Stripes Should Match!

Life has been crazy lately.  Not only have we had the general busy-ness that back-to-school brings, but last week we had not only an earthquake but also a hurricane.  We've been without power for almost four days now, which really stinks.  We replaced my junky former top-of-the-line Viking sewing machine with a cheap Brother embroidery machine (which works way better than the Viking did) and a nice mid-line Bernina sewing machine.  I barely had time to try out the sewing machine before Mother Nature threw all this crazy stuff at us.  :(

Thankfully the generator can run the computer and internet for a little bit, so I am getting a brief internet fix and have been catching up on Facebook and blog reading.  While I can of course write much about nothing for quite some time, I will be brief and just say this in closing:

When sewing clothing, be it for dolls or humans, your stripes should always match!  Take the time to do it right, people.

American Girl Washington, DC (Tysons Corner) 6/18/2011

American Girl Washington, DC

The view from the line

Almost there.....
We went to the Grand Opening of American Girl DC today.  The store opened at 9 am.  We arrived around 9:30.  We saw a huge tent outside and, of course, tons of girls, dolls, and their families in a HUGE line.  We got in the line, then found out that it was a line to get tickets to get in another line to go into the store.  Thankfully it wasn't too hot yet and everyone was cheerful and polite.  The tent had various activities and free items.  We got a free reusable tote, two little American flags, and a bag of tortilla chips from Chipotle.  There were balloon artists, caricatures, face painting, and a coloring area while we were in line.  Even though the line looked endless, it moved pretty quickly and we were in line less than 1/2 hour before we got our tickets.  We found out that tickets were being issued in groups of 200.  We were in group 7.  After we got our tickets, we had approximately one hour before our group was able to get in line inside the mall to go into the store.  So we got pretzels and visited the Lego store. 

Here are a few photos of the outside of the store on Level 2 of the mall.

Their own special lights outside the store
The indoor line moved very quickly and I was quite impressed with the entire process of getting tickets, getting into the store, etc.  When it was our turn to enter the store my daughter and I were given little booklets full of postcard-style inspirational sayings. There will be a photo of those a little later on in this post.  So keep on reading.  :0)

Looking in the window while in line

Inside the store

Julie's items always make me laugh, because they are considered historical
and thus make me feel antique too!

On Level 2, when you enter the store you are in the historical section.  There is a "specials" type section to the right with the only-available-in-the-store items.  We had good luck here with a short checkout line.  A little further back is the Kanani section.  Behind that are the elevator and escalator to go downstairs, then the mini bookstore and the Bistro.  Restrooms are to the left of Kanani's section, kind of near the elevator.  There is a Kanani photo-op shave ice booth.  We got right into it.  The only wait we had was trying to navigate around the register-to-win Kanani table. 

Aren't these some cute kids? ;)

Here are some goodies by the Bistro.  Yummy!

I LOVE Kanani's ukelele!

In the lower level are Bitty Baby, Bitty Twins, My American Girl, and a little Kanani section.  The create-a-tee for you and/or your doll is down there too, as well as the Salon!  Here are some pictures from the lower level, which was incredibly crowded while we were there.

Look!  New Bitty Babies!  Brown hair/blue eyes and a redhead too!  Love them!

Cute new outfits for the twins

I think the outfit on the left is new?

The Salon

I've read that there are some new today dolls.  I grabbed a few photos, but it was really, really, really busy in this section and I didn't have a chance to actually look at the dolls closely.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I did not even notice that there were new dolls.  I wasn't planning to buy any dolls on this trip, so maybe I was just avoiding temptation by not looking too closely.  We did come out of the store with a big bag full of goodies.  My daughter selected Chocolate Chip the dog and Kanani's accessories, which included another dog.  Alas, no doll for her.  We also got the items pictured below:

Matching girl/doll shirts

Must have the doll souvenir shirt!

The kids could make the booklet on the left.  The pink booklet is
what we received when we entered the store.  Finally, our ticket.

Felicity, her accessories, and her paper doll
book for $100.  How could we (I) resist?

