Dear Vicki: I need an idea for kids’ crafts during winter vacation. I always have something different and fun and educational in some way, but I am stuck and hope you have a plan for me.

My kids are old enough now to do something that requires time and has some detail. Thanks. – Linda V.A.

Dear Linda: My favorite independent company, Indygo Junction, has a wonderful quilt pattern of all the states called Modern America. I am thinking that this could easily be done as a craft project. Just apply fusing agent to the back of some different broadcloth prints and then let the kids arrange and iron on the states. You could make a wall hanging, a pillow or a game from this pattern. You must go online to the Indygo Junction website ( to download and print out the stylized state outlines, or get an atlas and make your own United States and keep going as long as your children are interested. Add state capitols or physical features, or make other countries.


Dear Vicki: How ever do you keep elastic from turning and folding over in your waistband? This is driving me nutty!

Thanks in advance. – Mimi D.

Dear Mimi: After you have distributed the gathers evenly in the casing of your pants, you can machine stitch vertically through the entire width of the waistband in about four places around the waist, spacing the stitching evenly.

The machine stitching won’t show, and you won’t go nuts. You might also look for non-roll elastic.

It costs only a little bit more and has built-in ridges to help keep the elastic from folding over.


Each week I share a reader’s tip and send him or her a set of 100 fine English hand-sewing needles as a thank you. It’s a little late for Christmas, but I still like it. From Mary M. of Eureka, Mo.

She writes: “I have so many grandchildren that it is hard to shop and buy for all of them, so I make pillowcases using fun prints and put gift certificates inside. I also make them so that they can be used to bring pajamas on overnights.”

Please send your tips and questions to me, Vicki Farmer Ellis, P.O. Box 220463, St. Louis, MO 63122, or email me at And you, too, could win a collection of hand-sewing needles if your tidbit is selected for publication.