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Books of 2016

January 3, 2017

Like last year, I don’t really feel like rehashing what I sewed last year. I’m pretty sure my sewing slowed way down in 2016 and I don’t see it picking up anytime soon. So instead here is a list of books I read in 2016 and briefly what I thought about them (order is just chronological to when I read them):

  • Cat on the Edge – this was a really fun book. It’s a murder mystery with talking cats (who solve the crime). I believe it’s the first of a series of mystery books about the main cat character, but I doubt I’ll read the rest of them.
  • A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi – novelizations of the original 3 star wars movies. I’m lumping them together because the book I got had all 3 printed in one binding. I would say these are just meh, the movies are better but it is kindof funny to notice the differences because the movie wasn’t finalized when these books were written. I’m pretty sure I remember the book describing Yoda as having blue skin.
  • The Force Awakens – another novelization of the movie, this one was much more consistent with the movie, well written, and had just a little bit more in it about what some of the characters were thinking. But nothing very important. I’m seriously considering getting immersed in all the new star wars books after seeing Rogue One.
  • Leviathan Wakes – This is the first book in the Expanse series that was recently made into a really awesome TV show. The books is also very good, but this is a complex story set about 100 years in the future with multiple plot lines. Basically humanity has colonized Mars, some moons of Jupiter, and the asteroid belt, but because of differences in gravity humans are evolving differently in different locations. There’s political drama, space ships, interplanetary war, and possibly aliens. It’s really well done and I do plan to read more of the series, but I have a hard time getting into really long book series that have no end in sight. Everyone should at least watch the TV show, it’s amazing.
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk – A book of short stories about animals by David Sedaris. Nearly all the stories are full of dark humor. It wasn’t my favorite, I was hoping for a little more light heartedness.
  • Death Comes to Pemberley – This is sortof a sequil to Pride and Prejudice, except obviously a different author. But it’s also a murder mystery. It was a very fast read, and I enjoyed it all the way up to the end. But the ending was pretty disappointing.
  • The Bad Beginning,  The Reptile Room,  The Wide Window,  and The Miserable Mill – these are the first 4 books in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. When these first came out I was probably just a little too old for them, I read the first 3 books and just didn’t think they were funny, just depressing (I tend to internalize a lot of things I read and watch on TV without realizing it, for instance scary things will definitely give me bad dreams if I watch them too close to bedtime. Like zombie movies or true crime shows). My mom loved them and had the whole series of books, but she was going to get rid of them because she wasn’t going to reread them so I took the books home (although I’m missing book 7). I still think they’re depressing, and not especially funny, but I can appreciate them more now and I’m determined to read them all before watching the new Netflix show. Mainly I just really want to know what happens to the Baudelaire orphans in the end.

Currently I’m part way through  The Austere Academy (book 5 of A Series of Unfortunate Events), Little Women, and O Pioneers. Which is pretty random combination, but I seem to jump around a lot between genres anyways.

I couldn’t find a picture related to books so here are my cats sleeping:

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~Molly

Inside Molly’s Head, August to November 2016

November 30, 2016
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So most of these are a little old, but now that I’m done with the PE exam I can do things for fun again!

  • See, men’s fashion does change! just not as fast as women’s. Or does it, it’s honestly hard to tell.
  • I’m sure you’ve heard about the New York Times profile of the McCall’s Pattern Company by now. The term Do-It-Yourself really gets on my nerves though, it implies that normally we aren’t capable of making things or, in my mind, that the thing you’re making is shoddy quality. I don’t DIY my clothing, I construct it myself, for myself.
  • The real Bob Ross
  • The Hugo Awards short story winner this year is about an AI who loves cat pictures. Really, what more could you ask for from a self-aware computer system?
  • Yet another discriminating thing to watch out for – math can be biased against women and minorities. Really, it’s the algorithms, which are written by people with biases (everyone has biases), but still don’t ever take “big data” as complete truth because it’s probably missing something important.
  • Embroidery is apparently very trendy right now, even better when done yourself in my opinion.
  • I wasn’t really paying attention to the Olympics when Flo-Jo was racing (having just been born around that time), but she looks so cool in her hooded bodysuits.
  • How gymnastics leotards are made
  • Tim Gunn and Christian Siriano on NPR
  • This is the best Banned Book Week idea ever, wish it wasn’t just in DC!
  • The age old question: are quilts art? Mary Fons (the author of the article linked to) also keeps an interesting blog, mostly about her life, that is a nice departure from the typical craft blog because she almost never blogs about her sewing but she’s such a good writer.
  • Back to the topic of all things Olympics from this summer, here is a little history of the American uniforms and branding.
  • How Obama’s female staffers made their voices heard
  • The presidential campaign may be over technically, but I doubt anyone is going to stop being upset. At least some people are pretty decent.
  • Some behind the scenes on making star wars action figures for the most recent movies.

