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Dear Eunice Farmer: I am looking for a very simple pattern that can be dressed up or down, something I can accessorize and look great in for the office and casual evenings. I look best in a two-piece jacket and skirt. Please help.

-- Cory P.

Dear Cory: You are talking about a pattern that almost everyone could wear often if it was in her closet. I have suggested Vogue 8004, sizes 6-20. It has princess seaming, a lovely detail on the three-quarter-length sleeves, and the neckline is built up slightly for a more flattering look.

This jacket would look great with pants as well as a skirt. There are many embellishments that you can add to change the look of the pattern. In my wardrobe, I probably have only about three different patterns, yet I change the details so they always look different. The secret is to find a pattern you like, one that fits well, and make it over and over again.

Personal gifts

Dear Readers: This is the season for gift-giving -- weddings, baptisms, showers, etc. It's a perfect time of year to consider making your gifts and personalizing them with your embroidery machine. Everyone loves monograms. There are some beautiful monogram embroidery cards available. Baby quilts are a perfect background for your embroidery skills. A special patch on the back can include the date and name of the giver.

If you make christening gowns, be sure to include the name or monogram on the slips with the gown. Look at your better stores for ideas. You will be amazed at how many wonderful gifts you can make with your machine. Embellishments are so important this year. Why not make your embroidery machine pay off for you?

For the new bride, you can personalize bed linens, towels, table lines -- too many ideas to name. You can be sure a gift that includes names or monograms is always very special.

Hint of the week

Frances Chalmens of Virginia Beach, Va., writes: "If you cut your thread on a slant instead of straight across, it is much easier to thread your needle -- machine or hand." (Thanks to many of you who sent in the same tip!)

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

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