might think you need lots of space and technical equipment to do this? You don’t. In the book, we say you will need a card table, a bucket and some tenacity. This summer, I took to the streets of Manhattan and printed in public with nothing more than a 5 gallon bucket and lid, a spare few tools, and the will to do it! I call this Free Range Textile Printing. We understand you may not want to sit on a bucket to print, so we’ve made suggestions on how you might utilize the least amount of space, while still doing some great work, while using Procion MX dyes.

We want you printing the fabrics for and making quilts that are as unique as you are. And we feel assured that you will.

This book has been a long time coming and we are all really happy that the release will soon come upon us! We hope you take us up on the discounts and order your copy, TODAY!

 

 

 

Lace Swirl Quilt Top

This last weekend was quite productive. I took Bucket to my twice yearly quilt retreat and made great progress while #freerangetextileprinting. Then, I came home, switched out the newspaper and tinfoil I had been using to steam (this is a link to Pokey Bolton’s blog related to our Playful Fabric Printing blog hop-who chose the steamer as a topic), and got to work. I now have about 39 Melly Marks Lace Swirl and 50 Chevrons printed and ready to cut and piece!

This is why I love steaming and boiling. Steaming and boiling is a transformative experience. I love seeing the prints pile up, all stiff like potato chips, then, I like seeing the final shade after boiling and drip dry. 

I think this is a great coloring of the Lace Marks multicolor print set. The swirl is printed in Medium and the innards is Light value (I can figure out which color number if you want this info!) Combined with the pale pink ground, I feel this color way really highlights the lacey design. 

Here is a pile of ready to iron handprints. They look like potato chips to me. They act like it too. I am so excited to make a new quilt top, I could eat these like potato chips! If only they tasted as good.

I hope at the end of making this quilt to come out with a ‘pattern’, that states how many prints, provides a color way, and breaks down the making the quilt. I hope you might like this idea. I would love to hear your thoughts about this.


Here is the “Insider Info” portion of today’s program 🙂

I am offering my first Etsy Shop coupon code, use the code MELLYMARKS1 to receive 4$ off an order of 20$ or more, in my new shop! This code will be available until March 28.

And, join the Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook.

Additionally, comment if you would consider becoming a Sample Maker for my upcoming fabric line, to be release at Quilt Market!!!


I hope to teach at Schweinfurth Art Center in May, please join me. This class will expand upon the principle presented in Playful Fabric Printing.

Out and about while binding a quilt

When I was a child, one of my favorite books was called, We Were Tired of Living in A House. Much like it sounds, the children in the family, packed their bags and headed out to make house in a tree, on the beach and so on. Ever in my life as an artist has this concept been of great favor. I do everything in my power to Gather my Sew-plies, or bucket as the case may be, and hit the town. 

And today, I must complete a quilt slated for a magazine article. 😜

What better way to drink a bit too much coffee and get out of the apartment, than this.

Shirts off, Underwear on: Play Out, Breast Cancer and Gender Expectations

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About a year and a half after my breast cancer diagnosis I was partaking in a pool program for survivors. We met at a local gym on the sixth floor where they had two pools, one for swimming laps, the other heated and used for rehabilitation purposes. The pool room was beautiful: light streamed in through large plate glass windows, and the quiet murmur of friends greeting one another and preparing for class filled the air. I stood in my Speedo one-piece bathing suit surrounded by my fellow sisters, some with a single breast, some wearing breast forms, others reconstructed. I noticed I was the only one who appeared bilaterally flat as I have chosen not to wear breast forms.

I had not been going to the class for long and did not know everyone by name yet. A spritely, lithe 70 plus year old woman ran up to me to say how brave she thought I was to go out flat and not wear breast forms. She then she went on to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer thirty years previously and had a single breast. She told me she hated wearing the breast form but could not seem to stop doing so. Her daughter kept suggesting that she go without wearing it, even if only for a quick trip to the corner store. But my spry friend could not wrap her mind around presenting a single breasted image of herself to the world. Within the simple act of being true to myself, a fellow survivor was able to relate to me and my choice and share her experience too.

