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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.

Playful Fabric Printing Blog Hop!

 

Please join us in celebrating the release of Playful Fabric Printing through a blog hop! Scroll down for a complete list of blog hop participants. Each hop participant will discuss motif making, quilting with handprints and/or review Playful Fabric Printing itself. Each blog hop participant will be giving a copy of Playful Fabric Printing to a commenter, so please comment for a chance to WIN.

Carol and I have also begun a Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page and would love for you to join. This will be a space for you to share images of work inspired by the pages or our book, ask questions, receive feedback and participate in print-alongs. 


There are many ways to go about making multicolor cloth and there are no right or wrong ways to go about it. While we discuss the creation of nestled multicolor printing sets that fit one inside the other, this is not always the way you might want to proceed. Instead, you might choose to create free-form motifs and to print them in a tossed pattern.

As you can see, working in this manner leaves a bunch of white fabric. Never fear, on page 86 of Playful Fabric Printing, we discuss Monoprinting with Masks.

In this case, I chose to use freezer paper, whose shiny side makes a temporary bond to cloth with ironing. I traced the motifs I wanted to reserve, cut and ironed the cutouts in place before preparing to monoprint. 

After rolling thickened dye out in a pleasing manner, a texturizing comb was used to create a grid like pattern in the thick dye.

The cloth was laid atop the texturized surface and pat in place, before lifting the cloth off the print surface.

Freezer paper is the first resist I began to explore upon learning to print with dye. It is quite a versital crafting material that can be found at grocery and big box stores. Freezer paper comes in several widths, my preferred width is 18″, which can sometimes be difficult to find. While freezer paper is a great resist material, we also discuss some much more ingenious ways to use flat objects to make multicolored prints.

However you choose to make marks on cloth, there is always a way to reserve specific areas, color the background, overprint, and add more design elements. It’s the experimentation that’s the fun part.


Next, I discuss ‘hacking’ your copy of Playful Fabric Printing in order to make it a user ready workbook. 

Most of the books I love and use often, get a spiral binding. I bring them to the copy shop, ask that the binding be removed and a spiral binding be placed in its stead. In the case of Playful Fabric Printing, I wanted to push the idea further and make the book even more studio ready.

First, I took a trip to the office supply store to purchase Better Dividers and Corner Lock Three Pocket Binder Pockets. I specifically wanted to place a tab at the color triangle on page 48 and a pocket at the back of the book in order to store tracking sheets. Additionally, I bought Expo Dry Erase Markers.

Then I took a copy of Playful Fabric Printing to my local copy shop, additional items in tow, to have them remove the binding, place the tab and pocket and laminate both the front and back covers prior to placing a spiral binding. I know this book will receive lots of use and I think the spiral binding turns Playful Fabric Printing into a very useable workbook that is ready to be wiped down when spills and drips occur.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked for the 1.25″ plastic spiral, rather than this tight fitting metal binding. I did not know there was an option, and although this works perfectly, I would have preferred to have the larger spiral.

Another change I made to my copy of Playful Fabric Printing was to move pages 57, 58, 59 and 60 (the Value Bands) to follow just after the color triangle on page 48. This will cut down on flipping back and forth between the pages when choosing color palettes. 

Then I asked the copy shop to make a two sided print out of the tracking pages (pages 138 and 139) and a two sided print out of pages 130 and 131 (the dye recipes) prior to lamination. Used with the dry erase markers, these laminated sheets provide a temporary surface to write notes and track your mixing adventures. Later, when your print session is complete, you will want to transfer the essential information gathered to a hard copy.

OR, if you would rather not have separate sheets that may get lost, you might consider placing a second tabbed Better Divider between pages 138 and 139. My one hesitation with this idea is that the Better Divider pages are textural. The dry erase maker does indeed erase from this surface in a preliminary trial, though a very slight smudge remains. While this is not a problem immediately, I do wonder if, with time and repeated ‘off-market’ use like this, the page will become much more smudged and blurry. I cannot answer this question as yet.

And, of course, tracking pages and design notes can be tucked into the added Binder Pocket at the back. 

Perhaps you too might consider moving into and making your book wet studio ready! I think this is pretty snazzy.


