Stitching, embroidery and telling stories with thread

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

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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!

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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 color.

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The Gather your Sew-plies!! purse is just the right size to stitch, explore and complete. It is 6″ wide and 14″ long and given how it folds to make the purse, that can mean that you can stitch just the front area, making the stitchable area 6×7″ or so.

Of course, I like to stitch the entire purse.

The above blank, which is what I call these before they are heavily stitched, is a combo of my own quilted work and some previously stitched Indian cloth (at least that is what I think). The colors are rich and compatible. I seek to amp up the textural element, meaning my stitchwork, to integrate the Indian cloth with my own quilted fabric and soften the difference between the two. I may need some new thread colors…

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You may remember that Carol Soderlund and I collaborated on an article called Thread Dyeing 101 for Quilting Arts magazine last year. In the article we took two approaches to dyeing thread, we offered a color wheel, solid dye approach and a more fluid and playful manner of dyeing threads too.

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And while I think this thread is a bit bright for my current piece, I do like having all my threads ready to be used and accessible. Getting these floss off the StitchBow makes me want to wind some new hanks and dye some more thread in appropriate colors! I would love to have some browns, beiges, tans and soft, earthy colors in my thread stash!

Gathering my wits.

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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.   😛 

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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.

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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.


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 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.

Gather your Sew-plies!! Part 3 and beyond!

The Gather your Sew-plies series continues with this video start, part 3. Above.

Intro, Click Here. Youtube VIDEO Content.

Part 1, Click Here. Youtube VIDEO Content.

Part 2, Click Here. Youtube VIDEO Content.

Pattern found in Quilting Arts Holiday 2014

Above links embedded in similar order:

and also: 

and then, Part 1:

Part 2

Phew. Are you still with me?

I have added more video content to the Gather your Sew-plies!! purse series! In the next few weeks, I am going to be updating my blog with post about stitch, acquiring inspiration for stitch, thread and needles. I will talk about building and sewing Thimble Pockets, Scissor Pockets and Straps.

I hope you will follow along.

I have hit a snag in teaching through The Clever Guild, please stay tuned on that account. It is coming together. Just slower than I would like.

So, will you follow along? I would love it if you did. Stay tuned here, at my blog!


For Christmas, I was given a set of Personal Training sessions.  😀 Haha!!

I chose a young woman, a really neat person, to organize my training for the next few weeks.  My overarching goal is 10 Pull Ups and 10 Push Ups.  An underlying goal is to efficiently and proficiently perform the Get Glutes program that I am now a member of. Since joining the gym, I have moved right into the hugely supportive community, forums and group run by Get Glutes; Kellie Hart-Davis and clan.

I love the Get Glutes members. Love checking in and getting inspired by my fella friends in glutes! I love lifting heavy and learning to use my body. 

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And, my goodness, every push-up and pull-up is so hard won!! Winning accomplishments in the use of my body is very exciting to me. I admire those who pump out a bunch of push-ups! I am getting there. (I jumped rope for 140 consecutive jumps!!) And cable rowed 32.5 pounds this week!! I am becoming a gym bunny! 🙂 

Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.

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Journal Embroidery class photo.

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Loving Goodness

 

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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!

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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.

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Journaling with Fabric and Embroidery at Craft NAPA

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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. 

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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. 

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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!

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

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

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

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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/

Craft NAPA 2016, soy wax, embroidery, small works!

We are blog hopping, and I certainly hope that you might jump over to every name on our hopping list and comment (list is at the bottom of this post). There are great prizes in store if you do, but you must comment! And! I am hoping you might consider registering at Craft NAPA and take one of my classes, or a class from another fantastic teacher in our ranks.

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You Can’t Resist This! is a class that uses soy wax as a resist along with paint on cloth for an easily accessible way to build layers of color, texture and line. Soy wax is a champion in the resist department. It is super easy to use, easy to clean up, and it creates gorgeous cloth with depth, beauty and vibrancy. 

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In fact, I find soy wax resist, and building layers of color and texture to be addictive, like eating potato chips. And it is a good thing, because I have begun making quilts out of my fabrics, you can see one here. Being able to both make pleasing cloth and use it, is instrumental to making more cloth!!

Small Works

Small Works, Big Impact is a one of my most favorite classes to teach. Working small has had a huge impact  😉 on me as an artist. Working small can help you create larger works, if that is your goal, but they are also easy to complete, they sell well, as most folk have a small wall available to hang a well chosen small work, and I think it is also a great way to learn new techniques. Working small also lends itself well to working in series.