After the pool program was over that day I walked the streets of New York City picking up groceries and preparing to go home. I began to think about how many women choose not to reconstruct their bodies and who also wear prostheses. As many as 58% of women who have mastectomies after cancer either do not reconstruct or do reconstruct and then later deconstruct, either out of choice or because of failed reconstruction. I pondered just how many of those breastless women disliked wearing prosthesis and presenting an image of a woman with breasts. Prior to my diagnosis, I had never knowingly met a single-breasted or bilaterally flat-chested woman. I imagine there are many women who don breast forms with hesitation, annoyance, or even resentment. Why do we feel that we need to promote the false impression that all women have breasts?

My experience at the pool that day launched me into considering how beauty ideals affect us women, and as survivors of the body altering disease called breast cancer. When first diagnosed, an unreasonable amount of attention and time are spent on cosmetic issues. We are asked to see a plastic surgeon to consider our reconstructive options, we are given a prescription to acquire a wig, flyers promoting ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ cosmetics classes are often taped to the walls of the waiting rooms we inhabit. And then if we choose not to reconstruct our body, we are given prescriptions for prostheses too. All, while battling a potentially fatal disease.

At diagnosis, my breasts were size DD, I could not imagine living with a single breast. Keeping one breast would compel me to wear prosthesis, as symmetry is important to me, both physically and mentally. I don’t like the idea of manipulating my body through surgery by inserting silicone under muscle, nor would I move muscle or fat from one part of my body to recreate an insensate semblance of a breast. These paths are counter to my idea of what it means to be a woman and a human. So, I chose bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. In the industry, this is also sometimes called Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy (CPM).

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To be completely honest, it took some care, compassion and acceptance to embrace my new and changed body. There are firsts of every kind, bathing suit shopping, using a locker room, wearing summer clothing that reveals so much more of the upper body. On the beneficial side, I love not wearing bras! Sometimes folks reveal their confusion in evaluating the shape of my body, especially if I am dressed in a mannish fashion, this is always interesting to watch and disturbed my deeply at first. But there are also moments of distinct connection, like when a legless drummer, playing music with his band in the subway, looked at me, gently allowed his eyes to dip to my chest and then smiled so deeply, I still bask in the memory of the moment. It is within these deeper moments of connection where healing and acceptance reside. These, like my experience at the pool, are the moments that provide a foundation for confidence and community.

Perhaps I am an anomaly in the world of breast cancer, having chosen against reconstruction while also choosing not to wear prosthesis. I was certainly made to feel as if my choice was abnormal by my doctors when I was asked to see a psychiatrist to make sure I was of sound mind in my ‘contralateral decision making process’. At that same office, my fellow sisters who chose reconstruction were not asked to justify their surgical choice to a psychiatrist, regardless of their contralateral choices. Perhaps my doctor wanted to be entirely sure that that they would not be removing a breast that I might come to miss, and regret my decision. I could have chosen to keep the unaffected breast. There was no question that a unilateral mastectomy was medically necessary, but I chose a bilateral mastectomy – a decision I have never regretted.

This bias is unacceptable, and clearly illustrates a preference for reconstruction to the shape of a breast and breastedness in general. It also serves to make it difficult for women to choose otherwise.

This psychiatric experience was infuriating and demeaning. I made the appointment against my wishes and because I was told my doctors would not discuss surgical outcomes without this precaution. It angered me to my core to do so. The psychiatrist arrived 20 minutes late. I was so angry that my body was shaking. I had to convince this woman – a stranger – that my choice was valid. I remember making my points, one after the other while standing in awe that my anger did not blind me. I ended the conversation with, “Have I proven myself of sound mind?” She hesitated and reluctantly said “yes.”

 My doctors continued to negate my wishes repeatedly by reassuring me that I could reconstruct at any time. I had nurses respond that I would become gender confused without breasts. Perhaps the nurses who equated women to breasts are the ones who are “gender confused”.

I was also compared to a seemingly disturbed women who had tested negative for BRCA and continued to want prophylactic surgery. I asked the psychiatrist if they had a support group for women who decided against reconstruction, they did not. To add insult to injury, if I wanted to utilize the psychiatric offerings at that care facility, it would be an out of pocket expense of over 500$ per visit, as the hospital was not contracted with insurance providers for that service.

