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Dear Vicki: I can’t believe it, but school is starting soon. I would like to make some really cute lunch bags for my kids that will keep their food fresh but be easy to manage. Are there patterns available for this? Could you find one, please? - Lida W.

Dear Lida: Here is an independent designer pattern from Patty Young for ModKid. It is insulated and waterproof, with pockets inside to keep everything separated and cool. It can be personalized with your fabric choices, and maybe even embroidery. There is a product that you can use to laminate any cotton fabric; look for it at your favorite store. It just irons on. If your machine has difficulty with the laminate, a little cornstarch or talcum powder sprinkled on the surface can help. The new mini patterns from ModKid are really diagrams and careful instructions instead of tissue paper, so they are very inexpensive. Look for the pattern at your favorite store, or send me a check for $5.65 (Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122,) and I will send it to you.

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Here is an old one from Eunice:

I have been sewing for more than five years but have been making only pants. Now I see nothing but skirts, and I can’t seem to get a good fit. Have you any tips about this? – Rita B.

Dear Rita: Begin with an easy-to-make A-line or straight skirt pattern. Be sure to check the measurements. Purchase your pattern by the hip measurement – this is no time to cheat. When you cut, add 4 to 8 inches to the side-seam allowances, because you can then let it out if you need to during your fitting. But mark the proper stitching lines, and baste on that.

The waist or top of the skirt should be at least 2 inches larger than your waistband, even after your darts are stitched. Then run gathering lines at the top and draw up to fit the band. When the skirt is eased onto the band, which is fitted to your waist, it will fit your body. This helps the skirt to not ride up. I hope these tips help your fitting.

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This week’s reader’s tip is from Rosemarie Woodbury, of Albuquerque, N.M.

She writes:

“Here is my sewing tip: I keep a small dispenser of waxed dental floss in my sewing box for stringing sets of buttons cut off of unusable garments. The wax keeps the floss rigid enough to thread easily through the holes of the buttons, and the floss doesn’t break or slide after knotting. No more searching for matching buttons!”