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The techniques we will use in this class include using tulle and sheer cloth overlay, fusible webbing and collage, in addition to finishing techniques. And remember, small works do not limit the possible subject matter to explore! Check out my gallery and Breastless Beauties pages to see more small works.

I have been creating and updating a pattern for what I am calling the 'Gather your Sew-plies!!' sewing chateliane (which is free on my blog). In this purse in particular I used the 15 Minutes Play idea, my idea was to use new materials (wool batting, fabrics new to me, and embroidery stitching). It worked, this is not a purse or flow of fabrics that I would have used had I not played with this idea. melanietesta.com/tag/gather-your-sew-plies/

The Gather Your Sew-plies!! purse is a great sew-on-the-go item for the studio as well as the coffee shop. The purse has a back pack styling that remains close to your body, while carrying the essentials, needles, thread, thimble, pins, scissors and embroidery floss. The purse pattern will be supplied, and we will focus on using embroidery as a means to Journal with Fabric and Embroidery

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The purse I show here uses stitch to enliven a fantastic commercial fabric. If you would like to see more purses, click here and scroll downward.

I would love to teach and work from you. I very much look forward to meeting up, enjoying Napa, making new friends and enjoying old friends too. I do hope you will register!


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

BERNINA Made to Create Right

 

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PLEASE comment on this post if you want to win great prizes. All comments go into one big grand prize drawing that will happen after Pokey’s blog post.

Comments close on Dec 10th. 

The grand prize is a $500 Gift Certificate from eQuilter.com! 

I will award one commenter on this blog with a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page. So, please, comment. Also!! Check out all the blogs listed below and comment freely.


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/

TV taping and Gathering your Sew-plies!!

 

Check out the blog post related to this video: http://melanietesta.com/2015/10/tv-taping-and-gathering-your-sew-plies/

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

This week, I found myself in the unique position of needing to Gather my Sew-plies!! on the quick! I was asked to tape a video segment for a major media outlet. The original idea was that they would come to my home and film me while I was printing the Breastless Beauties. But at the last minute, they had a change of plans. (I was excited that they would come film me printing!!! Their loss. Haha!!)

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So, 15 minutes before needing to leave to get to the meet up spot, I grabbed a Gather your Sew-plies purse, some thread and all of the printed Beauties I had made so far. Wow!! Talk about thinking quick on your feet! Talk about needing your supplies at a moments notice!!!

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It is strange, I can’t really talk about this project yet, but I can share vaguely.

So…

To be honest? I feel blessed to be able to have done this video shoot!! It seems I have made waves this year. My perspective and the narrative I am speaking to; body positivity in the face of breast cancer diagnosis and its treatment, or even more broadly, loving your body no matter if you had a cancer diagnosis, is being considered, discussion is occurring.

What more could an artist wish for in her lifetime?

Wear them close.

So, what do I carry in a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse? Embroidery/thread snips, thimble, thread, a hank of hand dyed embroidery flosses, needles and a few pins. That is all. The purse has a backpack styling, fits snuggly against the body. Does not swing or make its presence known, as you work about in the studio or wherever you may be. I have been known to wear them on the subway, it is a great sewing in transit purse! 

I will be teaching at Craft Napa January 7-9 2016 There is a stitch class where we will begin making a Gather your Sew-plies purse. I hope you will join me! I would love to work with you. Throw knowledge nuggets, share laughter and have fun with you. I need a teaching retreat and I am ready to teach again! Please join us.

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I will be teaching You can’t resist this, a soy wax class.

Small Works, Big Impact

and the Stitch Journaling class where we will make a Gather your Sew-plies!! purse. PLEASE Join US!

Melly

More updates to come!

 

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.  

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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.

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.

Gather Your Sew-plies Sew Along Part 2

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Hi! I am finally back at it. I edited this video early last week and have been wanting to write up a post about it ever since. I am editing The Next Book, creating projects that are on the super top secret side, and moving into our apartment. It has been great, and also somewhat crazy, in a roller coaster-ish sort of way. It feels good though. Everything is settling into place and the emotional undercurrents are settling into manageable proportion. Phew.

The next installment of the Gather your Sew-plies!! Sew Along video series will be the most exciting, in my opinion. That is where I will talk about finishing the purse, making spaghetti straps, using the release clasp notion, making a thimble pocket, covering earth magnets with fabric. I love finishing these little purses, it is the best part.

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This is a Gather your Sew-plies purse that I have been embroidering and hand stitching, on-the-go. I find the small format of the Gather you Sew-plies!! purse to be quite a good surface to hand stitch. It isn’t so large that it becomes difficult to complete. I can stuff it into my back pack, (along with a fully kitted out Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, I will talk about what I pack into a purse next week as well) and easily sew wherever I am. That is  my personal goal in making these purses. I want to sew back and forth on the subway, at coffee shops, wherever. So my projects need to be quickly packable. I love working this way.