Blog Hop Schedule

Remember, each blog hopper will give away a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, you must comment on that post to enter your name in the giveaway. Comment on every post!!

January 23: Melly Testa
http://melanietesta.com/blog/

Jan 24: Carol Soderlund
http://www.carolsoderlund.com/blog/

Jan 25: Lisa Chin
http://somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com

Jan 26: Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
http://www.balzerdesigns.typepad.com/

Jan 27: Judy Coates Perez
http://www.judycoatesperez.com

Jan 28: Carrie Bloomston
http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Jan 28 Chris Dodsley as made by ChrissieD

Jan 29: Lynn Krawcyzk
http://smudgeddesignstudio.com

Jan 30: Leslie Tucker Jenison
http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com

Jan 31: Pokey Bolton
http://pokeybolton.com


Also, I would like to announce that Judy Tucker has won the fabric giveaway I announced on the Focus on Fabric Florida Style post.

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!

 

 

 

Playful Fabric Printing


All the work we have been putting in is coming to fruition! My coauthored book with Carol Soderlund has a name, Playful Fabric Printing, and release date (January 10, 2017!!! With the ability to preorder soon), I am in Houston hoping to find editorial placement for what feels like a boatload of goods. In true quilterly fashion, I went to the NYC Metro Mod Quilt guild and asked my fellow members to help me make quilt tops from my hand prints. I am so grateful!

I have also been busy making my handprints into quilts! In the last two years, since we started writing Playful Fabric Printing, I have accrued quite a lot of printed cloth. And why print cloth, if you don’t make something out of it! In preparing for Quilt Market my main goal in quilt making was to show how to combine hand printed cloth with commercially available fabrics. Above you see Leslie Tucker Jenison’s Urban Artifacts line combined with my prints. Of course Leslie’s new line goes well with my handprints! They both have a fabulous painterly feel.

And I am really happy that the Genderless Fae Quilt is complete!

Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


 

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

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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.

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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. 

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Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Wow, a whirlwind.

These last few weeks have been amazing. Hectic crazy, fun, well worth it.

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My creative stand still came to an end, thank goodness.

I went to quilt market while visiting my Bestie. I learned a lot.

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And the Play Out (click this link to see a sexy, hip commercial for the undies) and Flattopper Pride underwear photoshoot went viral. It started with HuffPo, then it shifted and became a sprinkling of articles, then I started seeing my photograph under Japanese characters, in Norwegian online magazines, BuzzFeed, Mashable, People. I was interviewed for an article in Women’s Health (apologies to my husband, it just popped out.). I don’t know what, ‘in association with the New York Times means but, I think it got very close to being in the New York Times, if not officially in it.

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I was able to meet Barbara Rosenblat, the actress who played Ms. Rose in Orange is the New Black, a favorite show of mine. In season two she was in cancer treatment. I won’t tell the story, I just loved the character she played. Rain Dove, the androgynous model I am pictured beside in a few of the ad campaign and on the red carpet event at the New York Women in Film and Television, where I met Ms. Rosenblat.

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I was thrilled. I love the above scene. Just love it.

I experienced vile and bullying comments. That wasn’t a treat. But my self esteem is not tied to other people’s opinions of me, so that is that. I am thinking up a post about this, having to do with allowing love in, opening your heart to all body types, breasted, reconstructed, flat, fat, thin and differently abled.

Let me know if you are interested in this.

OH! And, I am printing the border for my next quilt top! Next up, green!! Photos to follow. Let me just say, I want this quilt top done by Saturday, Quilt Guild! I am very excited about it.

And, hey wait!! Brave? Well, yeah. Determined. Willing. Beautiful. Brave is the least of it.

#BreastlessBeauty

Please comment. I miss you all. It has been a good few weeks and better to get back into the flow of creative living.

 

 

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

Meadowlark quilt top challenge! (and giveaway)

Above is a pillow I made using original prints. This was a gift for my Mom, “Hello Mom!”. I find it easy to use my original prints in a patchwork manner. The fabrics I print are small by necessity, so I find thinking about them in terms of patchwork quilting the easiest path.

In this photo, you see a quilt medallion or central portion of a future quilt top. This one includes a commercial print, the line drawn floral. Beside that, all fabrics are again original prints.

