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Versatile, popular poncho a cinch to create

I see ponchos everywhere. They don't look difficult to make. Is there a pattern? What fabric would you suggest?

I have selected Butterick 3975 (sizes extra-small to extra-large) for a few reasons. There are several versions to choose from. These are slightly longer than some of the ponchos you see in ready-to-wear _ and more flattering. They can be made of wool, wool blends or poly-fleece. Fleece doesn't need hemming; it won't ravel. You may add fringe for the edging, serge the cut edges or hem them. The front closing can be a tie or loops and buttons. It's a great look, takes minutes to make and can be worn over skirts or pants.

Lining up the linings

What is the difference between linings and underlinings?

Underlinings are applied to the parts of your garment after they have been cut, before construction. The weight of the underlining depends on the pattern, which will dictate more or less structure. The underlining and garment fabric are treated as one. My favorite underlining is silk organza. It gives structure to the garment without adding a stiff look. Fusibles are often used for the same purpose, but they must be selected carefully. A separate lining is attached to the garment only at the shoulder and neckline. It will hang free and take the place of a separate slip.

I love underlinings because you can attach facings, hems, etc., to the underlining, and the stitches will never be visible from the right side of the garment.

Hem stitches show

When I do hemming by hand, I always see an indentation of the stitches from the right side. I make tiny stitches, and they still show. What am I doing wrong?

You are making the same mistake that many sewers make: You are pulling the stitches too tight. Always keep the thread fairly loose, and it will "give" with the stretch of your fabric. I have always found that my students who do a lot of hand embroidery have a tendency to pull the stitches too tight. Try keeping your thread loose, and I think your problem will be solved.

This week's winner

Each week, a reader wins a prize for sending in a helpful sewing hint. This week's winner is Barbara Jachim of Palm Harbor. She will receive a thumb pincushion. Her tip:

"When I want to practice new quilting techniques, I use some of my scrap fabrics I have saved from other projects before beginning a new one."

Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131.

Eunice Farmer is a nationally recognized authority on sewing.

King Features Syndicate

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