The Curtain Call – Nancy’s Holiday Window and Raffle

photoWe are excited to share the details of our second annual ‘Share the Joy’ raffle to benefit local agency Mary’s Place, a wonderful resource for homeless women and their children.

Our theme this year is The Curtain Call, inspired by Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The staff at Nancy’s has drawn inspiration from the soon-to-be retired Maurice Sendak costume and set designs to create and hand-make costumes to fit 18″ dolls, including American Girl dolls (R).

We are selling raffle tickets for $2 a piece and each ticket is a chance to win one of six total prizes! The raffle drawing will be held on Saturday, December 20th at the end of the day.

For the prizes, we have five individual prizes and one grand prize.

Individual prizes are:
1. A Pleasant Company original tea set
prize 1 tea set

2. A modern folk ensemble including blouse, appliqued vest, and tiered skirt with sash*
prize 2 folk costume







3. A black opera coat made of wool with faux-fur collar*
prize 3 opera coat

4. A grey ball dress with lace bodice and beaded necklace*
prize 4 grey ball dress with necklace

5. A brightly colored tutu with matching ballet slippers and tights*
prize 5 tutu hairpin and slippers

Our grand prize is comprised of seven ballet costumes with accessories, two masks made by the very talented Lauren Dudley, and a Christmas Tree painting, all inspired by the original costumes and sets of Maurice Sendak, plus three additional outfits worn by our ‘audience members’ in the front window!*

You can see the grand prize in the photo at the top of this post or stop by to see our lovely window display in all its glory. Raffle tickets can be purchased in store with cash or check only.

*Dolls pictured are not included in any component of the raffle prizes.

Celebratory Bunting tutorial

It’s that fabulous time of year when we get to pull out all sorts of fun and traditional decorations! If you are looking to add something new to your holiday decor repertoire, look no further than this fun celebratory bunting! It’s a great use for fun seasonal prints or festive solids!

celebratory buntingFollow this pattern to make a fun and festive bunting to celebrate any occasion. Great for parties, showers, weddings, or simply for room décor!


This pattern will create a bunting with flags that are 9” tall x 9” wide; the flags will span a total length of approximately 48 feet.



  • ¼ yard cuts in 8 different 44” wide fabrics (no need to preshrink for this project!)
  • 18 yards of trim (ribbon, braid, tape, twine, or other sturdy string)
  • Thread (can match or contrast color of ribbon/braid/tape)



  • Rotary cutter (we use both a pinking blade and a straight blade)
  • Self healing cutting mat
  • Ruler for use with rotary cutter (ours is 6.5” x 24”)
  • Marking tool of some kind (we use Chaco-Liner)
  • Sewing machine with zigzag capability



  1. To begin, iron all fabrics and stack together. Using a rotary cutter with straight blade, trim stack of fabric so long edges are aligned and all fabrics are 9” tall.

trim fabrics to 9 in

  1. Using your ruler and marking tool make a mark approximately 1” from the selvedge on bottom edge, then measure and mark 4.5” on the opposite edge. From this second mark, measure and mark 4.5” on the bottom edge. Continue all the way across the fabric width.

mark opposite edge every 4.5 in

  1. Take your ruler and set on first mark made. Angle ruler so it meets the second mark on opposite edge. Using your rotary cutter with the pinking blade, make a cut from first to second mark following ruler’s edge. Reposition ruler from second to third mark and cut. Repeat across the fabric width. You will end up with 8 triangles per fabric for a total of 64 flags.cut from first to second markflags cut out

**Note that if you use a directional print that you want to be correct side up, you will have only 4 triangles that are the correct direction.


  1. Take one stack of cut flags and determine flag order, including repeat. If you want your bunting to have a random effect, you will need to dismantle all the flag stacks as cut and reassemble. When happy with the order of your flags, place in one big stack.

determine layout

  1. It is time to assemble your bunting! In addition to having your flag stack at hand, you will need your trim available and easy to unwind. Begin by measuring one yard into the trim (there is a 36” tie allowance on both ends of bunting for ease of hanging), then lay the first flag on trim (right sides facing same direction), aligning straight cut edge to length of ribbon. Using a zigzag stitch no wider than your trim (our trim is ¼” wide), sew flag to trim. When you reach the end of your first flag, add the next flag and continue to sew, adding another flag when ready, until you have sewn the entire stack.

sewing flagssewing zigzag stitchCONGRATULATIONS! Your bunting is complete! Hang it up and enjoy!

completed celebratory buntingSPECIAL BONUS:

With the fabric that is left over from cutting your flags, you can create a mini bunting! We used our fabric scrap to create flags that are 4” tall and 4” wide and sewed to two yards of the same braid (18” allowance for tying).

mini bunting cutmini buntingThis pattern can be followed exactly OR you can use it only as a guideline. Let your imagination run wild: change the basic shape for your flags, include more than one shape, or use shapes of different sizes! The possibilities are limitless! Here are some other fun ideas:

alternate shapes

The E.S.P. Dress – new pattern from Decades of Style

One of our favorite independent pattern lines, Decades of Style, has a brand new ‘easy’ line of patterns: Decades Everyday!