~Molly

Southwestern Print Knit Dress

November 5, 2016
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You know when you find fabric that you just really like but have no idea what to do with it and you still buy it anyways? That’s this dress. I love the green/blue colors, but the tan isn’t my favorite. But a southwestern style print like this isn’t something I normally wear even if I love it. So I paired it with a dress pattern that I wanted to try out. I think the fit is a little weird, but I’m not too bummed because I was so unsure about the fabric.

I actually finished sewing this dress in July or August probably, didn’t wear or photograph it until late September and now that I’m done studying for the PE I finally have the mental space to post about it!

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It was very sunny

Pattern: New Look 6097

Fabric: Rayon-lycra jersey from SR Harris

Design Likes/Dislikes: I think this might be my first mock wrap dress and I actually really like the idea. I like wrap dresses too but with this one you don’t have to think about if the wrap is going to fly open ever. I also liked that the pattern has a couple variation details like the collar and sleeves.

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Sizing and Fit: I made my usual size 10 but the fit feels a little weird. You can see it in the drawing above that the waist seam isn’t on the waist. It feels weird to me, and when I finished making it I was ready to just get rid of it because it was too weird. But I left it in my closet for a couple weeks ( or maybe months) and decided I had to at least give it a chance by wearing it to work and after wearing it a full day it really didn’t bother me as much. I don’t think this pattern will become a favorite, but it’s not bad.

I should have used the silly sleeve tabs though because the sleeves are too loose on their own to roll up well.

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Changes: I used the longer sleeves, no tabs, and no collar, but the only real change was to shorten the skirt.

For Next Time: I’m not making this one again, but I might see if I have any other mock wrap patterns or look around for a good one.

~Molly

When you play the game of thrones… everyone gets a turkey leg

September 11, 2016

Oh, that’s not how the saying goes? When you’re just going to a highly historically inaccurate renaissance festival, no one dies and you can have mead and a turkey leg if you want instead.

I finished my dress for the fair earlier this summer and a couple weekends ago my family came to visit so we could all go together. Only my mom, dad, and I dressed up, but it sounds like everyone wants to go again next year so maybe my sister and nephew will dress up next time also. My mom made a quick elastic waist skirt and laced up vest (from leftovers of my dress #matching) and my dad wore the monk robe I made last year. It was raining for the first 30 minutes or more that we were at the fair, so that was kindof miserable because none of us had prepared for rain. But it was great once it stopped raining, probably cut down on the crowd too. Next year I’m making a cloak or a big hat.

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Pattern: McCall’s 6940, View A with modifications

Dresses (close-fitting through bust) have princess seam detail, long, wide sleeves and sleeve bands. A: Partially lined, wrap, tie ends, and appliqué. B: Boned, and back zipper. Belts have backing. Belt C: Seam detail, purchased lacing for closure. Belt D:elasticized pieces with hook & eye closing.

Fabric: Dark blue linen (from SR Harris) and printed blue and white cotton linen blend (from Hancock’s, RIP). I hadn’t totally decided what to do with the sleeves yet when I was buying fabric (didn’t even have a color scheme picked out until I found the blue and white print), so I followed the recommended yardages. Since I obviously didn’t make giganto sleeves, I have plenty left over.

