Solids and Semisolids

Having recently created a great portfolio based motifs with an Indian theme, I found myself in need of a single color all over print. These prints help support and draw out the multicolor prints, they allow the eye a resting place within a quilt block. And needless to say,  if you want to make a quilt, you need a bunch of these.The above photo shows the single color design in-progress. I ended up blacking out the entire background of this print before burning it as a Thermofax screen. Now, I seek to print many, many, single color designs.
And although I think single color prints are boring to print…. I still need many of them… So I choose to put my reservations on hold until I print enough to make some pretty quilts! I just need to get past this part. Wish me luck.

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Print-Along preparation, Tips and Suggestions

In preparing to participate in the Playful Fabric Print-Along, I will address to the basic supplies you might need. First, please join the Print-Along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community, where we have discount codes to PRO Chem, StencilGirl and Melly Marks.

To start, you will need an inexpensive scale, this is a link to Amazon, which carries the exact scale that I use. This scale costs less than 10$.

I have put together a PRO Chem shopping list to get you started. There are two versions, a modest version and a robust version. In the modest version, you would need to find small jars-1 oz or larger with a tight lid in addition to enough of them to contain the palette of colors you choose to mix.

In the more robust shopping list, I include 28 1oz jars and the larger size of dye, so that you can mix all 28 colors in Playful Fabric Printing (If this is your intention, you will need to purchase the robust list, with 8oz size of the dye powders). After which, I  directly link to some other fun items. 

Pro Chem Supplies (link) Modest Robust
Soda Ash 1.75/1LB 6.50/5LB
Fabric 6.60/1Yard 33.00/5Yards
Pro Print Paste SH 6.14/1LB 27.65/5LB
28 1 Ounce Jars with lids   14.00/28 Jars
Dye Boats 2.95/12 2.95/12
Sun Yellow 108 4.95/2oz 14.14/8oz
Mixing Red 305 3.95/2oz 10.50/8oz
Intense Blue 406 6.95/2oz 25.28/8oz
Total:

30.34        

134.02

OTHER Items    
Scale (Amazon link)

13.00

13.00

You will also need to gather up a dust mask, a bucket, a drying rack, plastic spoons, yogurt cups, gloves and table salt. The drying rack that I use is Minky brand. I don’t specifically recommend it, but I do recommend a drying rack that is sponge washable so that dye can be removed with a wet sponge, the Minky rack is plastic covered, making it easy to clean. I keep a dedicated rack for use in the studio, so that there will never be fear of getting dye on our clothing.

I have created a new video called ‘PFP Tips and Suggestions’, in the hope of helping you form methodical habits when you handle dyes. 

Here are some other items you might consider, I suggest you put these items on your wishlist. Blick has Soft Kut Printing Blocks and Linoleum Cutters. eNasco has our favorite Creative Hands brand sticky back craft foam. And just so you know, this is my favorite brayer and here is a link to the June Tailor Cushioned Quilters Square ‘n Blocker, which makes a great padded work surface following the directions in Playful Fabric Printing, page 76. And here is the link to the Black & Decker Rice Cooker Plus (Playful Fabric Printing, page 55). Honestly, I could go on and on and link to every single item, but I will hold off. Once you fall in love with the techniques, you will definitely want to revisit this portion of the list.

To participate in the Print-Along, you will at least need to modest list of items found above. The rest is icing on the cake. Remember, join our Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook to get the Coupon Codes and to Print-Along with us!

Announcing our first Playful Fabric Print-Along

I am really excited that Carol and I are announcing our first…

Playful Fabric Print-Along!

This is a  month long event. And just wait! We have gathered up some snazzy benefits to go with it!

What does this mean?   How do I participate?   What do I need to do?

Participation in this Print-Along requires the purchase and use of the Playful Fabric Printing book. Print-Alongs are participatory events. We will not be teaching you how to print, so much as printing along-side you. We will answer questions in the community group, of course, but we will refer you back to the book when necessary. 

We invite you to join our Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook.

This is a closed and growing group of ‘playful friends’, who are working with our techniques and contributing to great discussion. We share photos, tips, video content and friendship in this  fabulous and supportive community. 

Anyone can join, whether you participate in the Playful Fabric Print-Along or not. This is the place we’ll have discussions during the Print-Along and this is where participants share results.

Also, Carol and I will be blogging throughout the Print-Along covering dye and print related matters. 

(This quilt top was printed with the Melly Marks Lace Swirl Kit. I will be blogging about this one soon, so please check back!)


