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Dear Vicki: The holidays are coming fast, and I want to make ties for my two little boys as part of their outfits. I have already made the girls their clothes, and I want the boys to coordinate with their sisters. One is 3 and the other 5, so I want fake ties – it just makes it easier to get everyone together, but I can’t find them. Please help. – Margie T.

Dear Margie: A long time ago I wrote about a pattern called Little Guy Ties!, but they are real ones. Now, for you, I’ve found one called You’re the Man! It is from Vanilla House Designs and works for 6 months and up. You all know I love to promote independent designers and local stores, so please try to find this at a local shop. If you cannot, then send me $10.25 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and I will send the pattern to you.

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Dear Vicki: This summer I was trying to make a simple top for my little girl. It had rows of elastic thread to gather up the top. I wound up the elastic thread on my bobbin and sewed.

What a mess! My sewing machine, normally very well-mannered, just acted up and snarled up. I sewed and ripped and generally flubbed this project, and it was supposed to be so easy. Do you have experience with this elastic thread? Thanks. – Melissa

Dear Melissa: First, be sure you use the Gutermann brand elastic thread. It is the only one I have found that is able to shirr up fabric and still be stretchy. Next, most sewing machines don’t like this wound on the bobbin. Instead, set a small zigzag stitch and sew over the elastic thread (test that it is wide enough so that you won’t pierce the elastic with your needle). Now sew rows approximately 1/2 inch apart and pull up to gather after all sewing is finished. This should be easy now.

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This week’s reader’s tip is from Genny Kerutis, of Tampa, Fla. She writes:

“I used to find my sew-through tapes and glue sticks all dried out. Now I keep all my felt-tip markers and sewing adhesives in Ziploc baggies – it keeps them fresh and usable.”

email:info@eunicefarmerfabrics.com.