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Evening look that's not too bare

Question: I want an evening outfit in the newest fashion, but I am too old to go sleeveless. That's all that seems to be shown in ready-to-wear. _ Nan G.

Answer: You're in luck this season. The hottest news on the fashion runways is sheer fabric that literally floats.

I love Butterick 5310, sizes 8-24 (and for petites), because it features a simple, sleeveless chemise gown or pants combined with a sleeveless shell for the evening look. The soft, sheer, printed jacket serves as a coverup that adds glamor, without letting anyone know why you did it!

Buying better

Question: I'm so frustrated with the quality of some ready-to-wear. I just purchased a jacket made of a blend of fibers, and after wearing it only a couple of times, it has pilled all over and looks as if it is worn out.

What kind of fabrics should I be wary of in ready-to-wear? _ Jesse P.

Answer: It is difficult to generalize without stepping on someone's toes. I have been working with fabrics and have studied them for years, so I can give you my opinion.

I have always found that acrylic is the main culprit. Let's not get into technical details, but acrylic is a man-made fabric. It's soft, warm and machine-washable; it has been used as a substitute for wool.

Many acrylics shrink, retain static electricity, absorb little water and pill badly. You can use a full-blade razor to shave the pills away. Acrylic is often blended with other fibers, to minimize its objectionable features.

Shirt vs. shirt jacket

Question: What is the difference between a shirt and a shirt jacket? They both look the same to me. _ Lynne C.

Answer: A shirt is a tailored blouse that is usually worn tucked into your pants or skirts.

A shirt jacket is basically the same, but it is worn outside the pants or skirt as a lightweight, unconstructed jacket. The hem is finished, there are buttons below the waist and there are usually slits in the side seams.

Because the shirt jacket is unlined, you must finish the seams in a clean finish, such as serging. Cover the shoulder pads in the fabric of the garment.

Shirt jackets have become so popular as coverups that you will find them for daytime or evening wear, often made of fabulous fabrics such as chiffon, organza and metallics. You can wear them over silk pants or skirts.

Tip of the week

Winner of the lighted seam ripper and needle threader for the sewing tip of the week is Lois Verseman of Cary, Ill. Her tip:

"For a new garment with sew-through buttons, put a drop of Fray Check on the top of the button over the threads. This will keep the threads from pulling loose, keeping the buttons attached."

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.

1998, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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