Guidelines:

Each of you will make tools of your own or use favorite tools to create between 1-9 prints.

It may be that you print one gorgeous print or you might choose to “speed print” multiples (Playful Fabric Printing, page 90). We suggest you begin by perusing Chapter 4, and choosing a technique to explore, like Double Stamping (Playful Fabric Printing, page 69),or maybe “Printing Photo-Inspired Multicolor Sets (Playful Fabric Printing, page 96).

And then, follow your fancy while printing one to nine! (or more)

On April 28 we will have a ‘Show and Share Roundup’ within the Playful Fabric Printing Community page.

Bloggers who choose to shout out participation and want to show samples of their work through their websites and blogs are encouraged. We would love to collect ‘Pins’ of your work and web presence to our Playful Fabric Printing Pinterest boards. Check out Carol’s Playful Fabric Printing board, then head over to mine. We hope you’ll want the Pins! AND, please use our hashtag, #playfulfabricprinting This will help us follow one-another on our socials.

Let us know you are joining the Playful Fabric Print-Along inside the Playful Fabric Printing FB community page. 

And it’s OK to share this blog post on your favorite social media platform! We would love help in getting the word out. 


BONUS!!!! Coupon Bonanza! This is the snazzy part.

During the Playful Fabric Print-Along our good friends from PRO Chemical & Dye and StencilGirl and of course, Melly Marks are offering coupons to members of our Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community.

Thanks  to PRO Chem, StencilGirl and Melly Marks for making this event even more fun! 

Lets get printing together! I can’t wait.

 


Check out these StencilGirl and Melly Marks commercials:

 

Stencils, Stamps, Thermofax, oh my!

Earlier this week, I started a Speed Print job using my Lace Swirl Kit and I spoke about the difference between using the L498 StencilGirl stencil and the Thermofax screen to color the swirl portion of the design.

So, today, I wanted to update you and show you the difference between the two.

The StencilGirl stencil allows us to color a single swirl. This gives these prints a bit of a unique appeal because they take longer to complete than the Thermofax layer (speed print-able), but this very fact also means, that I can use a diverse selection of color to complete each print.

And as such, these prints stand out when it comes to using them. (I get very excited to use these unique prints when it comes time to sit in front of the sewing machine needle.) 

But you know? Squeegee-ing two colors through a Thermofax repeat layer is a pretty snazzy way to add visual jingle too! 

This, is Playful Fabric Printing. Where we push the limits of our tools by printing sparkling, playful and surprising bits of cloth, that is so much fun to use! 

(Please use our hashtag #playfulfabricptinting , that way, we can find you and your work.

Carol and I are keeping Playful Fabric Printing Pinterest boards and we would both love to pin your posts into our boards (we want to build community)!!! Please check check our boards out!

Also! Please join our closed Playful Fabric Printing Facebook Community page, we now have 200+ members and many are doing great work, asking interesting questions and uploading photos of their work! And its some really good work too!

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Melly Marks Kits, StencilGirl stencils and my new Etsy Store!

 

I am quite happy to announce that I have opened a store through Etsy, called Melly Marks Playfully.

At-the-same-time? StencilGirl is releasing a line of stencils in my name!!!!

In the coming days, we will announce a print-along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community Facebook page. I would love to print along side you as you learn -to use- Playful Fabric Printing. And Carol is excited about this too!

So please, join us!

This print along will not be akin to an ‘online class’, but rather, remain reliant on your ability to work through the pages of Playful Fabric Printing on your own while being able to draw upon a community of playful fellow printers and textile designers alike.

At the same time, I am offering Melly Marks Kits, coordinated textile designs offered through stamps, stencils, and tFax designs. All, for your printing pleasure. Video content in support of this will be provided through the community page, so please join!!

I am selling Kits, StencilGirl sells individual stencils. 

(You are encouraged to make your own tools for this print-along, rather than use the offerings I present in this post. Purchase is not required. I would love if you worked with my offerings though!) 

I take pride in saying, I am manufacturing with companies who employ American people and work on American soil. As a result, my retail price points are not as low as I would like them to be, but if you show me that you like my offerings by purchasing these kits, I promise to do everything I can to lower these prices as much as possible with my next offering.

In the meantime. pick up a copy of Playful Fabric Printing, make an order at PRO Chem or Dharma, and let’s get ready to have some fun!! 

NOTE: In the upper right corner of my Nav Bar? There is now a tab that opens to my Easy Store! I hope to sell handprints and artwork though this store too! Please, stay tuned. 

