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Sew Simple By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: Sometimes I want to make something that is not a garment and not a big project. Would you find me something to sew that is practical and useful? Maybe my daughter can help. She is 11 years old and has done a little sewing and loves to help when I am in the sewing room. – Adriana D.

Dear Adriana: You and your young stitcher would enjoy making the Clutter Catcher from Sew Baby for your car. You can use colorful fabrics that she can help you choose. It is easy to make and certainly is useful. Please try to find the pattern at a local shop, but if you can’t, send me a check for $10 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will send the pattern to you. It can be purchased online at


Dear Penelope: This is a continuation of a previous column explaining different weaves of fabric. You asked about cottons, which we covered, but also about silks. Now I will discuss them.

Satin is a weave that is often associated with silk and is created by letting alternating fibers float above the loom for several passes. This gives a luster to the surface that can’t be matched. It is very fragile, however and pressing can create creases that cannot be removed. This is why bridal gowns are best pressed by professionals. Also, it will pucker if your needle is dull (be sure to use sharp, microtex needles with silks). Also check your tension and loosen it if needed, and only pin in the seam allowance.

Dupioni is an Italian name for silk threads made from two cocoons united by worms spinning close together. The resulting yarn is uneven, irregular and thicker than that of one cocoon. When it is woven, the fabric looks like a fabulous, luminous linen. It is crisp and makes structured rather than draped garments.

Raw silk is also rough and uneven, but not as luminous as dupionis – very well suited to summer jackets and suits because it hardly wrinkles. It ravels when you look at it, so serge the pieces as you cut out or zig-zag if you don’t have a serger. It’s firm and easy to work with. Even a moderate sewer can achieve great results. It’s one of my favorites. More on silks in July.