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DON’T LET OUT-OF-STYLE TECHNIQUES SNAG EFFORTS TO SEW

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People of all ages like to sew, but the problem with sewing today is the way they were taught, according to the author of "Power Sewing."

Complicated and time-consuming methods - frequently taught in home economics classes - tend to slow down even the most patient home seamstress, says Sandra Betzina Webster. In addition, the finished product can end up looking anything but finished."If you want to look like ready-to-wear, you have to use ready-to-wear techniques," said Webster. "Most patterns still use home ec techniques. Home ec has turned a lot of people off because a lot of the classes are very rigid. A lot of people who sew feel like they're going to give up."

Her advice: Don't.

Instead, try some simple, time-saving techniques that can produce stylish clothes with a minimum of fuss.

Webster is a former spokeswoman for the American Home Sewing Association, the creator of 12 sewing videos and the author of three books, including "More Power Sewing" and "Fear of Sewing."

She said she learned her methods through ready-to-wear workrooms and designer couture houses.

Webster's "Power Sewing" can be helpful if you're a wizard with a sewing machine or if patterns strike you as more complicated than brain surgery.

The book's key selling point is its short, concise chapters on every possible sewing challenge. "People can look up the one thing they need. They don't have to read on and on to find the answer," Webster said.

Having trouble making things fit around the middle? Turn to "Waistbands That Fit" and in two pages learn how to make pants and skirts work at the top.

How about V-necklines that pucker? Her chapter on "Corner Secrets" gives valuable tips to avoid this.

Other chapters include: "Camouflaging the Pot Belly," "Stop Making Clothes Your Children Hate," "Cover That Mistake" and "Organize Your Time."

She also shows how to sew your own leotards, what to do with difficult seams, alteration techniques and how to cultivate an eye for quality workmanship.

Home stitchers used to be women trying to save money, but Webster said that isn't the case anymore.

The sewer of today is college-educated, between ages 25-45 and makes $35,000 to $45,000 per year, according to the Sewing Fashion Council.

The home seamstress now sews as a creative hobby and a means of getting exactly the clothes and fit she wants, Webster said.

Can you save money with home sewing?

"You can save about two-thirds if you like really expensive fabrics," Webster said. "If you tend to like better ready-to-wear, you can definitely save money by sewing."

Other tips:

- "If you have failures in sewing, pick fabrics that are friends - wool jersey, wool crepe, rayon challis, washed silk and silk crepe de chine."

- "Underline otherwise clingy knit dresses with crinkle cotton. It gives body so the garment doesn't hang so close and catch on the stomach."

- "You can see through regular interfacing on a linen blouse, so use a layer of the same fabric as the blouse for interfacing."

- "Check your needle and use the right one for the job. A lot of people don't realize puckered seams are caused by the wrong needle."

"Power Sewing" costs $29.95 and is available at Deseret Book. To order a copy by mail or to get a brochure about sewing videos, call 1-800-845-7474.

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Sandra Betzina Webster was in Salt Lake City last month to participate in the Creative Sewing and Needlework Exposition held at the Salt Palace Convention Center May 13-15. While here, she taught seminars in "Fashion and Fabric of the '90s," "Marketing What You Make" and "No More Gambling with Fit."