• Batwing Mask w Jersey Knit ear loops and Toggle Bead cinch (FREE PDF Pattern)

    Jersey Knit Batwing<——-download this 

    I have been kinda bonkers for the GoodNotes app for iPad with pencil!

    Here is a FREE PDF #MellyMasks pattern, made using the GoodNotes app. This is a six page, full color pdf pattern with artistic illustrations. The PDF is indexed, has thumbnails and bookmarked pages for easy reference.

    Please, if you print this out, let me know if the pattern measures properly! If you have suggestions on other masks you would like a pattern for, leave a comment! I would love to know your thoughts!

  • iJournaling, is it a thing?

  • Grace, Running Stitch and the ten years between.

    I recently listened my Quilters Save Our Stories (QSOS) interview from 2010, where I heard my own voice, an echo of my past, discussing quilt making and hard times. I did this in preparation for a new podcast interview called Running Stitch, also a Quilt Alliance offering, that seeks to highlight and expand upon their rich backlog of quilt history interviews, mine among them. Unrelated to this, I posed for my second Grace portrait by Charise Isis, recently. This convergence of happenings allowed me time to ponder time spent between that November day in 2010 and this August 2020, ten years apart.

    In November, ten years ago, I was establishing myself, heck, -I was- established, as an artist, a quilt maker, a surface design artist. I was attending Quilt Market in support of my first book, Inspired to Quilt by Interweave. I was doing well, my artwork was being seen, I was published. I had aspirations of creating a textile line, I felt driven. 

    I was also, unknowingly, two months away from a Stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. 

    No breast cancer story is complete without a discussion of reconstruction. Long story short, I chose breastlessness. My chest is a perfect expanse of scarred, but well healed, ‘aesthetic flat closure’, as it is becoming known. 

    The growth and the gathering of knowledge, acquired over this decade, has sculpted a more rich, vivid and authentic version, of the Melanie or Melly, I once knew. This new version of Melly has stood naked in front of world class fashion photographers, portrait artists, syndicated news programs and in print magazine articles too. I have used my voice and my flat, breastless, body to make change within the breast cancer community and beyond. 

    Supported by my queer, artist identity, I asked myself, ‘what would an artist do, when faced with a dearth of visual representation for their bodily choice’? My response, an artist would harness their power and say ‘the thing’. So, I stepped into that uncharted space and said the thing. 

    I have made explicit, by way of participating in photographic projects, that not all people have breasts. I have made explicit that beauty, or ‘female beauty’, is not dependent on breasts, or even the known hourglass shape that is reflected back at us in media depictions. I have also continued to make artwork that includes female bodies with less than two breasts.

    In 2011, my reconstructive choice did not have a name. Researching imagery related to choosing ‘no reconstruction’ or ‘mastectomy without reconstruction’ yielded vapid, headless images, which offered lackluster entry into what it might mean to be breastless. I sought to populate this space with with images that convey laughter, love, determination, grit and out loud proud sex appeal. 

    Melanie Testa photographed by Esther Hasse for perfektUNperfekt

    I challenged myself by saying, ‘Yes’, to walking Rainbow Fashion Week in NYC, I participated in a movie called the Avant Gardener by Lindsay Katt and I traveled to Berlin, Germany to be photographed for PerfecktUNPerfeckt by Uta Melle and Esther Haase. I have reached into my personal depths to reveal my changed body, while saying the words, ‘my body is good enough’, -to millions- of CBS Sunday Morning television viewers.  

    All, in order to create a cultural context for people who choose to forego breast mound surgery.

    In all of this, I have sometimes felt vulnerable beyond my ability to cope. Sometimes too, I was just as happy to thumb my nose at the assumption that breast mound surgeries were inevitable, for people in my situation. 

    What I really learned during this time is, my actions, my art and my voice, -my words- are important! 

    My passionately held ideals are now, thankfully, a shared and community endeavor. I have joined forces to create Flat Closure NOW, where we maintain a gallery of images of breast cancer patients around the world, with printables to bring to your doctor. I also join my voice to a cacophony of fellow advocates, who seek to change the narrative of what it can mean to have breast cancer and choose… aesthetic flat closure.

    Just this month, the National Cancer Institute adopted into its dictionary of cancer terminology, the words, ‘aesthetic flat closure’ and given it a clear definition. My choice, now has a name and a specific description of outcome, so that no person need face what I did ten years ago.

