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Sew Simple: Rolled up sleeves are a popular look

Dear Vicki: I try to find new or interesting details in ready-to-wear and add those looks to my sewing. Right now I have been seeing more shirts with rolled-up sleeves that have tabs that button up to hold the rolled sleeve, and I would like to copy this look. Have you seen a pattern with this detail? Thanks. – Patty S.

Dear Patty: I am suggesting McCall’s 7251. This pattern has the detail you want, and it’s a very nice pattern. It has a flattering, unique hemline, very useful pockets and lots of top-stitching details. There is also a view that has no collar, so it’s easier to make, and pleats from the shoulder, front and back. It would also make a perfect maternity top! Incidentally, I love the idea Patty has of looking at ready-to-wear for fashion ideas.


A good answer from Eunice:

Dear Eunice: I have seen the words “ruffle” and “flounce” used interchangeably, but I think they are different. Could you please tell us what the difference is? Thanks. – Nan C.

Dear Nan: A ruffle is a gathered strip of fabric that is added to a straight edge. A flounce is not cut on a straight grain; instead, it is cut from circles of fabric. The inner edge is shorter and, therefore, when it is applied to the straight edge of a sleeve or hem it does not look gathered but flares for a very soft embellishment. Hopefully you’ll know the difference now when you see it.


Each week I share a reader’s tip. This week the tip is from Carolyn Phillips, of Albuquerque, N.M. She writes:

“I know you have probably covered this, but I just found out that you can burn fibers from your fabrics to find out what they are! Wool and silk will smell like burned hair, but wool will leave a brittle little dot, and silk will be ashes. Polyester will melt into a bead of plastic; nylon the same, but it smells like celery. Rayon, which I love, will not melt but will be ashes like silk but smell like burning paper.”

Vicki Farmer Ellis is the daughter of nationally recognized authority on sewing Eunice Farmer. Please send tips and questions to Vicki at P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email