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These skirts are a breeze for beginners

Dear Vicki: Spring and summer are coming, and I want to make a fun, sort of hippie kind of skirt to wear shopping or to the beach. I really want a simple but busy and fun look. My girlfriends want us to sew together, and they don't know how to sew. I sew, but don't feel confident with fitting and zippers. So help me with your advice.

-- Michelle F.

Dear Michelle: The Fashion Formula Skirt is not a pattern, because the skirts in the booklet don't need patterns. It is an instruction book meant for beginners; no zippers. There are three different skirts, so you each can make a different one. These are fun and funky. The directions are written as if the author, Kay Whitt, were standing next to you. Hip sizes go from 34 to 50 inches, and since the waist is elastic, the skirts should work for early maternity and after baby, too. If you cannot find this booklet, send me a check for $14 ( P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will send it to you.

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Dear Vicki: I am refashioning a wedding dress for the daughter of a deceased girlfriend. The bride is larger than the mother, so I need to let the dress out. When I unpicked the seams, holes were left in the satin, so I am freaking out. There is piping at the waist, so how can I let that out? Please help me if you have any ideas.

-- Mary M.

Dear Mary: Carefully and lightly press on the wrong side where the seams were; use some diluted white vinegar on a press cloth. That should help reduce the holes and creases, unless the fibers are actually broken by sewing with a dull needle. You will have to unpick the waist seam to enlarge it. Your pictures show extra piping at the zipper seam, so you will be able to enlarge the waist and not have to piece the piping. If you must let the center back seam out, you might have a stitching line mark left from the old zipper application. Mask this by sewing covered buttons down the back. Or add beading to the finished seam. If you need to add fabric at the side seams to make the dress fit, realize that she won't be raising her arms much, and a nice comfortable fit will draw attention away from the mechanism used.