Homemade clothes don't have to look 'old'

Q. My daughter is 20 years old and doesn't want me to sew for her anymore because she says the clothes I make for her are too "old looking." I need help with a younger look. I'm sure other moms would be happy to see this too!

-- Norma Z.

A. I love your question and hope you like my selection. Look for McCall's 5581, which features a chemise-type shift dress with a darling short jacket with an emphasis on the new sleeves. It can take her anywhere, from her job to fun evenings out!

Q. According to my measurements, I'm using the right size pattern; however, every pattern I make pulls across the bust, especially if it has sleeves. Help!

A. The bust measurement is only the beginning! Everyone's body is different; you might be large in the bust and narrow in the back, etc. To alter your pattern, you must cut the pattern from shoulder to waist over the fullest point of the bust, and separate about half an inch. (You might need even more room; decide after fitting a muslin pattern.)

If it fits, you have one more step to adjust. You must take a small fold in the pattern from the shoulder tapering to nothing above the bust. Now your shoulder should match the back. Always remember, patterns are a starting point. To fit all of our different measurements, we must adjust the patterns to fit our bodies.

Helpful sewing hint: Each week, a reader wins a prize for sending in a helpful sewing hint. This week's winner is Audrey Soderberg of Fayetteville, N.C. She will receive a collection of 100 hand-sewing needles from England. Her tip: "I would like to share my idea for a homemade needle-threader. They cost nothing. Just take an envelope and cut from the folded sides or bottom of the envelope. Make them long or short, and as narrow or as wide as you need for the size of the needle's eye or type of thread you will be using. They work best when the sharp point is on the fold."

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