Collectively these occurrences had the effect of alienating me from my doctors and caused me to question myself and my decision making process. Through my participation in online support forums, I know that there are as many stories about reconstruction, or lack thereof, as their are women needing it. I know that not all doctors hold reconstruction in such high regard that they forget they are dealing with a woman who knows her own mind and bodily needs. I also understand that doctors need to protect themselves from malpractice suits. But here is a truth: not all women equate femininity with breasts or even like their breasts, for that matter. We are not a one size fits all category that feels comfortable committing to optional surgery that places form over function, especially considering reconstructive failure rates. (To be clear: there are three links within that last sentence)

 At the same time there has been a whirlwind of discussion stemming from the medical community questioning why women choose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (again, three different links), which completely ignores many salient reasons. For instance, why aren’t doctors administering chemotherapy first, allowing each woman a few months time to reflect rather than react to a very shocking diagnosis? These studies do not take into account that reconstructive surgery often requires multiple revisions and corrections, which takes time away from work, creating loss of income. Women with young families often prioritize being present to their children, valuing wanting to pick their children up and hug them, over the need to heal from multiple surgeries. And, like me, some women do not want to accommodate an asymmetrical body. Choosing non-reconstruction, unilateral or bilateral, is often seen as a path of least resistance. And as far as it goes, it is an easy surgery to recover from.

 The Womans Health and Cancer Rights Act states that each woman’s insurance benefits must include reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy was performed, in addition to surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance. It is hard wired into doctors to do the least harm, meaning it just makes more sense from their perspective to remove a single breast when a unilateral mastectomy is all that is ‘necessary’. But just as the woman who chooses reconstruction to the shape of a breast, can also choose to have surgery to adjust her remaining breast, women who go flat, sometimes choose removal of their remaining breast.

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I personally think of “contralateral prophylactic mastectomy” as a form of reconstruction, though to name it as such is misleading, bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction is more appropriate and does not reference the idea of a prophylactic qualifier. To push the idea further, flat reconstruction is the best descriptive.

The sooner doctors and researchers collectively agree that women sometimes choose flat or bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction, the better. Get out of our minds. Stop questioning our motives and start addressing the needs of the demographic. Women who choose flat, do not want to wake up to skin sparing mastectomy, which preserves skin for reconstruction to the shape of a breast mound. We do not want ‘dog ears’ or tabs of excess fat and tissue left under the arms. We want this done in a single surgery and with the least nerve damage possible. And, we want to be content with the aesthetics of our choice.

For me, beauty ideals and expectations related to the female body are a form of tyranny. I resent that in the face of a lethal disease the conversation turns to hair and wigs, reconstruction and ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ programs. I seek to bolster a new female paradigm. In this paradigm, unilateral flat and bilateral flat, as a body type is a known and acknowledged, both in the breast cancer culture as well as outside this community, prosthesis (under the skin or tucked into a breast pocket) are perceived as an option, not a conclusion. Where, if we choose to ditch prostheses we aren’t being a martyr to breast cancer but simply, a person who doesn’t present the prescribed shape of the female body. I seek a culture where we aren’t as concerned about hiding our illness as we are about healing our bodies, our minds and the earth we walk upon.

Wearing fake breasts would do nothing positive for me, physically or emotionally; I quail at the idea of presenting two body types, a breasted public image and a flat private image. I hope that as time passes, fewer women will have to fight, like I did, to make medical choices which they know to be in their own best interest. This is why I speak out.

I want women like my pool pal to see that we are beautiful with and without breasts, we are beautiful just the way we are. There is no need to wear prosthesis if you do not want to wear them. We are free agents redefining and expanding the visual of what it means to be a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Be your authentic self, live life your way. If that includes wearing breast forms, great, but if you don’t want to wear prosthesis, do not feel compelled to present an image that is not your own.

If I had my way, these images would be projected onto the tallest building in Times Square. The fashion industry would see the potential market in our demographic and start making single breasted and bilaterally flat-forward fashions. Breast cancer awareness websites would show flat and half-flat bodies alongside seemingly reconstructed and happy survivors, and doctors would trust and get to know their patients, while supporting a diversity of reconstructive choice. 

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No one should feel compelled to present a shape that is not true to themselves.