Last fall I was sewing on the subway on a return trip from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was one of two people on the subway. A young Hispanic man and myself. He had to see what I was doing. When he caught my eye, he indicated he thought the stitchwork was neat. I told him I like to stitch graffiti. He gave me a thumbs up. It was a very interesting exchange. I love public acts of stitch education. Fiber art education.

Plus, wearing these purses reminds me of Athena, Goddess of the Hunt.

I hope you too might also sew on the go. Do your own form of fiber art, quilt art, fabric art awareness. I want young’uns to come into the creative fold. Sewing on the go is a good way to get the message out.


 

KingFisherMTesta

King Fisher Child

12×12″ Pineboard

2013

I painted this series last year. This photograph does the painting no justice. My iPhone camera is broken, sorry. I will replace it soon. Anyway, apologies aside, This painting is a favorite. There is magic in the drawing and layering, acrylic paint is fun. It pleases me. 


 

I am planning a quilt top challenge using Meadowlak. Please stay tuned and know it is on the radar for a future post. Here is some eye candy in the meantime.

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Gathering, an introspection.

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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!!!

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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.

My hopes versus my ability.

OK. I am committed to blogging more often than I have in the recent past. I have so many projects I am progressing forward. I love every moment. This is very exciting. But, honestly, I don’t have the ability to work as quickly as I used to. I have a video in process related to the Gather your Sew-plies sew-along but I am unable to complete it. I can’t complain, because I am going to be dress shopping in Paris soon. 

GyS!!Basted

What I plan to do is ‘sew as I go’, with my Gather your Sew-plies purses in Paris. I will be working a series I am now calling, 1 in 8. I am going to Wordless Post, if you understand my meaning. Photos only. No words. But sewing, every step of the way. Embroidering.

Please join me.

This will be fun.

And in the meantime, keep coming back. I will speak with you through the comment function here on the blog. Check back. I am ready to be more present in our artistic community.

Hi!! It has taken a while!

You should see!

Blogging? I forgot how to use the software!! LOL.

So. It is a welcomed but creaky start.

Talk about chemobrain!!

In the meantime, watch this video featuring Gail Chovan:

 

Let the Sew-along begin.

photo 2

Above you see a quilt sandwich, a scissor pocket and two tabs which will hold the strap in place. We will be making a quilt sandwich that is big enough to cut all of these pieces, in addition to a thimble pocket.

The pattern in Quilting Arts Holiday magazine states to cut your quilt sandwich to 6″ wide. I have made many of these purses, some that start with a quilted sandwich, some that don’t. I find that the batting in the quilted Gather your Sewplies!! purses takes up a bit of ‘room’. You may want to use flannel rather than batting for this reason-or choose to forgo batting altogether.

If you choose to use batting, I would suggest adding a half inch to the width of the pattern.

This week, your task is to piece, batt, back, baste and machine quilt a quiltlet utilizing the information I have presented in this post. 

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Here you see the start of my mini quilt. I have not added batting yet. The striped rose pattern peeking out will be the backing of this mini quilt. I have placed a rose print at what will become the center front of the purse and have used a pink floral print at the bottom of the quiltlet, this will become the flap that will securely close the purse. 

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SEW! 

I made the executive decision to forego batting in this version of the purse. What you see here is the purse body, where I brought some of the 1940’s vintage stripe to the front of the quilt sandwich. This sandwich consists of the backing, the top and several rows of machine stitching using free rayon embroidery thread. To the right are two tabs to hold the strapping, which is also pictured. The additional piece of vine fabric will be used for a zipper pocket.

This week your task is to make a quilt sandwich, a top, batting and a back, or follow my lead an create some made cloth. Next week, we will make the spaghetti straps, place the tabs, fold the pattern properly and sew it closed. Stay tuned.


 

A reminder: Here is a link to the magazine, if you don’t have a copy already. I will reference the magazine article throughout this sew-along, though I cannot post the pattern or send you a copy. You must purchase the magazine in order to sew-along with us.

Here are links to previous blog posts related to the sew-along:

The announcement

The tools you may need

Please excuse my camera and color issues. I have been away from blogging for so long that I need to catch up with myself and the technology. 

Gather your Sew-plies!! sew-along.

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I am so happy that there has been interest shown in having a Gather your Sew-plies!! sew-along. I love making and using these little purses. I find them to be incredibly useful. 