Here, I am pointing to a quilt designed and made by Stephanie Forsyth, whose pattern can be found in Modern Patchwork. The quilt is made entirely of Meadowlark. It was quite interesting to see how Stephanie used Meadowlark to make a really appealing quilt

I have been thinking it might be fun to host a quilt making challenge using Meadowlark. I love designing and making the patterns used in my commercial line of fabrics, but… When it comes to using that cloth, I hesitate. Over the past year, I have asked friends and colleagues to make quilts or items using Meadowlark to fill my booth at Market. Seeing what other people do with my cloth is a surprise and a delight each and every time. So I wonder if I might ask you, dear reader, to work your magical eye over Meadowlark, using this criteria:

1. The quilt top must contain at least 70% Meadowlark. The other 30% is up to you. I would really like to see what fabrics you pair with Meadowlark.

2. I encourage you to make a throw measuring 60″ square.

3. Some aspect of the quilt block Or quilt top must have half square triangles, because I like them.

4. This challenge is time sensitive, your quilt top must be completed between January 1 and March 1, 2015.

My rules are not set in stone, they act as guidance. If you make a baby quilt, great. If you use 65% Meadowlark, that is ok too. I may need to set the quilt police on your tail if you choose to omit half square triangles, but I bet you would survive that too.

Here are some of my thoughts about the Meadowlark line: 

I would love to see the fruit fabric interpreted in a ‘French provincial’ style. I say interpreted because the fruit prints are pretty colorful, and I think it would be a loose interpretation. 

The bird print is ‘my baby’, so if you wanted to feature that, go for it.

I think the oval daisy dot is a sleeper, so if you wanted to feature those prints, I would love to see what you come up with.

The vine prints? I think they would make great border prints.

 

Read the fine print:

1. If you are interested in participating in this challenge, please leave a comment. If you have a blog, leave a link to your blog in the comments. I will keep a list of participants in the sidebar of my blog.

2. If you would like to help spread the word about this challenge, I will give away a fat quarter pack of the entire Meadowlark line in one weeks time (Saturay, January 10).  What you need to do to participate in the give away, is link to this post on facebook, Twitter, or any other social media and post a link to that here, in the comments.

Places to purchase Meadowlark online?

The City Quilter

Gotham Quilts

Amazon also carries my line.  

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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American Patchwork & Quilting ((Podcast))

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I am really happy to say that Pat Sloan and American Patchwork & Quilting did an interview of me to discuss Meadowlark and some upcoming projects. I would love for you to listen to this podcast as you are able. You can subscribe by itunes (search American Patchwork & Quilting) if you weren’t able to listen to it live, and please check out Pat’s post on her personal blog here.

This was a 12 minute interview and boy do 12 minutes go by quickly. Because of this, I have decided to upload and answer some of the other questions that Pat might have asked me if there was time to do so.


 

Pat Sloan wanted to ask: Your fabric line Meadowlark is very painterly and is your signature style.. I love it! How did you develop the fabric line? (explain your motivation with the Audubon list of birds in Decline)

My line is named after the Eastern Meadowlark found within the bird print in the line. I have always been enamored of birds and when I found the Audubon list of Common Birds in Decline, I knew I needed to add my voice to those seeking to help save the birds and bring light to how to manage the habitat that supports them. The Eastern Meadowlark needs prairie grassland to lay eggs and nest. Smart management of both public and privately owned grass fields can really help. Mowing these fields in late August will allow Meadowlarks the time they need to help their babies jump the coop.

Pat Sloan wanted to ask: Did you have to narrow down the colors, or did that happen naturally?

After I shopped my portfolio at Market and was taken on by Windham fabrics, the folks at Windham chose the designs they wanted and asked if I might tighten up my printing and color choices. I thought about this for a while and decided the only way to proceed was to print a whole new group. I chose a new palette, mixed my dyes and printed a tighter, cleaner, more cohesive group of prints. At that point I thought I was finished. I met with the folks at Windham again and was asked to please print some tone on tone or semi-solids. And again, I went home, and printed more cloth. 

