Machine Quilted Sampling with Florabunda!

Hello Good folk.

I am working on my Bow Tie Quilt. It’s been basted and a sample sandwich was made, so that I can try out machine quilting techniques. I am excited about this quilt. The colors dance and sparkle. Sewing the quarter circle blocks was great fun. And now, this great quilt is encouraging me to machine quilt in ways that I have not recently explored. 

Usually, when I quilt my hand printed quilt tops, I machine quilt in straight lines, in order to ‘level the playing field’ and place the focus on the handprints rather than the quilting. Check out my Lace Swirl Quilt with straight line quilting, here

But, straight lines won’t do this time! I want to stretch and learn, which is in keeping with this Bow Tie Quilt top anyway.

So this morning, I rounded up every spool of thread in the house and evaluated my stash. I posted to Facebook, asking about the different threads I rounded up and also, examples of free motion go-to shapes. (I love asking the folks on my feed for their advice! I get great information, differing views, links and photos! Book suggestions too!) Cindi G turned me onto Baptist Fan free motion shape, and Kevin S suggested renaming it Lava Flow, which I must say, I really like!! I have been to Hawaii, seen the volcano that recently erupted and I feel connected to its flow and outcome

I chose this thread and ‘Lava Flow’ or Baptist Fan, though I did need to purchase a large spool, I happily await its arrival. In the meantime, I will use up the spool I have.

This is a bunch of fun!

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Bow Tie Quilt

Over the years, I have convinced myself that I am not a quilter so much as a quilt artist, with an emphasis on the art part. I suppose this storyline used to help -perhaps it helped to bolster my identity and projected, intended artistic path. But this idea no longer supports me. In walking this path, I placed barriers between myself and more traditional quilting. I told myself it was too difficult to follow a pattern. I told myself it took too long, I didn’t have the skills, I forgot the skills. I created barriers and closed myself in. And then, I felt constricted. Cut off.

To break down this wall, I turned to Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s books, which I have been perusing and rereading obsessively. I have also taken some of her one day workshops (and I want to take more), here in NYC. I connect with her ingenious, playful approach to using fabric, the manner that she reinterprets traditional layouts and quilt blocks, and her fearlessness of artistic expression in the medium. And I connect with her teaching style.

I have taken the release of Florabunda! by RJR Fabrics as an opportunity to improve my quilting skill set, dust off my patience, and commit to learning to use the line effectively. Using Victoria’s Bow Tie template, I cut a Fat Quarter bundle of Florabunda! combined with an array of Jamie Fingal’s Hopscotch collection to play around.

Previously, I assumed sewing 1/4 circles would be far beyond my skill set. But, it isn’t. This is a methodical task, requiring three pins and Victoria’s motto of, “Floppy Toppy” as a reminder to sewing curved success. I look forward to seeing how this quilt top comes together. And I remind myself not to create impediments to enjoying all aspects of my own creative expression behind the sewing machine.

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Florabunda! by RJR Fabrics

I am so happy to say, Florabunda by RJR Fabrics, my latest fabric line, is available and on the market! And boy, would I like to entice you to buy it, use it and stash it!

Like so many of you, I have fallen in love with all things Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I’ve bought every one of her books. And now, I delve deeply into sewing projects from her latest, Modern Quilt Magic. I think Florabunda! is a lovely way to explore the ideas presented in Modern Quilt Magic!

It’s pretty amazing how well Florabunda! goes with Darling Dots by Flaurie and Fitch. It seems to me, they were made for one another. So, I bought a Cascade template from VFW and paired a fat quarter bundle of each of these two lines, in order to make my own Cascade Quilt. 

You might assume that because this quilt top has curved seams it would be difficult to make. It isn’t! It is ingeniously easy to sew, especially with the instructions that Victoria provides in her book. (Go buy it.) You will quickly understand just how easy it is! And the delightful thing is, Florabunda! really gradates nicely in this design.

The other nice thing about this quilt top, is that you don’t need a design wall to do it. I designed and sewed just one segment at a time. using the floor of my tiny apartment, to help.

I will continue to update this this blog with progress on this top, so please keep stopping by!! And as always, #quiltwithlove

 

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Bird Buta Motif Making

This week, I finished steaming and washing the Buta prints. Then, I went and bought a magnifying glass, which makes me want to design and carve! This is a perfect opportunity for me. It means I can cut and piece a new quilt top, but also design and start thinking about my next my next print job.


I am not quite out of the woods, in wanting to work with the Buta motif. A Buta is a small medallion shaped motif, which is often, but not limited to, a floral type design. It usually repeats in a tight, strict repeat. Rather than continuing to work with floral Buta motif, I decided to try placing a bird surrounded by a ‘medallion’ shaped branch.

The above image shows the carving at the half-way point. The background needs to be removed. I always stop at just the point, make a strike off and print a few on cloth, before proceeding to the finish mark. This has been so much fun to carve. I look forward to completing this!