To tell you the back story, if you own a copy of Inspired to Quilt  you will find a pattern for a sewing holster. For years, I used a sewing holster, which is a finished strip of quilted fabric with pockets that could be draped around the neck. The sewing holster worked, but presented problems. If the objects stored in the pockets were not balanced, the holster would pull heavily to one side. When getting up and down, I would need to hold the holster in place. You get the idea. A few years back, I decided to work on the pattern and see if I could correct the imbalances. 

The Gather your Sew-plies purse was born. At first, this purse had several pieces, the main pouch, a scissor pocket, a thimble pocket, a flap closure, a strap tab and strap. When I started thinking about making a pattern for Quilting Arts Gifts, I decided to simplify the purse as much as possible. The Quilting Arts Holiday version of the pattern works almost like the plastic sandwich bags that have a flip top closure. This turns out to be quite sturdy manner to close the bag, leaving no open areas where your trusty sewing thimble might otherwise escape. I removed the thimble pocket entirely, though during the sew-along, I will go through the steps you need to create one. 

One of the things I like about the old pattern with the flap closure was the fact that I began covering earth magnets with cloth in order to securely close the flap closure. That is a dandy method of closure and I will talk about that during the sew-along as well.

I have come to think of my varied collection of Gather your Sew-plies purses as an art collection! I hope one day to have 30 of these bags, because it is nice to make one, but when you make 30, it definitely becomes Art. Or at least a showing of obsessive compulsive glee. I don’t know which. 

So, let’s get started. First, you will need a copy of the magazine, please use this link if you intend to purchase a copy. Using that link will help Quilting Arts track how many copies are sold through my web site. I do not make money from this. As the pattern is copyrighted, I cannot post or email a copy of the pattern to you. I can expand upon what has been published in the magazine, which is what I intend to do during the sew-along. 

Beside the magazine itself, you may need a 3/8th inch 3/8″ release clasp buckle, I have come to love these buckles, they pleasingly clip and pop open. I bought many of them, because I apparently need at least 30 of these purses. But. I must say, finding a notion or solution to finishing your purse without this buckle will be a worthy adventure. I am sure we can find some interesting ways to enable you not to purchase the release clasps, if you do not want to purchase them.

Another notion you will need is a Loop Turner . That link shows the loop turner that I use. I am not ‘married’ to this loop turner and if you know of another turner that might work better than this one, I would like to know about it. The thing that holds me back from unequivocal love is the fact that we will need upwards of 70″ of spaghetti strapping to make the straps for this purse. 70″ of bias tubing does not fit on this loop turner, so I make my loops in two pieces and join them after turning them. So post a comment if you have a better tool for the task.

Beside the above items, I bet you have all of the necessary fabrics and notions to make the purse. Because some of you may need to purchase a few items, I think we might start this along in a few weeks time. I am working on the posts related to the -along right now. I will let you know just how I plan to present the info quite soon. I am thinking several posts over the course of a week might do it, though weekly posts might be nice too. Your thoughts?

Leave some comments and help me get back into the swing of blogging! Please?

Gather your Sew-plies, Quilting Arts Holiday edition.

I am happy to have published in the Quilting Arts Holiday gifts issue, which showcases my Gather your Sew-plies purse. 

 This sewing purse is the Bee Knees, if you ask me. These purses were designed with movement in mind. The bag itself embraces a reverse pack pack styling, so, it sits at the front of your body, safe and secure, as you move around your sewing studio.

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The pattern in Quilting Arts Holiday has directions for a scissor pocket, though you need not stop there! As you can see, I have also included a tiny pocket to hold my thimble.  

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Sometimes the purses themselves become a canvas on which to stitch and embroider.

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And sometimes I include fancy bits of fabric in the lining. I have also been known to clip rounded bits of plastic from milk bottles and juice containers to tuck into the scissor pocket-which protects the fabric from being punctured by my embroidery scissors.

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See? You can even swing while ready to sew. 

All in all, I can’t live without these little functional bits of beauty. So far, I have made about 15 of these purses, each has thread, embroidery floss, some Thread Heaven  (An Amazon link, I LOVE Thread Heaven as a thread ‘conditioner’), and the pattern has evolved over time. Sometimes I make them with flaps as you see in the above photos, sometimes I make them with a fold of fabric that flips over and closes the purse (this is the pattern that Quilting Arts Holiday has published). I also like to thread string through the bias straps, which strengthens them.

I would love to have a Gather your Sew-plies sew along if you are interested!?? Please post a comment below and tell me know if you would like to do this. You will need to purchase the magazine to access the pattern, but I have many additional ideas and notions that will make this quite the fun sew-along. 

Check out these other posts on the blog hop too!