As you can tell, I went through a bit of a learning curve with this whole process. I trust my next line will be much easier to create, print, and submit to Windham because of this.

Pat Sloan wanted to ask: What is your favorite project you’ve made (or seen made) with your fabric so far?

Well, while you can see images of the projects on the Windham website (I can’t link directly for technical reasons), I love the quilt called Lark Star, designed and made by Stephanie Forsyth. I am happier still to be able to say, this quilt is being written up for an upcoming McCall’s Quilting. But this really isn’t a fair question. Many of my friends and sample makers made awesome work and several of them have been taken on for editorial placement in out favorite quilting magazines, Generation Q, Modern Patchwork, McCall’s Quilting and Fons and Porters Easy Quilt, and Quilting Arts too.

I feel blessed.

Pat Sloan wanted to ask: I’d love to know what style quilts  you drawn to?

The pretty ones!

I love modern quilting, which is so clean and crisp, but the textile designer in me balks at too much solid, unpatterned cloth. Because I like designing and printing patterns, when I begin to make my own quilts, I want to use lots and lots of patterned cloth. 

Recently an editor at a favorite magazine said that my quilts are contemporary. As a result, I have been researching what this means and how my quilts might fit into this category. I feel like the doors are wide open for me at the moment. I considered myself an art quilter for so long that now that my sites have swung back to my more traditional roots, the quilt world has become my oyster!


I hope you enjoy the podcast and my additions to the content. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

 

Lynn K and her new line of stencils, a Blog Hop!

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I am really happy to be a part of Lynn Krawczyk’s Blog Hop announcing her upcoming line of stencils called ‘Marked’ by Artistcellar. While I wish I could have found my own set of Lynn’s stencils to play around and make some samples for you, moving and time constraints have gotten the better of me.

What I can tell you is this, I have long admired Lynn and have both been able to support, mentor and be mentored by Lynn. You may also remember that I reviewed a copy of Lynn’s book, here. The fact that Lynn was able to get a line of stencils with her name on it does not surprise me. Lynn knows how to print and layer cloth effectively and having a line of stencils is an extension of her commitment to printing cloth as well as her love and exuberance in being a surface design artist.

When I want to Quilt Market this last May, Lynn and I met up several times, she made an appearance in this video, I am happy to say I was able to get a signed copy of Lynn’s book, Intentional Printing, as she was doing an author signing in the Interweave booth, but I am happier still that Lynn stopped by my Windham booth where I had set up a studio to print and entice folks to get to know me and how I went about designing Meadowlark.

Lynn and I spent time talking and Lynn printed with dye using my tools, while I printed with dye using her stencils. As you may know, Lynn’s preferred media is paint, so having her in my booth, using the media I know and love was a special treat for me. More than anything else, I love having friends use my tools. I can only imagine what it might be like for Lynn to be releasing a line of stencils, and wondering how you might use them…


The participants in this blog hop are listed by order of date posted and one lucky commenter on each post in the hop will win a set of Lynn’s stencils, so please post comments on every post possible! I will choose a winner from my blog hopping post one week from today on July 6.

June 28th – Lisa Cousineau – www.artistcellar.com/wp
June 29th – Melanie Testa  – http://melanietesta.com/blog/
June 30th – Lisa Chin – somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com
July 2nd – Belinda Spiwak http://alteredbelly.blogspot.com
July 3rd – Kristin LaFlamme – http://kristinlaflamme.com/musings
July 4th – Ingrid Dijkers – http://ingriddijkers.blogspot.com/
July 5th – Guadalupe Cabal – http://guadasartplace.blogspot.com/

July 6th – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgedtextilesstudio.com/blog/

Jacqui Holmes Calhoun on Meadowlark

Before Market, Windham Fabrics sent me two yards of each fabric in my line, Meadowlark. They asked if I might have a sewing bee in order to make samples. I agreed and after a call to Dale and Cathy, set up two consecutive Tuesdays at The City Quilter. Then I contacted the two guilds I am a member of, and asked if anyone was interested in helping out. Jacqui, the author of the following post was one of the people who showed up. Jacqui and I immediately hit it off and I am happy to say, we are already making plans to go to museum shows and to have lunch. 
Here are Jacqui’s words on working with Meadowlark…
 
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Hi everyone, and welcome to my guest post for Melanie Testa’s Meadowlark Blog Hop!
 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun here —artist, quilter, book and papermaker.
It was great fun working with Melly’s  new line, Meadowlark. This  fabric is very painterly, with a block printing-on-paper quality that was fun to play with in fabric form. The patterns are full of  rich color and the whole line has an energetic vibe. 
 
