(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.

 

 

SaveSave

Selfies in Stitch

Self Portrait of Melly Testa

We currently live in the era of the ‘selfie’. Participating in social media is almost akin to sharing a life in photographs. ‘Selfies’, photos taken of the self, by the self, are the go to method of getting images out there.

As a young artist going through school to obtain a degree in textile design, I was encouraged to make artwork based on self portraiture. We were shown images of artists who had simply painted themselves as if looking into a mirror, we talked about artists who painted themselves into the periphery of the painting- as say, a member of a crowd, and we discussed depicting ourselves well outside the identifiable, as perhaps a rabbit or a monster, relying on emotion and myth rather than depicting a realistic clearly identifyable image. 

At first, it felt egotistical to use the self as inspiration for artwork. Do you hang the piece in your home? Sell it? Would anyone want to purchase an image of your mug? Do you make self portraits and store them for posterity? How do self portraits fit into the context of the artists overall portfolio of work? Does any of this matter?

Over time, I have come to see the value and the sheer possibility of connection or communion with self when working with imagery that is just so known-to me. It is almost as if I am journaling, digging deeply and using words to explore ideas. But because I am a visual person, I instead get to slow down, take a single stitch and use that time to explore a moment in my personal, visual herstory. 

 

Stitching, embroidery and telling stories with thread

image

Stitch is a gentle and impactful manner to tell stories, create imagery, and spend time. 

IMG_0453

Take, for instance this graffiti, a snapshot taken while in Barcelona, Spain, just over five years ago. I love birds, and am smitten with the quick, illegal stroke of the graffiti artists’ hand. Combine the two, and I definitely feel the need to snap a photo and go on to figure out how to use it in my own work!

image

While most of the imagery I use in my work is drawn by myself, I don’t really feel badly about recreating a graffiti drawings in my work. I receive graffiti as an issue of the public domain, perhaps I am wrong in my thinking, I do not know. Beside which, I will not be selling any work with that bird in it, it is for my own enjoyment and personal use.

That trip to Spain was quite pivotal to me as an artist. I saw some graffiti that bowled me over and made me seriously embrace upon how to go about multicolor printing. That trip caused me to change course artistically.

image

It made me start using stitch differently too. I began to use stitch as a means to journal, to use cloth as a place to store memories, thread as a medium to impart color, to draw and even to write. It made me start thinking of stitch as my own personal form of graffiti. Even if I am not doing it illicitly. 🙂

image

It feels good to settle back into embroidery and stitch. In the next month or so, I will be creating content for my newly renovated teaching web site, The Clever Guild (there have been some behind the scenes updates and I am still fiddling with the particulars-but it is coming together, finally). I will be working with the idea of Journal Stitching and hope you might be interested in taking a class with me.

In the meantime, please read my rambles about the process here!

Gathering my wits.

image

I think I may have started this Gather your Sew-plies purse in 2012. This purse was made using this pattern (I call this Pattern #1), it is constructed differently than the pattern that was published in Quilting Arts Holiday 2014, (which I call Pattern #2). There will be an updated pattern coming out soon (Pattern #3), and I do hope you are interested in the upcoming changes.   😛 

image

Back in 2012, I stitched the pink in the negative space, a scrolling flair with daisies.  When I got bored of stitching the scrolls, I began sewing a grid, also in the pink. Then, I put it down. The pink stitch work had taken a while, I had fallen in love with it, but I knew the design was unfinished and that I wanted to push it further.

I just did not know how.

image

This week, after finishing the graffiti stitch Gather your Sew-plies purse, seen in this video (it’s from the post before this one). I took out this older purse ‘start’ and I could immediately see what I wanted to do. I could see these little green stitches, stacking up to color the negative space.

Stitch work is such a quiet and centering activity. Working, one stitch at a time really clears the mind of all activity. I bask in the quiet and apply myself to the task. It feels so good, like reading a great book whose characters are friends, anticipated, hoped for, at each turn of the page, the story unfolds like the glittering gems of a sunny day at the beach. Hearing the needle puncture the cloth, seeing the color of the fabric stitch and change as the stitches stack up is a blessing.


image

 Just so you know, I am updating The Clever Guild, my teaching site. The first class offered will be free, and will demonstrate making your own Gather your Sew-plies!! purse using a new and updated pattern. After which I will release my first offering, Journal Stitch. Please stay tuned for more information. I really hope you are interested. 

I have had several people write to ask me to teach soy wax resist with paint. While I was at Craft NAPA, several students asked me to teach a course about color, and another about composition. If you have a specific idea about what you might like to learn from me, I would like to hear about it. Would you be interested in a class using Procion MX dyes? Thickened dye? Thread dyeing? What? Please leave a comment.

Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

image

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.

image

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.

image

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. 

image

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. 

MIUGalsThenNow

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.

image

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

image

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!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.

image

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.


 

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.


 

image

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.

image

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. 

image

Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Loving Goodness

 

Testa Family

Happy Holidays, all. May peace reside within each of us, this year, this day, this moment. Life is short. Let’s all enjoy every minute of it.

We have just returned from a holiday visit with family. We ate great food. Lasagna, salads, bread. Ham with all the sides. Nuts, a cheese ball. Shrimps. Hugs, family, TV and talk. We took a walk with my brother and Sister in Law. And received great gifts. A great cooking pan, a bracelet I have been wanting for a very long time. Some tank tops from Buy Me Brunch. And I am happy to say, my brother and Sister in Law will be visiting Brooklyn quite soon. Life is good.

I would like to Thank You for your support and encouragement this year! I have begun blogging again and am enjoying sharing my artistic progress with you. Thank you for coming here and checking in. I am thankful to be able to teach at Craft NAPA, and I plan to blog about my adventures. I hope you will stick with me and enjoy it with me. If you want specific pictures or info, comment please!

IMG_4694

This week, I walked to Public House 61 and had coffee while stitching. I spent a couple hours enjoying myself, one stitch at a time. These last few weeks have been oddly stressful. After pulling a muscle in my back, I had an oncology appointment and, of course, my Dr. ordered scans, the first in the last 5 years. I knew it was nothing to worry about, but it did also worry me, to think this might well be cancer related. I was diagnosed 5 years ago, January 11. I do have fear of recurrence, so stitch, which slows time down to a single movement, a small action, that piles up and reveals itself over time, is meditation. It is the perfect antidote to stress.

And! No evidence of Disease at this time. I have a herniated disk, which requires much walking. Deal!! I will take it. 

The coffee shop is one mile away, they open at 7:30 A.M. So, I Gather my Sew-plies!! purses and a project, and go sew for a cuppa. And then walk home again. Win! In the photo just above this video, you can see my project bag and preferred stitching notions, wax and needles. 

