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Inside Molly’s Head, August to November 2016

November 30, 2016

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.


Southwestern Print Knit Dress

November 5, 2016

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!


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



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”)



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.


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!


Inside Molly’s Head, July 2016

July 30, 2016

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.


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



  • 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.


Quilt Update from Bia

June 22, 2016

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.

6-19-16SamIAm (3) (Copy)

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.

6-19-16SamIAm (5) (Copy)

6-19-16SamIAm (9) (Copy)

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

Back of quilt (above).

6-19-16SamIAm (10) (Copy)

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.

Cordova (1)

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.

Cordova (2)

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).

Cordova (7)

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.

Cordova (6)

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

Cordova (3)

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).

Cordova (4)

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.

Cordova (5)

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.


Ink Blot Suede

May 3, 2016

I’ve had this fabric forever, I didn’t even buy it, my Grandma did when she made a skirt for me probably 15+ years ago. But I love it and it’s very sentimental at this point. I still keep the skirt in my dresser because I just can’t get rid of it… and now I have a matching top… not sure I’d go so far as to wear them together though, might be a bit much.


Truthfully, the skirt never fit very well (the waistband is weird, but you can’t see it here) and it’s too short to wear to the office. Maybe with tights in the winter.

Pattern: BurdaStyle #115 04/2014 “Wrap Blouse”

Personally, I would not call this a wrap blouse

The skirt was from Simplicity 9473 view D, one of their junior patterns from 2000. I loved all the patterns in their “grooves” collection. I feel like I remember Simplicity being really on trend in the late 90s/early 00s.

image linked to etsy… I wonder if my mom still has these patterns…

Fabric: Printed faux suede and cotton lycra jersey. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough to make the sleeves in the same fabric so I experimented a bit by using jersey. It worked out ok but I narrowed the sleeves and now the arm hole feels a little funny.


Design Likes/Dislikes: I loved the whole outfit this top was part of in the magazine, I have the pants traced out too that I want to make… someday. I have not seen many shirts with this sort of overlap before and it makes a potentially boring shirt much more interesting. The two layers are only connected at the shoulder seams so it feels a little weird, like the layers are just going to fly open at any moment (I wore a tank top underneath). But it’s shorter than I’d like, and I am not normally a person that has problems with patterns being short (meaning, I am short). I am definitely adding 1 or 2 inches in length next time.



Sizing and Fit: Size 36. The fit is supposed to be boxy but it’s also odd because the layers are free to move so I felt like I had to reposition everything when I stood up from sitting. That might have been just my imagination though. Anyways, because of the movement, I think the bust darts don’t stay in the right place always. And the shirt is short, like I mentioned above… I think I need to wear it with different pants. And I messed up the sleeve to shoulder fit because of the knit fabric, but I can live with that – I have no idea if it is a good sleeve with wovens since I didn’t try that.


Changes: Making the sleeves in jersey was the only change. I used rayon bias tape to bind all the seams and to make the hem deeper because I forgot to add extra for the hem. Rayon bias tape is amazing, I just had some in my stash of tapes because I inherited all my sewing stuff from my Grandma (today’s theme apparently) but I so wish this stuff was still common in stores. Might have to search for it more often.


For Next Time: Add length, use one fabric for the whole thing. I do really like this style and want to make it again, but because of the shortness on this particular shirt I’m not sure how much I’ll wear it. Maybe it would look better with a skirt.