Check out my “Four by Four” nine patch quilt I made. 
I used 2.5″ squares to make the pattern- in- pattern. 
Love the dots…and the birds….and the grid….
I’m seeing  a book cover in my future.
 
JCH4x4
 
I love the 9 Patch block in all its many variations.
Did you know that the 9 times table is the only set that can be written
in reverse and upside down and always come out right?
 
From the top: Write down the right side #9 in descending (down) order…9,8,7,6, etc.until you get to 0.
 At the bottom next to 0 on  the left side write 9,8,7,6 etc. in Ascending order (up) and voyla! The 9 times table re-made as play!
 
For someone who is SO NOT a math person I  never forgot that game… and play I did with Melly’s Meadowlark stack. Oh, and then added a few more pieces for more fun. 
Speaking of adding….
If you add each line of the 9 times table it always adds up to 9!
  9,  18 (1+8=9),  27 (2+7=9),  36 (3+6=9)…..You get the idea,
so you see I just had to add those  purple dots. I couldn’t help myself.
 
——–
 
To win your very own Meadowlark Stack of 10″ squares (10 is a great number too don’t you think?) just leave a comment by JUNE 10, 2014.
 
Melly is also giving away 3 copies of her fabulous book “Dreaming from the Journal Page”, for even more inspiration.
 One will be given away on her blog and 
the other two will be given away at the end of the Blog Hop. You have to leave a post to have a chance to win.
 

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

meadowlark blog hop give away

I am so friggin’ excited to finally be working in the textile industry and to have a line of fabrics coming out with my name on the selvedge. I mean, so, friggin’, excited. 

Spring Quilt Market 2014 served to ‘launch’ my premiere fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics which will be officially release this coming October 2014. It is used to create ‘buzz’.  Talking about buzz, check out my ‘look book’! Or this video that Victoria Findlay Wolfe did at Market (she is part of this blog hop too)!

Being the interactive, show and tell driven person that I am, I set up shop at quilt market to demo the techniques I use in the printing of the Meadowlark line, and I surrounded myself with the most awesome, beautifully created samples that I possibly could. And I must say, I hardly sewed even a single stitch of the beautiful work seen in my booth. I feel absolutely blessed to be able to work with some of the most driven, detail oriented artists and quilters in this industry. 

I have been told that my sample team and I used the most fabric ever, in preparation for the launch of a fabric line. Woot!! If you ask me, too much is just about enough.

Market was a whirlwind of activity. I invited many of the superstars in our industry to come to my booth and print or to say, ‘Hello’.  I had so much fun and smiled so much that my face hurt at the end of the weekend. 

In celebration of the launch of the Meadowlark line, we are giving away Fat Stacks (10″ square of each of the 26 fabrics in the line) and 3 copies of Dreaming From the Journal Page. I will also be giving away some 5″ Charm packs from my own ‘stash’ (Windham cuts these as giveaway at Market and I nabbed some). I will give away one copy of dreaming here, the other two will be given to whichever blog on the hop that receives the most comments. We will use the hashtag #MellyMeadowlark, so if you want to spread the word on Facebook and other social networking sites please use this tag. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win some of my pretties and don’t hesitate to ask your local quilt store to carry my line. In fact, you might just forward a link to this post:

http://melanietesta.com/2014/06/meadowlark-blog-hop-give-away/ ‎

I honestly cannot wait for you to get your hands on my fabrics and show me your skillz. In the meantime, check out what my design team has to say on the matter…

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

Toot, toot, toot!!!

Updates from the Meadowlark front:

Craft Garden Mom includes an interview of Nell Timmer, who works at Windham Fabrics. Nell talks about the history of Windham, the designers launching fabrics this week and of course, she talks about my fabric line, Meadowlark, and coming to my apartment to see where I work. She then goes on to drop knowledge bombs about how you might work with Windham utilizing your specia skillz…

It’s a lot of fun. Please check it out.