    Prior to this experience, I did not fully comprehend that one person can, indeed, change the world. I did not understand fully, that using my voice and speaking my mind, could have profound impact beyond the scope of my own personal, earthly bubble. Neither did I understand the importance of visibility within breast cancer community and beyond.

    And, along the way, I continued to make artworks that speak to my experience.

    I encourage you to check out the Running Stitch podcast interview of me and my mask making endeavors. And then, check out my Etsy, where you will find snazzy masks, hand printed nudes, my latest book and more.

  • Batwing Headband mask, video tutorial w PDF download

    Download Batwing Headband Pattern


  • Gentleman Doll

    Gentleman Doll is a mask makers YouTube channel of note! I suggest you check it out and subscribe! Gentleman Doll (PDF)wear glasses sAvailable in multiple sizes DIY Mask Making 

    Gentleman Doll sometimes provides PDFs for print out, and in the case of the mask you see here, the PDF can be found in the description of the above linked YouTube video.

    Their videos are visual, without words or voice over. Gentleman Doll does not center themself in the camera’s field of vision. But, their backlog of patterns and videos is extensive. The patterns are easy to understand, well thought out and fairly easy to execute.

    Gentleman Doll uses centimeters, so I have obtained two new rulers to accommodate my explorations with this mask maker  

    These mask have a nose wire sewn into the arch of the nose. I am sewing all sizes for my Etsy and for local give away.

    This mask goes great with Carrie Bloomston’s Newspaper fabric too! 

    I think the most interesting part about making this mask is the origami like folding that transforms the almost rectangular flat piece of sewn fabric into the 3D cup like shape. 

    I highly suggest you check your printer settings prior to printing the pdf out! I learned the hard way that my printer was set to print at 87%. You will want to print the pdf off at 100%. 

    The PDF pattern is graded to sizes Small (child), Medium (teen), Large (Adult) and Extra Large (Adult). This is what is called a 3D mask, as it has a cup like shape that fits from nose to chin and across the cheeks. It fits onto the face by way of ear elastic.

    Being a visual learner, I respond well to learning from Gentleman Doll by watching their videos. I understand some folks might rather have written words to follow, and if that is the case for you, maybe Gentleman Doll isn’t a good fit for you. But if it is, Gentleman Doll has some great content. This isn’t the only mask by Gentleman Doll that I have made!

    I am sold on this YouTube channel and all of the work that Gentleman Doll puts out.

  • To ask is thrilling. To receive…

    None of us could have known what it would mean to experience a pandemic, to be asked to ‘shelter in place’, or to wear a mask when leaving home. So many of us have lost our work and income. Some of us are able to work from home, an awesome benefit, if it is possible.

    For my part, I went from having a decent job, teaching arts and crafts to middle school kids, to making masks for essential workers and folks who need them. A friend, knowing my predicament, set up a Go Fund Me to help me get paid for making the masks, to help with shipping, packing and getting them into the hands of folks in need. Additionally, I started selling masks through Etsy.

    Then, I put a call out for supplies and fabric donations to support these efforts. And you know what? Folks are helping! Folks are enabling me to make masks and give them to those in need!

    Look at at all of these supplies!!

    Asking for help is hard! It is embarrassing. On the one hand, I want to do this work for free. I want to be a hero who asks nothing of others, but does the thing and gets it done. On the other, I need contribute to my household without placing additional strain on our finances.

    I find, asking for help to be a blessing. It contributes to my sense of community and group effort. It reminds me that I am not alone. I am supported, cared for and I know that my efforts and skillsets are valued. And then the verbiage turns to, ‘we’. We are working together to offer masks to local NYC essential workers. 

    Because of this, I have had the opportunity to experience my fellow New Yorkers in new and beautiful ways.

    Like 2sailingchefs, who works with a local business called Naturally Delicious. Herve, as I have come to know him, received a farm print mask and geez! This print is a perfect pairing for him (click the first link in this paragraph to see Chef in his mask)! Herve went on to purchase masks for his workplace, and you, helped UP his order, with my Buy One, Give One program! We gave three additional masks to this local business.

    Thank you for helping me make a difference. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to create goodness. Thank you for allowing me to ask you for help then and providing it. Pins, bias tape makers, sewing machine needles and friendly, caring connection.

    Thank you.

