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A fleece fabric you'll warm to

Question: I would like to make fleece jackets for my grown kids like the ready-to-wear jackets, but I don't know much about this fabric. What kind of pattern and construction should I use? _ Katie P.

Answer: This great fabric is often referred to as Polarfleece or Polartec, the trademark names for the original fabric. You'll find different names, but it's all basically the same.

Fleece is available in different weights yet is almost weightless. It's soft, easy to sew and comes in beautiful solid colors and exciting prints. It's machine washable _ do not dry clean. If the pile is extra high, some pilling may occur.

Fleece is a knit. It doesn't ravel, so leave the outer edges without a finish, or serge with a wide stitch, using wooly nylon thread or hand-sew the cut edges with a blanket stitch. Cut in one direction and use long glass-head pins. It's easier to pin and sew a pile fabric.

Kwick-Sew 2291, sizes XS-XL, is a great unisex jacket with a zipper closing. You'll end up making dozens of items for gifts too.

I recommend a book called Polarfleece Pizzazz by Ruthann Spiegelhoff and Judy Laube. It contains many patterns, detailed instructions and nifty ideas. Look for it at your favorite fabric store.

Long-distance fitting

Question: I'm making six bridesmaids gowns for a wedding at Christmas. The girls all live in different areas. How can I possibly fit them successfully? _ Pam C.

Answer: I always recommend separates: for example, a fitted bodice worn over the skirt. You will have fewer headaches.

Get their measurements, and make sure they are accurate. Make sample bodices, and send them to each bridesmaid. Be sure someone fits them who knows what she is doing, to help avoid excessive last-minute alterations.

Curving straight-edge lace

Question: I'm making my daughter's wedding gown for next spring and have found the most beautiful lace with a scalloped edge. I would love to use this edge at the curved neckline of the gown, but it's straight, and I don't know how to make it curve. I am using it for the sleeves and the bodice. _ Rita W.

Answer: Fortunately, lace doesn't ravel, and it is woven on fine netting, so you can cut it apart for motifs as well as edgings.

Cut a narrow strip from the edge, cutting around parts of the pattern, then apply by hand in small sections to achieve a curve. Don't try to turn under the edges of the lace; apply flat with tiny running stitches.

If you examine expensive ready-made gowns you will see how easy this technique is. The beauty of the lace makes it unnecessary to worry about small details that will never show.

Your daughter is lucky; a gown made by her mother is a treasure in today's world and surely the gift of love because of the hours of work it takes.

Tip of the week

Winner of the lighted seam ripper and needle threader for the sewing tip of the week is Shirley Burnett of Lake Charles, La. Her tip:

"To help distinguish between the right and wrong side of fabric, place a small safety pin on the right side, near the seam line, after cutting each piece of the pattern. You can immediately tell which side is which!"

You, too, could win a lighted seam ripper and needle threader. Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131. If she selects your tidbit for publication, you'll receive this sewing notion.

Eunice Farmer is a nationally recognized authority on sewing. She is an author, teacher, lecturer and fashion reporter, and she owns her own fabric boutique and sewing school.

Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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