Aug 18, 2020

Suffrage Act

 One Hundred years ago today, Congress ratified the Suffrage Act.  The 19th amendment granted women the right to vote in the United States.  Here's a good article on the suffrage movement:  Women's Suffrage - Fight For The Vote.

To commemorate, the hard won victory, I've completed stitching Suffrage Act.

Designer: Little House Needleworks
Started: January 17, 2020.
Finished August 18, 2020
Fabric: 28ct Silkweaver Lugana "Days Gone By"
Fibers:GAST, DMC, and Classic Colorworks threads

This was fun to stitch up.  I changed quite a few of the colors to suit my taste.

Ladies - Exercise your right and vote!

Mar 31, 2020

Sore Ears? Headband Tutorial for Homemade Masks

Several sewists have asked me for the pattern I used to make the headband I showed in my last post.  Below is the tutorial I came up with for making a headband to go with the homemade masks with elastic bands that go around the ears.  Please give credit and link to tutorial if you are posting your creations online.  Or, better yet send me photos and I'll do a feature post showing all the headbands made!


Materials Needed 
14” x 6 ½” Fabric                                                   
14” x 1 ½” Fabric                          
8” elastic**                                 
2 Large Buttons**      
Small Safety Pin Sewing Needle   
Straight Pins

**I used 3/8" elastic and 7/8" buttons.

Step 1:
Fold fabric pieces in half lengthwise, right sides together.

Step 2:
Sew ¼” seam on lengthwise edge of each piece of fabric.

Step 3:
Turn both pieces right side out.  Use the safety pin to turn the smaller tube inside out.

Place the seam in the center and press the tubes flat.

Step 4:
Using safety pin, pull elastic through smaller tube.

Secure ends of elastic with pins.

Step 5:
Secure elastic by sewing ends closed using 1/4" seam. 

Step 6:
Place smaller tube on top of larger one, centering it.  Seams should be facing out.

Step 7:
On one end, take corner of larger fabric and fold toward opposite side meeting the edge of the smaller piece of fabric.

Step 8:
Repeat with opposite corner and secure with straight pin.

Step 9:
Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the opposite end.

Step 10:
Sew 1/4" seam over ends to secure all layers together.  This is a pretty thick piece to sew through so you may need to use a hump jumper (aka button shank plate).

Step 11:
Turn ends right side out.

Step 12:

Sew buttons on about 1/2" above seam allowance.

Headband is finished!
To use, put headband on.
Place mask on face and hook elastic bands around buttons.

Until next time... Stay safe and healthy!

My Covid-19 Reality

On March 20th, Illinois Governor Pritzker issued "Shelter in Place" order until April 7th.  This means citizens of Illinois are to stay at home as much as possible.  We can still go get groceries, go to the doctor, get gas -- essential things.

For a couple weeks prior to the Shelter in Place order, my employer began proactive steps to keep the employees healthy -- extra cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, limiting people other than employees into our office buildings as well as having employees going between buildings, and encouraging those who could work from home to do so.

Once Shelter in Place took effect, I was set up to work from home. 

So far, it's working pretty well.  The CEO of our company holds video conferences twice a week to keep all of us informed as to what's going on with Covid-19 as well as the company.

Today was the first day I left the house in a week.  No one is allowed in my house except for me and the pup.

Today, the governor extended Shelter in Place until April 30th.  Since April 7th, there have been 937 new cases of Covid-19 in Illinois bringing total cases to almost 6,000.  There have been 26 more deaths bringing it to 99 statewide.  In my county there are 6 cases and thankfully no deaths.  Testing is limited to those over the age of 55 who show symptoms.

By day, I am working my job.  By night, I've been busy making masks.  My niece is a nurse and she's been told they are to reuse their masks until they can't be used anymore.  My cousin works in an essential retail business in TN.  The grandmother of a five year old girl with asthma asked me to make a mask for her to wear to the doctor's office.  I've made 33 masks in four days.  Elastic is on short supply because a lot of people are making masks so I've started making some with ribbon ties.  HERE is a good article about sewists making masks across America.

Adult Masks
Child Masks
I've seen a few people online say that after a while the elastic bands make their ears hurt.  I came up with a headband solution where the elastic can be attached to large buttons.

Another cool thing going on right now are Windows of Hope.  Since most of us are stuck inside, people are decorating their windows sending out messages of love and hope.  You can read about it HERE.

Despite all the gloom and doom, fear, news of Covid-19 sickness and death not only in the U.S. but all over the world, there's some humor coming out as well.

And for the kiddos:

If neither of those leave a smile on your face, here's a pig eating ice cream...

Until next time....  Stay safe and well!

Feb 19, 2020

Just Call Me... DIY Supergirl!

 It's been a while since I've blogged.  Quite a bit has happened since I wrote about my car purchase.  All good, I assure you!  When I get more time, I'll recap the end of 2019.  For now, let's start with my latest DIY projects.

