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Dear Vicki: I have been noticing skirts and dresses with high-low hems, and I would like to make one. Are there any patterns, or can you guide me in how to modify a pattern so that I can make something with this unusual hemline? – Lyeta F.

Dear Lyeta: I searched and found several dresses and skirts with this new and very now look. This one is Vogue 8983. This dress should do very well if you use a soft, drapey rayon challis, pre-washed linen, cotton voile or silk crepe. A tiny hem will allow the hem, which is necessarily curved, to hang smoothly. This dress is buttoned down the front, just like a blouse or shirt. Be sure to adjust the buttons to have one lined up with the tip of the bust so that you will not have gapping at the front of your bodice. You also can find skirt patterns with this hemline, or turn this dress into a skirt by cutting it off at the waist and adding a waistband.

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Dear Vicki: Can you tell me why some stores rip fabric and some stores cut yardage? Is there a reason, or are they just being lazy when they rip? Just curious. Thanks. – Kelly M.

Dear Kelly: At our shop we rip many fabrics, and that is because we have mostly garment fabrics and the grain is of utmost importance, and ripping ensures that you have perfect grain lines. If the fabric won’t or doesn’t like to be ripped, then we pull a crossgrain thread and cut along it. Now, if we were a quilt store, we would cut the fabric along the print line, because the print might be slightly off grain, and still the print must be straight on the blocks. And the grain isn’t quite so critical in quilting, because there won’t be large pieces of fabric moving around a garment. Of course it should go without saying that higher quality prints will be printed on grain.

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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’s tip is from Rene Howard, of Sunset Hills, Mo.

She writes: “My tip is that I mounted a magnetic knife rack in my sewing space to hold my shears, scissors, rippers and other metal tools, and now I don’t have to root around – they are at the ready!”

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