Modern Sewciety will be uploading their 25th episode on Friday May 16, which will feature interviews of each of the four Windham Fabric designers that are launching lines at Market this week-which includes me (bet you hadn’t caught that). This being a milestone episode for Stephanie, there will be give-away’s galore! I am told that a bundle of Meadowlark will be up for grabs. 🙂  I will do my best to post and toot, toot, toot my horn while I am at Market, but I thought I would catch you up on some fun stuff.

Oh! I have decided to use Instagram. Most of the posts are pushed to Facebook, but you might like to friend me over there too.

 

Facing my fear

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I started quilting when I was nineteen years old. I had taken a class at a local art center, it was great. I was still living at home and there was a great local quilt shop in my home town. I would go there and pull bolts off the shelf, think about how to mix color choices together, check out all the tools, read the books and of course buy stuff. This was an immensely informative period for me. It was while going through the meandering aisles of this tiny local shop that I came up with the idea of going to school to learn to become a textile designer. 

It took me six years to get a portfolio together and to muster the courage to apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology. When I did so, I created a portfolio with the requisite 15 pieces showing the depth and breadth of my artistic skills. But then , I also made my outfit-a silk blouse and a short skirt, portfolio case, I had woven the scarf I was wearing, and I might even have made the shoes I walked in with (that last part is a lie).

After I took the drawing test, I sat with two professors to discuss why I wanted to become a student at F.I.T. I told them that I had fallen in love with quilting and quilting fabrics and that I wanted to become a textile designer and work with the quilting industry. They promptly reminded me that this was a very small subset of the textile market. They also told me that they were suprised that I did not actually want to get into the fashion department through the ‘backdoor’ of Textile/Surface Design. They told me that they rarely did this and did not know if it was legal, but they accepted me right then and there, the acceptance letter that came in the mail a few weeks later was a formality.

After I left school, I blind called every quilt oriented textile house in New York City and I landed a job at a well loved and respected quilting textile house. Unfortunately, my skill set at the time was not up to the hopes of the head designer and they let me go after a six month period. Ouch. I went on quite a few interviews after that and I must say, the fashion industry (I had cast a wider net than just quilt textile houses at that point) was cut throat! I went on one interview where they asked me to take work home three times before rejecting me because my clothing was not up to their standards.

So I packed up my bags and took a job as a poster restoration artist that was based in my home town. I learned a heck of a lot while working that job. In retrospect it was quite an artistic life changer. I restored posters by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Mucha, Lautrec and on and on. I learned color mixing, I worked to deadline, I used every off hour to take workshops in surface design and quilting and to improve my artistic skill set. All while continuing to want to be a textile designer.

Then I was diagnosed with cancer and had a lot of time to think about what I really want out of life, and having a line of fabric with my name on the selvedge is still quite high on the list. This year, I have been working on creating a portfolio, putting motifs into repeat, printing the ideas on both paper and cloth, and now making these cloth samples into quilts and quilt tops to show perspective textile houses what my designs might look like in action. I have bought tickets to Quilt Market and I am going to try to make this dream a reality. If I am unable to woo anyone at Market, I have also come up with a Plan B- there is a trade show here in NYC for the broader market this coming winter. 

As my good friend Stephanie  reminded me yesterday, ‘If you have what it takes to go through treatment for cancer, you can do this’, and then she asked, ‘What is the worst that could happen?’ My response? Plan B

So wish me luck. 

 

 

Dots, Patterns, Quilts and Inspiration

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I have been seeing pattern and dots everywhere. I love them. It started because I bought a copy of Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s book 15 minutes of Play, and I fell in love with one of the quilts displayed in her book. The quilt is called Dot Calm, and was made by Karen Griska

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I have been seeing dots everywhere! Today while traveling the subway, I saw a man wearing a printed purple dots in an irregular pattern and then I saw a woman wearing dotted tights! And being a Mad Men fan, I have to say, Season 6, Episode 5 had Peggy wearing a red polka dot pattern seen here (scroll down). I have been daydreaming about those dots since I first saw them.