My bathroom towel bar is made of ceramic and acrylic.  One day while getting ready for work, the acrylic bar broke.  Some may say, "Just go buy a new towel bar."  Well, not so easy in my case.  I have ceramic tiles on the walls and ceiling of my bathroom so I can't just install a new towel bar without risking damage to the vintage tiles. Plus, there would be holes where the old towel bar is.

What to do?  What to do?  I measured the diameter of the acrylic bar then wandered around my basement workshop for ideas.  Urecka!!

I had a wood dowel the same diameter.  I cut it to the size I needed for the bar, then painted it and added many coats of polyurethane to protect it from damp hand towels.

Installation was simple.  Just slide it in place.  It looks great!  A cheap and easy repair.

My second project was a bit more involved but much more fun.  Long time readers know that I like to take thrift store finds and make them my own.  This was one of those projects.

I bought this framed "art" several years at a thrift store for $3.  I bought it strictly for the frame.  I knew it would use it someday.  Well, it's now someday!

When I dismantle a frame, I start by taking the cardboard or paper covering off the back of the art piece.  Then I take out the staples that hold the art in the frame.  For whatever reason, the backing on this frame was glued to the frame and the art piece after the art was stapled in place.  Very odd!  Typically, I've not seen this.  I had to use a knife to slide under the cardboard backing to loosen it from the perimeter of the frame.  Then I had to bend the cardboard up so I could remove the staples holding the art and mat board in the frame.

 Once I got that PITA 'art' out of the frame, I could really get to work.  I set the glass aside so it wouldn't get broken.  In order to cut the frame to size, it had to be totally taken apart.

Look how beautiful the moulding is!
A trip out to my garage in the dead of winter was in order.  Power tools!!

Remember.... measure twice, cut once!  This is always the nerve-wracking part.  Cuz if you screw it up, there's no going back!  This time, I only had to cut the side pieces to the size I needed.

Time to put the pieces together.  Piece of cake. I always pre-drill holes before using small nails to put the frame back together.  I also use wood glue.  This was the first time I used TiteBond Ultimate wood glue and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as to it's holding power since it's much thinner consistency compared to the Elmers wood glue I typically use.

The hardest part for me is waiting for the glue to dry overnight.  I'm in such a hurry to finish my project!

 Once dried, I filled all the staple holes and imperfections with wood filler.  I also countersink the nails and fill them so you can't see where the nails are. Like waiting for glue to dry, waiting for the wood filler to dry is torture!

Once the wood filler is dry, I lightly sand it smooth.  Then comes the fun part.  How do I want to finish it?  Wood filler can be stained, but I've not done it yet.  I usually end up painting my frames to coordinate with what I'll be putting in it.

 I found out that my local glass shop will cut the glass to the size I want also for $1 per cut.  I only need one cut.  So, for $4.00 total, I now have a nice 'new' frame to use.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

Until next time...

Oct 3, 2019

Took The Plunge

Time For Retirement
Nine and half years ago, I was excited to purchase my Chrysler 300.  You can read about it HERE.  It's now 13 years old and has been costing me several hundred dollars in repairs each time I've had to take it to the shop.  At over 136K miles, it's no longer worth the repairs I've been investing.  I decided it's time to retire the 300.

One would think car dealerships would want to sell a car.  I researched a car I was interested in and I kid you not when I say I contacted no less than five dealerships that had the year, make, and model I was interested in with reasonable miles on it.  Incidentally, prices were ALL over the place with no rhyme or reason.  For instance:

•  30,233 miles, $23K
•  14,475 miles, $25K
•  29,160 miles, $25K
•  29,631 miles, $26K
•  11,165 miles, $26K
•  13,812 miles, $28K

Keep in mind all these are the same car just different colors!  Back to the dealerships, I contacted them all via email because all of them were a distance away from where I live.  Most just wanted to get me into the dealership.  They ghosted me once I started asking questions about the particular vehicle I was interested in.  Some didn't even respond to my "Contact Us" for the car on their website.  WTH?

Road Trip
One dealership stood out from the get-go.  I received a nice introduction email about the dealership and salesperson.  He answered all my questions via email in a timely, friendly manner.  The dealership was the one that had the car I was most interested in.  I took a 3 hour drive (each) way to east central WI to talk to the salesperson and test drive the car.  In my research, I was pretty impressed with the make and model before seeing it in person.  

The Test Drive
I had to chuckle internally when the salesperson asked for my license and took a photo of it with his phone.  Goes to show you how high tech we are.  Gone are the days of photocopied licenses.  The dealership is next to a freeway, interstate, and shopping center so I was able to drive it in several different conditions. 
OMG... test driving it was awesome!  It has a wonderful get-up-and go that my Chrysler 300 lacks.  I pulled into the shopping center parking lot to give the car closer inspection.  It's in excellent condition with no scratches or dents.  Under the hood looked really good, too.  Tires still have a good amount of tread.  I did look at the CarFax:  One owner, it's been regularly into the dealership for maintenance, and the two airbag recalls have been resolved.

