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Books of 2018

January 1, 2019
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Like I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading a lot, probably more than sewing/crafting. And unlike my sewing projects, I actually like listing out all the books I finished in a year so that’s what you get!

  • Babel-17 – Kindof pulpy sci-fi, but the story is really good and this is one of my sister’s favorite books. The main character is a woman of Asian decent, so for a book written in the 60s that’s pretty interesting.
  • Hidden Figures – I think I listed this in last years list too because I had to take a break reading it, it’s pretty heavy an information. It’s still fast paced and interesting but there’s a lot going on (and a lot of women named Katherine, so that was a little confusing). The ending made me a little depressed because women’s positions in the workplace obviously stagnated somewhat from the 80s to present.
  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – Very short book, and some really good points without being judgmental. Also pretty funny and exactly what the title says it is.
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Very bad science, but what can you really expect from a science fiction book written in 1864. Can’t say it wasn’t fun, even if I didn’t particularly care for most of the characters.
  • Stories of Your Life and Others – I actually only read half of this book of short stories. They’re really good, but somehow very heavy mentally. I started it because one of the stories is the basis for the movie Arrival which I loved, but I think I liked the movie more than the story. A few of the other stories will stick with me more.
  • Caliban’s War – Book 2 of the Expanse series (also a super amazing tv show). I love the tv show and the books, but I fear this will be an never ending series. We’ll see how many I read. I dislike when series just keep going and going.
  • Washington: The Indispensable Man – I asked my dad if I could borrow a biography of George Washington and he lent me 7… This was the most comprehensive of them and it is very good. The USA would not exist if George hadn’t been patient enough to be our first president, not even joking. Also, we didn’t really win the Revolutionary war, France did it for us basically. It’s really interesting to see how the history I learned in grade school was distorted.
  • Circe – I love Greek mythology and I love twisted fairy tales or retellings, so this was perfect. Circe is a minor character in the Odyssey portrayed as a witch who entraps sailors for no reason. This book is from Circe’s perspective and it’s really awesome. Odysseys still plays a big roll, but Circe’s life does not revolve around him. She is still a witch, but in a more ground breaking way because she and her siblings are the first.
  • Sharp Objects – I watched the tv show first and couldn’t get enough of it so I read the book. I think the two support each other really well, there are details in both the show and book that would be difficult/impossible to have in the other. And thankfully the book has a bit more of an epilogue than the show. Amy Adams might be my favorite actress.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – And I read this because I saw there is a movie version coming next year that looks good. For some reason I thought this was going to be a ghost story but it wasn’t, more of a murder mystery told by an unreliable narrator (who I did not like at all, but that’s probably the point). The visuals were really good, the story very interesting, I had a hard time placing it in time but I think it was supposed to be set in the 50s. It annoyed me a little that things like paying property taxes or electric bills was never a problem after the ~big event~ at the end that I can’t spoil. But I guess I’m just being too practical with a fictional story.
  • The Bookshop on the Corner – This is basically a hallmark movie in book form. I’m surprised it hasn’t been made into a hallmark story yet because it would be a good one. There’s nothing earth shaking here, it’s a lighthearted romance about a woman who has to start her life/career over in a new place. But it was really fun and set me on the look out for more fluff romance books. Strangely, this is the Americanized title and makes zero sense with the plot because there is no bookshop on the corner. The British title is The Little Shop of Happily Ever After, which makes more sense contextually.
  • Hotel du Lac – I guess I’d call this one a romance too kindof, except it’s more about the main character, Edith, choosing not the get married. I liked it, but I wish the ending gave a more clues about what Edith did after she left the Hotel du Lac. It won the Man Booker Prize in 1984, so it’s not just me that thought it was good 🙂
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Another book where I really didn’t like the main character at all. But it is a really good take on a good verses evil story, I’m surprised it isn’t classified as fantasy or horror.
  • The Proposal – When I’m on planes I read, so when I finished Hotel du Lac but still had a layover and second flight to get through, I bought this at an airport bookstore on a whim. And it was exactly what I was looking for after finishing Bookshop on the Corner! A modern day romance in LA, dealing with the impacts of social media and some racism (though it kindof glossed over that even though the main character is black). I really want to read the previous book by this author that takes place in the same “universe,” and there’s a third book coming out next year.
  • Acorna’s Quest – This is the second book to one I read last year about a futuristic unicorn alien race. Acorna, the unicorn girl, is on a quest to find her home planet and figure out what alien race she’s from. Not sure I’ll read anymore of these (and trust me there are a lot more of them, like any semi-popular sci-fi series), but it was fun and colorful, if not the best plot.
  • The Glass Dragon – And speaking of decent, but not ground breaking, sci-fi/fantacy book series, here’s another one! There was plenty of silliness in this, but still good fun and I might read the next one if I can find it. Set in a magical medieval country, there’s a mysterious power slowly eroding the current (stagnant) government system that is supported by dragon magic. A new magician with unorthodox powers unravels most of what’s going on to save the last female dragon.
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – Apparently this is a true story, told from the author’s point of view, except the author took liberties with the timeline. I could not tell it was real until I reread the back cover halfway though and honestly I don’t like that he wasn’t actually there for most of the events but acted like he was. Kindof a boring story too.

