Thread Dyeing and other Fun. Also a Call For:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited to add:

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

Thread as traveler.

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

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

 

A total of 4 doughnuts! OMG

 

We don’t eat doughnuts in-real-life.

 

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

Fun, fun, fun!

100% Human

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

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

‘Made in New Haven, Ct

100% Human.

What should the small print should read?

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

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

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!

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!