Friday, September 12, Vivika Hansen DeNegre, http://quiltingdaily.com/

Saturday, September 13, Lyric Kinard, http://lyrickinard.com/blog/

Sunday, September 14, Claude Larson, http://randomactsofpiece.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 15, Linda McLaughlin, http://notesfromstudiob.blogspot.com/ 

and Kathy Kerstetter, http://artndl.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 16, Lori Miller, http://lorimillerdesigns.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, September 17, Melanie Testa, http://melanietesta.com/blog/,

and Liz Kettle, http://www.textileevolution.com/index.php/our-journey

Thursday, September 18, Susan Brubaker Knapp, http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 19, Lisa Chin, http://somethingcleveraboutnothing.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 20, Sarah Ann Smith, http://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog

Sunday, September 21, Catherine Redford, http://catherineredford.com/

 

 

Frittering my time, and enjoying every second.

It is that time of year again… Time to Gather your Sew-plies!! It is warming up. Time to sew on the go.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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.

Project bag?

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

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

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

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


 

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

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?

Sewing what I see.

I have been making the Gather your Sew-plies purses obsessively. I am on #8 and I have set a goal of making 30 of them. Really I have made 9, but I gave one away. 🙂 I have also been at home and focused for quite a few weeks, and it is time to stretch my creative muscles and to see what change will bring. So I packed up the latest Sew-plies purse along with some buckram and thread and I walked up to the Promenade to ‘sew (I mean draw) what I see’.

This little drawing took about 3 hours to do. The buckram provided a ‘grid’, which helped in ‘drawing’ straight lines. I brought two types of thread, straight sewing machine thread and #12 Aurifil Mako’ (which has become my favorite hand sewing thread), both in black. I don’t think this drawing is complete and I would love to try using the #12 Aurifil thread in this drawing. The two different sizes of thread will compliment one another nicely, I think.

On the walk home, I began to wonder if I need to paint the sky a light blue… hmmm.

I will be doing this again. I would love to stitch/draw some people, crowds, horizon lines. I need more buckram.

It is magical.

This weekend we went to our friend Clark’s house for a picnic. Clark lives in a home that has been in his family for 110 years. The house was 60 to 70 years old when they bought it. It is an amazing house. There is a creamery, they used to sell milk. A barn, several acres of land, farming machines-rusted and dilapidated, two swings, trees and lots of shade. It was a fabulous weekend. We relaxed, we ate, we chatted. I sewed.

This sew-plies purse is coming to a stage of completion, but because it explores ideas of graffiti, it may just be waiting for the next step, I am not certain.

This purse is a big(ger) one. I should have perhaps measured it before I went ahead and sewed it shut. I don’t mind though. I even kind of like it, the one change I think I will make is shifting the snap placement. Do you see when it is closed that the right side of the purse has more cloth than the left?  Part of me likes this, part doesn’t. The part that likes it says, it is almost like the proud city boys who wear their baseball caps off to the side. The part that doesn’t like it? I do get off on symmetry sometimes! 

I have figured out a great way to make the scissor pocket. This week I am going to update and expand the Gather your Sew-plies pattern, I have begun working on it already.

This cane stand sits just inside the front door of Clark’s house. How tidy. What an amazing collection.

Clark has clothing from his great grandmother in his home. I snuck around and peeked into the closets and drawers. I found lace, beaded lace, a sewing kit (!!!), a velvet cape!

Look at that peplum. That had to be part of a bustle, I wish he had the skirt that went with this jacket. The cloth was probably cotton flannel, though it may have been a very light weight wool. I was sneaking around, so I didn’t linger to find out! Clark didn’t mind. But I was still sneaking!

Look at those beautiful buttonholes.

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.

My Studio Summer 2012

I haven’t really shown you my ‘studio’ in a long time, and I think I am well past due in sharing my space with you. Since we moved to our tiny apartment in Brooklyn, we have been redefining and recreating our space on a regular basis. It used to be that the sewing portion of my studio was housed in what might otherwise be considered a walk in closet off the bedroom, but David now has the roost of that room (which is a good thing). If you would like to see my old ‘studio space’, check out this video.

I am very excited about this new work space. There have been piles and piles on this table for months and while I know this is useful in its own right, piles are visually disruptive to me and I need the habit to stop.  At the same time, I know that if I have the ability to paint at a moments notice, I will. So having items related to painting, all neat and organized will help me tremendously.

I can get pretty obsessive about organization, I keep eyeballing the stuff stored way high up and wondering if there is a better way to reconfigure that stuff. Hmmm.

In the meantime, boy am I enjoying stitching!

