Dear Vicki: I want to make a coat, but I have trouble with set-in sleeves. I'm scared of getting the shoulders right. So help me find a raglan-sleeve pattern that won't look like an unmade bed. I have a great piece of red coat-weight wool, and I don't want to waste it.
-- Phyllis Z.
Dear Phyllis: I have found a coat that has a large yoke that completely puts your sleeve problems to rest. McCall's 5718 has a dramatic collar that you can turn up when it is really cold. There are two different lengths, so you can have a jacket- or regular-length coat. Be sure you buy nice, heavy-hair canvas interfacing for the yoke so your coat will hold its lovely shape. The coat-weight wool you have will be just right, but fleece can be used to make this coat, too.
Dear Vicki: I don't understand why my hems are always too wide when I turn them up, and I have extra fabric that I just sort of fold up or tuck. I know that no one can see it, but when I buy clothes, there doesn't seem to be this problem, except, of course, when I shorten things. Then there is always a mess. Can you explain? Thanks.
-- Heather W.
Dear Heather: The problem you are having is pure geometry: When you turn up the hem, the width of the bottom edge is wider than farther up on the skirt. So the answer is to trim off most of what you turn up. Then when you zigzag or overcast the trimmed edge, lay a piece of dental floss on the edge so that you are sewing over it.
Now you can gently draw up the ends of the dental floss and ease out the excess fabric. And you will have a smooth hem regardless of whether you top-stitch or blind-hem the fold.