I am working my newest Gather your Sew-plies!! purse. It is a class sample. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

IMG_4892 

Journaling with Fabric and Embroidery at Craft NAPA

Emb1

As you can see from these photos of my class samples for Craft NAPA, the possibilities are exponential when Journaling with Fabric and Embroidery. The Gather your Sew-plies!! purse is a sewing chatelaine or purse that holds the essentials of what you will need to sew on the go. The purse is very small in size, making it a great ‘canvas’ to try out some playful and innovative embroidery techniques. 

Emb2

Embroidery thread is such a satisfying media. Six strand embroidery floss can be used as is, for a chunky burst of color, or it can be whittled down to three or four strands, two strands, or even just a single strand to make your mark. Marks, memories and a mixed media approach to embroidery is what this class is about. We will explore using stencils to create patterns, we will simplify and use imagery found in our surroundings, we will work to accentuate positive and negative space and experiment with sheer fabrics too. 

DSC_0168

All while making a purse that contains everything you will need to move about your sewing studio or better yet, to sew on the go. I would even go so far as to say, this purse is a productivity booster!

IMG_2359

I hope you will join me in Craft NAPA, January 7-9 2016, register today!!

Emb4


Here is a shout out to the wonderful CRAFT NAPA sponsors, BERNINA and Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

meissner-logo-2x

Registration for Craft NAPA closes on Dec 15th. 

Comments to win the eQuilter 500$ gift certificate closes on December 10, which is today. For a chance to win off my blog, comment on this post <—–Click it. And please check out all the blogs on the hop!


Nov 30- Jane LaFazio – http://janeville.blogspot.com/

Dec 1 – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgeddesignstudio.com/blog/

Dec 2 – Judy Coates Perez – http://www.judycoatesperez.com/

Dec 3 – Jenny K. Lyon – http://quiltskipper.com/blog/

Dec 4 – Jamie Fingal – http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/

Dec 5 – Melanie Testa – http://melanietesta.com/blog/ (Here you are!)

Dec 6 – Elizabeth St. Hilaire – http://www.paperpaintings.com/

Dec 7– Leslie Jenison – http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com/

Dec 8- Carrie Bloomston – http://www.carriebloomston.com/blog/

Dec 9 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

Dec 10 – Pokey Bolton – http://pokeysponderings.com/

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

UBBB1

Today I stitch a Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1.

The Uniboobers are the ‘hardest’ Beauty to print. They aren’t actually difficult to print, it is just that… they are a combination of two printings, a Breastless Beauty is printed along side a Breasted Beauty, and the organza layer from each is switched with the other.

The hard part is keeping the layers together during steaming and washing! And not even that part is hard (!), it is just that it requires memory and I often loose that during the wash out process and end up making either a Breastless or a Breasted Beauty instead! 

Anyway. My favorite of all the Beauties is the Unibohbber Beauty for several reasons.  1. I feel women who choose unilateral mastectomy are the bravest of us all. For me, this choice would require that I wear prosthesis, because symmetry and ease of finding clothing that fits is essential to me. Knowing I did not want to engage with this, has made me open my heart to those of us who have chosen this option. 2. I so often forget to match the organza to the printed cotton layer after the wash out, that the Uniboober Beauties are a rarity. 🙂

I particularly like this Beauty because the organza falls upon the cotton in such a way that the dark area is crisp and stark. In the video below, you can see how the layers shift and can change the look of the piece. I think this is just plain magical.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

craftnapa-color1

I will be teaching:

You Can’t Resist This, where we will use soy wax as a resist along with paint on cotton fabric.

Small Works, Big Impact, where we will make small works while exploring the use of the sewing machine and some pretty nifty techniques.

Journaling with Embroidery, where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, so you can sew, wherever you go!

 

Everything in between

   

This chair, with its lovely patina, can be found at Rex, a coffee shop on 10th street between 56 and 57 in Manhattan. It is not the most comfortable chair. But it sure is pretty.

  

I have a thing for chairs, if you have not noticed. Artistically speaking, chairs equate to nudes for me. When I started writing Inspired to Quilt, I was asked to cut back on placing nudes within the book. This was in the hope of attracting the broadest audience possible. So, I moved to depicting chairs (and birds, always birds).  Chairs allude to the human form, we rarely walk into a room without coming upon a chair. People recline, rest, wait, gather while sitting in a chair. So when I come upon an interesting chair, I draw, or in this case, photograph it. It is good form to do so, taking notes, snapping pictures, keeps items and ideas accessible.

  

There are two color ways of this chair print in my first fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham. If I get my way, there will be more. Once we alight on motifs that impress us, spark the imagination, it is a good idea to honor it and continue on the quest of expressing your appreciation of the idea. In the photograph that follows, you can see a bit of hand printed chair in the lower right.

  

While sitting in the aforementioned chair, I worked this piece. It is my goal to make my small work art quilts as similar in style and nature to my journal pages as I am able. When working with different media and hoping to carry ideas over from one format to another, we must realize there is quite a difference in media. Applying paint with a brush to paper is much different that applying dye to cloth, paper is smooth and has finishing agents that hold the paint in place, where cloth is much more absorbent, and I haven’t even mentioned the difference between paint and dye. What I am trying to suggest though is, there is no direct correlation between mediums. We need to bridge the gaps we experience as we come across them.

The journey to finding these parallels began to occur prior to writing Inpired to Quilt, and continues to this day. For example, in the piece above, the finches were drawn using a ruling pen and paint, on silk organza. Silk organza is the equivalent to tracing paper in my journals, it is sheer, it can be layered and allows what appears underneath to show through. The ruling pen itself is a parallel to a pen, and allows for fine line drawing on cloth or paper, using any color you are able to mix in either dye or paint. 

I have a good handle of the tools needed to cross media. What I am working on is creating imagery that can flow and jump off the page and find a continuum on cloth, my preferred medium. This is the fun of being an artist and following where the visual and artistic journey brings us. I continued this exploration within Dreaming From the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. And honestly, I think this will be my journey for many years to come.  

———————

   

Today I went to my 4 month check up with my oncologist, all is clear. I am good to go for another four months. 

I need to ‘talk cancer’ for a moment and I hope you are ok with this. Cancer sucks. I am happy that I seem to be in remission, I have the ability to beat this and I know that not all folks do. Within my support circles, I read and keep in touch with folks who are experiencing stage four cancer, where keeping the cancer in check is the only option and some of my friends and acquaintances have passed from this disease. I do not mean any disrespect in talking about something as trivial as hair, but I find I need to.

It has been about four years since I lost my hair to chemotherapy. I was bald, I didn’t wear a wig, I didn’t feel the need to. When my head was cold, I wore a hat. I was told that my hair might return different than it had previously been, it might come back thicker, curly, it might change color, or come back thinner. Secretly, I hoped it might come back curly, as I have always had poker straight hair. Instead it came back super thin. I used to struggle to wrap an elastic around it twice, now, I bet I would need to wrap an elastic 5-6 times. I have had to change the part in my hair so that my head does not show through as much. I have been trying to grow my hair out and I realize, my hair has become my krytonite. I can handle being breastless, I had to make a choice, I did, I went with it. But my hair? Not so much.

