Dear Vicki: I need to make some maternity clothes for my daughter, and I need some advice about selection. Can you find something that is young but businesslike for her to wear to work as well as for church. She wants me to use knits because she needs clothes to throw in a suitcase and travel. So I need advice about this so I don’t get into trouble with a pattern that is too advanced. This has happened to me before. I appreciate your input. I am too excited for words! – Cindy S.

Dear Cindy: I found a pattern for you, Butterick 5860. This is a very versatile pattern – you can use it over and over for a whole wardrobe of looks. There is a sleeveless, small cap sleeve and 3/4-length sleeve version of the dress. There is a view as a top and pants, too.


Dear Vicki: I have not sewn for years, but reading your column has made me feel the urge again. So I purchased a pattern and fabric, and now I am ready to start. What has happened to patterns? I used to be able to buy my size and start cutting. Now there are lines all over the place – ugh! How does anyone know what is what? And there are no seam allowances. Why ever did things get so confusing? Thanks for your answers. – Lynn A.

Dear Lynn: Embrace change! Think of it this way, the different sizes allow you to develop a custom fit. Most of us are several different sizes, so the lines make it easier to smoothly transition from one size to another without buying two patterns and having to tape them together. Also, I like to just trace off my pattern anyway, because I can then use the pattern tracing paper to construct a fitting shape for my dress form or to pin-fit it on me if I can get a friend to assist.


This week’s reader’s tip is from Jo Hunter of Albuquerque, N.M.“When making any new pattern, begin by making it first in inexpensive cotton fabric (usually on sale!). From skirts to wedding gowns, it sure saves lots of time, and the results are better. Now you can sew that special fabric with confidence that the fit and all the details are worked out.”

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