 Happy Valentine’s Day.

I am thankful to Play Out, Emily Jensen of FlatTopper Pride and Jodi Jaecks for creating a platform to discuss gender, breast cancer and stepping outside bodily norms.  We have curated a linked series of essays by and about three queer, bilaterally flat women, myself included. We took these images, sexy, fresh and vibrant, to accompany and assist a in discussion we feel is both ripe and timely.

Please follow these links, read the essays, comment, like and share to social media.


 

 Emily thinks outside the box. I love reading her thoughts and ideas. Here is a clip from her essay:

I see the crisis state of cancer and loss of supposed “female” body parts as a schism ripe for effecting change personally and culturally. I urge you as Lorde urges us to: “Inhabit cancer not as a victim but as an agent” (82).

To be working with Jodi Jaecks is a blessing. I heard the nationally syndicated story of her challenge to the Seattle Parks and Recreation to allow her to swim topless, in her breastless state. This story splashed the press just at a low point in my healing and recovery from breast cancer treatment. Read her essay here. But this is a great excerpt: 

I am grateful to Play Out for embodying the ethos of which I trumpet – in their words, images, deeds and products. Frankly, I don’t want this to be about gender identity or sexual preference identity. Unisex, indeed.

Abby and Sylvie, owners of Play Out Underwear made a great leap of faith in producing this project. I am glad to have been invited, thank you, Abby and Sylvie. Here is an excerpt of Abby’s essay:

Instead of just looking at the pictures and saying “how brave, she survived this illness” we ask people to look at the pictures and say, “how brave, this person is challenging society’s expectations.” And winning.

View the rest of the photos taken at the two photoshoots here.

Nomi Ellenson Photography did a fantastic job, these photos are sexy, fun and playful. Just like me.

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That’s me and Rain Dove! 🙂 Rain Dove is an inspiration. Keep up the good work, girl.

Bronwyn Karle, I love both my hair and makeup and now want to check out dry shampoo. Who knew.


 

If you would like to read more of my writings and rants, check out my post The Grace to be Flat and Fabulous, and listen to Jamie Courville’s audio sculpture by checking out this post called Squirrells Stories and then there is my oldie but goodie at Role Reboot, I Chose to Live as a Flat Chested Woman After Breast Cancer.

If you would like to continue this discussion, please include these hashtags: 

Please discuss, like and Share.

‪#‎breastcancer‬ ‪#‎breastcancerawareness‬ ‪#‎fuckcancer‬ ‪#‎gender‬ ‪#‎genderqueer‬‪#‎flattopperpride‬ 

‪#‎playoutnyc‬ ‪#‎lgbt‬ ‪#‎breastreconstruction‬ ‪#‎queer‬‪#‎flatreconstruction‬ ‪#‎support‬ ‪#‎breastlessbeauty‬ ‪#‎queerbreastcancersupport‬‪#‎PlayOutUnderwear‬ Nomi Ellenson Photography Bronwyn Karle Rain Dove

Thank you.

 Melly

McCall’s Quilting Magazine and a Meadowlark Giveaway-a guest post

I am hosting a guest post by Stephanie Forsyth, my quilt designer for Meadowlark. We are both really happy that her delicate, groovy, lush, and chic designs using Meadowlark, are going live! What follows are Stephanie’s words:


 

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Ladies and gentleman, I am in McCall’s Quilting Magazine! I still can’t quite believe it!

This is the closest I’ve gotten to being a “Covergirl” so far! As many of you know, I was working on some quilts that I wasn’t able to share (this was for Market this past spring!) Well, I was designing and making quilts using Melanie Testa’s fabric from her Meadowlark line put out by Windham Fabrics. I’ve been sitting on this news since this past spring – and now I can finally share it with you!

This was an exciting process, as I was able to see Melly creating the line, and then her excitement when Windham picked it up. It’s a special feeling to be one of the first people to ever cut into, and create with a designer’s first fabrics!

The Meadowlark line is Melly’s way of raising awareness about the plight of the 20 Common Birds in Decline listed by the Audobon Society. She has a post about it on her blog!