#freerangetextileprinter

So this is a whole new dealio. 

I have taken my printing out and about, I am becoming The Free Range Textile Printer in NYC.

In our upcoming book, Carol Soderlund and I contend that all you need to possess in order to begin printing your own fabrics, is a bucket and a card table! And, well? I am here to tell you, you don’t need the card table!! Wooho!!!

You do need access to water.  But most major parks in NYC have a bathroom! 

See? Easy!!!

This is a fun short post, I will happily go into more detail about small space printing, if you re interested! If so, leave a comment.

I really don’t want to go on about things that are uninteresting!!

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! 🙂 

The Peacock Quilt by Melly T

Big contented sigh.

It took energy and focus to prepare for Craft NAPA and I am glad to say, The Peacock Quilt is helping me transition back into studio life. And as it comes to completion, I am beginning to think of my next project. I am not as excited about finishing the Peacock Quilt as I am to start printing the fabric for NEW quilt!! 

Pinata

My next quilt is going to be a baby or ‘craft’ sized quilt, because I won some wool quilt batting from the BERNINA sewing machine piñata at Pokey’s Art Barn party. And I feel assured that it will be an extra special quilt because of its emergence from the piñata. I mean, just look at that thing. It is and was magic. And, I have never used wool batting before.

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Even though I am excited about moving on to a new project, I do have some more straight lines to quilt. I am using Aurifil Mako 12 weight cotton to machine quilt. I love dense ‘straight line’ machine quilting (None of my lines are anywhere near straight!). This thread shows off the sheen of its cotton fibers wonderfully at a lengthened stitch of just under ‘4’ on my BERNINA 1001. This stitch length is pretty long, but it’s a perfect length to show the thread off!

I will just keep swimming, and get this quilt finished! I look forward to snapping a photo and doing a finished reveal!! Soon.

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In the meantime, it seems like it might be a good time to flip through my design journal and see what designs are calling to be printed, expanded upon and colored. I love what I am learning about printing cloth.

Evaluating how big a quilt I would like to make, comparing that to the motifs I would like to use, then beginning to print those designs, is a magical process. I have come to understand how important tonal, textural and single color prints are. These simple, often single colored prints are work horses in the design of the quilt top, they provide a resting place for the eye and they contrast well with the more densely designed and multicolor prints. 

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Loving Goodness

 

Testa Family

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

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

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

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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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Peacock Quilt, front and back.

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I know, the photographic color is off, the tops are piled up and are not shown to the best advantage, but I don’t mind. I am just having fun over here and this is the evidence! 

I started the weekend off by focusing on making a back for the Peacock Quilt. At first I thought this would be a using all my favorite Heather Ross fabrics, from my stash. But I have so many great Heather Ross fabrics, that it seemed to me, like it might be a distraction from the front. I spent most of Saturday sewing and admittedly enjoyed doing so, before deciding the back needed something else, something less, something simple. 

Sunday, I woke with vigor for the task and decided to use Meadowlark fabrics as a base for making a back. At first, it was going to be a 62″ square of the blue, with 12″ of the tile fabric on all four sides. But… I still had some left over blocks from the peacock quilt top and the woodblock ditty went to well with the Heather Ross strawberries… That, well.

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I love backs that have an element of love and satisfaction. Back’s need to play nicely with the front but also need to be fun, and pleasing. Heather Ross’s work does that for me. There is something sweet and fanciful in her illustrations and being able to see them along side my own handprinted cloth is a treat.

Peacock Quilt and the border print.

This is a video update, no words needed  🙂

Soy Wax, Paint and Teaching: Craft Napa

I will be teaching, You Can’t Resist This, a soy wax resist and paint class at Craft Napa in coming January 7-9, and I would love for you to join me. In this class we will explore what resists mean, how to layer and build color stories that work with your chosen motifs, and we will explore differing methods of working with paint to achieve pretty, layered, vibrant, unique and textural results. 

You Cant Resist This!

You may wonder what the differences are between paint and dye. A basic definition is that dyes bond with the very fibers of the cloth, while paint sits atop those fibers. Both are a good way to apply color to cloth, the biggest difference between the two being that with dye, the original feel or ‘hand’ of the cloth is retained because the dye binds with the fiber of the cloth at a molecular level. Paint, on the other hand, needs binders to adhere to the cloth, these binders can lend a stiff or heavy ‘hand’.

Oh, that green!

