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Sew Simple / By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: My friends can’t believe I know how to sew, but I do. And I love making my own special clothes. Please find me a simple pretty dress for weddings, wedding showers or just going out. I don’t want this to be sexy – just dressy and cute, something my mom would like to see me wear! – Kris K.

Dear Kris: This Vogue pattern, 1393, is from designer Kay Unger, and you will love it. Find a couple of very pretty fabrics or a sheer fabric that looks great with a lining showing through. All the tiers give the opportunity for a great fit – just don’t over-fit it and define any figure flaws. The bias finish for the neck and armholes is a very nice detail because it eliminates the need for facings.


Dear Vicki: I am writing to you in total frustration. How do I know what pattern size I am? I have just thrown away a very simple top that I was excited about because of the fabric, but the shoulders were too wide, the armholes were too big and it just looked like I made it for someone else. My trouble is that by the time I get a pattern that corresponds to my hip measurement, nothing else fits. But I don’t want my clothes to be too tight, so what am I doing wrong? – Petra K.


Dear Petra: The rule I use is to measure around the body in line with the underarm and above the bust. Do not hold the tape tight. In fact, have your fingers inside the tape as you check the number. This number is useful as the bust measurement, as it determines the shoulder width, the neckhole and armholes and sleeves, if there are sleeves. This should give you a much better start to fitting yourself. Your body at the waist and hip is just a tube, so it should not be considered when choosing the size for any bodice. Waist and hips can be fitted simply by adding to the side seams and/or slashing the pattern and separating below the bust to give enlargement to accommodate tummies and muffin tops, etc. This is not to say that you might have to work to get a nice fit if you have special features, but at least you will have a chance. Next time you are using a pattern for the first time, a good plan is to measure a similar garment that you like and compare it to the pattern pieces.