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Sew Simple: A stylish pattern for mother of the bride

Dear Vicki: I just finished my mother-of-the-bride dress and I like it, but why did I choose a strapless gown? I am not going to be comfortable in February without a jacket or shawl or something to keep me warm, not to mention covered in church.

Can you help me? – Lynda M.

Dear Lynda: I found a lovely new pattern from McCall’s for you. It’s pattern number 7289 and should be quick and easy but has more style than you usually find in quick patterns. Find a lovely sheer fabric and go for it.

Be sure to practice the details on scraps of the fabric before beginning your sewing. By that I mean try different seam finishes if you do use a sheer since the seam might be visible through the jacket. Sometimes the best seam is to stitch and then trim close and zigzag the edges together, or maybe French seams, or try using the rolled hem option on your serger to sew the seams.


Dear Vicki: I find that pants patterns, especially the ones for knit pants, are often way too wide at the hem for me.

Give me some tips for slimming them down; tell me what to do and what not to do.

Thank you so very much. – Julie M.

Dear Julie: First, measure a pair of pants that you do like and see just how big they are at the hem. Let’s say you need to take out 4 inches. Begin by using the longest stitch on your machine and take ¼ of the total at the bottom and ease upward smoothly and gradually until you reach the hip. Be sure you take the same amount out of the inseam and the outside seam. Don’t forget to turn outward again at the turn of the hem so the hem won’t be too tight. Try them on and refine your alteration until you like it, and now sew the seams with a very slight zigzag to give some stretch to the seam. You might finish by serging the seams together just outside of the seam.

Vicki Farmer Ellis is the daughter of nationally recognized authority on sewing Eunice Farmer. Please send your tips and questions to Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email