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Dear Eunice Farmer: I have noticed that many of the expensive skirts I see in ready-to-wear have very narrow waistbands instead of the traditional 1 1/2 -inch waistband. Is there a special pattern for this new detail? -- Dory C.

Dear Dory: I have selected a simple pattern: McCall's 2029, size 4-18. It features a simple A-line skirt -- both short and long -- and a bias-cut skirt in two lengths. The skirt itself should always be wider than the waistband. Allowance depends on your figure -- the more curve you have below the waist, the more ease you will need. Ease is created by stitching a slightly larger stitch length on the seamline at the waist; pull the bobbin thread to create ease, but don't pull it enough to create gathers. This pattern shows the detail clearly. Most of the ease is at the sides, front and back.

For the bias skirt, you must allow more ease. Also, be sure to let the bias skirt hang for a day or two before stitching the side seams or the hem. This is a perfect skirt for spring and summer, and it takes less than an evening to make.

Spring suggestions

Dear Readers: It's time to think spring/summer! My Fashion Focus includes trends from the American Designer Collections, and it's wrap, wrap and more wrap! It's everywhere, from skirts and shirts to blouses and coats. Reglan sleeves are popular. (For those of us who sew, they're much easier than set-in sleeves.) Look for shirtdresses with lots of buttons from neckline to hem. Ruffles and flounces continue. Shoulders are slightly extended, so watch for more shoulder padding. Feminine cowl necklines in drapey fabrics are popular as well. Jackets are blouson, bomber and denim with top-stitching detail.

Colors are all around the block, but look for more happy colors, like yellow, sky blue, coral and periwinkle. For the more dramatic, black and white are perfect.

Fabrics in luscious pastel faux suedes are washable! Sheers like organza, chiffon and georgette are featured in solids and prints. You'll see more happy prints, including ethnic prints; and animal prints are still strong in all fabrications. Shine is "in including satins for daytime. Linen has returned with a bang with prints and solids -- and forget the wrinkles; they simply mean you're wearing real linen, not a synthetic.

From across the ocean, you'll see many Chinese brocades and Vietnamese silk prints looking very new. Plan immediately, and be ready to wear your new wardrobe when you see the first robin.

Sewing tip

Some time ago, I sewed myself a slip made of lightweight, satin-back crepe. I put the satin side inside and the crepe outside. Before, when wearing pantyhose, I noticed that nylon slips would ride up and end up around my waist. Now, with the satin side against the pantyhose, the slip stays down. I have since made many slips for my daughters and friends -- they love them.

Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131.

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