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Sew Simple By Vicki Farmer Ellis

Dear Vicki: School is starting, and my daughter is a preschool teacher. She needs some smock-type aprons. So I would love if you could find a neat pattern for me so I can make her some. Thanks. – Cindy S.

Dear Cindy: Indygo Junction has a pattern they call “Sixties Smock.” It is simple to make; you could use amazing prints. It even has three-quarter-length sleeves to help cover her clothes. I think this is a great look, and I hope you can find the pattern at your local shop. But if you can’t, then send me a check for $16.25 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will send you one. It can also be purchased online at Indygo Junction’s website:


Dear Vicki: Genetics gave me narrow shoulders and a big bust. I have to go to XL tops, and I find many that I like, but when I try them on there is too much fabric in the center. With some styles I just live with it. However, I would like to know of any way I can take in 2 inches from the neckline only. Can you help me? Best wishes. – Marilyn

Dear Marilyn: You went on to describe a variety of schemes to fix the issue. It is really hard to fix ready-to-wear, but you could try ripping out the top half of your sleeves and then cutting back the shoulders a bit, but not much, since the sleeve will still need to fit. You could also make darts in the shoulder seams that extend in front and in back to draw up the excess fabric. There is really no way to make the neckline smaller unless you completely rip out the shoulder seams and make it larger, but you can only do this at the neck edge, not all the way across. It’s a lot of work. I think it would be easier to make a top from scratch, then measure above the bust and use that size pattern, but add to the side seams to accommodate your bust. Give yourself at least 3 inches of ease.


This week’s reader’s tip is from Anne Easson, of New Orleans.:

“Many needleworkers have issues with their fingers and wrists cramping. They should twist one finger over another, and to strengthen wrists, try to do push-ups. If you can’t do them, then stand at an angle to the wall and place your hands on the wall and begin to push away. I teach knitting, and this also helps limber up fine motor control.”

Please send your tips and questions to me, Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email me at And you, too, could win a collection of hand-sewing needles if your tidbit is selected for publication.

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Vicki Farmer Ellis is the daughter of nationally recognized authority on sewing Eunice Farmer.

(c) 2015 King Features Syndicate Inc.