The original name of this quilt is “Lark Star” for the Eastern Meadowlark on the list. For publishing reasons, the piece goes by the name “Starling” in the magazine. They are offering a FREE alternate pattern of the quilt in king size! (You can also order a kit of the 60.5″60.5″ from them, that has the fabrics I used!)

Starling

I wanted to really be able to showcase Melly’s fabrics, so I approached the design process asking myself “How can I show these fabrics as they are, and still cut them up and piece them?” The answer was “THINK BIG!” and I did. At 60.5″x60.5″, the blocks in this quilt are 15″ blocks! I might be biased (that’s not a pun, I swear!), but I am in love with this quilt!


 Stephanie has an AWESOME prize opportunity for a lucky reader! I have arranged for Stephanie to  give away a fat quarter of every fabric from Meadowlark! 

Leave a comment on STEPHANIE’S blog to win! She will close commenting on December 7 at 11:59 P.M. She will announce the give away on Monday, December 8.

I have closed commenting on this post, so click on over to Stephanie’s blog (<——click it) now!!

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October- a guest post

Today, I would like to introduce Sara Bartosiewicz-Hamilton. Sara started FLAT & Fabulous with Barbie Ritzco and I quickly joined the group, I find the group to a balm and a relief. Sara is an amazing woman, focused, direct, compassionate. I stand in awe of what she has been able to accomplish and I hold her spirit in loving grace as she attends her best friend, my hero’s, funeral this week.

Without further ado, here is Sara’s guest post:


 

Beautiful fall day in October
 
Back in the day, October meant fall was in full swing – full of beautiful colors, the leaves in Michigan changing from green to red, orange, and yellow. The fun surrounding Halloween, picking apples at the orchard, and fresh cider on hayrides. And pulling out our sweaters and getting cozy by bonfires.

October means something much different now. It is a month where the entire world focuses on breast cancer “awareness”. I would like to meet the person who is not aware of breast cancer.

It was in the fall of 2006, I found out that I have the BRCA2 mutation. I was told at 29 that I didn’t need to do anything about this. I begged to differ. I told the genetic counselor (term used very loosely as this was not a trained genetic counselor but a nurse tasked to deal with those of us who were being genetically tested in the local cancer center) to set me up with whomever I needed to talk to about a prophylactic mastectomy. And, truthfully, I thought my mastectomy would let me walk away from cancer and having to “deal” with it. I thought I would be free from the fear that I grew up with and I thought my family and I would saunter on with life, never giving cancer a second thought.ever.again.

The reality is the fear didn’t “disappear”. Eventually I had a prophylactic oopherectomy/hysterectomy at the advice of my oncological gynecologist. Afterwards, I came to the realization I had done what I could to prevent cancer – the rest is out of my hands. I can still develop breast cancer. I can still develop ovarian cancer. Because of the BRCA2 mutation, there are other cancers I am at higher risk of developing, some of which my family has a history of. I choose not to let fear rule my life and simply live life with the knowledge I must continue to be vigilant about my health and teach my children to make their health a priority.

From the beginning, I made a very conscious decision to be open about my journey – I shared in great detail in my blog and in various formats. Back in 2006, I couldn’t find other young women walking the path I did. It was isolating and trying to get support from people who had no understanding of what I was dealing with was disappointing. I was determined to leave a mark so that those coming behind wouldn’t face the same loneliness and despair I had felt. That determination is what led me to posing for The SCAR Project and, subsequently, becoming part of a sisterhood that has truly changed me in countless ways.

One of my SCAR sisters would become my best friend. I met Barbie Ritzco shortly after she posed for David Jay. She and I started working together on The SCAR Project and, a month after I chose to have my reconstruction extracted, we created FLAT & Fabulous. We wanted to create a safe place for those of us living without reconstruction after mastectomy. We envisioned a new sisterhood which would focus on empowerment and living life to its fullest, moving away from cancer and focusing on how to live the best version of ourselves. It was intoxicating as our membership grew – we only expected a handful of women we already knew. We were excited to welcome our fellow FLAT & Fabulous sisters! We noticed women we knew in other forums joined us – they had been quiet about their reality, thinking they were the only woman living without reconstruction – it caused us to realize we may not truly know how many women have been “hiding”, thinking they were alone. And as we worked to get our group out there, we heard from new members again and again I thought I was the only one.