  • #MellyMasks-Buy One, Give one.

    #MellyMasks are made using the Nurse Made pattern, with the benefit being that it can be worn over the N95 mask, extending its use. They are made using two layers of quality quilter’s cotton and can be washed and dried. 

    There are several ways to purchase or donate masks. 

    I am offering masks for sale through my Etsy shop! When you purchase an individual #MellyMask through my Etsy, you are purchasing two masks, one for yourself, and one that I will give away to local essential workers. Check my artist insta to see the giveaways! Right now, my Etsy contains masks made of my own fabric lines, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics and Florabunda! by RJR fabrics.  

    Monetary donations to my Go Fund Me will help me to make, ship and give masks to medical workers, bus drivers, park workers and grocery store employees. My current goal is to get 12-24 masks into the hands of my previous employer (I was let go, but hope to get called back after all this is over). Please consider donating in support of this next push to mask my local peeps! 

    It thrills me to be able to give masks to essential workers, I am thankful for your help and support. Being able to stay centered in gratitude, while giving thanks, one mask at a time, is a beautiful thing! 

    If you are willing, please help me replenish my art supplies through my Amazon Wishlist.



  • Gratitude, Donations, More Masks

    This mask making endeavor is enabling me to remain centered in gratitude, giving, and appreciation for the labor of ‘Essential Workers’.

    Please check out my Go Fund Me.

    I get to do this work, while also navigating my response to living in Brooklyn, New York during a pandemic, in a hot spot. Making and giving masks out is helping keep me steady and focused on a task. Living in a tiny apartment, with no access to private or easily accessible outdoor space, while experiencing intermittent access to a laundromat is quite a challenge. This weighs heavily on me, I often feel hemmed in. Mask making is a fitting distraction.

    Plus, I GET TO give good quality cotton masks away for free! (I am pretty sure you should order too many masks and try giving them away yourself!!) We could make the thrill a trend! And get all our friends behind masks while we do! 

    Also? Masks require smize! Practice your smize, today!

    So, this is how it works. If you would like masks for you and your family, consider this pricing structure for your donations: 

    10$ per mask

    1-5 masks ship in USPS Flat Rate envelope for 7.75$

    6-10 masks ship in USPS Flat Rate small box 8.80$

    25+ masks ship in USPS medium box 15.$

    If you live outside the United States, contact us for a shipping estimate.

    We (Flat Retreat and I) are asking for additional donations to ensure Essential Workers, including mental health care workers, produce delivery, postal workers, grocery store employees and park workers, get masks free of charge.

    I ship masks from this post office twice a week. Each time I drop of masks to be shipped to individuals, I drop masks into the mail slot! I hope the postal workers can use them.

    I have put together an Amazon wishlist of supplies. Some of these supplies will help replenish my personal stash, others will help me offer new and improved designs with cinch toggles and nose bridge strips. And, well, I put two items in there because I really wouldn’t mind having them. A person can dream. 🙂 

    I am extremely grateful to Leslie Tucker Jenison, who donated fabrics from Urban Garden by RJR Fabrics for this effort. And, I also give thanks to Lyric Kinard who donated some great thread and more fabric to the cause. And to Jeannette, I have more Snoopy and John Deere to sew! That has been fun to blow through! Thank you. I am glad beyond measure, to use as much of my own stash as possible! I love being able to trim my stash back, but it is great to receive donated cloth too.

    Please, if you have yardage you would like to donate, please contact me.

    And, last but not least, I can do special orders. They take longer, but I will do my best to accommodate your requests! Specific fabric requests are not always possible. The mask you see above, a neat shield style mask, was made as a special order, using a pattern made by Judy Coates Perez for Makers Space.

    Thank you for helping me get masks into the hands of Essential Workers. Thank you for keeping me occupied with good work! It feels amazing to be working with you to get this work done. High five.

  • Mask making for you and Essential Workers!

    Four weeks ago, I was let go from my job as an Arts & Craft Specialist for a local after school program. Covid_19 has arrived and New York City is in lockdown. I have time on my hands and am in need of serious distraction.  

    Being a creative person who likes to make things to occupy my time, I began making cloth masks. As I did so, I noticed that my best friend, an Essential Worker, working in a mental health facility, was not being properly supplied with protective gear. My awareness of this need grew when a therapist I know told me she was exposed to Coronavirus in a session. Then my friend, Stacey a mental health care worker and organizer of Flat Retreat, did a jig on Facebook, in a mask, which I had heard, were being rationed by her employer. And I realized, mental health care workers need masks too. 

