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Dear Lauren: Here is another suggestion for your girls’ summer learning-to-sew experiences. This little dress from Kwik Sew (pattern No. 2937) is now discontinued and out of print, but we still have a few at the store – all sizes are included, from 8 through 14. Since it is a multi-size pattern, just trace off the size each girl needs, and if you need a smaller or larger size than the pattern choices, then the grading lines will guide you in just how to enlarge or shrink for more sizes. This dress is for a bit advanced sewer because it has a zipper, facings and darts – so quite a bit of detail, like the boatneck, optional bows and the slash opening at the hem. But it’s a sweet and versatile dress. There is also a hemmed triangular scarf that is very popular at our classes. If you want one of these patterns, send a check for $11 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122), and we will send it to you.

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Dear Readers: This is a continuation of last week’s tips to Mary Ann T. for using her pleater machine for English smocking.

When you loosen the screws holding the rollers in place, check for raveled threads that might be tangled in the mechanism. You didn’t tell me if the pleater you purchased is new or used, so if it is used, tangles might be a really good reason for the stiffness in turning that you mentioned. Be very careful when rotating the machine; it is so easy to break pleater needles, and they can be difficult to replace.

Another tip for you is to practice pleating 1/2 inch gingham to learn to keep vertical and horizontal grains straight when rolling the fabric onto the dowel and feeding it into the rollers. If you are producing spilt pleats, then you are definitely off-grain, and your stitching patterns will be uneven.

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Each week I share a reader’s tip and thank him or her with a set of 100 fine English hand-sewing needles. This week the tip is from Joyce Hernandez of Plaquemine, La. She writes:

“I use bright fingernail polish or white liquid correction fluid to mark the notch on spools of thread after I cut thread. This makes it easier to find and never comes loose and keeps spools of threads very neat and tidy.”

email: info@eunicefarmerfabrics.com