I saved my life, I exercise, I am eating healthier, I am alive. Now, I need to accept, this is the way my hair is now. I am glad to have hair. It sure beats being bald, or dead for that matter. I don’t know if I can grow my hair out-I have gotten tired of cutting it and haircuts are expensive, here in the city, I am going to give it to the end of the summer and decide at that time. Whatever I do, I need to stop the conversation in my head, the negativity and disappointment I feel, when I look at my reflection and see how thin my hair is. The experience of breast cancer and its treatment has made me shine a fresh and bright light on beauty ideals, how they affect me (and us), and has encouraged me to break down my assumptions and become a stronger more vibrant woman. It is time to apply what I have been learning to my feelings and thoughts about my hair. 

Thank you for sticking with this post, it was a long one.

allow, welcome, be present

   

I have been sewing on the subway and beyond. It is interesting to sew in public, it is not done very often, I regularly see knitters, I know I have seen crocheters, I have seen people drawing. Of all of these activities, knitting happens most often. But even still, not as often as you might think. I feel tentative about sewing in public.  I started using my Gather your Sew-plies purses to sew on the go a few years back. I remember feeling much more open and present to sewing in public at that time. I look forward to feeling more ease while whipping out a needle, cutting a length of thread and putting needle to cloth.

The Gather your Sew-plies purses are pretty secure and hold all of the essentials, thimble, a spool of thread or two, scissors, wax, all attached to my person due to its backpack styling. I carry my projects, along with the Gather your Sew-plies purse in in my everyday backpack. All of it is really easy to gather up and put away, if I loose myself, and forget to listen to the subway announcements. It is a tidy package. 

The Quilting Arts Holiday issue that contains this latest pattern for the Gather your Sew-plies purse is on sale half off, click here)

 

I look forward to beginning to stitch this piece. I printed the left most portion this last weekend and sewed it to the right portion yesterday. One of my overarching goals in working with cloth is to make my fiber art more akin to my painted work. So, I plan to invest in intuitively placing new motifs, lines and secondary patterns by way of embroidery and stitch. This will be fun to watch unfold.

I have been loving Instagram (click and follow me!) and the ability to search hashtags! My latest fun find is #subwaytalents. There are many musicians who play in the subway, and I think it would be great to add stitching to all the underground talent. I think the person who owns the subwaytalents page found me through my use of the hashtag #NYC, or probably more accurately, #nycsubway. I daydream that perhaps I will start a public stitching trend, silly, perhaps. But who knows? Anyway, I am posting videos and photos to Instagram, I often cross post to facebook, but I also post images solely to Instagram. I hope to see you there as well.

Listening to quiet. 

   

Stitching is a quiet and soothing activity. It is meditative in nature, the world becomes each stitch. The needle emerges, gets a small tug, and then is pushed back through, again and again. It is a slow and steady activity. Expressing ideas with needle and thread is rewarding. Lines become images, small stitches become marks, flecks of color.

Peach likes to sit on my work.

 

I am recovering from a loss. It has not been easy to connect with my creativity, to access and engage with my creative center. I find solace in stitch, it is helping me re-member. Stitch is  populating my mind and pushing the old and stale to the perimeter, and out. Thankfully.

Quiet is helping me reconnect, rebuild and be present. 

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I have felt a sense of panic. It is as if I fear not having the time to do my ‘life’s work’. As if I need to do all of ‘The Things’ -right now-, because I may not be able to do them later. This has the effect of putting pressure on myself to perform. Making, art, being an artist takes time, it can’t be rushed or forced. My husband, my Man, gave me a great pep talk this weekend, he reminded me just to make stuff, not to think about what I want to do with it, but to just do it. I needed to hear this. It is so good to love a good man.

So. 

I am just making stuff. I may not even call it art. I don’t want to do anything with it. And even if I just go through the motions, I trust I will find comfort, solace and peace in simply making. I am willing to watch ‘this’ unfold.

sewing wherever I go.

  

I have been preparing myself to be able to sew wherever I go. A few years back, I began to make the Gather your Sew-plies purses, in the hope of being able to keep all essentials at the ready, in a neat and tidy package. (In case you are wondering, a pattern was published in last years Quilting Arts Holiday magazine.) Along with this, I have gathered an array of colorful embroidery thread, several hand-work projects and I even bought a protective, sturdy case for my iPad, so that I do not have to worry, too much, about it being bumped and joggled. 

  

In addition, I am researching the best coffee shops in New York City (with free Wifi), so that I can really experience sewing wherever I go and documenting my experience. Today, I am again at my local coffee shop, 61 Local. I bet I come here a fair amount because it is local and easy, but I also want to see and experience different parts of the city, especially as the weather improves. I love sewing in public, or public displays of sewing, as I like to think of it. Many folks sew in a privacy of their homes or studios, but for this project, I would like to think of the city as my studio.

And! I love watching tv as I sew, as long as I have access to wifi, I can watch tv too! Here I am watching The Connection, a (short term) free streaming movie, promoted by Food Matters about the mind-body connection. Watching tv in public (I wore my headphones) seems silly, though also fun. And why not? Normally, I listen to music on my headphones. Watching tv in public isn’t all that different! Odd, maybe.

Do you sew in public? Do you draw wherever you might be? How about knitting in public? If, you too, have interest in busting out of your normal space, with your everyday activities, I would love to hear about it.

Gather your Sew-plies, sew where you go.

   

I am here at 61 Local, or at least that is what I think the name of this place is. It might be Public House 61. I am unsure. It has free wifi, an offering I will be coming to value. You see, I need to get out of the house. I have been a bit of a shut in, and I need to change this storyline. 

Last year, I moved to a new apartment, while writing a book that ended up being canceled. That was a lot of work, that also, by necessity, kept me indoors, in my workspace, making. Although the book was cancelled three months ago, I am still recovering from the loss. I had to put that artwork away until I figure out what to do with it. That left me with a blank canvas, literally. So now, I am picking up the pieces.

  

This has been a challenging time to be sure. I have not experienced this many creative hits before. I am in a bit of a creative stand still. I put a shout out on Facebook, asking what my fella artists and comrades do when faced with creative quiet. It was an interesting discussion. Many folks said they walk away, apply their focus elsewhere for a while. Others said they try a new media, some take a class. 

At the moment, I have three quilts that need binding, a Meadowlark quilt top in the making, I am working with acrylic paints and I have gathered several handwork projects, where I can use my Gather your Sew-plies! Purses to sew, wherever I go. I am also preparing to print cloth for sale directly off my blog. 