Move those labels.

 Eucalyptus dyed silk satin over linen, replaced label. Soon to become a strap for a Gather your Sew-plies purse, hippie style. I am moving labels around within my wearable art pieces. Very excited by the idea.

My medias are mixing, it can be quite confusing. My orderly nature rebels, but the stuff I am making? Awe-some. I love when I feel good about the stuff I am making.

It is difficult to remain tidy. Maybe the definition of tidy changes per project. Stencils on top of embroidery floss, works for me.

Brown glass buttons sold along side chocolate, I don’t understand the connection, perhaps the color brown? Both yum.

Kailey, my intern, helping me prepare for Quilting by the Lake next week. Can I tell you how much I admire and like Kailey? She is a sweetheart. Really, I just wanted her here, I hope she got as much out of coming as I did in having her. A few months back she came and we made cloth for her final high school project, this month, Kailey came to help me. I Lurve her.

New haircut! I look spankin’.

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!

Sewing Sew-plies again and again.

This week I did an interview and spoke about living in a tiny apartment and maintaining a studio within it. I was reminded that I don’t need to apologize for liking things neat. Funny how I do that. When I was working at the poster restoration place, I helped organize supplies and keep the shop ship shape. I came to understand that if you know where things are, it is easier to get a job done. Hence my love of peg board. Yesterday I got some new pegs out to hang some scissors that Leslie sent me (thanks woman!). Didn’t I just fall in love with peg board all over again? When I sit at my workbench, I know where everything is! Very nice.

So far I have made 6 Sew-plies purses, the above will be number 7. I strap them on and take my sewing with me wherever I go. With this one I am thinking about the layered nature of graffiti and how I might achieve that in cloth. This one is coming along nicely, it will be bigger than the others (I don’t know how I feel about this), because I can’t trim it, I wasn’t paying attention to the size as I began making it. Ops. Perhaps it will be made to hold my glasses or cell phone.

My friend Lisa came over and we made this purse side by side. She didn’t want hers as a ‘back pack style’ so she made her pouch to hang from the neck. Me? I am in love with the back pack styling (the pattern is almost ready). This one also needs a scissor pouch and thimble holder. I am loving making each and everyone. I am pairing them with clothing that I am stitching, embroidering and loving on. My studio looks like a haberdashery right now. I love that word.

And hey, if you haven’t already signed up for my Dream Journal class giveaway, please do.

Officially Sew-plies Crazy

 

Yup! It’s official. I have jumped off the deep end. I don’t think anyone but me is quite so excited about my Sew-plies purse, but I am. So far I have made 6 of them, and I will be making even more. They have struck my funny bone and I can’t stop. I honestly want one for every outfit I can think up. I am sewing and embroidering one that is my, “Inspired to Quilt” version, right now. I just can’t stop. I was even over on ebay looking at 8mm release clips and considering purchasing 50 black and 50 multicolor because I like purchasing in bulk. I have gone crazy, right?

Marsha made one. Have you?

P.S. I am upgrading and improving the pattern now!

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.

Noodles, eat, shop, play.

Yesterday I went to the Fashion District to poke around in trim shops. This was the first time I brought my video camera and I was shy to whip it out. M and J Trimming was all for it, I asked if they were OK with my filming, yes. No questions. In fact it was almost as if they were saying, ‘No need! It is all on the web anyway!’ 

I love M and J, they have so much stuff packed into that store, it is arranged and managed beautifully. It is where I go to find stuff, then I try to source it elsewhere to get a better price. Yesterday I went for the clip closures I am using on the Sew-plies purse. They also have these snaps that I have my eye on. But I think I can find them at Pacific Trimming at a better price. Pacific trimming had these safety pins that I find adorable and have been using in the Sew-plies purse, so those came home with me too.

Both stores had stuff that I would like to mull over. I like to mull over and process how I might use a thing before I purchase.

I would like to do this again, let me know if you think it is fun.

When I was flying to Arlington Texas last week, I traced off an image on an airplane and embroidered it to the center back of the Female Magazine blouse. The blouse is piling up the embroidered stitches. The fabric is changing to the touch. Very nice. I will post overall photos soon.

Last week I went and played with Victoria Findlay Wolfe (whom I love and sorta have a crush on, she is creative, gentle, awesome, smart and she is coming out with a book!!). She keeps a site called 15 Minutes Play (also the name of her upcoming book). She sat me in front of a machine and got me sewing without specific purpose in a playful way. Oh my goodness! This was so good for my soul. I have been moving away from intense dye use in my work and using cloth in this way-piecing and playing, really helps to loosen a girl up.