    So, I set out to make masks for those people that I could. So far, I have mailed out 90 masks and I am now receiving requests for even more!

    After receiving some of my masks, my friend Stacey wanted to make sure that I could continue to make and mail masks to those in need, so she set up a Go Fund Me, to enable my mask making endeavor. Now, I am requesting your help, by way of monetary donation. 

    These masks are made to fit over N95 masks, prolonging their efficacy. Cloth masks are recommended for use by the general population by the Center for Disease Control  in controlling the spread of Covid-19. Please inform yourself as to the benefit and limits of cloth masks. Here is an article titled, How NOT to Wear a Mask. And here is a User’s Guide to Face Masks

    Please enable me to make masks and distribute these masks.  

    When you make a donation, let me know if you need #MellyMasks for yourself or if you would like to supply masks to Essential Workers-or both! Please donate extra money, so that I can make and give masks to the Essential Workers I rely on each day. If you would like to arrange for shipping outside of the U.S., please comment. If you cannot afford a masks, but would like them, please comment. I will do what I can to ensure each person can get a mask.

    1 mask 18$ (1 mask and flat rate USPS shipping envelope) each additional mask, 10$ each. So, 6 masks 68$ This is a ballpark figure, to give you an idea on pricing, it isn’t set in stone.

    Mask making keeps me indoors and focused on working for the greater good! Living in New York City is not easy right now! So far, I have made and mailed 90 masks. I have 140 masks cut and ready to be sewn. Some are John Deere fabrics!!! I function better when I am driven to an end. Right now? I want masks on everyone I see.

    I plan to food shop this week, with the intent to donate 24 masks to my local Whole Foods. Last time we shopped, I saw so many employees with NO masks. If I can bridge that gap? I want to! I am lucky enough to be able to stay home and I have both the skill and the time to make masks and help others. 

    Thank you for helping me fund this endeavor!! Thank you for keeping me busy and in a few boxes of pasta, while trying to make a greater difference!! Let’s spread color and good care to the faces of all who contribute and beyond! If you receive masks from me, please post a selfie with the hashtag #MellyMasks and show me your mask wearing mug!!

    If you would like to donate cloth, please comment. I prefer yardage, 1.5 yard cuts of quilters cotton, if possible. 

    Please, help me get these masks onto the faces of the Essential Workers in my orbit.


  • My NYC and Covid-19

    Amidst the wale of sirens, an aerie, unnatural silence has fallen, here in Brooklyn, New York. Covid-19 is here. We have been asked to refrain from non-essential travel, to #stayhome and when we need to go out, to ‘social distance’ or pass our fellows with at least a 6 foot berth. We carry hand sanitizer, keep our hands away from our faces and we leave our houses at a minimum, in order to exercise and food shop. The subway continues to run with a modified schedule. The roads are clear of most traffic.

    The birds are building nests and singing to attract mates. Trees are blossoming. Daffodils are breaking ground and opening their bright yellow trumpets. All while some neighbors shutter their homes and others come down with the virus. My Man, thankfully, is able to work from home, and I was temporarily let go from my part time job. And while I can apply for unemployment, the NY state unemployment website has crashed and the phone lines drop calls, just before the final filing step. So many people are trying to apply at once, and the system cannot support it.

    Going to the grocery store feels like a threat, as everyone needs food and there is no way to tell who might be infected. This is when the numbers and statistics begin a cacophony of warnings and protective barking. 1 in a 1000 people are infected. 27,000 people live within a square mile of space, here. The mayor suggests that 40-80% of New Yorkers will become ill. NYC needs ventilators and our hospitals are running out of much needed supplies.

    I continue to Dance Walk, leaving my home early. Walking the less trodden areas. Crossing the street upon coming up on a fellow. Unfortunately, the gateway to viewing the Lady Liberty has been locked, for the time being. I will find a new way to visit her, she is my balm. This is the last image I took of her:

    In the meantime, my Man and I are doing well enough. My city doesn’t sound right. This does not feel like  the hope that spring usually embodies. None of us know how long this will take. All we can do is take care, wash our hands, be brief in our outside endeavors, while we remain in good cheer.