Well, you can tell from these pictures that I did indeed end up buying a doll.  We lived in Virginia last summer while my husband did a rotation for work.  We visited Williamsburg while there and I bought a few colonial doll clothes patterns and some reproduction colonial fabric.  I guess it's time to break out the supplies and make Felicity some new clothing.  On a side note, I remembered her as having much more red hair than she does.  It's almost brown.  Oh well.

My final thoughts on today: admission was very well organized and overall, people were exceptionally polite.  There were very few whiny children or temper tantrums.  The store is much smaller than Chicago and New York.  It seemed like not everything was available.  The book section is very small in comparison to the new Chicago store. I still miss the old Chicago store.  You know, the crowded, dated, but somehow better in my mind store.  But I digress.  We noticed lots of new doll earrings.  There were sports-themed and animal-themed earrings.  I think there were many new styles of glasses.  There was a cute doll seat that hooks onto your luggage.  If you watched Shark Tank last night, you saw something very similar for real kids.  I absolutely loved Kanani's ukelele, but we didn't buy it.  She had a new outfit and I noticed a few other new things.  There are new dolls.  There were two giveaways to sign up for.  One was four tickets for the cruise in November and the other was for a Kanani collection.  I signed up for both.  I probably will not win.  :0)  We did not go into the Bistro.  We did that once in Chicago and didn't care for most of the food.  We did buy goodies from the bakery case and they were really good and priced more reasonably than the goodies we bought in NYC last fall.  They also tasted better.  That's it for now.  Thanks for reading!

Red & White Fabric Swap

I recently stumbled across the website  If you haven't been there yet, be sure to check it out.  Lots of free tutorials!  One of the feeds I found was for a red & white fabric swap at  I was really lucky and made the sign-up cutoff for the swap, which involves buying a quilt shop-quality red and white print fabric, cutting it into the designated amount of 5" squares (which happens to be 125 for this swap), mailing it to the coordinator and then waiting to get your set of 125 different 5" squares back, from people all over the world.  The coordinator also is including a selvedge drawing for those of us who submit the selvedge from our fabrics as well.  Not really sure what I'd do if I won those, but I'm always up for learning a new skill.

Many years ago, many houses back, before kids, I used to be in a quilt guild.  I was by far the youngest person in it, but it was still fun and I learned a lot from those ladies.  Back then machine quilting was almost taboo--my, how times change!  Anyway, in the quilt guild we used to do an annual fabric swap with a theme and then we had a year to make a quilt that included pieces of each fabric we received, and at Christmas we would do a potluck/quilt show and there were prizes.  It was a lot of fun.  I even placed one year, for the purple challenge.  So when I saw the red and white swap, I was excited to maybe participate.

Here is a photo of my charm squares and selvedge ready to be mailed off to Karen.  The selvedge reads:  Delilah by Tanya Whelan Grand Revival for Free Spirit Westminster Fibers TW43 Dots.  The dots are around 1/8".  I feel a little unoriginal just sending dots, but I went to two local fabric stores and there were slim pickings in the red/white category.  

I should be getting back the assorted squares in a month or so.  I can't wait to see what the fabrics look like!

Pitiful Musings

I am cutting up fabric for a quilt, which gives me plenty of time to think.  I am also doing laundry, and the washing machine and/or the water are stinking up the whole main floor of the house, which makes me wish for a new washer and dryer.  A set that I selected, not just what came with the house.  One that does not stink up the whole house with a nasty sulfur smell that turns my stomach.  One that does not shrink our clothing on even the lowest settings.  Ones that are actually energy-efficient.  I am thankful that I do not have to go to a laundromat though.

I also wish that we had our own house again.  I have been very lucky to have four houses that were custom or at least partially custom and had nice kitchens, were efficient (didn't cost an arm and a leg to heat and cool), and had things done to my taste.  I miss having a functional layout and I totally miss having my own dedicated sewing space where all my things are at hand and I can just walk away and close the door and no one will see my mess.  I have been spoiled.  While this house is nice, and by far the nicest house we looked at for the cost, the layout is not efficient and the heating and cooling costs are ridiculous.  And the finishes are not really to my taste.  Like I said, I've been spoiled with nice houses that were built to our specifications.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss having projects to work on in the house.  For several years it seemed like all we did was work on houses, and I swore that we would not build again, but now I miss it.  We've done a few things to this house, like paint some of the rooms and fix the garden, with our landlords' blessings, but it's not worth putting a ton of money into it since it is not ours.  Sometimes we discuss what we would change if this were our house, and then we laugh and say that with all the changes we would make, it would be cheaper and easier just to build a new one.

