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Polar fleece _ better living through plastic

Dear Eunice: What is polar fleece? I see it mentioned so much in ready-to-wear. I would like to make my girls some casual jackets for Christmas. They go to college, so the look is very casual. Is this fabric available at our fabric stores? Also, please suggest a pattern. _ Marcie T.

Dear Marcie: Polar fleece is a fairly new synthetic fabric made from recycled plastic bottles (so I'm told)! It is soft, fleecy and almost like a velour. The fabric is easy to work with, doesn't ravel and needs very little construction. You can practically make it with your serger in a few hours. It doesn't have to be lined; it's up to you. It's completely washable, another plus.

Most of the polar fleece I have seen comes in blanket-type prints, as well as in solid colors. I love the look of Burda 3876, sizes 6-20. It features a hood, has very few seams and looks great in any blanket-type fabric. This jacket would be perfect on any campus.

If you cannot find Burda patterns in your area, you may order directly from Burda, P.O. Box 670628, Marietta, GA 30066. Enclose $9.95, plus $1 for postage, and you will also receive a mini-catalog. If you only wish the mini-catalog, send a long, self-addressed, stamped (52 cents) envelope to the above address.

Shortening sleeves

Dear Eunice: Some of the sleeves in patterns today look like they belong on monkeys, not humans. Where is the best place to shorten sleeves? _ Pat W.

Dear Pat: It's important to shorten the pattern in the proper place, especially if there is any shaping in the sleeve. Take a fold in your pattern above the elbow, as well as below the elbow. If you shorten the sleeve a great deal at the bottom only, it will probably end up being too wide at the cuff.

The West-dressed

Dear Eunice: My husband and I will be going to a convention at a dude ranch later this winter. I'm told the weather is mild, but we need a new wardrobe of the appropriate clothes. I intend to make whatever I can but need your help with patterns. Any ideas? _ Kay V.

Dear Kay: You will be delighted to know that with the popularity of Western fashions, McCall pattern company has a new section in its catalog called "Westernwear." It features just about anything you will need: jackets, blouses, skirts, square-dance dresses, vests, etc. There are unisex patterns, too, so you can make your husband some shirts, jackets, etc.

These are fun clothes to make, and they can be worn just about anywhere, not just at a dude ranch. Incidentally, you will also find many appropriate patterns in all the pattern catalogs. I mentioned McCall because it has an entire section from which to choose.

Hide a pocket

Dear Eunice: I just purchased a lovely white pantsuit. However, when I put on the pants, the pockets show through. The top does not come down long enough to cover them, and it is very noticeable. What can I do? _ Bette F.

Dear Bette: A minor sewing job would be to change the pocket just inside the seamline and add a flesh-colored lining. I always recommend this when making a garment out of sheer or "see- through" fabric. It really makes the pocket almost invisible.

Suitable for occasion

Question: I have an unusual request. I am looking for an elegant suit pattern, preferably a designer pattern, for a very special occasion. I will be having this suit custom made, so the pattern doesn't have to be easy. Also, please suggest a fabric suitable for late winter. _ Shirley P.

Answer: I personally love Vogue 1298, sized 6-22, and plan to make it for myself. It features simple lines, a longer jacket and a place for very special buttons as an embellishment. The length of the jacket can be changed, but the longer jacket is definitely newer. The pattern also features contrasting collar and sleeve extensions as an alternative.

This design is appropriate for spring or fall; for late winter, I would suggest wool crepe or a heavy silk or a blend of any dressy fibers. If the fabric doesn't have enough body for the shaping necessary, you might fuse it with very lightweight interfacing, such as Easy-knit. Hope it fills the bill for you. It would be lovely in just about everyone's wardrobe.

Small ironing boards?

Question: Years ago my mother had a small, apartment-size wood ironing board, which she always kept handy when she sewed. In fact, she got me one when I went to college. It was perfect because it folded up when not in use and opened to the standard height when I needed it. That was years ago, and I have searched and searched for one since, with no luck. Can you help? _ Jerri B.

Answer: You can't know how I felt when I got your letter! I, too, have been searching all over for the kind of board you describe. If any of our readers or suppliers know where such a board is still available, please let me know, and I will share the information with all of my readers. (It's great for apartment dwellers for their regular pressing, too.)

Organze underlining

Question: I had a bad experience recently when I underlined a wool crepe jacket with organza. The seams looked pulled, and the lining ended up larger than the fabric. What went wrong? _ Vi T.

Answer: Wool crepe shrinks because of the weave and the give of the fabric. First, when working with wool crepe, always have it preshrunk, preferably by a professional dry cleaner. Aside from this, remember that, when you press it with excessive steam during construction, it will probably shrink again; this, undoubtedly, is what happened in your case.

I have good luck with fusible interfacing on wool crepe. It's best to cut each piece of your pattern slightly larger, fuse the light with fusible interfacing, then go back and recut the pattern. The fusible interfacing gives the fabric extra weight for shaping and makes for more professional results.

Naturally, for a shirt or soft, detailed dress, you would not use this type of interfacing. Skirts are best with a free-hanging lining.

Just try this

Winner of the Sim-Flex accurate measuring gauge for the sewing tip of the week is Bernice Erickson of Westfield, N.J. Her tip:

"When you do alterations and constantly need to change the thread, put on the new color, tie a knot in the two thread ends and pull the old color through. This saves rethreading as well as time."

Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, at the address below. If she selects your tidbit for publication, you'll get a Sim-Flex.

Send your questions or comments to Eunice Farmer, Sew Simple, c/o King Features, 235 E 45th St., New York, NY 10017.

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