(I am dabbling in everything, it seems).

 

To help myself along, and to change the scenery, I am going to embrace the change in weather, while sewing wherever I go. My plan is to find coffee shops with free wifi, so I can sew, blog, and see new faces and places. I do love being able to get out of the house, while still being able to do a bit of this and that.

Gathering, an introspection.

MellyTEyeHeart1

When sewing on the go, it is necessary to have a project bag. This bag, for me, serves a function. It serves as a place to embroidery reminders, occurrences, important dates, I love a project bag! It should be -just- big enough for a project, and a few choice supplies.

MellyTEyeHeart2

The Gather your Sew-plies purse ought to contain, a thimble, a small array of hand and embroidery needles, an embroidery scissor, spool of sewing thread-I love Aurifil, each of my Gather your Sew-plies purses are kitted with it. The #12 cotton?? A gorgeous hand sewing and embroidery thread. Capital -L- Like.

And it dyes beautifully!!!

MellyTProjectBag1

Ok. Here is a debate that rolls around in my head. I like the Pilot Frixion Ball Erasable Black Gel Ink Pens for their immediacy, and when embroidering words onto cloth, it imparts a realistic look. But. 

Ok, wait.

The Frixion Pen can be ironed, which ‘erases’ the original mark.

BUT!!!

With cold, the mark will return. Cold as in, stored for an extended period in color storage or left on a metal tabletop over a few days time. I do not know if washing the item will have an effect in either direction, further study is needed.

But, I am using it in the meantime. It has advantages that I appreciate.

MellyTRosesGySew-plies

 More to come on the Gather your Sew-plies Sew-along!!

And expect a Paris romp o photos! The graffiti? Awesome.

Working away

elongated20

 I have just 6 more birds from the list of 20 Common Birds in Decline to do. Today I printed 3 of 4 recently cut and mounted stamps, before I was stopped in my tracks for the lack of soda ash soaked cloth. And, while looking over the recent images, I think I should reprint two out of the last 4 anyway. I am at a stand still until the fabric hanging in the bathroom drips drip.

I love this project. I have never done anything quite like it before. Each image measures 2.5×3.5″. So they are tiny. I have not measured how big the cloth I am printing on measures, I just randomly chose a size and cut a bunch of squares. I left enough white so that when I begin to embroider them, they can have a border of white around them. I do fret about how they will wash up, so I am printing several of each image so that I have plenty of test pieces.

Yes, I am going to embroider, or stitch additional details on each piece. After the Deep Clean last month, I unearthed several of these stamps and dreamed up this project, so that I can utilize the embroidery floss I had been dyeing two months previously. I am happy to say that I am also restocking my studio supplies and I will be dyeing more threads, both DMC 6 strand and some silk embroidery thread I found off eBay, coming directly from China. I will let you know how it goes.

I have not forgotten that I am going to do a giveaway of Fuglies, and I do have a free class in the works, but my timeframe is much slower than it has ever been before. Please stayed tuned and enjoy.

Stitching away the Blues

I am stitching away on this Breastplate. I guess this is called a running stitch, I just pick up a few threads and then continue to stitch, maintaining a similar length of stitch for each. It creates little dots on the back of the work, which is very pleasing to me. So far I have used 4 different colors of hand dyed threads, and I love that I figured out how to eliminate the white spots in the dyeing process. 

My mother and I have a road trip planned for the weekend, we will be going to a craft fair. I am happy about this on so many levels. I need to get out of the house for one. And generally, I have been depressed and down lately.  I need a jog from normality. So, I am packing my bags, bringing my stitch work and hightailing it.

Off to make coffee and pack my bags!

Print and Stitch

I am happily sewing away over here, working three Breastplates at a time.

This Breastplate is the biggest of the seven. If I were to decide to wear them, rather than consider them an art object, this would be the one. Each of the Breastplates were made by ‘eye’ they are supposed to be clothing ‘like’. I love the shapes so much, I keep dreaming up new versions, with different cloth. But when I designed this one, I specifically cut it so that it would wrap around the sides of my body and ‘fit’.

I printed it using a stamp bought from Colouricious. This is my first time using these stamps and I must say, OMG. These are wonderful stamps. I now want more.

I am using my hand dyed threads to stitch and embellish the stamped shapes. I am using thread colors that blend nicely but show up well too. Nothing that might conk you over the head, but beautiful, embellished stitch. I printed this Breastplate in an asymmetrical manner, and the printing goes up the left breast.

I am loving each, beautiful, stitch.

Quiet hum.


I am changing the surface of this Breastplate by stitch, differences in stitch and thread quality as well as scale. This is the first application of stitch that I can see so far. This first application of stitch is hand dyed DMC 6 Strand embroidery floss.

My plan for this Breastplate is large stitch, geometric designs, 6 strands…

As I look at it from here, I wonder if I might use 2 strands in the breast portion, cutting the thread scale down. I think it would create a nice contrast.

Remember I bought that 500 gram cone DMC 6 Strand Embroidery floss, last month. That was money well spent. I may continue to dye threads until I run out of the cone, it won’t be long now. I have been dyeing threads in groups of 48, so my stash is growing exponentially. It is fun to watch, to open the orderly boxes of floss and look at the colors within.


 

I have my eye on this ebay item. I have not bought much on ebay, never direct from China and I don’t know what to think of this type of purchase. So I keep looking at it. Have any of you bought a similar item?

Right now I have an affection for wooden spinning tops. I went to etsy and found this store. I am in love with these tops. I want every single one and all of the top related items!  

My Mom and I will be going to a craft fair next weekend. I will wait to make a purchase, but that man’s tops are tops!

Breath of Fresh Air

Last week I took myself out for a much needed day on the town. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I stumbled upon what is probably the smallest exhibit there, Gems of European Lace. It took me about 5 minutes of trying to locate room 599 before asking a guard where the room was. When I finally found the room, I was quite pleased to be alone in it.

OMG. Usually when I go to a museum or gallery, it is my hope that something will affect me deeply. I hope to be able to have a physical response to what I see. I shed some tears, I was so deeply affected. 

One of the pieces on display was presumably used and worn by Marie Antoinette. I took photographs of every single piece. I tried to imagine who might have made the lace, man or woman. This needle lace piece? Those hexagonal supportive stitches that hold the piece together? 7 stitches per bar. Um. Wow. 

Ever since I was a child, I have held textiles, lace, embroidery, crochet, cloth, the items that are considered ‘feminine and female’ in the art world, in high reguard. I mean, just look at the story told in the lace above. Angels, a fountain, birds, flowers, tassels, bugs. All the good things, represented as a story and wearable too.

Experiencing a hand made item like this, one that is as old as it is, makes me want to be a better artist. It gives me something to  strive for. It might also suggest that I need to employ an army to get all the things I want to, done!