 

A post shared by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

One more thing. So often, folks will ask, how long did it take you to carve this? I started this design on Saturday night. It will probably take 8 hours, in total, to complete, and I am being generous. It can be used for years, though! So the time it took to carve really means nothing, especially when compared with what I might make of it. 🙂

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Hankies, steaming, around and back again

This weekend, I completed printing the 48 Blowsy Rose hankie fundraiser to benefit METAvivor. I have sold 47 out of the 48 silk habotai handkerchiefs. I am going to purchase one (I mean donate on behalf), because I need to start collecting -my own- hankies. If the final hankie does not sell today, I will ‘buy’ that too. Tomorrow, I will send 240$ to METAvivor, as this is the listed end date for trying this idea out.

I am so happy to be able to donate money, print hankies, and that YOU will own a piece of my work. Thank you so very much!!!

At the end of the print job, I searched around in my bin of Salty Soda Soaked (Playful Fabric Printing, page 45) fabrics and found a few cotton bandanas. You can see they are quite a bit bigger than the dainty silk habotai hankies.

BUT!

I have them and ought to print them, don’t you think?

I want to try and rectify the large area of white.

When Carol and I were writing Playful Fabric Printing, we came up with the concept of creating a selvedge with our names on it. 

I created mine using Fum Foam stamps (Playful Fabric Printing, page 62). I think this might just make the center look a little less lonely. And, as I am printing this just for fun, I don’t mind printing my name of it. Though I could use Freezer Paper Resist (Playful Fabric Printing, page 86) to preserve that area of printing…

In the meantime, I have 48 silk hankies to steam, wash and mail away.

ALSO! I put 20 copies of Playful Fabric Printing up for sale on my Etsy page, for just 20$ each. I want to get these books into your hands, so we can start using it! 

If you would like a more in depth exploration of printing these hankies, join our closed FB Community page, Playful Fabric Printing. This is where we do weekly Live Video chats, on print related subjects-this week steaming! There is a backlog of video in the group, which will help you on your way to playfully printing your own fabrics.

See you there!

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Blowsy Rose hankies, chugging right along.

Doing this fundraiser for METAvivor has been fun. 

I get to print 48 hankies, make some cash for myself and give some cash to a group whose work I admire. I have just 4 more hankies available for sale. I would love for you to own one, but I also feel kinda grabby! I might need one for myself.

SaveSaveThese hankies are not yet steamed, meaning they are stiff with thickener and Procion MX dye. This is my favorite way to view them! I understand that in steaming and washing them, they will change some. The color will release and fade minimally. What I see here is not what they will eventually look like. But this is my favorite part of printing. Being able to sort through and think about these hankies in their final state is exciting!

I must color the petals of about 22 more hankies. This work will be complete today or tomorrow, then, I will begin to steam, wash and mail the hankies to you. I am ever so grateful to do this work and I feel honored to be able to donate up to $240 per print job!! That’s $240 more than I could afford on my own. So thank you!!!

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Blowsy Rose hankies! An update.

In all, the Blowsy Rose print in Florabunda is a four color design, or as we call it in Playful Fabric Printing, a four color multicolor set. In this case, the set consists of one hand carved rubber layer and three fun foam layers that color the background, the leaves and the petals. 

In my opinion, three color designs are the most efficient and easy to print designs, they are approachable, easy to complete and they give you many coloring options. As I print this 4 color design, I periodically drop a layer out, making three color prints, I use all 4 layers too! My goal is to print as many different hankies as I am able in a short period of time, while maintaining consistent print quality.

As I continue to print each of the 48 hankies, I pull some out of the ‘Working Pile’ and place them in the ‘Ready to Steam’ pile.

I rather like these hankies with white background! They are sweet.

So far, I have completed 14 hankies and am well on my way to completing this print job. I am doing this in part to fundraise for METAvivor. There are four hankies for sale, to meet my goal of selling all 48, and donating 240$ from the sale, to this upstanding organization.

I do hope you will head over to my Etsy page and get your hankie today!

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And join our Facebook Community Page while you are at it! This is the place for Live Video, asking questions and learning to Playfully Print your own fabrics!

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Get your Hankie here! Plus.

As I talked up the creation of the VIP Offering to the AnaOno #cancerland fashion show, many expressed interest in owning their own Melly Made hankies! In gratitude for this opportunity, I have decided to print 48 more hankies and donate a portion of the sale to benefit METAvivor.

I have ordered 48 more hankies. I plan to print them using the large floral design featured in Floribunda! by RJR Fabrics. Each hankie will cost $20.00, with 5$ of each sale donated to Metavivor. Each hankie will be mailed via USPS stamped envelope. If you prefer UPS shipping let me know, I will send you an additional request for $ to cover the cost.

Please purchase your hankie through my Etsy store. While there, perhaps you might purchase Playful Fabric Printing, then head over to the Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook! I will be doing live video updates while completing these hankies and would love to see you there!