Paint binders have improved tremendously over the years and there are some paints out there that are really quite good. Paint also allows for easier access to workable, beautiful cloth without the learning curve associate with the use of dye. Don’t get me wrong, I love dye, it is my medium of choice, but as a teacher I understand that paint is a great entry into making original surface designed cloth, and that students have great success in using it.

Reminds me of eggs.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

craftnapa-color1

I will be teaching:

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

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

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

 

 

Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1

UBBB1

Today I stitch a Uniboober Beauty, Breastless Beauty 1.

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

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

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

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

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on


 

craftnapa-color1

I will be teaching:

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

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

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

 

#breastlessbeauty

If you are coming here after watching the Great Big Story piece about me, welcome.

Check out the Great Big Story video here.

 I am an artist and an activist for Flat Re/Construction due to breast cancer treatment. Going flat, not wearing breast forms, is a beautiful and vibrant option, one option among many-due to breast cancer diagnosis. Some women relate to and need reconstruction, some do not. All of us could benefit by investing in body positivity, love and respect for the one-beautiful-body you own.

Welcome to my blog and web site.

BB1v2

I am working to bring 30 hand printed Breastless Beauties up to completion and hope to sell them directly from a gallery page, here on my site. I will be making a donation from the proceeds of the sales to a well researched breast cancer group, I will let you know the specifics soon.

The Beauty pictured above os Breastless Beauty 1, which you will see, by comparing the gallery image to the above image, has been stitched upon and appears different than the original. It is my hope that you might follow along, by reading posts here on the blog, as I finish hand stitching each of the Beauties in the gallery!

They are coming along quite nicely, I hope you agree.

If you would like to follow along and read some of the articles I have contributed to over the last year, please do. Huffington Post invited me to pose for an article called 24 Women Bare their Scars to Reveal the Beauty in Imperfections. Women’s Health magazine invited me to contribute to 4 Women Show the Reality of their Mastectomies in Stunning Photos. I participated in a Play Out underwear photoshoot with the essay called, Shirts Off, Underwear On: Play Out, Breast Cancer and Gender Expectations. And I participated in Grace, debuting that photos release with this essay called, The Grace to be Flat & Fabulous. I also participated in Jamie Courville‘s audio portrait called Squirrel Stories. I keep a Pinterest board specific to flat sightings across the web!

I would very much like for you to use the hashtag #breastlessbeauty. If you are a flattie, a uniboober, if you wear prosthesis or not, tag yourself with #breastlessbeauty. That way, we can find one another!

 

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.

craftnapa-color1

 

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!

 

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.

GatheryourSewpliesEmb

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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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/

 

 

meadowlark blog hop give away

I am so friggin’ excited to finally be working in the textile industry and to have a line of fabrics coming out with my name on the selvedge. I mean, so, friggin’, excited. 

Spring Quilt Market 2014 served to ‘launch’ my premiere fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics which will be officially release this coming October 2014. It is used to create ‘buzz’.  Talking about buzz, check out my ‘look book’! Or this video that Victoria Findlay Wolfe did at Market (she is part of this blog hop too)!

Being the interactive, show and tell driven person that I am, I set up shop at quilt market to demo the techniques I use in the printing of the Meadowlark line, and I surrounded myself with the most awesome, beautifully created samples that I possibly could. And I must say, I hardly sewed even a single stitch of the beautiful work seen in my booth. I feel absolutely blessed to be able to work with some of the most driven, detail oriented artists and quilters in this industry. 

I have been told that my sample team and I used the most fabric ever, in preparation for the launch of a fabric line. Woot!! If you ask me, too much is just about enough.

Market was a whirlwind of activity. I invited many of the superstars in our industry to come to my booth and print or to say, ‘Hello’.  I had so much fun and smiled so much that my face hurt at the end of the weekend. 

In celebration of the launch of the Meadowlark line, we are giving away Fat Stacks (10″ square of each of the 26 fabrics in the line) and 3 copies of Dreaming From the Journal Page. I will also be giving away some 5″ Charm packs from my own ‘stash’ (Windham cuts these as giveaway at Market and I nabbed some). I will give away one copy of dreaming here, the other two will be given to whichever blog on the hop that receives the most comments. We will use the hashtag #MellyMeadowlark, so if you want to spread the word on Facebook and other social networking sites please use this tag. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win some of my pretties and don’t hesitate to ask your local quilt store to carry my line. In fact, you might just forward a link to this post:

http://melanietesta.com/2014/06/meadowlark-blog-hop-give-away/ ‎

I honestly cannot wait for you to get your hands on my fabrics and show me your skillz. In the meantime, check out what my design team has to say on the matter…

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

Meadowlark Blog Hop

Meadowlark Blog Hop Image
 
I am organizing a blog hop fabric giveaway to celebrate the release of my first line of fabrics! Please stay tuned for your chance to win!!! The ‘hop’ kicks off, here, at MelanieTesta.com on June 2.
 