I am dyeing threads and trying to work all of the kinks out. See the threads in the box? The manner that I dye threads creates these white undyed spots (that show up as lightly colored flecks), which occurs every 6 inches or so. This week I am working on eliminating that undyed spot. It takes alot of time, because I am dyeing thread in groups of 48 colors. I think I figured it out, but, I need to wait for this last batch to soak and dry before I can confirm this.

And because I need something to embroider, now having gads of colors and thread options available to me, I started making what I am calling Breastplates. The rabbit from earlier this week is part of the Breastplate at lower right. I will stitch, sew and print these plates for some time to come.

The party begins.

Gentle Re-entry

Quite a difficult week, I am glad it is behind me. I call to the regenerative power of Rabbit to heal and calm.

Hello Father.

Great things are accomplished only by the perfection of minor details. 

Will you please cook a special meal for me on a Friday night in the very near future? (Ask Mom the date).

Hand stitch

Stitch, hand stitching is such a quiet endeavor. I love it for that reason. I love keeping the apartment so quiet that you can hear the needle break through the cloth. Over and over again. I also love the way stitch changes the nature of the cloth you work. 

This is a set of breast pockets that I am making in my own name. This will be a dense mix of thread and imagery, hand stitched ‘paint’ (no paint will be used, just hand dyed thread).

I am extending the deadline for the Breast Pocket Project, right now I need about 800 pockets to meet my goal. 200 pockets are a great accomplishment, and I did ask that you send the pockets during the week of the 22nd, which is today or now. I know many more pockets are on their way to my neck of the woods as I type, but if you have it in you to make more pockets, please do.

Brave, fiercely.

I have been conversing about cloth, it is a personal, ever growing and ongoing discussion, really. I have this ‘metallic’ white cotton, I bought it ten years ago, I don’t know its name. (Do you??) 

I am a total Mad Men Fan. And right now I have a crush in Michael Ginsberg‘s character.  Please repeat the above paragraph in Michael Ginsberg’s cadence and accent.

Please.

Use his gestures too.

See? I am revealing myself. 

ANYWAY. Back to the cloth!

I think the ‘metallic’ is plastic, I don’t know, it is a festive  cloth, whatever it’s content. I reverse basted some of the mettallic cotton cloth to the center front band of a tie front wrap. I love what the cloth has become.

But,

if this cloth has plastic content, I would like to say! Way to make plastic magical, whoever designed this cloth! Thank you! It is somehow, really magical.

I wish I had a selvedges that would tell me more about these different pieces and parts. I remember taking a steam iron to them early on and watching them shrink in front of my eyes, by inches! I knew it would happen and did it on purpose, so that I would get used to the eventual look, not the newly-bought look.

You know?

The graffiti Pockets are coming along! You can only see a bottom corner up center, top. I like what is happening with this set of pockets, but progress is slow. Stitch as color is infiltrating my thought process. Stitch as painting. Stitch as communication.

Either way, I am interested in stitch, clothing, cloth and what each of these ‘ideas’ brings to a garment.

A podcast, breast pockets, todays ramble.

This week Ricë and I recorded a podcast on ” Going Flat and the Breast Pocket Project” and if you have an hour, please listen to it.

 


Studio Melly is up and running, hand dyeing embroidery floss. I ran out of cards to wrap thread on, and so, began making my own. I am crazy. It takes as long to make your own floss cards than it does to dye the thread (not really). And I do love seeing all the colors lined up in their boxes. I lament they are plastic, but can’t live without the orderliness. So I am ordering these.

I can tell you, I am learning a thing or two, dyeing all this thread. It is an interesting process. 

I have been gifted with an entire set of Havel Scissors. I like them a lot. They are a nice compliment to my sewing shears, but don’t replace them. The blades have a serrated teeth that has the effect of being grippy. I like these scissors for their accessibility, they are in high use right now.  Because I have an array to choose from, each having  specific use, I can confirm, I like the embroidery scissor, it is a bit too big for my Sew-plies purses, but it is lightweight and has a nice grip.

I don’t have an affiliation with Havel scissors, I am just giving my own opinion.

This is a set of pockets that I started working on last night. They will have graffiti stitching. 

We walked into Dumbo, taking photos and talking. The morning was magical and we began our walk just before the hustle and bustle of ‘family wake up time’. We had our cappuccino, we walked, paused, took pictures, it was great.

 I don’t know what this building is called. I will find out.

Neutralized Color

 

I am preparing for another Clever Guild class and these are some of the samples that I have been working on. I may be changing the name of that class, I am bot sure. I think the focus has shifted from being a boro inspired class to a embroidery and mixed media style class.  As I continue to create samples, I will work that part out.

When I dyed the threads shown in this post, I began thinking about dyeing a neutralized 4 step color wheel gradation of thread and I needed to work out the recipe to do so anyway. This seemed like an opportunity to expand my thread collection. And you know what? I still have not gotten the recipe down! So I will be dyeing even more thread in the next couple of days! My collection of thread is growing by 48 colors each time I dye. I see nothing wrong with this! What you see here is DMC 6 Strand Cotton, which is a favorite of mine. If you know where I can purchase bulk multi-strand silk, embroidery floss, PLEASE comment on this post.

I am a bit tired today and wanted to release a post about the podcast I recorded with Ricë, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I will be conserving my energy for the rest of the day.

 

 

Her name here:

 

I fell in love and I wasn’t even thinking about it. That is the way with love, don’t you think? It’s a backdoor experience.

I really must thank Libby for sending me all of those pockets. I love the small pre-constructed squares. Libby has some master rippers over there. These pockets have snips of thread left in the needle holes. Pockets as canvas. For painting, stenciling, stamping, embroidering? I am on a creative tangent and I am using pockets to explore artistic themes. Pockets are a quick and dirty size.

Quick and Dirty Breast Pockets <———————Um? I like those 5 words together.

The above pocket was stenciled and embroidered. This pocket needs a name, anyone know a uniboober who needs representation? Leave a comment, first names only, all names considered! I will be making pockets for the foreseeable future.

Steeped in Breast Pockets

As you know, I am asking for help to make 1000 breast  pockets in memory of or to honor your friends and loved ones who have decided against reconstructing their bodies after breast cancer. I posted this ‘Call For’ on Facebook, because it seems we all hang out there! Libby, from Mija Fiber Art quickly emailed me saying she had been saving breast pockets, taken from the clothing she uses to make her art for the last 10 years, she went on to offer me two boxes of breast pockets.

I could not refuse. 

The two boxes are so jam packed, the pockets ‘stick’ together. They are also somewhat loosely arranged by color!  I have not counted them. I love them though. I love that cloth has memory. The seam allowances remain turned back, there are snippets of thread left where the pockets were ripped from their original home. They become ‘documents’ (information or evidence that serves as an official record). And they each have personality, funky, wild, subdued, loud, quiet prints. 

