Monday, October 13, 2014

Quilting- Sewing With Love

Making a quilt is an act of love. There is no way around it, you have to put love in there to get it right. And if you don't have love to give, you have to stop and fill up the tank before you sew on. An important lesson I learned (again) this past month.

Recently, I finished a commission quilt made from the fabric napkins and table cloths used at Akwi & Chris's wedding. Akwi contacted me earlier this year to commission the quilt as a suprise for their 2nd anniversary. The quilt reminds me of the scenes I saw in pictures of their delightful barn wedding. The textures, colors, pretty Christmas lights, and joyful smiles are there in the quilt design. Akwi has a way of creating charm and beauty. It was my honor to collaborate with her throughout the quilt process.

I do not sew many commission quilts due to the time and energy that they require, but this one was worth taking on and I am excited about how it turned out. Plus, I really like the people that I was making it for.

However, I had forgotten how BIG a queen size quilt feels when you put it together and machine quilt it. MUCH bigger than a throw! But look at me, finding my way to get it done. I am using the Erik tight-rolling method.


I was chatting with my friend Ambre about finding an efficient way to handle the 100x100 inches. She suggested skipping the typical pinning process and rolling up the quilt on either side. It was inspired by her husband's tight-rolling skills leftover from high school. Thus, it will be forever called Erik Tight-Roll Style, in my internal quilt dictionary.
Isn't that fun? Makes me smile.

Time ran tight on this project and I once again chided myself for not planning better. 

Sigh.......

Sometimes, my nature causes challenges that aren't fun......but there are a lot of awesome attributes that come with the way I am, so I will accept and love all of me and learn to make life easier in the future.

But, let's take a moment and look at this pretty barn wedding inspired quilt.

Isn't it nice?
I am very happy with it. And more importantly, so are the two people that it was made for.

Now....time to whip up some fun projects for Frond Design Studios in preparation for Fall Market. I'm looking forward to playing with my latest fabric line, Dreaming Tree. (Check it out at Fronddesignstudios.com).

But.......first I need to quickly fill up my love tank. Better fill up quick!!

See you later!
•Melissa

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Art- Meditation

Some days are long.
Some weeks are REAAALLLY long.
Our perception of life can cause stress.

Art is where I breathe.
Where I find my voice.
Where I check in and see how I am.

Honesty is found through my hands.
Through movement and form.
Through color and line.

Tonight, as I unwind like a spinning top, my sketchbook is open and my soul is sorting itself out.

Peace be with you.
Peace be with me.

•Melissa

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cooking- Flounder Patty

I found myself thinking tonight, "If I had more time, I would have a food blog." But, here is the thing......I already have a blog that I talk about ALL kinds of random things from creating art to fashion.....why NOT include food?

Many of you know that I have been working hard to heal my body and put Hashimotos Thyroiditis in remission. It has been quite the journey and I have had great success due to all my health healers and helpers!

Healing my gut was INCREDIBLY important. I have been working with an amazing Nutrionist that has walked me through different protocols to deal with the gut issues on different levels.

Through the different protocols, I have come up with great food inventions. For some reason, I go mad scientist in the kitchen when there are ingredient restrictions. In fact, I get really excited and determined to make amazingness out of nothing.

Now, as I post my recipes, I'm really ok with you thinking I'm weird. Really. I'm mean, I've lived with myself for awhile now, and the way God put my personality together is a....well....a...little.. shall we say....unconventional? Yeah, so I'm down with having weird tastebuds. But I am even more down with having a stomach that functions properly. Yep. That is goal.

Here is my first recipe share:


I'm a peskatarian (meaning the only meat I eat is fish). When I cook fish, I make a pan full to last me a couple days. This recipe is from my left-over fish.

The biggest tip I can give you about making patties is:
Leave them ALONE and don't flip until a crust forms on the patty. It is sooooo tempting to flip premature, but just be patient. You can do it, I have faith in you.

This recipe works with any kind of fish, including tuna. 

Hope you try your hand at my recipe!
•Melissa

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sewing- Making a Skirt from a Dress

Can you make a skirt from a dress?

Ummmnnnn......YES!

Where there is a will, innovation will follow.

Awhile back, I pulled a dress out of my archives. While wearing it, the zipper broke. I was at work and had one of our Alteration ladies sew me into the dress. It was a bit tricky getting out of it that night! The whole zipper breaking situation was pretty funny and gave me a lot of laughs that day.

My sister sent out a request to my mom and I to make her daughter some skirts for school. Her little girl is the sweetest thing in the world and she lives far away......how could I say no???

This morning when I was shuffling things about, I found this old dress. My creative mind looked at it and instantly thought of my niece!

I love recycling clothes. The concept of taking something old and giving it a new life makes me get all excited inside!




The bottom sides are intentionally longer to create design interested and I made the lining become the top fabric, so the skirt would feel light and swingy.

I hope it hangs well on her little frame, but my sister will have to be the judge of that when it arrives to their home.

This was a quick easy project that involved two cuts, pinning, gathering, and sewing on elastic. Pretty EASY!

I encourage you to rock your life, your way. Go ahead! I cheer you on.