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Design Likes/Dislikes: The sleeves didn’t look very practical for anything other than posing for pictures and there was potential for hot weather so I pretty much nixed the sleeves as designed, I’ll go into more detail below about my changes. I was also not sure the ties would be enough to keep the dress closed. Besides the outside ties, the pattern calls for one interior ribbon going around the waist with thread loops. I didn’t do that, instead I secured the inside wrap with 4 buttons sewn to the seam. This worked pretty well and I didn’t have to worry about my dress coming open at all during the day – but I did wear shorts and a tank top underneath just in case. I’m not a fan of the odd shaped belts in the pattern either, so I didn’t make them.

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And here is my dad and I “fighting” with imaginary light sabers, showing off his sleeve pocket, and kindof showing the interior buttons I added to my dress. I feel like my voice sounds really funny in this video (shot by Pedro).

Sizing and Fit: Size 10, the sleeves are a little tight around the armhole but otherwise the dress fit as expected.

Changes: I added interior buttons like I mentioned above. I also changed the sleeves quite a bit. I used the upper sleeve pattern piece but extended it to be full length. Originally I was just going to have a normal straight sleeve, but then I started getting worried it would be hot and I would die in dark blue long sleeves. So I cut them up the center and bound the edges with bias binding. If I feel like it I might go back and add some lacing or a ribbon tie at the wrist to make it more fancy.

My belt is just an unfinished strip of thick, blue leather (just one of those things you randomly have lying around “just in case”)

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For Next Time: I think I can safely say I won’t be making this again, I’m not sure why I would need two of these dresses, but I do think I could make some modifications to this dress for the next time I wear it. I need some sort of pocket, I’ll have to think about where the best place to put that would be. Laces or ribbon added to the sleeves. And a tie or ribbon that I can use to hitch up the skirt. It was very muddy at the fair because it rained in the morning so I was constantly holding my skirt up (which one hand, because I was too busy eating and drinking). I think just a tie that starts from the inside waist seam on one side would be enough.

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It probably doesn't entirely show it, but our feet were super muddy by the end

It probably doesn’t entirely show it, but our feet were super muddy by the end

The fair itself was fun, pretty much just as I expected it to be. This fair in Shakopee, MN is a permanent set up and I think one of the larger fairs in the country (I could be wrong, haven’t been to any others). The buildings are really well done to look aged and all the actors/performers/workers are costumed and spoke in English/Scottish accents (which honestly was the weirdest part to me. I know we didn’t have a medieval period in America, but it’s just weird to pretend to be English for a renaissance festival. Does anyone in Europe even have renaissance festivals? seems like one of those weird American ideas). There was theatrical jousting, jesters and acrobat type people, and a royal court that seemed to just wonder around. It can get expensive though, but they serve mead and turkey legs and you get to dress!

~Molly

Inside Molly’s Head, July 2016

July 30, 2016
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Work has been crazy busy this spring/summer and now that I’ve decided to take the Professional Engineer licensure exam in October, the summer and fall will probably be busy too… which leads to not much sewing (and an seriously warped sense of time). But, I finished a dress to wear to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival because my dad needs an excuse to wear his monk robe, obviously. Not going to bother posting about it until we go in September though.

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These are the summarized reference books for the Civil Engineering PE exam… not intimidating at all*

Pre-hemming

Pre-hemming

  • The Met Gala was a while back now but there were some really interesting (and not interesting) outfits worn on the red carpet. My favorite was Kate Hudson’s dress, which I then loved even more when an unexplained photo of her in the bathroom holding a wrench popped. How to accessorize your Gala dress? With a wrench obviously.
  • I also loved Lupita Nyong’o at the Met Gala, but her hair do seemed to cause some confusion. I wish I knew the structural physics of her hair. How did she sit in the car to get to the Gala?
  • Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will be the first athlete to compete for the US Olympic Team while wearing the hijab.
  • Most of the people reading this probably know that throwing clothes in the trash is a bad idea, but it seems to be sinking in with everyone else more too. Although this interview still doesn’t tell us what to do with our fabric scraps or clothing that really truly is worn to rags (I still feel bad sending exceedingly crappy stuff to charity and force them to sort through it). I should probably just call the Salvation Army and see if they care or not.
  • These crosswalks are so cool, but I think I’d freak out a little if I wasn’t expecting them while driving.
  • Electron microscope video of a needle on a vinyl record.
  • What will tourist wear in space?
  • This is so cool: spider silk stays taught when pushed and pulled!
  • Optical illusion body painting by Alexa Meade.
  • It always confuses me when people don’t have hobbies of any kind, or maybe they just don’t know that practically anything you’re not being paid for but enjoy doing is probably a hobby.
  • FIDM has an Online Collections Database
  • British grandma sends cute tweet
  • Cats are actually scientists, this explains so much.
  • These pictures aren’t new by any means, but seriously, Obama is the best president ever. Michelle should run in 2024, after Hillary’s 8 years are up.