My goodness. Largess comes in interesting, fun and exciting ways.

This is a pocket taken from Mija’s Largess. I am using hand dyed pearl cotton to highlight the printed leaves. This pocket is not yet complete, but it is calling my name as I type. 

If you are making pockets, please post them to facebook, or your blog, and let me know! I am keeping a pinterest board with all the pockets that we make and post about. Thank you for helping me get the word out.

Now I am off to go make some tea!

For Jennie

Saturday, oh saturday.

I bought this: Six Strand Embroidery Cotton, 500gm, White and I have no regret. I am falling in love with embroidery, and I mean head over heels in love.  And Procion MX dye has some part in the picture. 

I have been having a post cancer dialog with myself as to whether I would continue to use Procion MX dye.

Pros and cons:

It is a synthetic chemical.

It isn’t conducive to apartment living/studio space. 

I still drum up projects using Procion MX dye  for at least a portion of the project. 

I own a full set of colors and all of the equipment to go with it.

So what I have decided is, I am going to use the dyes I own and I am going to use it sporadically, as I see fit.  Embroidery is my current obsession and I want a full array of color gradations in every color of thread, so I prepare to dye them. I am on a mission to use the cloth I have been making for the last 10 years. Some dye use here and there, if tidy, succinct, and abbreviated is OK.

Discussion closed. 

 David and I walked through Red Hook this morning. There was a tag sale. I bought this set of stamps for 5$, no wait, 15$, oh, I mean 10$. It was a confusing negotiation. The cigar box had a 5$ sticker on it. I told the guy I wanted it, he said, “15$, please. You get the idea. We settled on 10$. I wanted the set. It also has a full set of numbers. The box they are nestled in, not the cigar box is the original.

Great find.

We also found a brand new wash board. I have been wanting one, we hand wash a lot here at Casa Testa. This washing board is metal, has two textures, one flat, one grated. It really is Dubl Handi.

Breast Pocket production is in ull swing around the world. I have spoken to folks in Hong Kong, Australia, Finland and all over the U.S. Someone read about the project over at Craft Gossip, which I have never heard of but I like very much. Great name, too.

Here you see the western pocket. I will Kantha Stitch this piece, dense straight rows in the negative space around the ribbon. Can you see it in this picture? For no particular reason, I am stitching this pocket for my paternal Grandmother. Maybe it is because she used to enjoy watching Westerns on Sunday afternoon television.

I love the Kantha Cloth that uses stitch along with pictorial story telling. I will be researching more about Kantha.

Thread Dyeing and other Fun. Also a Call For:

Yesterday, I was making coffee and who ran past the window? A black Squirrel. I immediately grabbed some granola and put it on the sill. Grey Squirrel quickly ran over and started eating.

It is funny! At our subway stop there is a transgender person and a shoe shine man who both ‘beg’ change, the shoe shine man is new to the stop, he has priced his shine at 1$ hoping his customers will give more. I gave some change to the transgendered woman and she asked me to give the shoulder to the shoe shine man as I walked by!

Grey Squirrel didn’t ask, he just shouldered right in!

I am dyeing a color wheel gradation of embroidery thread in four steps for each color of the color wheel, 48 hanks of thread in total. I am doing this in preparation for the upcoming Boro Bag/Hip Bag class at The Clever Guild.

And Look! what just fell into my cart over at Amazon. I have been doing lots of embroidery over here and I find that I like 6 strand floss the best! I love the look of a single strand of floss, I like the ability to use all 6 strands, three strands, two, I am forming preferences related to embroidery threads.

These ‘100 calorie’ zip tight bags, all in a row, happy sigh. I am so glad you can’t eat the content of these bags! That would be a lot of calories.

I don’t think I got the recipe for the gradation down pat. I will be washing these samples today or tomorrow and I will need to tweek it a bit.

The 4 red thread samples you see here, told me the middle two gradations were ‘too close’. But they are so pretty all the same.

Who doesn’t like a gathering of good stuff to get the juices flowing.


 

I now have a fascination with breast pockets. I have been making breast pockets, not the blouses to go with them, just the pockets. I am changing my wardrobe to printed, button down blouses and pockets are key! Really, I like the name breast pocket, I no longer have breasts, but I can wear breast pockets!

When breast cancer survivors wear breast forms or prothesis, they need pockets sewn into their bras, camisoles and bathing suits to hold the forms in place. And flaps? Some reconstruction techniques use the word flap in the description of the procedure. I am not interested in any of that, but I like thinking about parallel ideas. In talking about clothing, when breast pockets have buttons, I think of them as nipples. When they have snaps, those too are nipples, with the added benefit of the actual shape (the male portion of the snap is nipple shaped). And with breast pockets on shirts, you can be prepared to stuff them full and change out the size of your ‘breasts’ in minutes flat (pun intended)! It is always good to have some useful pockets! In fact, I was putting embroidery floss in my breast pockets while laughing my head off in this in this post.

Do you know anyone who has had a mastectomy without reconstruction, unilateral or bilateral? Say you or aunt (mother, sister, friend, wife, coworker) was diagnosed with breast cancer and didn’t have reconstruction? In her name or memory, make either a single or a set of pockets and flaps appropriate to her choice, unilateral breast pocket or bilateral pockets and send them to me. I would like a huge pile of of pockets, in effect creating actual ‘awareness’, with a physical object that represents a real person.

And in preparation of the ‘pink month’, I figured I would ask for some help in creating awareness that does not exploit, or misrepresent me as a survivor and to go further, to shed light on us half/flatties! Some of the half flatties call themselves uniboobers! Funny, right? So, I invite you to make pockets and help raise awareness and pride in a choice I hope none of you ever face.

You can make them out of cloth, paper, I don’t care how or what you make them with, just make them. If you are interested in helping me out, please comment on this post. I will let you know where to send your pockets.

Here is a pattern for  a BreastPocket, if you feel you need one.

Edited to add:

Here are a few examples of the pockets I have been making, showing some pockets with flaps and just flaps:

Thread as traveler.

David and I just got back from shanty town, oh uh, I mean, Seattle. What a great city. It feels like a town, which is nice.

It is such a working town, quiet, humming right along, I loved walking the streets. We passed through neighborhoods, quaint with corner shops, over highways, alongside real traffic, through alley ways, the whole deal. We kicked back, ate, drank, walked, boy did we walk. Maybe 6 to 10 miles a day. We had a clean fresh room, we found a coffee-shop to land in, I stitched, he read. We ate doughnuts! The raised cinnamon sugar doughnut? I am glad those doughnuts are on the other side of the continent! Can’t walk there from here! We went two days in a row and each ate 2 doughnuts a day!