 
Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 Blog-TBD
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-CHelen will be guest posting here!

 

Meadowlark by Melanie Testa

I am so very excited to announce my fabric line, Meadowlark. This is a dream come true and I could not be happier. Windham Fabrics has done a sensational job of interpreting my designs. The texture, color, and whimsy of the designs shines through beautifully.

If you have been reading this blog and you know me, you know that my ‘main squeeze’ in the art department is printing with Procion MX dyes. The subtlety and beauty of this medium is exquisitely captured in every print in the Meadowlark line. There are 26 designs in all. 11 main designs, in two color ways each and 4 semi solids. All were created using our favorite art materials, like fun foam, carving rubber, stencils and thermofax screens. I have been having so much fun creating this method of printing that using these humble materials contributes to my excitement in showing them to you. I hope you like them as much as I do.

I have been working with my design team, awesome friends who want to help Meadowlark succeed, and we will be having a blog hop giveaway of fat quarters in a few short weeks. More importantly, we will be showing off the many projects made that highlight what can be done with the Meadowlark line, and believe me, I couldn’t put every project in this teaser video.

Please don’t hesitate to ask your local quilt store to carry my line, and I know I am tooting my own horn, but I believe these designs are like nothing you would normally see in your favorite quilt store. Beside, there are birds, dots, fruits, high heeled shoes, all very iconic and fresh. 

I am just squealing with excitement to finally be able to talk about and show you what I have been up to over here. Once you get some of these fabrics into your creative paws, PLEASE show me what you do with them. I have been busy presenting these fabrics and now that they will be released into the world, they will begin to have a life of their own. That is amazing! 

Printing up a storm

This week has been great by way of multicolor printing. I am working out the kinks of putting images in repeat, carving rubber, cutting foam and making stencils. 

Yardage

I love upholstery yardage sheets, whenever I see them, I nab one. I love the tiny drawings of chairs, chaise lounge, sofas, sectionals. Such great shapes cultered together. The above is inspired by a yardage sheet and is printed on paper, using Tsukineko inks. Working in paper before moving to cloth seems to be crucial to my design process right now. It is a quick way to make sure the print set is working together, allows me to figure out which segment of the image needs to be printed first, and shows me how to align each print. Getting to know an image on paper also allows me to play with color choice. 

Polkadots

 

On a side note, I bought a copy of Victoria Findlay-Wollfe’s 15 Mintutes of Play. I L-O-V-E this book. I am inspired by it. Love what the book discusses. I love the mechanisms that Victoria suggests to get your quilts flowing, like I said, I really love this book. These polkadots are a direct result of Polka Dots Squared on page 43 of the book. I need many variations of polka dots, from dark to light. I want to make a throw using my own cloth.

So, I have been printing up a storm!

ReadChair

Yep. True to my obsessive compulsive self, I have been stamps in every size, shape and variable that I can imagine. All that I learned while getting my Associate’s Degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology is coming to fruition. It has been fun to experience and great to grow visual and technically while doing so.

The work I am doing with Carol Soderlund is helping me grow and expand too. When me moved to Brooklyn, I convinced myself that working with dye is not possible given the constraints of apartment life. Carol has shown me how to compact the process, while really getting the results I want to see. I feel reinvigorated in my use of Procion MX dye!

I have signed up to take Carols Color Mixing 2 at ProChem October 21-25. There are 4 more spots open (I just signed up and a friend is going with! The web site has not been updated yet and still says there are 6 openings).

I bet you want to go! I hope you do.


 

PeachAndYou

Would you like to know how much I love this little bundle of Peach-y goodness? This cat is a badass. I am sorry to swear, but this word sums up Peach to a T. She is soft, gentle, centered, intelligent, curious, amazing, belligerent, athletic, pretty, satisfied and awesome.


 

MellyTestaTigNotaro

I saw Tig Notaro at The Green Space/Sound Check a couple weeks back.. Just being near Tig, who is also a Flattie, was like being a kid in a candy shop. I crave connection with other women who have been through bilateral mastectomy, without reconstruction and who choose not to wear breast forms. 

Tig Notaro is one of my heros.