~Molly

Quilt Update from Bia

June 22, 2016
by

Guest Post by Bia (Molly and Pedro’s mom)

6-19-16SamIAm (1) (Copy)

I should guest post more often, but Molly might tell me to just get my own blog!

I just finished a quilt for my sister, Samantha.  The family has always called her Sam or Sammy (or Sambrino or Sam Hill, as in “Who in the Sam Hill is that?”).  When I spied Dr. Seuss “Sam I Am” (from the Green Eggs and Ham story) fabric a couple years ago in Grand Island NE (at Material Girl), I had to get it!  I only bought one yard of each – orange big white dots, green with green dots, white with black Sam I Am words, green with green Sam I Am words.  I added in plain white and came up with a plan.

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Close-up of front (above).

The backing is a very cool border, found it on sale in an awesome small shop in Lincoln NE, Crafthouse in the north part of town.

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Back of quilt (above).

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And the happy recipient!  Some quilty details: Finished size ~70″ x 82″.  Batting – 80 cotton/20 polyester. Machine pieced and quilted by me.  Rectangular block.  Lots of fun to make!

Until next time I guest blog – ta ta for now — Bia

 

 

Where Are All the Cordovas?

June 18, 2016

In my head I’m singing “Where are all the Cordovas” to the tune of “Where have all the Cowboys Gone.” I’ve always thought the Cordova Jacket from Sewaholic was a really cool looking pattern, it’s surprising that it hasn’t been more popular. I guess jacket’s are more intimidating to some people… but this one doesn’t even have a collar! I finally bought it and made it though and I think it’s a winner, with a few personal preference tweaks anyways.

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Pattern: Sewaholic 1205 Cordova Jacket

Fabric: Cream faux suede, polyester bird print lining, and tan plastic separating zipper. The suede has a really cool texture, almost like miniature elephant skin, except white and softer.

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Design Likes/Dislikes: I was really unsure about the second hip flounce layer at first, but I’m glad I went for it because it’s well balanced and not too extreme. The sleeves, however, are pretty horrible (to my taste). The sleeves that come with the pattern are so loose and the shoulders are huge. I don’t remember if the pattern called for padding, but I’m not sure how else you’d get the shoulders to stay nice and poofy without some padding. I inserted one sleeve per the pattern, hated it, unpicked the seam and recut the sleeves using the sleeve peices from Burda 03/2012 #102 (which is a really good pattern, I made it here in purple suede… apparently I have a thing for faux suede jackets).

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Since I didn’t make any adjustments to either the sleeve or body pattern pieces, they don’t fit perfectly together. But with the help of a bazillion pins, I got the sleeves in 99% pucker free, so I don’t care. If I make this jacket again, I’ll modify the armscye of the jacket to fit these sleeves better.

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I like it so much better without the 1980s shoulder pleats.

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I like the exposed zipper and collarless neckline a lot too, makes it feel slightly futuristic to me (I imagine collars and lapels will be pretty useless in the future. We’ll probably all just wear jumpsuits like in Star Trek though).

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Sizing and Fit: I cut a size 4. I am not good at choosing my size with “indie” patterns. In this case the shoulders are tight, but the hips feel great. Which probably makes sense since Sewaholic drafts for pear shaped figures which I am not. It’s wearable though, and all I do is sit at a desk all day. It would be a bigger problem if I had to raise my arms up over my head all the time.

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Changes: The only change was swapping out the sleeves really, everything else is per the pattern I think. I actually finished and photographed this jacket a month ago, I’ve just been too tired after work recently to do anything.

For Next Time: I do really like this jacket, and it would look pretty different with just one hip flounce. But I will have to grade between sizes for the shoulder area and modify the armscye area to fit better.

~Molly