Dear Vicki: Summer is here, and I would like to make a pair of really neat shorts, with lots of details and a trim fit. I am tired of baggy clothes. Back in January, I think you recommended a skirt that had the look that I want in shorts. Can you find a pattern for me? Thanks.
-- Becky K.
Dear Becky: I found Kwik Sew pattern 3854. This pattern has two very different looks, but one has a yoke very much like the skirt from January, and a pocket detail that will be good for golfers or shoppers. All the buttons and no zipper!
Dear Vicki: I am trying to use a special foot that came with my machine to make tiny hems. This project is driving me to distraction. No one seems to be able to show or tell me how to use it. Any tips for success?
-- Caroline M.
Dear Caroline: The tiny hemmer needs practice, so be patient. Sometimes it is very helpful to lightly spray starch the fabric edge. Now, fold the edge over two times to form the desired hem, slide the fold under the presser foot, and turn the handwheel to drop the needle into the fold to hold it in place. Grasp the fabric edge and give it a little tug so that the edge rolls up into the metal scroll on the foot. Finally, your job is to keep the fabric from sliding out of the scroll, which takes practice. It may take several attempts before you can keep it in. If the fabric simply will not roll into the scroll, it may be too heavy. But there are different sizes of scrolls, so don't give up. For some fabrics, the answer might be to use a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch.
This week's reader's tip is from Joyce, of Ragley, La.:
"I use a flea comb -- yes, the type that is used for dogs -- to remove lint from fabric. I have been making flannel rag quilts, and you know what a mess they are to depill. I just comb up the pills, and it's fast and works better than anything else I've tried."
Send tips and questions to me, Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.