I got totally flustered and couldn’t say any of the smart or sincere things I had rehearsed in my mind prior to forcing her to take a photo with me! She doesn’t look much worse for the wear, so I think I can forgedaboudit. But geez does it make me happy that I got the photo!


 

By the way, that Tshirt I am wearing? It says

Sew?

underneath the machine and was given to me as an ironic-flat-pride-type statement. It was printed by and can be bought from Diane Muse. I love this tshirt and am going to wear it to tatters.

QSDS

This last weekend I took a trip out to Columbus, Ohio to teach at QSDS, and boy was it a great experience. I worked with women who were focused, ready to learn, open to new information, and each and every one of them made really good cloth. I found companionship in Denise and Susan, who are pictured in the video above. We ate meals together, took a walk, talked and bonded, one of my favorite parts about teaching. Christina and Tracy and I bonded over Becky’s bead table (The owner of St. Theresa’s Textile Trove, and a fellow teacher). We laughed so hard! I fell in love with all of them. I met so many new and great people. Like Diane Muse, who prints the logo’d tshirts for QSDS, I now own two and also bought a printed kitchen towel. I met up with other teachers like Elin Nobel and Rosalie Dace. I met  Bob Adams for the first time, a great man (I like his art a lot), who was traveling with his lovely wife. I feel blessed.

It was Ab Fab.

I enjoyed every minute of it and I am happy to be home too.

P.S. Don’t miss out, Lyric Kinard is giving away a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page and I would like you to win it!

Quick and Dirty!

I have been playing around with making video on my iPhone. David made the music on my phone in Garage Band. iMovie on the iPhone does not have the ability to place captions, it is different than the same program for the home computer. It is fun to know I can do this and I see lots of potential for it. 

Small Work: Swan

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

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

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.

Of palettes, paint and refills.

Sticking to the theme of maintaining a watercolor/travel palette, I created the video above. The watercolor box you will see in the video was originally a Cotman Watercolor Compact Set set, that I reclaimed, replacing their palette with colors I know and love.

Cotman is Winsor  Newtons’s student grade paint set. Empty travel palettes can be quite pricey, so purchasing a student grade set can be a good entry level start to maintaining your own groupings of color, and the paints in them are decent, so you might choose to stick with these paints while you journey into painting with watercolor. Once those paints are used, you can begin purchasing tubes of paint to refill your half pans or pans, or, like me, you might purchase a cheapo palette of student grade paints and replace each half pan with professional grade watercolor paints that you already know and love.

To remove the student grade paint, I took each half pan, dipped it in water for just a moment and allowed the cake to soften some. When the cake appeared softer, I dug down into the side of the cake, between the plastic and the cake and pried the pigment cake out. I set those cakes aside and allowed them to dry (I just gave them to a budding young artist). Once I cleaned each half pan, I refilled them with my favorite M. Graham watercolor paints from tubes.

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.

Free Webinar!

Webinar Promo from The Clever Guild on Vimeo.

I am teaming up with Create Mixed Media to offer a free webinar to celebrate the release of Dreaming from the Journal Page. Please sign up using this link. The Webinar will be Thursday, April 26th at 1 p.m. All registered participants will receive a recorded transcript that can be listened to and reviewed at your leisure.

See you there!

Meese Bowl MMXII

Sew Along, Podcast and fun.

 

Female Magazine Blouse

 

I have been having so much fun sewing. A few of you have said you would join me in a Sew Along. I have been looking for non-Japanese and FREE patterns. 

Dixie DIY is a GREAT web site and she has several patterns to download. Here is the link to the free Nano Iro (Japanese) patterns I mentioned before. Check out this cool, pretty tank style blouse called Sorbetto. And if you feel you need your tank top to have sleeves (huh?), here is the additional sleeve pattern for that blouse. Look at what other people have done in making this blouse. And if you want to go all out and buy a pattern, buy it. I want to choose something simple and I want to surface design some aspect of it because that is my thing. Choose what works for you and lets have some fun.

Ricë and I recorded a podcast on clothing and garments. I think it is a lot of FUN!

Comment and let me know if you are up for a sew along!

Survey Says!

Hi there-Please take a few minutes to fill out my online workshop survey. Ten questions, nothing fancy.

As incentive for responding,  I will give away, at random, up to three signed copies of my book. The number of copies given away will depend on the number of responses tallied.  So please, take the survey, leave a comment to enter your name in the giveaway and then email, facebook or otherwise contact your friends and art buddies so that they too will take the survey and perhaps win a copy of my book. Your enthusiasm and input will be (and is) greatly appreciated.