Dear Eunice Farmer: I seldom wear dressy clothes, but this spring and summer I will be attending several weddings and graduations. Can you suggest a dressy top that I can wear with both pants and skirts? - Nadine P.

Dear Nadine: I have selected McCall's 3851, sized 6-22. It is featured in lace, but it can be used for other dressy fabrics. The sleeves have a lovely detail using the scalloped edge of the lace as a finish. There are many laces to select from. Many are very dressy; others are only dressy because they are lace. This is a simple, wearable pattern. Lace is one of the most popular fabrics of the season. I hope you like it.

Dear Eunice Farmer: I haven't done any sewing for many years, however, I always read your column, and you have inspired me to begin again. I want to make my granddaughter's flower-girl gown out of silk Shantung to coordinate with the bridesmaids. I have searched all over and can't find silk thread anywhere. What can I use? - Beverly B.

Dear Beverly: Silk thread is no longer necessary. In fact, it is hardly ever used, because we have many new sophisticated threads that actually work better. You can use a very fine cotton embroidery thread for great results. It's a good idea not to use any thread that is stronger than the fibers of your fabric. Your fabric could actually tear at the seams or any stress point on the garment.

Dear Readers: Recently, Betty D. wrote and asked about the thread breaking and knotting when hand quilting. Thanks to many of you who wrote solutions. Here are a few: Use quilting thread for hand sewing and machine quilting thread for your machine. Never double the thread; quilting thread is made to be used single strand. Also, use quilting needles, which are quite different from regular sewing needles. You might also use thread, but in shorter lengths. There is a great new product called Thread Heaven. Just run your thread through the cake of Thread Heaven, and it will prevent fraying and knotting. It's safe for all threads and fabrics.

Each week, a reader wins a prize for sending in a helpful sewing hint. This week's winner is Joy Gazaway of Virginia Beach, Va. She will receive a thumb pincushion. Her tip:

"I always keep an emery board by my sewing machine. When a new spool of thread has little rough pieces of plastic on the outer edge that snag the thread as it comes off the spool, a couple of swipes with the emery board will take care of it."

You, too, could win a thumb pincushion. Send your sewing tips to Eunice Farmer, Box 31729, St. Louis, MO 63131. If she selects your tidbit for publication, you'll receive this prize.

© 2003 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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