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Sew Simple By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: I am a big fan of pencil skirts, long and short. My problem is, after a few stomach surgeries I have developed a belly. I am looking for a pattern that will hide my belly – maybe like the sarong skirts they show with slanted pleats to the side across the front. Do you know of a pattern I could use? – Marguerite Y.

Dear Marguerite: Use the McCall’s 6986 dress pattern and remove the bodice and turn this extremely flattering skirt into just a skirt. I think it will hide that tummy beautifully, and is a look that many can wear with confidence.

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Dear Vicki: I am trying to finish a vest that has bias trim instead of facings, and I am having trouble figuring out just how to join all the pieces of bias fabric that I have cut. This happens to me every time I try to finish little quilts and home-decorating projects – I cut the strips but then I can’t understand how to sew them together. One of my friends has to help me, but she is not able to teach me how to do it on my own. Maybe you can help me. – Joyce C.

Dear Joyce: First, fold your fabric diagonally so the cut edge touches the woven edge; this diagonal is the true bias. Iron or pin this in place so you can begin to cut your strips. Depending on your purpose, the width of these strips could be 1 to 3 inches wide. Now lay two strips right side up next to one another; flip one over and line it up at a right angle to the other with the diagonal cut edges placed so that the little points extend – after stitching and pressing you can cut these off. Perhaps it is the little triangles that are confusing you. Don’t think that they have to fit. Usually the strips cross at just the location where you begin to sew. Bias trim is so wonderfully flexible. It goes around curves and corners. I love it for finishing sleeves, vests, tablecloths and quilts, of course. Once you feel comfortable making bias, you will find many uses both in clothing and home-decorating projects.

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This week’s reader’s tip is from Carolyn Miller, of Westwego, La.

She writes:

“To keep a sewing machine threaded and save thread that has become so expensive, I sew from one seam to another, stringing pieces together, and afterward cut them apart. I go from seam sewing to finishing edges and do it without cutting the thread until necessary.”