•Melissa

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fashion- Feeling Fall

I live in Iowa, and the temps are dropping fast. It is time to dig out what sweaters are left in my closet. 

I'm a sentimental girl and have held onto the cozy wool sweaters that my mom bought me over the years for Christmas and my birthday. These sweaters were once a fitted style on my body, but they feel even better oversize. Glad I was sentimental! 

Over size clothing is a trend right now. In order for it to work for my small shouldered, curvy hip and legged body, this is my motto:

Oversize on top - fitted on bottom
Oversize on bottom - fitted on top

If I do oversize on both top and bottom, one wonders, "Where did Melissa go?"

Here are some pics that my photographer husband (Louis Collins) took of my fall fashion the other day.



In my opinion, his capturing ability is getting pretty freaking good. Sheesh! If I was a senior in highschool, I would hunt him down. But.....I don't have to hunt him down.....I live with this amazingly talented man.

And here is my new favorite hairstyle.



It is a French braid that is tucked under and pinned. I also pin the top of the braid to give me a little poof up front. This is not as quick as the top knot style I rocked most of the summer, but it is pretty close.

After these pics were taken, I went and painted a chair at my friend's open studio. The Dreaming Bear is my favorite place to climb in, get away, and delight in the ridiculous. The owner, Dori has become a very dear friend to my heart. If you are in Marion, you should check her out!


This was taken in my studio after fussing a little more on it. Look at how my skirt pattern was infused into my design!


Ha! So fun.

Hope fall is treating you well. Make sure to rock any trends you try, YOUR WAY. After all, it is your life, you are living.

Take care, friends!
•Melissa

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sewing: Love Art Pillow

This week, a FaceBook friend, Peggy Bass, posted a challenge in our Hands That Create group. We were to make a piece of art out of a word or phrase that meant something to us. We could use whatever creative medium we desired.

The moment I read the post, I KNEW that I was going to make a LOVE pillow in black and white.

Last night, I was feeling spent by life and needed to do a self-nurturing project. I was sitting in my studio lounge chair looking at my book shelf of unfinished projects. I saw two pieces of white fabric I had machine quilted 2-3 years ago, sticking out asking to have a purpose.

How could I not oblige them?

(The white fabric used was recycled from my great-great Aunt Dorothy's curtains. I think she would feel honored by my creative use of her home decor.)

And look at this! I am going to do a little tutorial of my steps.


I cut my LOVE letters out of the black blender in my Life Goes On fabric line for Frond Design Studios. (www.fronddesignstudios.com)


Here is a pic of the adhesive that I ironed on first. It is my personal favorite: Heat n Bond lite. 


I fussed and fussed with my hand cut letters until I liked the layout. The placement is always worth the time it takes to get it just right.

Next, I carefully peeled off the paper backing and ironed them down.

Then, I zigzagged the living daylights out of them.


Love, love, LOVE doing appliqué with a walking foot. It makes everything go so much faster.


How could I not add black pom-poms? Especially since I have two large reels of them! I didn't pre-pin and this step took a lot of time. Pinning would have made this process quicker.


Next, I sewed the layers all together, inside out, with my zipper foot. It seemed like the easiest way to deal with all the pom-pom bulge that was sandwiched between the layers. I made sure to pin, pin, and pin all the way around so that everything would lay nice and the pom-poms would not get caught in the seam. 



Then I stuffed it full and closed up the little opening with white thread.


Voilá! There is my LOVE pillow looking cute.


Today, Louis and I joined up with the Frond crew and went on a photo shoot. I brought my pillow so I could utilize the locations to get some good shots.



And of course, I wiggled a few pictures out of Louis. He does such a great job. Love my man and love his photogrsphy skills.




Recognize the background? This is a mural I did awhile back at The Meat Market in Cedar Rapids' Czech Village. They have wonderful smoked salmon and other tasty meats that this peskatarian doesn't nom-nom, but I hear are marvelous!

So, there you go! Hope this inspires you to use your favorite Frond fabric and make something awesome.

Also, take time to nurture your heart. A little "me time" benefits everyone.

-melissamariecollins

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Art- Laughing At Trouble

Today I had studio time at a coffee shop. I really enjoy taking my creative supplies to-go style. A new setting brings new inspiration.

Flowers, Melissa style, came bursting forth today. It has been years since I have painted flowers. Years since I have even photographed them. They used to be my favorite subject matter.

Time to return to flowers and what they mean to me.




Poppies have always caught my attention. They are tall with big petals. Something about them feels strong yet delicate. When I looked up the meaning, I couldn't help but paint it. 


What a meaning. Full of mystery and life. No wonder they have always captured my attention.


What a pretty little flower the Harlequin is. The meaning tickles my fancy! 

When I walked out of the coffee shop, the wind blew this picture out of my hand, whirled it up and around......then it landed face up. 

I heard the message loud and clear. 

There are some things that I need to no longer be afraid of, and "laugh at trouble" when it comes knocking at my door. After all, it is our perception that makes things difficult. Very seldom is the problem as big as what we make it.

Life is a beautiful journey and I am determined to enjoy it one moment at a time.

May your world be full of mystery and joy.

-melissamariecollins