Anyway, dots are all the rage in the land of Melanie Testa.

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This graffiti could be considered a dot. I know it is a stretch, but as I said, I have dots on my mind. Lots and lots of dots. This week, I strolled the aisles of Mood and I saw more dots. 

MultiTraditional

So, I have been printing dots, and have begun to sew and quilt while using them. I have not honestly quilted in years. I love to seam and piece. I love sewing a scant quarter inch seam. I love the meticulous nature of wanting to do a good job, of compensating of a short seam, I love trimming the cloth and ironing the seams open. I love the smell of the iron, even more I love the smell of the sewing machine after hours of having it on-it smells like warmed oil. I love piecing. I forgot all of this.

I have been visiting The City Quilter and hesitantly looking at the newest books on the market. Books with a modern quilting flair. I am hesitant because I do not want to be too heavily influence in the direction of another persons style. I would like my own style to emerge and formulate. The overarching current day method, from what I can tell, is improvisational. So, I embrace dabbling and trying this block, that stripe, a little bit of solids, lots of printed cloth.

After printing so much cloth over the years, I find using the cloth to be invigorating and inspirational. I remember printing each piece, the studio I used to print it in, I track the learning progression from one piece to the next. I am wowed. My brain is quiet. This is good.

SpainGraffitiI am putting this image back up on the blog. I took it while we were in Barcelona, Spain. This image has changed the trajectory of my creative life. This helped me to see the possibility of multicolor printing and I am forever grateful to have seen it, had a camera and to have taken a photograph of it.

 

My week in review

In all available time, I have been printing, batching and steaming. I keep daydreaming new images, but have not yet had time to gather my thoughts.

I came across a how-to make your own citrus cleanser on the web and am trying it out. I soaked orange peel in vinegar for two weeks. I am trying it out, it seems to work just fine, the vinegar is a bit tiring to smell.

Peach continue to beguile us. This little being is a treasure.

Hon~E~Lixr, oh yeah! I purchased this at the farmers market at Union Square, from Tremblay Apiaries. This is the smoothest, yummiest honey I have ever eaten. I make herbal tea and eat this honey on the side!

Got my hair cut again. I love getting my hair cut.

I visited my Dad and Mom this week. We had a great time. I ate ice cream with my Pop, we all took a drive over to Domestic Possessions in Madison Connecticut where my Mom has some of The Captain’s Chest items. My Pop and I made pasta and we chewed down some tasty eggplant and mushroom marinara.

I went to the City of Hope luncheon, where Carmen Marc Valvo was being given an award and had a fashion show. Oh my, it was so much fun to see.

The Park Plaza hotel is very pretty.

Short and sweet!

Me and Him.

My good David and I went to Seattle for a few days, we rested, relaxed and enjoyed time together. You might imagine that being a care taker, being taken care of, surviving cancer treatments and moving into life after active treatment is quite a process and I can attest to that, it really is! Taking time to connect and enjoy one another is essential. 

Boy did we need this time together.

I don’t know that I have ever seen starfish that are as big as this. We stood about 20 feet above this starfish and I bet it was bigger than a dinner plate. I am not saying I would like to eat it though.

I am so happy to experience open air markets like Pike Place Market in the U.S.! All this hermetically sealed food in plastic wrap? Does it have to be this way? Gosh. When we were in Barcelona we explored a market where a butcher had a cutting block that had been hit so many times it was severely concave, it was impressive. I know. Germs. Phobia. But you know? We humans seem to stick around! 

Me and him at an ATM machine. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

This was a good vacation because it was just relaxed. We walked all over the city. We found ‘favorite ‘ spots and frequented them. We ate well. We enjoyed drinking wine. We talked, loved and were present to one another. What could be better?

We even stepped out of our comfort zone and ate meat! Andouille sausage sandwiches with sauerkraut , potato salad and a pickled pepper to be exact. It was just something we stumbled upon in Pioneer Square. It cost all of 10 bucks for two plates and it featured foods found in Pike Place Market. We don’t eat meat often but we are opportunistic! They placed gorgeous thick wooden tables and benches in a small park surrounded by brick building that must have been at least 100 years old. There were ball jars with wonderful flowers and happy eating people, come on! Try some meat! OK. And another local treat? Yum.