So this weekend I put the idea to the test. I gave myself 15 minutes to play (it turned into hours and hours). But. Here were the ideas I applied to the 15 Minutes of Play:

Use new materials, in this case wool batting

Use stitch in an unexpected way

Combine one piece of hand made cloth with mostly commercial prints

This sew-plies purse is so yellow, it glows! As I have said before, I want to make one for everyday of the week. I may need one for each day of the month. I think this is going to become something for me. I want a piece of clothing to embellish, embroider, print and surface design to go with each purse! I am going to take the Gather your Sew-plies purse off the web and update and fix it, so if you want version 1, download it now.

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.

Exponential Sew-plies

One for each day of the week?

This weekend I became obsessed with making a Gather your Sew-plies purse for each day of the week. You can see, I am well on my way. I have been settling into a new form of textile art, which isn’t clearly defined yet but it seems to have something to do with cloth, dressing myself, and embroidering and embellishing the clothing I wear, make and use. All of the sudden, I feel as though my clothing can become a journal. I can trace off a drawing from my journal, embroider it onto my clothing, I can say things, verbally and visually on the clothing I wear, it if it were my journal.

I have been playing with the idea of labels. We like to categorize things, people, visual impressions, items. When working with clothing we have lots of physical labels, actual labels that tell us about size, fiber content, washing instructions and the like. I have been having fun inserting and using found labels in new ways. Here you see my latest Gather your Sew-plies purse is a size 14, or is 14th in some unspecified order. I have been daydreaming of removing and redistributing the labels that are sewn onto my clothing.

This latest Sew-plies purse goes with a t-shirt blouse I bought at H&M. I started embroidering it just this morning. This is part of my new approach. I am going to work on and wear the clothing I choose to embellish all summer long. This is an active project. I don’t yet have a blouse to pair with the pink Gather your Sew-plies purse…but I have been thinking about how to remedy that.

I will be teaching in Arlington Texas this week and will be away from home for almost 4 days. Luckily, I now have an iPad (A.K.A iMelly) and can keep up with you guys wherever I am.

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.

Sew-plies updates

Which she likes better, though is too small.

The cinch sack pictured was  the trial cinch sack, I think it pretty but ultimately, too small and a bit clunky.  The cotton lining is stiff and the lil thing does’t close well. Resultant to which, I lined a new larger cinch sack circle with an old silk habotai and found this to be just the right amount of drape. Thimble Cinch Pattern here.  

Stash of buttons.

I do like the lil premature Cinch though. I keep playing with it and trying to improve or use it somehow.  

Then I get to wanting to give it to Matthew to see what he would do with it. Matthew makes assemblages, is a friend of ours, we hang at dinner parties intermittently but I/we don’t know his last name and can’t check to see if he has a web site. But Matthew would paint it green and leave it to sit on something for years. He would do something unexpected. 

The parts are coming together.

I sewed a loop onto the back of the Gather your Sew-plies purse, and am embellishing a 38″  belt to thread through it and use while sewing on the go. Last night we traveled home over the 6 subway for a while. I sewed the purse while standing on the platform and on the train. It was the Saturday young kids come from the burbs to party for a night. Ill chosen stilettos in a city where you must walk. It is an interesting way to experience the city.

Pinch Clip belt.

Would it be overbuilt to encase and sew  some magnets strategically to help hold the pin book securely against the purse? Hm.

I love the addition of the belt. I love to walk and having the purse bang against me could have been a deal breaker. So, form is meeting function again.

I am sewing baby buttons onto the belt with white seed beads. There is something magical about buttons. Some of the buttons I am using are humble shell buttons that seem quite old. Pictures to come.

I am creatively floating on the waves over here. I am introducing exercise into my daily routine, walking, and being active. I experience much change and I know that my energy levels are not what they used to be. They are getting better and there is no rushing it, but this is different. 

Whirlwinds

This should be Flash Card Friday, but it is not. I called a fun day. I went to my monthly appointment, my Man accompanied, very helpful-the lad. 

A memory of the day, not fully explained:

X-ray box, perforated paper, square head man face, front top quadrant of the page-drawn by David. Me: Flipped, vertebrae, ribs, hips, femurs; his pen, mine pencil. RN comes in to find, then….Very fast walk uptown, stopped at Merrimeko…dreamy…. Then to Mood to paw through and daydream effectively. Rich!

I am fixated on getting this Gather your Sew-plies (chatelaine pattern)  right. I felt buoyed by a comment to this post and started to think about this purse as Sewing Jewelry, personal adornment, how would an artist with my skill dress herself?  I began designing this small purse because I want to sew -on –the —-go, embroider wherever I am. Although I merely keep the essentials (Thread, Thread Heaven, Thimble, Scissors, needles), the bag is heavy and it moves around with momentum as I walk. Form isn’t meeting intended function.


