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Sew Simple By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: I would like to make an Easter outfit for my daughter this year. Can you suggest something that will work if it is cold? I would also like for her to be able to wear it later in the spring. I am an average sewer, so it could have some detail. She won’t wear it if there is any lace or if it is too frou-frou. – Genny M.

Dear Genny: I love this little jumper from Butterick, pattern number 4842. There are a number of different views, but the one with the two flounces looks special, and something for Easter should be special. This could be a summer sun dress without the blouse, or a winter jumper with a T-shirt or turtleneck underneath.

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Dear Vicki: I’d like some knowledge about silk. I would like to do more special sewing, and I just don’t know much at all about silk. So give me a little primer on it – Cindy

Dear Cindy: Silk is becoming increasingly popular in today’s clothing due in part to washed silks. First, let’s make sure it is silk; labels are generally correct, but if you are in doubt, then do a burn test. Take a very tiny sliver of the fabric and light it with a match. Silk burns slowly and leaves an ash instead of melting and will smell like burnt hair. Here are a few tips for sewing with silk:

First, remember it is natural for silks to have some irregularities. These reflect the authenticity of nature. Some silks wash better than others, so test yours before washing to be sure you like the changes that occur. Dark colors and brilliant prints should be dry-cleaned.

There are so many different weaves, and they have such different characteristics. Here are a few types:

• Satin is lustrous and may be smooth and stiff. It needs a perfect needle. Press carefully, as creases cannot be removed.

• Shantung or douppioni is easier and more forgiving to sew with, and is stiff enough to hold its shape for ball gowns.

• Crepe de chine is fine and lightweight. It can be draped and is beautiful for bias skirts and gowns.

• Chiffon is transparent like gauze, very sheer. It’s only for floating on top.

I recommend Claire Shaeffer’s “Fabric Sewing Guide.” This book will guide you in fabric selection, care and construction techniques. It’s a must, and you should be able to find it in any bookshop.