And I do like my 50 year old trinkets. I didn’t buy any of it because they thought so highly of it (price-wise, that is). But it was a vacation to be cherished and daydreamed about!

Last year at this same time, my hair was just growing back in and I was preparing to go to Switzerland to teach (you really should go to that link and watch the video Marlis created). This last year has been quite formative. Cancer, facing my own mortality, has changed me, not to mention my body. I have been quiet for all of the above reasons. I am returning and settling in to myself, I have been quite creative too, just not very verbal about it over the interwebs.

If you could hear me over here, you would hear a big sigh.

Project bag?

My Man and I are planning a trip to Seattle next week and I need soft, easy to carry, project bags. In fact, I care more about packing my projects than I do clothing! This bag is made of cotton kimono scrap and is lined in cotton kimono cloth. It is not as ‘sturdy’ as the ‘market bag’ I made earlier in the week. But it is basically the same design. Perhaps it needs some boro stitching and patching, which would give the cloth more body.

I do like the strap tab detail at the lower left. 

I think it is kind of funny. I have had this ability since I was a child. I could not for the life of me, figure out how to sew the straps into the bag while I was lining it. This bag also cinches shut with the weight of what it carries and the strap emerges from a button hole middle top sack. The strap and buttonhole just mussed up my ability to think! So I stopped, got my book, went into the other room. Read for a while. Closed my eyes and saw it! So I hopped up and finished sewing the sack.

My friend Cricket can’t see pictures in her head, I can, can you? It would bum me out not to be able to see things in my minds’ eye.


 

Oh Gosh. Does this mean that each of my Sew-plies purses needs its own project bag? I think that is going a bit too far.

A Project Bag in the Making.

I have been making Gather your Sew-plies purses left and right. The entire plan in making these bags is to be able to sew wherever I go, the subway, the coffee shop, the Promenade, you get the idea. As I have been doing this, I have been thinking, what about a project bag?

I love a good backpack, having my hands free is important to me. I have been designing this backpack for quite a long while. I wanted it to be soft, meaning, I want to experience the cloth I use as part of the design. I wanted the straps to cinch it shut and keep it shut by way of using the weight of what the bag holds to keep it closed; the entire top edge of the purse is a drawstring compartment and the arm straps are the ‘cinch’ that keeps the bag closed. 

I had one yard of this fabulous cloth. I think of it as a ‘market print’ There are flowers, cherries, strawberries, garlic, peaches, the print is crisp and clean and pretty. To give the cloth some body, I doubled the cloth and sewed straight lines along the grain using Aurifil Lana#12. The buckle you see is just for show, it does not function to shorten the straps.

And, well, of course you need another bag to hold all the little things, thread, the project itself. This draw string bag came with a long sleeved t shirt which is also printed with the word ‘frock’. I embroidered over the printed ‘frock’ on this bag and use it almost like a stuff sack.

And here is a peek into the bag itself.

I have bought a snap setter and I intend to set some snaps into the pockets (check out the first photo to see one of the two pockets, there is one on the outside and one on the inside) but, that is scary. I will need to punch a hole into the pocket and the purse itself, and I don’t want to mess up.

I need to practice my snap setting skills first.

Here is the man cat, tuning into a few good z’s. He looks happy, doesn’t he?

A New Day, A New Week.

Wood Block Stamps and Music

I opened my mail last week to find this CD, sent by Meg Cox. The woman who heads the band is also a breast cancer survivor and although this is not the type of music I gravitate to, this album is really good. It is uplifting, danceable and has been on rotation since its arrival. Great stuff.

You also see some woodblocks from Colouricious in this last photo.

Making rules as I go, Boro Dress, Art Clothing

I have been on a mission. I am defining (redefining?) what clothing needs to be and how I might participate in the making of it. This will be a dress. A boro style dress, made just for me, using scrap, recycled bits of cloth, oak gall dyed organza and an indian sari. In my mind, clothing needs to fit well and be machine washable. It could also be pretty, inspiring, well made,  and interesting. 

I have always wanted to dress differently. I ‘see’ clothing that is not available on the market. It is time to start actualizing what I see.