So in my perfect little world, I would have my own house with lots of storage, nicer appliances, energy efficient heating and cooling, space for a dedicated sewing room, cheaper cost of living, more land, and while I'm at it, world peace and a money tree!  One can dream, right?

A new sewing machine? And what sewing is like for me these days....

I've had my sewing machine for five or six years now.  It is a former top-of-the line machine that I've been fairly happy with overall.  It seems like I've had problems with the embroidery portion of the machine from the get-go, and it did need an adjustment when I first got it to make the decorative stitches line up properly.  The repair man at the place I bought it from grudgingly adjusted it while I was in a class only because the instructor insisted he do it.  I CANNOT SAY THIS ENOUGH:  A GOOD REPAIR PERSON IS IMPERATIVE FOR SEWING MACHINES.  When you go to try out machines, if the staff and the repair person SEEM INDIFFERENT OR UNKNOWLEDGEABLE, GO ELSEWHERE.  It really is that important.  I should have gone elsewhere to purchase my machine. 

If you are considering buying a sewing machine, it is really important to go try out the machine with the types of fabrics you usually sew.  Try several brands and models. You may surprise yourself and end up with something much different than you thought you wanted.  And beware, machine dealers are pretty much always going to try to get you to buy the top-of-the line machine even if you don't need that much machine.

Anyway, lately I've been having more trouble with the embroidery unit and my automatic buttonhole foot is not making a nice buttonhole either.  My machine is computerized and most of the buttonhole stitches are not manual.  I have one stitch left I've been using until I can get my machine in to be cleaned and looked at, but it's definitely not ideal.  My sewing lately is like this:  sew a few seams, look at them, see how bad they look, rip them out, repeat.  Sometimes several times.  Talk about frustration.

So this weekend we went to the AQS (American Quilter's Society) show in Lancaster, PA.  I needed a part for my serger (a home repair gone wrong, necessitating a new upper looper converter), so we headed to the Bernina booth.  There a nice man was most eager to show me several sewing machines, so feeling somewhat obligated to be polite, I sat through several demonstrations even though I was not thinking I needed a new machine.  As we continued to walk through the show, my husband commented on how he wasn't really impressed with how my Viking is holding up and that it seems like I've had a lot of problems with it that haven't been resolved, and maybe I should look at some other options. 

As a result, we sat through demonstrations of a few Janomes, which I didn't like nearly as much as I thought I would, and another Bernina.  Neither of them have all the features I like best about my current machine, such as a drop in bobbin, foot up/down & needle up/down buttons easily accessible on the front of the machine, clear feet, my favorite 1/4" clear piecing foot, etc.  I did not look at the Babylocks because I just do not like them for whatever reason, and I didn't look at Pfaff either.  In the end, I went over to the Viking booth, talked to the Viking educator, and also a repair guy (who was surprisingly young) from a shop somewhere in PA.  They were both quite helpful.

So I'm going to take my machine in to a local place to be cleaned and serviced.  If that doesn't resolve my problems, I have the Viking educator's contact information along with the repair guy's contact information if my local place doesn't get things straightened out for me.  Looking at the other machines reminded me how much I actually like mine when it's working right.

I did manage to get a new upper looper converter to put on my Bernina and hopefully that will resolve my (minor) issue with my two-thread rolled stitch.  I'm having a hard time being able to find time away to take my Viking in for the cleaning though.  The only back-up machine I have is a Featherweight that's been sitting in the closet for years.  It is a great straight-stitch machine--yes, straight stitch only, which means no buttonholes, zig-zag, etc.  It's been sitting so long I'm worried it won't work right.  That machine is pretty basic though, so my husband can try to work on it if necessary.

Okay, I must get back to my sew a few seams, rip them out, resew, repeat so that I can finish off the project I've been working on.  And then a trip to the repair man is definitely in order.

Happy sewing!

A New Look?

I clicked on my blog today only to discover that my background template has been discontinued.  :(

So I've spent an hour trying to find a new (free) background that worked.

What do you think of this one?