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Fabric teepee lets imagination roam

Dear Vicki: My grandchildren will be coming soon to visit, and I remember when my daughter was a child she loved to make a play house under the dining room table. I don't have a dining room anymore; space is really at a premium for me. I remember that there used to be patterns for making a card-table cover that became a playhouse, but even that would be a space problem, since the table is used for every meal.

Can I make a playhouse for them? I love to sew, and I don't just want to go out and buy a commercial product. Can you find a pattern for me?

-- Lynn A.

Dear Lynn: I found a Butterick pattern, number 4251. It is a teepee, so you don't have to put up a card table. Just open it up, and fantasy begins. This is just the sort of thing that makes unforgettable experiences for children. This could be made very girly with pink and cute designs, or gender-neutral for both sexes.

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Dear Vicki: Can I sew over pins? Please give me the lowdown on why you even use them if you can't sew over them. Thanks. -- Sarah B.

Dear Sarah: I know everyone knows someone who says they never change needles and it's fine, but it isn't.

Here's the thing. If you sew over pins, every so often the needle will strike one, and even if the needle doesn't break, the point of the needle will now have a burr, which will damage your fabric with every single stitch. This will weaken the seam, so the garment won't last as long. And if you need to rip, there will be marks. Alternatively, if the needle is deflected by hitting the pin and breaks, think about it -- it broke on some part of the sewing machine, and now you might have an expensive repair. Either way, just stop and take out the pins. It's the right thing to do.

Now, as to the question of why to use pins: Pinning helps you to be the boss of how the pieces behave as you stitch. Accuracy is not going to happen by itself; you need the pins to keep everything organized as well as to carefully hold both in front and behind the pressure foot. If you hate to rip, then learn to use pins!

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