Dear Vicki: I am just beginning in the world of machine embroidery, and I have been to seminars about it. I think all the different stabilizers are confusing and expensive. A friend of mine who embroiders a lot told me she uses coffee filters under her embroidery instead of any of these expensive stabilizers that the store where we bought our machines sells. What do you think of her idea?
-- Maggie J.
Dear Maggie: I don't like her idea. The purpose of stabilizer is to support the stitches that you are applying to a piece of fabric that thinks it is finished. When you start sticking the fabric all over with the needle and adding layers of thread, the fibers of your garment will begin to be pulled together and will pucker and distort the embroidery motif. You need to use something that will support the stitching. And the question of which type of stabilizer to use will have many different answers, but almost never is using coffee filters going to make you proud of the result. Keep going to seminars. Maybe your friend will change her opinion.
Dear Vicki: I would like a cute, quick pattern for a little girl's dress that would be nontraditional. I mean trendy -- not classic -- and no zipper, please.
-- Randy C.
Dear Randy: Here is a really cute and crazy look for your girl. The pattern could be made with just one color for a less casual look. It's from ModKids. The name of this pattern is Abigail. You'll find sizes 2T to size 8 in one pattern. You can use stretch knit fabric and no zipper. You know I always want you to buy it locally, but if you can't find the pattern, send $14 (includes postage and handling) to Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, and I will send it to you.
This week's reader's tip is from Louise Coley, of Winston-Salem, N.C. She writes: "I no longer have the problem that Sarah B. has sewing over pins. Thanks to my great quilting teacher, I learned to put pins on the left side of the seam, not too close to the needle but close enough to hold the seam."