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!

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/

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

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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


 

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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!

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stitched for Texture

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For whatever reason, I have decided to change the BigBoxy Japanese pattern up. Mods! I am making mods (modifications). Rather than a 1/4″ clean finish hem, I have doubled the sleeve, using the fold as a finish technique and I am stitching the sleeve to give it texture. I hope this gives the sleeves some definition or difference. The blouse if so large that the sleeves go from the elbow to 3/4 length. I may stitch on the collar too, but I may not. That looks like it needs to remain soft, but I am leaving my options open.

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I went ahead and washed the cloth. I would say about half the iridescence came off. I am glad, the cloth used to be a dragonfly, now it is soft and sumptuous. I still have a fair amount of stitching to do. The sleeves are maybe 8×12″ and I have completed a quarter of the stitching. And I will have to take a photo, but I think I like the wrong side of the stitching!

Welcoming myself back!

 

Welcome to my new blog, it feels spiffy here! It has been one heck of a month. I moved my website to a new server, worked with Holly Knott to create the new structure and look, and here I am. My old blogging platform took a hit in the move, but it was so old and cantankerous that I don’t mind. I am happy enough to have an archive of the old blog to reference now and again, I doubt anyone but me would do this. What does all of this mean to you? Please update your RSS feed, if you use one. This new blog will be friendlier, will show its photos and play nice.

studio Melanie Testa

I have been on blog hiatus for a long time, the longest period since I started blogging, maybe eight years ago! It has been interesting to make things without talking about it. I see value in this, where I never had the chance to experience the difference. 

I am stretching my way out of having a frozen shoulder, so I am keeping oft used things up high above my head. When I need my pins, embroidery scissors, glasses and other small items, I need to stretch in order to grab these things. ‘Motion is lotion’ when it comes to frozen shoulders. This has not been the easiest problem to deal with, tissue stretches at a very slow rate and I may have 75% of my mobility back, so I have a bit more to work through. I never want to have this problem again.

Hand sewing, Rockstar Boro, Melanie Testa

I have been madly creative over here. I am making clothing, the Rockstar Boro (see I link-referenced my old blog already) project has spurred movement within me. Sewing, clothing, construction and reconstruction are going to be a focus for me in the world of fiber, cloth and art for the foreseeable future.

And now that  you are done reading my first WordPress blog post, why not go check out MelanieTesta.com!