An Exciting Reveal: Crafting a Life LLC, Carol Soderlund and Melly Testa

It has been pretty quiet here and today is the day to break that silence.

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A project I have been working on, with my good friend Carol Soderlund, is coming to fruition. And better still, we can now reveal, we are working with Pokey Bolton and Crafting a Life, LLC to bring this project to life!

We are writing a book on multicolor printing using Procion MX dye, our favorite medium! My smile is so big, I can hardly stand it.

Carol and I are both fiends for color, we love quilting, cloth, printing and motif making. And we seek to lure you into our printed fold! In writing this book, we strive to present a seamless and easily approachable foray into printing cloth and using it-in your next quilt. (I would love to go on making puns, but, I will stop there. It gets tiring!) But it is true. Carol and I have been ironing out the descriptives to some pretty awesome techniques! (The puns!!!)

Soon, some time soon, we will have a printed book to show for our efforts. And Crafting a Life, LLC is printing our book. Can I say, OMG? Pinch me, please! 

We are all quite excited to tell you about this project!!

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This book will discuss motif making, loose and formal repeat printing and many other printing techniques. And it will act as a printers workbook. 

The materials used to print the cloth are readily available; carving rubber, fun foam, stencil plastic and Thermofax screens. We present a simple method of working with color and gradation that is both unique and accessible. Basically, we have removed the learning curve related to mixing and using color and set the stage for you to begin printing your own unique textile designs with ease.

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We’ve been diligent in finding solutions for those who have little space, but are still drawn to expressing themselves creatively by printing unique and personalized cloth. And we present methods to enable you to print yardage too. 

Fabrics combined with commercial fabrics

To say this makes me happy is an understatement. To work with Carol is an honor. To have finally figured out how to print in repeat without a fancy studio or special equipment? Priceless. The fact that Crafting a Life, LLC and Pokey are supporting our efforts by printing, what I believe will be, hope will be, the surface design book of a generation? This is a complete and total blessing.

Thank you Pokey.

As we come closer to day when you can hold this book in your hands, we hope you will visit our blogs and social media accounts. I will be printing and piecing a quilt top as blog content, with updates to my personal FB, my Melanie Testa-Artist page and my Instagram page.

Follow Carol’s blog, Living Color, here. FB. Insta

Read Pokey’s Ponderings, and her post about Publishing Again. FBInsta 

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.

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.

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.