Pedro and I visited Minnesota’s north shore along lake Superior

17 books is pretty good I’d say!

~Molly

Some Things I Made/Worked on in 2018

December 23, 2018

… that didn’t get blogged.

So obviously I haven’t posted here in a while. Honestly I just haven’t really felt like doing it. I’m sewing but not a ton, same with crafting, it comes and goes. I’ll have a round up of the books I’ve read this year later though, not that most of you probably care, but I don’t care that you don’t care so we’re even!

All the blocks are done for a new quilt, it hasn’t moved past this point though. The cats love it anyways

Cross stitch wedding present

Another BurdaStyle #107 09/2012. This picture is pre-hemming, it has since been finished but I’m not in love. This is one of my precious Marimekko fabrics. I put fish eye darts in the back but now I think it’s too fitted.

M7093 fits really well (I didn’t get very good pictures of it) but the print it too small for me I think.

One of 3 new kimono style tshirts I made this summer.

A “commissioned” painting for my sister’s living room

Still working on the blue quilt… when I’m allowed

And finally, I’m making a cover for this old chair.

~Molly

Weaving with Cardboard

May 23, 2018
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Ok, not really with cardboard but on cardboard. I’ll explain.

I bought a house last summer, and I’ve been trying to be careful about not filling it with stuff we don’t need and attempting to decorate a little. But I’d also like to do as much of it myself as I can, because just like buying clothes, if I see something I like in a store that I could make I have a hard time justifying buying it (and home decor stuff is usually really expensive for what it is). Long story short, I wanted to find a basket to cover an ugly plastic house plant pot. Couldn’t find a basket in the right size easily so started thinking about how to make something stylish. Solution: weaving.

My mom used to do a lot of crafty things like this at home with my sisters and I. Painting, polymer clay sculptures, tie dye, weaving, etc. And we would make our own looms out of cardboard. So I measured the width I wanted and cut a ton of little tabs along the edges of a piece of cardboard.

I can’t totally remember but I think with a loom like this you’re supposed to wrap the warp threads (up and down) all the way around the back, so then when you go to remove the fabric you have nice long strings to tie in knots. I was using what I had on hand though and ran out of string so I had to do some creative stringing. My cat, Potato, of course loved all of this.

I did a few inches of weaving and realized I did a few things wrong:

  1. the warp threads were too tight
  2. I couldn’t find a comb to force the weft yarn down as much as I wanted
  3. And even though I wasn’t pulling hard at all, I still ended up with a narrower width at one end. I think because the solid cardboard back of the loom makes it hard to adjust.

It still looks nice and I’m glad I tried, but I’m going to try something else for now to make a basket thingy. I’m probably going to end up with way more baskets of different kinds than I actually need. I would like to return to weaving though, maybe with something that more closely resembles a loom instead of cardboard.

Also, fair warning, I’m on a crafting/quilting binge right now and won’t have any more clothing posts for a while.

~Molly

Burda Style #116 02/2012 Kimono For Pedro

May 16, 2018

Sometimes my sister “Pedro” asks me to make her things, sometimes I just make things for her that I think she’d like. This time she requested this kimono, and we even picked out fabric together when she visited sometime last year (or maybe it was 2 years ago, can’t remember). But she completely forgot about it, so now it’s more like a surprise anyways.

Pattern: Burda Style #116 02/2012

Fabric: Brown poly satin. It wasn’t as wide as I needed, so I should have bought more. To make up for that I didn’t make the sash and had to use really small seam allowances.

Design Likes/Dislikes: It’s a really simple pattern and easy to make so there isn’t much to discuss as far as design. I did mess up the pocket placement a couple times because the waist label is really close to the pocket label.

Sizing and Fit: I made a size 44, not that size matters a whole long on something like this. No idea how it fits Pedro since she hasn’t worn it yet but it’s over sized basically.

Changes: Because I didn’t have seam allowances, I bound all the tiny seams with bias tape. I probably could have pieced together the sash but we decided to add a button closure in the front instead. Because of that I had some scraps left that I used as bands to hem the sleeves, they seemed too short without. All the bands have the dull side of the satin facing out.

For Next Time: Buy the right width of fabric! I actually might make this as presents for other people in the future since it was easy and doesn’t require fitting.

~Molly

Burda Style #109 09/2015 The Search for Shift Dress Continues

May 9, 2018
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Actually, I think I’m mostly done looking for the “perfect” shift dress. I have several now and I just don’t need anymore. I love the idea of an easy shift dress, and I’ll still wear them, but I just like pants better. I do however think most of these patterns would work great as tops, so the quest will continue down another path.

I finished this dress a few months ago, but it didn’t seem like a winter dress so I only just now have worn it for the first time. And since I usually wait to take pictures of new things until I actually wear them, the blogging had to wait too.

