Dear Vicki: I want to sew for and with my little girl and make some sort of craft project. She loves her dolls, but I don't think I want to make doll clothes. Help me find an idea that we can stitch up over a weekend just for her.
-- Kate L.
Dear Kate: There are so many of the 18-inch little girl dolls around, and Kwik Sew 105 from designer Ellie Mae is perfect for you. This pattern is for a bed, comforter, dust ruffle, mattress and pillow and it is just adorable. This pattern has simple, straight lines and is not so fiddly that your daughter will not be able to help sew it.
Dear Vicki: I entered a competition to recycle and reuse, and I chose sewing. I took two little girl princess dresses, ripped them apart and made one short prom dress for a teen. The dress turned out well -- in fact, I scored very high. The judges told me that I needed to learn to grade the seam allowances and understitch. Why do I need to do this? I did clip and press my facings, and I thought that was enough. I am sending some pictures so you can give me your opinion. Thanks so much for all the tips and inspiration.
-- Karinia J.
Dear Karinia: First of all, your idea is great -- amazing, really -- and the pictures are cute. I think the reason the judges wanted you to grade your seams is because the top is organza and your clipped seam allowances show through and look homemade. Grading means you trim the seam allowances first in half and then just one in half again so that they sort of fade away. Understitching is sewing both seam allowances to the facing just as close to the seam as possible.
This week's reader's tip is from Fran Whiteside of Albuquerque, N.M. She writes: "Like every other crafts enthusiast, finding storage space is a challenge to my creative thinking. I ran across a company that sells store fixtures. They have simple hardware devices intended for display, but they have helped me to organize and reduce clutter. The belt display holds scissors and shears at the ready -- some bars go almost to the ceiling, giving me extended space for hanging items. My laundry room also has benefited from this discovery. "