 

A total of 4 doughnuts! OMG

 

We don’t eat doughnuts in-real-life.

 

Anyway.

The production of Sew-plies Purses is unceasing. The above Poppy Sew-plies Purse feels very Inspired to Quilt in look and feel. Working with organza just feels comfortable to me. And to watch the sheen of the thread against the organza? Very i2q.

I painted these poppies, perhaps a year or more ago. It was just a sample, playing around with dye and trying to paint and achieve color variations, I liked it, so I batched, washed and put it aside. Layering it over this scrap of Japanes kimono fabric is really opening up the visual conversation. Being able to see through the organza, to see some but not all of the silk undeneath? And to sew them all together? That is the magic of working in layers like this. 

The difference is the use of commercial prints and hand embroidery. What fun a single stitch is. I love hearing the needle rip the cloth, the thread pulling through. Joy. Relaxation. Did I mention the tea shop we found? I am looking to find a yummy green or white tea. I am sorry, I keep derailing my own post. We have been having such fun!! Tonight we will walk Manhattan.

The Sew-plies Purse is playing a huge role in my makings! I am literally sewing on the subways, at the coffeeshop, wherever possible. My goal is to draw, transform, change, create texture, communicate through needle and thread.  To sew imagery from experience as quickly as possible, given the medium. It slows me down just enough! 

Fun, fun, fun!

100% Human

I am enamored of labels. I remove them from my clothing, collect them in baggies, I love them. I daydream of a collection of labels organized by color. The last time I visited my folks, I nabbed a coffee bag label printed on twill tape, I am telling you! Precious Item alert. Yup.

I am making this ‘garment’ for myself. So I decided to stitch my own label, so far I have embroidered,

‘Made in New Haven, Ct

100% Human.

What should the small print should read?

Do I need some care instructions? I like the idea. 

David and I are still enjoying a vacation with each other, so I will be scarce for a few more days.

That’s that.

Socks, toes, skirt? That is all I have to say about that.

I have been wanting a RED sew-plies  purse and this is it. There is a bit of kimono fabric under and Inspired to Quilt style poppy on organza. I found the dragon while walking here in Carroll Gardens, last November and it has been a magnet on the fridge ever since. Now the dragons outline will be embroidered here.  I may use some hand dyed red velvet for the straps and flap, I don’t know but this bag will be very rich indeed.

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?

The Twilight Zone

We were out and about today and we spotted this tool chest. As you might imagine, any use of the word chest is satisfactory to me, right now. Breast Pockets, Tool Chest, You get the idea. And it is so very red.

This is our newest throw. Made of silk saris sew together by women in India. I am sewing two together as a throw for David and I and a few friends. 

This is Tim’s throw.

This cloth is dreamy. I am in love with the feel. I want a pile of ten. They are just like Jelly Rolls. Just like potato chips, you can’t have just one.

I had potato chips this week! I forgot how much I love them. I had also had a great chinotto soda, Boy! is that soda a treat cold! I love good soda. 

This Sew-plies purse is coming around. The color in this photo is quite yellow. The picture below is a better representation of the actual color. But this one shows my first attempts at needle turn appliqué. I am not great at it but it interests me.

I am now designing the flap and backpack style straps. 

 

This week I have had computer troubles, all flukey type problems. My server keeps blocking my ip address because there is a device here on premises that is attempting to contact it in quick succession. So then I can’t access my web site or The Clever Guild, I call, they, ‘white list’ the problem and it clears for a few days.

I feel like if I touch an electronic device, it is going to act up, get buggy, break, stall, something! Earlier in the week I deleted my entire email account, no idea how I achieved that one. Then I couldn’t upload video content. It has been electronics intensive week!

Geez.

So I have been trying to steer clear of the computer and limit my exposure while still getting what I need to acccomplished.

Organization Bomb

Showing you my studio space is helping to to understand what needs organization and how I would like to achieve it. Embroidery and stitch have become really important to me. I had skeins of thread tucked in several different places, hand dyed skeins were in 3 ring binders, I had a box of floss organized by color tucked into another storage bin, and stuffed all around that, more skeins.

So I bought 4 organizer boxes and a couple extra bobbins and got to work. 

Or, erm, um. I put everyone to work! My mother got in the act, David even lent a hand, all together, we used 125 bobbins. Now, all of the thread is organized and grouped by color. I integrated each type of floss, cotton, silk and rayon, variegated and solid. I am preparing to dye gradations of colors and now I can see what colors I need. I filled 3 of the 4 boxes I bought for the purpose.

Phew. When I first opened the shipment and looked at my purchase of plastic, I was disappointed that I bought plastic in the first place. I was almost in a panic about it! I convinced myself that I wouldn’t like the look of the thread in the boxes, that there was probably another way to organize that I hadn’t thought of that would be better. But then the threads started looking like candies, grouped together with their fellows and I knew that my neat and orderly side had been appeased.

I honestly feel that keeping tidy helps me be a more prolific artist. Beside which, living in a tiny apartment really forces me to be neat and organized. I like knowing where every last thing is. I like being able to reach for a box of red embroidery thread, beads organized by color and size (at one point Deb Lacativa called this a bead prison! LOL. While I appreciate the sentiment, I do like bead prisons), I like being able to remove a drawer and bring it to my workbench and return it again. 

I often hear comments that folks have messy studio space. What is your space like? Does it work for you? Inspire you? Does it make your work easier?

Fragments old, made new.

The poppy sew-plies purse got nixed. I like that piece too much to cut it down to size and at the same time, I don’t want to have one off sized purse in the lot. So I searched my stash and am making a new ‘graffiti style’, embroidered ‘Gather your Sew-plies’ purse. Perhaps I could even call it graffiti boro, to go with the rockstar boro wrap! I am pairing each of these bags with a garment that I am embroidering and embellishing. Basically, no clothing in my wardrobe is safe! 

So I took a very old ragged and dilapidated cross stitch piece and sewed it in place on some sturdy linen. The canvas sew-plies purse in the background of this photo is the notorious Belly Button Sew-plies purse, mentioned in this post. But here you can see why Leslie named it the Belly Button! It’s an outtie. 

Alright, so here is the thing…I have fallen in love with making these purses. I sort of want 30 of them in various styles, colors, patterns and styles. That Belly Button? It is a magnet, a fabric covered magnet. Magnets have become, The Bomb. Do you remember finding cloth covered snaps in clothing? You hardly see that anymore. I have mastered the art of covering magnets, it is easy really, I just like to inflate my ego and give myself props.

So this morning, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, I logged onto Amazon to search out strong disk magnets and I found them, in two sizes. They have already shipped… I await them with baited breath.

Today is the last day you can sign up for my online class give away! So go to it!

Oooh. New.