A need arose.

 So it needs an anchor. But I want it to be removable, because, well, who doesn’t like a convertible thing? A toy, a puzzle, deeply stitched object. It’s satisfying. 

I think I am just addicted to cataloging, collecting, collating, and jotting. This is an image of an idea book. I think it is different than an art journal, it supports and documents. They help me remember.

A need, and response.

So I am creating a belt and loop scenario. I keep wondering about changing the texture of cloth by stitching it. I would like to explore this some.

I think the hand stencil needs to be embroidered on the purse, somewhere. That stencil has been asking to be used all week.

 

Anyone in the Dallas area going to the Great American Scrapbook Conference, I will be teaching surface design techniques for paper. Come join me?

Thimble Cinch Add-on Pattern Blog Hop Tutorial

Thimble Cinch Add-on Pattern <———Click to download pattern.

Part 2 of Gather your Sew-plies

It is tutorial time again and this time I present the Thimble Cinch Add-on Pattern. This pattern is made in response to and improvement upon, the Gather your Sew-plies!! Pattern. There will be a few more printable patterns in this series. So far I still have yet to complete a Scissor Tuck Pocket Patterm and I would like to do one called, ‘Mods:’ where I discuss the small modifications, embellishments and changes that I have made.

embellish freely.

But for today, I offer you this downloadable pdf, Thimble Cinch pouch pattern, woot!

If you make your own version of this, I would love to see it and will create a Flickr group to manage your photos. Say, Yes! Start this weekend! Start now. 

If you would like a copy of each downloadable pattern to be delivered to your email box, please sign up for The Clever Guild’s newsletter. I won’t barrage you with email, but I will be sending out at least 4 to 6 emails a year with content like this free downloadable pattern, video samples and information pertaining to upcoming workshops and more.

______________________

And, it is also Flash Card Friday

On page 40 of Dreaming from the Journal Page, liquid Frisket is discussed and demonstrated.

Liquid frisket is a rubbery, liquid substance used as a painterly resist on watercolor paper in combination with either watercolor or gouache. The type of paper you can use it on is limited, on watercolor paper, no problem. But it does not work well on bristol board and I would not suggest you use it in a Moleskine Sketchbook, as it has the tendency to delaminate that type of paper. Always experiment to see what works best for you and your supplies!

I am using this journal spread to demonstrate techniques for my up coming Dream Journals class (this class will available for sign up within the month) through The Clever Guild. The image of Arrow, upper left corner of the page, used liquid frisket. It is fun to see the page like this as it has really grown and changed since I took this photo.

And please, if you are interested, sign up for Stencil Magic, where i demonstrate the use of single and multicolored stencils, with samples on (mostly) fabric, though I also demonstrate using stencils in mixed media painting and your artist’s journal. I really hope to see you there!

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.

Artist+Clothing=Adorn?

Gather your Sew-plies!! Purse

So here is the story.

I have been quiet on the home front of cancer. I don’t know how to frame a discussion about my experience last year, all I know is I am just beginning to land and unwind, and integrate what I have learned from being ill. But at the same time I think it is important for me to be plain with you as well as myself. Perhaps you have already noticed but I chose not to ‘reconstruct’ my body. I think having a body, healing and moving into life after cancer is enough. I am still all woman. I am just a flat chested woman.

I am being up front about this because I am exploring clothing as a form of artistic expression. This is a creative theme that I need and want  to explore, both metaphorically and physically.

Clothing my body has become an adventure. I am an artist, I have always wanted to dress ‘singularly’, uniquely. And what better way to explore artistic, healing and integrative themes about the body than to adorn myself. 

I have fallen in love with the word, Adorn. 

Adornment. 

 Suggestions? Anyone? 

for Gather your Sew-plies Purse.

This purse recipe is a lot of fun, it is a sewing/fashion accessory. Big and bold when paired with a white shirt and skinny denim jacket. I purposely made this purse in such a way that I could continue to work on it until I had perfected the design. Do you know Cat Bordhi? She is a sock knitter and a creative thinker. She wrote a book about starting the sock… ‘from the middle’. And this got me thinking. What would happen if you started a project in the middle rather than tucking in all the loose ends at the get go? So this little purse is being completed as I go. I started in the middle. Will you make one too? I would love to see how you proceed alongside me. Mini Sew Along?

I am making an add-on pattern for the Gather Your Sew-plies pattern…A thimble Cinch Sack! More on this later.