I vividly remember the day. One of our original members happened to read a meme. Within the meme, a reference so small that it was surely missed by many but, to someone living without reconstruction, it was profound. It hinted that perhaps women choosing not to have reconstruction after mastectomy were actually in the majority. That was a game changer. While I truly support each woman making the choices right for her in her journey, the knowledge that those who choose not to have reconstruction are in the majority is mind blowing.

Barbie in front of her SCAR Project photo

I consider myself “lucky” – I have a few SCAR sisters who were living without reconstruction. I was able to talk with one before my extraction. She calmed my fears and reassured me I would be okay. Many women are given the perception that they are the only woman choosing not to reconstruct. Imagine that. Imagine thinking you are the only person in the world choosing to live a certain way. A way that is in direct conflict with the cultural expectations and confines of beauty. Choosing to do something that no one in your support groups or forums talks about – in fact, they intensely focus on the exact opposite. I am humbled by the courage and strength it took for these women to make this choice – especially as I hear the many stories of doctors refusing to perform mastectomy without reconstruction until they are psychologically evaluated, as if the only way they would make this choice is if they are mentally unstable.

Eventually, we opened a fan page – we realized that while we wanted to have a place for those living without reconstruction to find support, we also wanted to extend the message of empowerment and self-love to the masses. In addition, we use the platform to educate those around us about the choice to live without reconstruction.

This October is bittersweet. My partner, co-founder and best friend Barbie passed away at the end of September. The last conversation we had, I told her about the new website I was working on with a panel of Flat & FABulous sisters and our annual virtual 5K that we are dedicating to her and have even gotten medals for (Barbie LOVED her medals!). I would give anything to have her here to join in the celebration. I miss her and the partnership we had – incredibly unique and irreplaceable. I know she is shocked and proud of all that we have accomplished – she always was and always will be our biggest cheerleader.

Over the years, my perspective of October has changed. From appreciating the beauty of the fall to being annoyed and frustrated by the commercialization of pink. I have decided to take back the month, take back pink – if I am being pigeon holed as a “breast cancer” writer, I am going to make sure I get mileage out of the one month news outlets are interested. If the entire world is focused on breast cancer right now, I will raise my voice so others hear about the need for more research, accepting awareness has been achieved. My metastatic sisters who are literally dying. I will remind others, and kick myself in the pants, to be proactive – perform self-breast exams, stay on top of screening, discuss with your relatives your family history of cancer.

It’s okay to like pink – just be sure you understand that most of your dollars aren’t making it to an organization and, when it does, it probably isn’t being used for research to find a cure. It’s okay to hate pink – I understand your frustration. I encourage you to step beyond the pink – whatever side of the color you are on. Look at what is truly happening in the realm of breast cancer. Take a look at The SCAR Project to see what cancer is and that it doesn’t care about age or gender, read the stories of my SCAR sisters who have died – JoleneVanessaDarcie, and my best friend Barbie to realize cancer kills – it is not pink, it isn’t a ribbon. Don’t let this month paralyze you with anger or trick you into thinking if you buy a pink ribbon we are that much closer. Embrace each other, support each other and don’t take for granted a single breath you have been given.

always in my heart & on my mind, my bfffff

This week, I will be at Arlington National Cemetery, at the funeral for Barbie. I will be pondering her ultimate sacrifice for our country, grieving the loss I feel a million different ways and, ultimately, return to gratitude. Thankful for who she was, thankful for the impact she has had and continues to be, and thankful to have had such an amazing partner and best friend.

October is just a month. Pink is just a color. Live Sincerely. Be the best version of you. Be.fabulous.

The monsters in my studio

The above cabinet is really a monster. I jam pack stuff into and need to pull stuff out and rearrange things every time I need something stored in it. My intention for this cabinet is to store items that will be used in wet work, In other words, soda soaked cloth, urea, textile paint, brushes that cannot be hung on peg board, aprons, soy wax tools, stamp pads, and a few other things that need to be in the studio room, like my wall projector, scale to weigh dye and so forth.