Pattern: Burda Style #109 09/2015 (which is the same as #108 from the same issue but with sleeves), view B minus the collar.

Fabric: Left over linen from my Renaissance dress. Which I still seem to have more of. I should sew with linen more, it’s so comfortable.

Design Likes/Dislikes: I like the side/princess seams, it’s a nice and loose but still has some shape. The pockets in the front side seam are great. However the sleeves are super tight, I even let them out a little and they’re just barely ok right now. It’s weird that they’re 2 piece sleeves at all, seems unnecessary since the seams don’t follow the arm movements like jacket 2-piece sleeves do. You can see in the close up picture the sleeves are rotating weirdly.

Another bummer about this dress is I serged all the seams inside, which makes it scratchy too me. I must have bad serger thread or something because it always makes stuff too scratchy. I try to do french seams when I remember, but it’s not habit for me.

Sizing and Fit: I made size 36. I think the sleeves are too high and tight, next time I would lower everything by 1/2 inch and widen the sleeves all the way down. The problem with this pattern is probably that the other version of it is sleeveless, so instead of modifying for the sleeves, they just forced the sleeves to fit.

Invisible zipper win

Changes: I let out the sleeve seams, made the pockets bigger and tacked the two pockets together inside, and used a deep hem instead of shortening the pattern. The weight of the pockets falls forward, making my stomach look big, but I love having the pockets so oh well.

For Next Time: I’d like to try this pattern again, with the sleeve modifications, but as a shirt.

~Molly

Inside Molly’s Head, May 2018

May 2, 2018
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And now for some random links accumulated over the past few months, but first, a cat:

  • Laundry hacks
  • Knitting at the Olympics
  • Next time a politician sends their “thoughts and prayers” to victims of preventable tragedies, maybe send them some back instead of campaign donations.
  • My dad’s family is all Irish, so when I was little we’d spend St. Patrick’s day watching old movies from the 40s about leprechauns and Irish folk tales. We’d leave a beer on the back porch that night and find that it had been drank by morning (sort of like leaving cookies for Santa). We’re also Jewish, so it’s really interesting that people are using holidays from cultures other than their own to learn more about them (most people don’t do this, but its nice that some people are). And honestly, gentle Passover sounds so much better than a full Seder.
  • I’m sure you’ve all seen this by now, but it’s just so perfect. I hope they sell prints of the Obama portraits soon because they’re such good paintings.
  • Does reading make you smarter?
  • Why superheros don’t wear ponytails
  • Somehow we’ve lost the ability to bend over properly in western culture (I wish the article went into why, but it’s probably because of desk jobs).
  • Queen Elizabeth went to fashion week
  • Mary Fons talks about the AIDS Quilt, part I and part II. And, while not new, political/protest quilts seem to be having a resurgence.
  • Some really good thoughts on cultural appropriation and inclusion in the quilting/crafting world. I cringe every time someone describes fabric or fashion as “tribal” generically.
  • Jeans vs. Leggings
  • How to use less plastic. I’ve starting making a few of these changes, but plastic wrapping is on everything! I keep telling myself baby steps are better than nothing.
  • I love subversive cross stitch and embroidery sticking it to the man

~Molly

McCall’s 6996 Experiments in Cardigans

April 7, 2018

I wear a lot of cardigans and jackets, they’re necessary layers in a cold office environment. I’ve not been overly successful sewing cardigans. I think because the weight and stability of a fabric is crucial when choosing a pattern. Like my last cardigan, I think my fabric is too light, but it also might have stretched out I can’t tell.

Pattern: M6996, view C

Fabric: Wool knit from SR Harris that is surprisingly soft and easy to wash, I just throw it in a mesh bag in the machine on the gentle cycle and it’s fine. It’s so clingy though, it’s not static and it’s not snagging (thank g-d) but it catches on itself and my fingers all the time almost like hook-and-loop. I’m amazed it hasn’t snagged yet.

It’s a constant battle to straighten this fabric

Normally I would steer clear of something like wool knit because it just sounds like it would be hard to care for, but this stuff is so soft and light I couldn’t resist trying. I do think it stretched out either as I was cutting or sewing or both because the bottom center fronts are not the same length anymore.

Design Likes/Dislikes: I really like the neck band that finishes the front, the gathers are even a really nice touch. I do not like how wide the sleeves are and that the sleeve and hem are just turned up a couple times and stitched. The body of the cardigan seems to flare out at the hips more than I was expecting also.

Sizing and Fit: I did sew a size M (out of XS-S-M) and in hindsight that was a poor choice because of how thin the fabric is. If I had a sweater knit I think that would have worked out, but this is more like a jersey or tissue knit. Also my weight changes seem to have stopped and don’t include my arms so I definitely needed the small size for sleeves. I’ll probably just buy the pattern again so I can have both sizes ready for whatever fabric.

Changes: I don’t think I made any changes really besides order of construction. Once again I should have taken more time when hemming a knit fabric.

For Next Time: Smaller size and make the sleeve narrower.

~Molly