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Sew Simple By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: I’ve been sewing for a long time and have bags filled with scraps and short yardage that I have left over or didn’t use. Please give me some suggestions for how to use all of this. – Maitatree M.

Dear Maitatree: I am suggesting this book titled “One Yard Wonders” by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins. It’s got 101 stylish projects using little bits, gifts, useful things, small clothing pieces, pet toys, on and on. Every idea has full color illustrations, step-by-step instructions and a pattern or template. Try to find it at a bookstore or your favorite fabric store. If you can’t, then send me $26 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will ship the book to you.


Dear Readers: This is the conclusion to Penelope’s question about how to work with silk weaves.

• Four-ply silk crepes are very luscious, soft, drapey and expensive, and are used for very glamorous and sensuous garments. If you can find it, expect to pay at least $65-plus per yard, but it is easy to sew and fantastic to wear.

• Crepe de Chine is the very slippery, shiny, body-clingy movie star one. It is wonderful for slip dresses and linings. Take care with this one: Cover your table with tissue paper first then the silk then your pattern. You can make it easier to manage by using spray stabilizer at the seam allowances. To apply it, mask everything but the edges with paper. Be sure to test this on a scrap first, but if it works on your fabric, then all the seaming will be easier.

• Silk organza is very sheer but crisp and makes lovely floaty jackets and skirts. This silk is easy to work with, but be sure to practice your seam finishes since they will show through the garment. Gazar is an extra-heavy organza that designers love to use to make the bouncy retro skirts on dresses. This is a fabric I secretly love to use for interfacing in suits because it doesn’t add weight but has fabulous body.

• Silk chiffon is so airy and light and limp that it makes dreamy overlays. Be careful with this one, because it can’t take any stress, so only unfitted garments. And, once again, practice all details on scraps before beginning. If you can, get a straight-stitch throat plate and foot for your machine, and use microtex needles and cotton sewing thread for all silks.


This week’s reader’s tip is from Mary Alice Hayes, of Elkhart, Ind.: “I carry a rubber finger (the ones sold in office supply stores) in my purse. When I am in a fabric store looking through the pattern books, I put on my rubber finger. It makes it so easy to turn the pages.”