The "Sit Down"
There wasn't any negotiation on the price because the dealership uses "up-front price" business model.  This means autos are priced aggressively to the market in order to move vehicles quickly and create volume. In these dealerships, the margins are lower, and they will typically do less (or no) negotiation, and more showing you documentation of why theirs is the value that it is.  Statistics show that most people do not like the negotiation process so some dealerships have moved to the up-front price model.  I didn't need the documentation since I'd already did my homework in this area.  
 I did try to negotiate for not a lower price, but for other things.  No dice.  

For me, the sale was contingent on how much I was going to get for trading in my 300.  I'd done my research on this, too.  Average trade-in value was $1,100.00 for a car in fair condition.  On the low end $925 and high end $1,468.  My car with 136K miles has some rust, a hole in the rear bumper, burns oil, lifters that knock, and needs some suspension work -- way too much $$ for me to want to keep it.  But, I digress.  When the salesperson came back to me with trade-in value of over $1,500.00, the deal was made.  

Since I hadn't planned on actually purchasing, I wasn't prepared. I put a deposit down and we planned on doing paperwork and delivery of the car on the following Thursday.  Yes, they are going to drive it 3 hours to me!  How awesome is that?!

Since this was the first time I've ever had a car delivered to me, I didn't know what to expect.  Especially, when the salesperson joked about how the delivery drivers were retired 80-year olds and don't get paid much. LOL

The day before, I received a call from the salesperson to set up delivery time and place as well as answer any remaining questions I had.

My New Ride
Readers are probably wondering, "Well, what did she get?" I've kept you in suspense, haven't I?  I purchased a 2016 Toyota Avalon Limited.  I thought it was the high end of the Avalon series.  The salesperson told me there was one more higher up called the Platinum series, but not many were sold.  From what I've researched, it is very similar to the Lexus 350ES.  Both cars have the same chassis and powertrain, but the Avalon has more interior room and trunk space.  It's also less expensive to purchase.

Exterior color is called Sizzling Crimson Mica.  Crimson is a strong, red color, leaning toward purple.  Mica is a crystalline mineral used in the paint to make it pearlized and creates a multicolored effect on vehicles. On my new-to-me car, this means in bright sunlight it looks red.


In the shade, or on overcast days it looks maroon or purplish.  The interior is light gray with black accents.

Size-wise, the Avalon is about the same length as the 300 and just a few inches less wide.  Both have 18" wheels with the Avalon having Super Chrome Alloy vs. the 300's aluminum rims.

I thought I was stylin' with a built-in garage remote control on the Chrysler 300. I am blown away at all the high tech features of the Avalon I purchased! 

•  Touch-based dash switches
•  Central touchscreen for GPS, radio, and phone
•  268-horsepower, 3.5-liter, 6-speed V-6 engine
•  Three driving modes:  Eco, Normal, and Sport that adjusts steering, throttle, and shift feel. 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds.  I can attest to this -- I was going almost 80mph coming from the off ramp onto the interstate and I didn't even know it!
•  Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection offers collision avoidance support for pedestrians.  No pedestrians to test this out, LOL.
•  Dynamic radar cruise control uses radar technology to adjust your vehicle speed to help maintain a preset following distance between you and the vehicle directly in front of yours
•  Automatic high beam headlights detects oncoming vehicles 2000 feet away and switches HB off then switches back on when vehicle passes
•  Lane departure assist signals if your car is about to leave your lane.  The alarm actually went off during the test drive when the car was too close to the center line.  So, I know it works!
•  Integrated backup camera with projected path.  Tested this out too and it works, too.
•  Heated power outside mirrors -- will come in handy during the winter months!
•  Leather heated seats in both the front and rear.  Cooled seats in the front.
•  Three zone heating/cooling:  two in front and one in the rear
•  10-way power adjustable drivers seat with lumbar support and cushion extension.  8-way power passenger seat

•  Entune multi-media bundle:  7" screen with split screen display, AM/FM radio, CD player, USB port for MP3/WMA playback, voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phonebook access  and music streaming via bluetooth technology, Siri, and SiriusXM
•  Entune App Suite which gives real time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks.  It also does destination searches, has iHeartRadio, Pandora, FB places, and Yelp
•  Power moonroof, power windows, and power door locks, and power rear window sunshade
•  The steering wheel has paddle shifters (not sure what theses are yet) as well as controls for the hands-free phone, voice command, and multi-information display
•  Qi wireless smartphone charging system
•  Auto dimming rear view mirror with compass, map lights, and garage door opener
•  Rear window defroster/defogger with timer
•  Two 12 volt auxiliary power outlets
•  Push button engine start/stop
•  One of the neatest things -- the Smart Key System.  You can lock and unlock the front doors and trunk with just a touch of the hand.  THIS video explains how it works.  So cool!