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Versatile pattern uses knit or woven fabric

Dear Vicki: I want a pattern for full, loosely pleated pants with a real waistband, and pockets too. I must admit I love the soft feeling of elastic waists, but not the look.

I would like to make them out of a very lightweight, almost gauzy fabric, so you see why I want a very full pant.

Let me know what you recommend for me. I love to sew.

-- Mary Q.

Dear Mary: I found a really versatile pattern for you. It is McCall's 6514. There is a 12-inch tapered leg and a straight 20-inch leg -- both for wovens.

Then for knits, there is a very full 30-inch leg. All views have pockets. The front of the waist is flat, and the back has elastic, so the pants pull on without a zipper but it doesn't look like elastic.


Dear Vicki: I have a question about cutting out patterns. Do you use scissors, shears or a rotary cutter, and why? I am disgusted with my poor cutting; the pieces look all jagged and are inaccurate. So would I do better with a rotary cutter? It is a big investment, and I want your opinion before I go for it. Thanks so much.

-- Cindy S.

Dear Cindy: I do use a rotary cutter, but not for everything. For very intricate cutting I switch to my shears. I do love the cutting mat; it covers my table. And because it has 1-inch markings on it, I can use it for lining up edges of fabric, and it also makes pinning easier. The rotary cutter can be just as hard to control as shears, so be prepared to practice. The larger diameter rotary cutters (60 mm) are best for straight cuts. So if you are beginning, start with a 45 mm diameter and an 18-inch-by-24-inch mat before investing in a tabletop one. You can improve your cutting if you concentrate on using the whole length of the blade and not "hacking" at the fabric.


This week's reader's tip is from Mary Beaudoin of Massena.

"Use old dryer sheets for lining small applique pieces. Sew wrong sides together, then trim and cut a slit in the dryer sheet to turn. Now the applique is perfectly turned and ready to stitch into place."