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Dear Eunice Farmer: My parents gave me a very nice sewing machine this fall, but I'm afraid to begin sewing on my own, even though I did make some clothes in high school. Can you give me an idea for a simple dress that can be worn casual or dressed up? -- Liz P.

Dear Liz: I've selected Burda 3060 sized 8-18. It has a young, simple look, and can be worn with turtleneck shirts or without a blouse and accessorized with jewelry or scarves. It is shown very short; however, if you prefer the very long length that is so popular today, you may simply add length to your pattern. (Be sure to purchase additional fabric if you are making it longer.)

Shortening a coat

Dear Eunice Farmer: I must shorten a heavy winter coat I purchased. How can I redo the hem without a lot of extra bulk and a lumpy-looking hem? -- Sarah W.

Dear Sarah: The trick to a heavy hem is to insert a strip of lightweight interfacing or muslin cut on the bias and 1/2 inch wider than the hem (usually 2 1/4 inches to 2 1/2 inches wide). Baste a line of thread at the fold line of your new hem; it's always more flattering if you dip the back at least 1/2 inch longer, tapering to the front. This should be so gradual that it won't be visible.

Place the strip of bias fabric at the basted line, or fold the line of the hem; catch-stitch loosely to the hem of the boat. Don't pull your stitches too tight or they will show. Next, baste the hem up in position, place a light cardboard under the hem and press the hem with a press cloth (the cardboard will keep the cut edge of the hem from showing from the right side).

Catch-stitch the hem of your coat to the top edge of the bias interfacing (leave 1/2 inch of the bias to extend above the hem). Lastly, catch-stitch the top edge of the interfacing to your seams only. Now you have a smooth, wonderful hem without bulk, with no stitches showing from the right side. The lining of your coat will hold the hem in place!

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