Dear Readers: Several weeks ago we began a discussion about sewing books, and I shared my dream books. They were professional level and very expensive. Now I would like to suggest more easily available and affordable books. The "Vogue Sewing" book has been a very complete and readable option through all its editions. The "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing" will start you with beginner's techniques and take you through very advanced. Both are well illustrated, but try to look each over to choose the one that is most readable for you. Large bookstores will carry both.
Dear Vicki: I have been sewing quilts and crafts happily for several years, and I never expected to write to you for a pattern selection, but here I am. I would like a suggestion for a jacket that is totally not fitted. I want it to have kimonolike sleeves. I want to wear it to my granddaughter's wedding, so I want it to be fancy. Thanks. - Peggy M.

Dear Peggy: I love Indygo Junction's Simple Sleeved Shawl jacket, IJ838. First of all, it has no fit, as you requested. The front band is perfect for embroidery, braids or some sort of trim. This pattern can be made out of a knit or a woven, and it has several different views. One view has a poncho-type front - definitely not for the wedding, but maybe for a completely different purpose. The Asian influence is very evident, and it could be quite formal if you use a silk dupioni. If you have never set in sleeves, then this is a very easy start for you. As always, please try to find it at a local shop, but if you can't, then send me a check for $14.50 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will send it to you.
This week's reader's tip is from Nancy Swisher, of Gypsum, Kan. She writes:
"This is a tip on repurposing shoulder pads. Just fold the pads in half with the curved sides together, leaving the top open. This will fit any size pair of scissors, and guards the sharp points. This is also handy when traveling and you are in need of a scissors case."

Please send your tips and questions to me, Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email me at