The way this looks when I open those two doors drives me n-u-t-s. Not to mention the books and magazines above.  The soda soaked cloth at upper right? I can’t grab soda soaked organza without pulling every little stuffed bit out with it. I use those plastic bins (blue and white) all the time and each time, I take everything out, place it on the shelf where the bins were and go about my business. Below that is were I store my handmade stamps, which I rarely take out because that means I also need to take out my freezer paper, parchment paper and zip top bags.

A few months back, I identified this space as a potential staging area for acrylic painting and I bought and installed the peg board, which  you can see under the plants. I began gathering the items that ought to go in this area but then, I did not finish the job and this table became the catch all for all things not on my workbench. And the area underneath became the place to stuff items I didn’t want to see. But I see them.

And here you see, oh gosh, a mess. I keep stuffing things on top of the bins, just to have a place to put them. Just looking at this photo makes me sad. Up at the top? I call that ‘deep storage’ That is where I put things that I want access to but don’t need in a snap. Sadly, I don’t use the stereo very often because my music and podcasts are in the computer… which, if I can wrap my mind around storing or getting rid of the stereo, could be more space for storage bins.

And here is my workbench with peg board attached. And although this looks decent, (I loves me some pegboard), there sure is a good deal of space that could hold more tools!

So: 

What staging areas do you need? Do you have to hop out of your sewing chair to grab a new spool of thread? Are your pens, paints, rulers and brushes close enough to your journals and canvases that you can simply lean over and reach for the fancy tool? What do you keep piling up and where does it need to be in order to use it effectively? 

Take all of these messy piles off their unintended surfaces and place them in a single pile in the center of the room. Get the trash bin, recycle bin, and a bag for the thrift store too. Deconstruct your piles by making more piles! This is going to look a whole lot messier before it looks better. For now though, if you find thread, place it on you sewing machine staging area, move on, this part of the project is about the big picture.

While you are ripping through your studio and putting stuff in its appropriate area, assess areas that could be used as ‘deep storage’. Look for small spaces that could neatly hold a thing or two (look under my workbench- there is a wooden wine box with a lid that holds all of my stencils and potting soil, both fit nicely and don’t scream, “Mess!”)

And remember, ‘Like Things Together’. Also remember, it is OK to donate, recycle and trash things.

My cleanly obsessions have inspired Pat Spillane to join in on the cleaning fun, please go tell her I said, “right on”.

A Brooklyn day plus reconstruction!

Oh my goodness have I been having fun making stuff. I am exploring the concept of deconstructing, reconstructing and constructing. When we reconstruct our bodies after breast cancer, we can have procedures where you move fat from one part of the body to another, you can cut a flap of muscle and rearrange it, who knew? Flaps. Moving. Buttons. Pockets. Closures. My idea of cloth, clothing, textiles and medical procedure lingo are colliding. Clothing has become my canvas.

I am sewing wherever I go. Seen here with my Gather your Sew-plies purse in action. You can also see my Boro Bag/Hip Bag. I am preparing a new classes centered around embroidery and bag making. We will dye our own threads and use the inspiration around us to embroider our stories, circumstance, and daily lives on cloth.

I am designing a new hip bag, one that can be worn  along with the Sew-plies Purse and will hold a small project-I have to enable this creative tangent. It is a tangent. Graffitti is a tangent, don’t you think? So why not embroider in a graffiti like fashion all over my clothing. Soon, I won’t be wearing a backpack at all, I will have small art bags, holding my sewing essentials, strapped to my body.

I don’t think these two bags really go together, but they are helping me to define a criteria for the next bag.

Lady Liberty. I love me some her. What a beautiful female symbol she is. In the middle of our harbor. A gentle womanly soul, hand held high.

Yup, I like her.

I spied a stencil and David snappend a photo of Mr. T? Who is that? 

Boy did I walk alot yesterday. I met up with my good friend Erin, and we wandered. We sat at the promenade and talked. We looked at the skyline, we shot the breeze. Then I met up with David and we walked down to the beach in Red Hook. I sat and sewed in front of Lady Liberty. David took photos of his shoe laces and asked me to use one of the images, perhaps just the shape as a motif.

How could a girl resist?

We got Limonata, too. That is my sinful indulgence right now. I love them. They are tart. Almost freeze them, and drink straight from the can.