Working with Victoria a few weeks back really gave me some incite into play, release, and welcoming the new and different back into my work with cloth. Victoria probably didn’t need to do anything at all. But she sat me in front of her machine, using her tools, and asked me to just do. She asked me to embrace what would happen.  I came home from the play date and asked myself how I might apply these thoughts to my work and materials.

This approach feels very freeing. I feel like I am on to something. This is exciting because since I wrote Inspired to Quilt, I have gone vague. I don’t feel inspired. Not in the manner the book presents itself. And since I started surface designing cloth, I have made quite a bit of it. Yesterday, as I was sewing the mono printed silk gauze (the flower on the right above), I was thinking, ‘This is just what I need! I need to start going through my bins and using all of my own cloth!’  This idea feels right. Big sigh.

This small piece will be yet another Sew-plies purse. I wonder how many I make when I am finished making them.

Today I am off to teach at The City Quilter. The name of the class? Small Works, Big Impact.

Small Work: Swan

I have been having some fun and experimenting. I am not ‘finishing’ the piece when I paint with dye. I am bringing the piece to an interesting place and allowing for the call and response of possibility.

I originally thought this might be a Sew-plies purse in the Inspired to Quilt style, but it says, ‘No’. Small work it is.

Soft Light

I am back from teaching at The Great American Scrapbook Convention and oh my goodness gracious. Those scrapbookers? They know how to play right into my obsession for neat, orderly and functioning workspaces. Scrapbookers seem to really like efficiency. And they have some toys, inks and supplies. They use punches, gadgets, embossers, and the inks!  I felt overwhelmed. I am going to have to see how all I saw and experienced in the vendors center integrates. I wonder how I would use their tools! I am not one to step in feet first. I like to research and walk around back and kick the tire. I need to understand before I can proceed, so I will be looking into one of the things I saw.

with a lightbox.

I am preparing a post for CreateMixedMedia. I have to say, I really like what they are doing at that site. I think it offers real content and is colorful and open minded in exploring its themes. I am an author of theirs, just for your reference. But they have not asked me, nor are they paying me to say so. I am just putting my two cents in.

AnYway. I am preparing a post for them and it involves a Rumi quote and a certain collar

in situ.

In the meantime, I show you one of the latest purses.  Leslie Tucker Jennison named it The Bellybutton.  Will discuss soon. I have been bitten by the fever to create many of these purses. I want them as accessories. Maybe I need one for my iPod. Hm.

Sew-plies Polka

I am off to teach at the GASC in Arlington Texas. I have my hand sewing and embroidery work all packed and ready to go. I, of course, am bringing all 3 Sew-plies purses. I am attached to them right now, I love them-they have become tiny backpacks with specific intention-to help me sew. I love the idea of them. I will have a 4 hour flight and I am have my Fuxion erasable pen. 

I will have internet access. I will not be doing Flash Card Friday, that will resume next week.

V2

Today my man and I celebrate his Birthday by going to a Mets game. I, of course, need a project. I have decided to reinterpret the Gather your Sew-plies purse. I am now perfecting and expanding this pattern!

I would love it if you would make one and show me how you put it together.

I pulled this linen and silk out of a bin and they looked so interesting together. It isn’t what I would have thought to be drawn to. I am daydreaming a new neckstrap. I am having fun building.

Please don’t feed the hipsters.

Once a week my Man and I walk up to our favorite coffee joint and help open it. And now, as the weather improves, I have begun to walk afterward. I love walking. I walk fast enough that you might call it running, I can’t slow it down.

Brooklyn, NYC

But when I bring my camera, that will make me stop long enough to enjoy cobblestoned streets.

Brrooklyn, NYC

Oh! Pigeons meet wet cement.

Brooklyn, NYC

And, please don’t feed the hipsters. That stencil looks like Woody Allen, right? He is the ultimate hipster. And that red down there? Roses? I am inspired by this.

Brooklyn, NYC

This church door reminds me of the embroidery I am doing on the Female Mag blouse

Brooklyn, NYC

And finally, the reason for walking down into Red Hook, this Duke Riley poster. Maybe a year and some ago, I went gallery hopping with the Journal Study Gals. Pat pulled a strip of paper off a telephone pole, tore it in half, handed me a section. I went home to glue it in my journal and made a page featuring it (see the last image in this post).

But I had no way of connecting the scrap of paper to the original artist. And you know I have a thing for posters and poster art, you can’t restore vintage posters for 6+ years without acquiring an affection for paper, posters, and wheat paste.

Brooklyn, NYC

So this morning I went back into Red Hook, photographed the poster in-situ and then took it off the wall. 😈 I brought the poster home, in pieces, and washed it in the tub, it is drying now. I don’t know what I am going to do with it, but I like this man’s work and I think I might need to meet him. I bet he lives in Red Hook. He is a tattoo artist, he makes me want a tattoo.

Different poster, collaged and completed in my 8" journal, melanietesta.com

I saw a real rat today, running from a dumpster into a building that is being renovated. I love seeing rats in the city. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Beside which, they clean up after us!

_________________________

So, there is a blog hop going on and I am just now catching up with it, you should too.

April 30 – Tracie Lynn Huskamp
Stenciled & Stitched: A Special Occasion Greeting Card

May 1 – Traci Bunkers
Gelatin Printing

Script Lettering/Tattoo style using Sakura Calligrapher Pens

Fun Little Resist

May 4 – Melanie Testa
Thimble Cinch Sack

May 5 – Lyric Kinard
PSE for Thermofax Screen Printing

May 6 – Jill Berry
Pop-Up Heart Map


 

Progress is perfection

You know that saying, ‘progress not perfection?’ Let’s change that. I use that saying a lot and don’t really like it.

I am working on ‘journaling’ my clothing. If you aren’t caught up with this idea you can read about it here and here. To start I have been completing my Sew-plies Purse. I will discuss in detail and I am creating a pattern to upload for a post later this week. Suffice it to say, these are the changes I have made to my purse thus far:

1. I am testing out a snap closure, though I am not sold on it and want to try a magnet as well.

2. I made a sciccor pocket

3. I made a Thimble Cinch Sac. 

The Thimble Cinch Sac is attached to the Sew-plies bag by use of the tassel. The little black tassel reminds me of a scribble and I like this as a concept. I may bead it up a bit more, that was my intention but right now, I like the scribble.

Part of what intrigues me about this project is the idea of mutability or the ‘changing nature’ of objects, purses, blouses, fashion. I like the idea that a blouse is not complete when sewn or chosen from the rack. What happens if we improve upon our clotting, make it fit with comfort and style in mind, embellish it and make it prettier?

I made the changes to the purse because someone has a musical ‘playmate’ with a friend and quiet as a (don’t let Arrow hear me say this) church mouse, I am going along. And what church mouse doesn’t need something to do?

Want to know another thing I am really digging right now? Machine sewing and hand sewing side by side.

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.