My fingers are crossed that I sell all 48 hankies and be able to donate 240$ (my fingers are triple crossed).

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Silk Hankies, METAvivor, Anaono Intimates and #cancerland

Beth Fairchild is a woman to admire. She works with METAvivor, is a tireless advocate for breast cancer patients,  she is a mother, an artist and a mermaid.

Last summer we met at a rooftop bar in Manhattan to watch the sun set with friends. It was a magical night (and the first time I met Dana-the owner of AnaOno). At that time, I brought Beth a token gift of my affection, in a handprinted silk hankie (seen above). I love a good hankie. A small piece of fabric with a hemmed edge, to stuff in your pocket, to fuss and fiddle or tie back your hair. 

So when Beth contacted me to ask if I might provide some handprinted swag as a VIP Offering at the AnaOno and #cancerland fashion show, I jumped at the chance.

Here is a short trailer about the project.

I get these 11″ silk hankies at Dharma Trading. They have a nice rolled hem, they take Procion MX dyes beautifully, they can withstand a rigorous washing cycle and they make a great gift.  I printed 48 of these hankies using a three color polka dot design (seen in my first line of fabrics, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics) using the techniques described in Playful Fabric Printing.

I also used this as an opportunity to record  live video chats about the printing process for our Playful Fabric Printing FB Community page. If you are interested in these printing techniques, our community is perfect for you. Please join.

I chose Procion MX colors that most closely matched the METAvivor ribbon colors, pink, green and blue. (If you want to get technical, in respect to Playful Fabric Printing, I used Colors 10, 11, 27 using Lemon Yellow as my yellow, Fuchsia as red and Turquoise as my blue. I mixed all 4 thickened values for a total of twelve colors and I Speed Printed until complete.)

And here they are atop their silver FedEx swag bags just before the show. 

To see this show was to be inspired by the sheer joy, and utter beauty of real women, real people, who have embraced a difficult diagnosis with badass grace and fierce resolve.

I shivered to my toes and stood present to what an individual, a group of individuals, can do to make real change in the world. I screamed, hooted and cheered. I cried. And it was great.

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(StencilGirl) Stencils used imaginatively, plus a sale!

StencilGirl Products is hosting a Cyber Monday Sale! 25% OFF! So please, be my guest! Head over there, but read my pondering too. 🙂

I have come to love using Frixion Pilot pens for creating and/or transferring embroidered designs and ideas. The ink in these pens is affected by heat and disappears (almost entirely), when ironed. I have decided I am willing to suffer the consequences of the use of this fugitive and ever so useful, art supply. I love what it allows me to do. Some folks totally disagree with me on this point and I am OK with that.

Simply use the pen to trace an outline through your favorite stencil. Then, embroider. When finished, iron the ink mark away. The above photograph shows the design tracing -before- ironing. I assure you this will disappear soon. I still have some stitching to complete.

Of course, in the manner of Playful Fabric Printing, I love to print my own cloth for use in quilts.

I have found my StencilGirl stencils very easy to print when using a simple hand squeegee. I like to squeegee through stencils utilizing a padded work surface (page 76, Playful Fabric Printing). A hand towel will work just as well as our tested, June Tailor boards. But please check out that section of the book too. We have some neat hacks and upgrades to the board that will enable you to print in repeat using Thermofax screens too! But, hey, back to the stencils!

While the above photo shows me printing with thickened dye, this technique also works well with fabric paints. The one caveat is, you must wash your stencils well and often, if you want to maintain the sheer nature of the stencil plastic-which I do. Do not allow the paint to dry on the stencil.

I have designed 6 stencils with StencilGirl. Each stencil sheet contains a square repeat design, a few coordinating single motifs and one alphabet per stencil. There are just so many ways to use stencils, whether in your hand embroidery or by way of printing and painting!

And, well. I would really like to get my stencils into your hands! So please, head on over to Stencilgirl Products and get some swag.


My stencils are on sale!

Cyber Monday
Save 25% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber25 
Monday, November 27, 2017
from midnight until 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA

PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!

NEW THIS YEAR! Choose 1 FREE large stencil for every $100 spent (after discounts are applied). You MUST specify your choice(s) by L### code in the comments section of the cart when you check out or it will be StencilGirl’s choice. Sorry, no exceptions.

BONUS! Spend $500+ (after discounts are applied) and StencilGirl will send you an original work of art by Mary Beth Shaw.

SHOP: http://www.stencilgirlproducts.com/stencilgirl-products-s/1846.htm

Tuesday & Wednesday
Save 20% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber20 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017, & Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Sale ends at 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA
10% off 6 stencils of the same size discount, FREE stencil(s), and Bonus still apply.

*Stencils only. Does not apply to DVDs, books, tools, wholesale orders, StencilClub, or gift certificates. The StencilClub exclusive monthly member discount does not apply.

 

 

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