Dear Vicki: I am a young sewing enthusiast. I have been making aprons, bags and skirts.
Now I would like to try to make a dress. I am picturing something simple but unique, and I need guidance so that I don’t choose something that is too difficult or that will show my inexperience. I enjoy reading your column; it is usually my favorite page in the paper. Thanks. – Shelly F.

Dear Shelly: I really love this youthful dress from McCall’s. It is number 6433. If sleeves make you too nervous, one view is sleeveless. The other view has tiny, capped, self-lined sleeves. I really like the non-symmetry and the very interesting neckline.
The lack of a collar means you can accessorize easily with a scarf or jacket. This dress can go to the office or out to dinner. If you don’t love the pleats, there is even a view for knits that leaves them out. So you can make this pattern over and over, changing elements to make each dress different.
Dear Vicki: I have been seeing exposed zippers in clothes and wonder what you think about them. If I wanted to do it, would I need a certain pattern? Thanks for writing this column; I give you a thumbs up. – Meghan T.

Dear Meghan: My daughters both spotted the exposed zippers some time ago. We like to cruise through designer departments and boutiques. We copied the look using ridiculously expensive (and wonderful) RIRI zippers, and it was tricky but very fun. This is exactly why we sew!
You won’t need a special pattern, but you will need to plan ahead and change the order of construction to make it neat, because you will be turning your edges toward the right side and putting the zipper on top. Run, don’t walk, and buy the Threads magazine from August. It has an article just for you – step-by-step instructions all about insertion of an exposed zipper technique.
This week’s reader’s tip is from Jeannie Hammack, of Houston. She writes:
“I put a light string of drapery weights in the back hem of my jackets to help them hang straight. It makes them much more comfortable when I don’t have to rearrange my clothing.”

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