On our way home, David and I stopped at Union Max. And NABBED two printed blouses. But look at that collar, my goodness. I have already deconstructed it,

changed the collar to peter pan styling, reattached it. And just because I was there, removed the bust darts.

By the way, this shirt is printed gaberdine. When I was growing up, I remember people talking about gaberdine, it was very exciting at the time. Do you have memories about cloth like this?

I am back!

I came home from Quilting by the Lake tired but Energized. I have three different Sew-plies purses going at the same time, this is just one. I made the Yellow/Red/ Brown/Pink cloth with the Eye-Love graffiti symbol, while I was away last week and now, feel the need to use it quickly.

I also rearranged my sewing area and really like the new configuration, it is much more usable now. Though it does make me want to rearrange the art on the wall. Funny how things spiral like that. It will be good to rearrange. Perhaps Saturday. I think a studio update is in order, don’t you? It is quite different than the last time I blogged about it.

QBL 2012 was great. The greatest women took my class. They were all open, willing, attentive to instruction and chat and they seemed to soak information up.  I mean look at all those smiles. Yeah, they are giving me devil horns, but who would expect less? For more photos check Facebook.

QBL has an auction to raise monies for its scholarship program. They ask each teacher to make an apron. I soaked mine in soda ash and began working on it in class. My students gathered round, they watched me print this. I used freezer paper cut outs of their hands. I asked for both right and left and they gave them, sometimes with wrists,  sometimes cut to the palm. Interesting. They watched me juxtapose my letters and they never said a thing. I mean, I don’t know if the typo set a malaise on the class or what. I pinned it to the wall and kept looking at it. 

While the class was in session a tour bus comes on thursday and three groups are walked through each studio and you talk your class up and invite them to ask questions about you or your art approach, it is like, ‘a few minutes in the studio with Melly’. One of the nice tour ladies pointed out my mistake.

You know me, I am thinking, ‘why didn’t anyone tell me!’ I fret. I want a new apron, I want to do it over. I briefly thought of asking Lindsey for a new one. And then I cut an arrow stamp, and I fixed it. Just like I kept telling my students to do all week, to push an idea, to try something new.

It raised a goodly amount of money too. That was a fun event.

Thank you and Welcome

If you are coming here from Create Mixed Media, thanks so much for stopping by and welcome. I have created this downloadable PDF pattern for the small purse (below) as a welcome and thanks to all of my readers. 

Gather your Sew-plies!! <——Click it.

I will be posting once a month on the Create Mixed Media website. This month I am exploring embroidery and ‘journaling’ on clothing. In the days to come, you can follow me here, on my blog to see what I come  up with and next month I will post a recap on the Create Mixed Media site. I also plan to extract ideas from my journals to stamp, stencil and surface design clothing, I hope you will join me in both places.

Wear them close.

The Gather your Sew-plies pattern is really more of a ‘recipe’, as the bag is a work in progress and I will be making additions and changes to it in the month to come. If embroidering on cloth is of interest to you and you would like to have fun and make you own marks, perhaps you’ll whip up a purse, it keeps your supplies close at hand. The first change I will be making to my purse is the addition of a button to keep the pouch closed. I have come up with an ingenious manner to do this and I will be discussing it within the next few days.

mess is managed by neat arrangments.

In the meantime, I would like to tell you what I carry in my little purse. A small plastic thimble-I love thimbles and I usually carry a silver thimble, my favorite thimble, but until this bag gets its button closure, the plastic thimble will remain tucked in my pouch. Scissors, these are a pair from Kai and they are an economically priced scissor that is super sharp and pretty awesome. Again, I have a prettier pair of embroidery scissors that I cherish, but these are my travel scissors. Thread (Auriful #12, have you hand sewn with this thread? It’s like butter). Thread Heaven, I am loyal to this stuff, it really helps to ‘prepare’ your thread. And do you see that gray paper that holds some black embroidery floss? That is 400 grit sand paper. I think it is a great idea to carry sandpaper with you. Just yesterday I noticed a burr on a needle, I had the paper at the ready and sanded that burr right off.

So please use the link above to download your copy of ‘Gather your Sew-plies’ pattern and I hope you will join me in making marks on cloth this month. Welcome.

And please, register for the free webinar next week.