The first pattern from this new micro-line, The E.S.P. Dress, is described as an easy-to-sew retro dress pattern featuring flattering raglan sleeves, a faced square neckline, front and back darts, and a gathered skirt with pockets for that classic fit-and-flare shape.


The slogan for Decades Everyday is “sew in a day & wear everyday” and it is accurate! This pattern is great for novice sewers. The style is simple, construction is straight forward, and directions are easy to follow; all in all a great pattern for those who love the look of vintage clothes, but may not have the technical knowledge or skills to make a true reproduction.

This is the first dress I have made in several years and was feeling a bit rusty about my garment construction skills, but found this pattern to be a great choice. For fabric, I selected a 100% Cotton Lawn from Liberty (in the fabulous Jack and Charlie print). While the pattern is unlined, I decided to do a full lining using Ambiance 100% Rayon Bemberg quality. I also selected a coordinating ribbon to use as a hem tape (more details below).


I made the size for bust measurement 46″. I had help from the inimitable Jacque Goldsmith in fitting the bodice and ended up shortening the top by 2″ from the front waist dart all the way around. I also lowered my bust dart by about 1″ and took approximately 1/2″ out vertically from each back panel.

I decided to trade out the suggested 22″ standard zipper for an invisible zipper and hook & eye. I think invisible zippers have an easier installation and prefer the look to boot.

When hemming the skirt, I opted to use a 3/4″ 100% Rayon Petersham grosgrain ribbon as a hem tape to simultaneously make the hem a bit less bulky and to add a little weight to the hem. Plus, I love the look of grosgrain in a skirt hem.

As mentioned above, I chose to fully line this dress. I used the same altered bodice and sleeve pieces and then dirndled the skirt. I made my skirt lining 2″ shorter than the dress skirt and hemmed on the machine. Quick and easy.

All finishing was completed by hand, save the understitching at the neck facing, which I did on my machine.

Because it was easy to construct and I love the fit, I plan to make this dress many times over. In fact, I’ve already completed a second and have selected fabrics for two more! I am particularly excited to try top stitching in a cute contrasting color when I make up this pattern in other fabrics.

And now, the big reveal:

ESPdress front  ESPdress side

Don’t you just love this dress?

The Finished Dressmaker’s Jacket!

And voila!  The finished product!  In this photo, you can see the beautiful paisley lining peeking out, and the bias trim that separates the lining from the facing.Dressmaker's Jacket Front View

As you can see, this is a very fitted jacket- so the time spent initially in class for fitting was pivotal to the finished product.  The bright navy is a great color to mix with the rest of my wardrobe.Dressmaker's Jacket Back View

Here’s a view of the FUNCTIONAL SLEEVE VENT!  Because we’re fancy like that.  You can also see the iridescent glass buttons, which I adore!Functional Sleeve Vent

As with any sewing project, I used this as a learning experience.   I think the most important thing I learned during this class was:

*It’s imperative to utilize tailoring equipment during the process; using the sleeve roll and tailor’s ham to thoroughly press my seams throughout would have resulted in a smoother finish, and is especially important for a project like this, where fabric really gets sculpted to the body.

*Also, don’t move in the middle of a project- your sewing room gets all jumbled and you can’t find where anything has gotten off to!   :)


Pencil Skirt, Third Class: Walking Ease, Seam Binding, and The Finished Skirt!

The third and last class:

We learned even and uneven miters and a really smart trick to reduce the stress on the back vent, or slit. Having sewn for years, why didn’t I think of that? Again, a tip worth taking the class for.


We talked about all different choices for walking ease, hems and we reviewed waistbands. We made samples and applied rayon seam binding.


My skirt will be on display in the store very soon…..come in and check out the insides for all of the tips and methods I learned in class! I’ll do my very best sewing, knowing that people might be lifting up my skirt hem!


Pencil Skirt, Second Class: Zippers, Perfect Underlaps, and Mitered Waistband Laps…

The second pencil skirt class was fun. Seeing the fabric choices made by the other students was inspiring, as usual. I like how the same garment can look completely different with just a different fiber or color choice.

We learned how to do a VERY quick and accurate zipper. Also, a mitered waistband closure and underlap that was worth taking the whole class for. I’ve never been happy with certain fabrics being just too bulky around that area…..this solves it!DSCF0110

I’ve chosen a shiny denim that must have some nylon in it (origins unknown!). I plan on making many others, so this is only the beginning. I want to do the mitered waistband lap, a vent versus a slit, and a fun lining so I can practice those things.DSCF0108

I also wanted to note that for a first version, it makes sense to choose a fabric that has no stretch at all. So, if you ever fluctuate in weight, you have an exact “muslin” to make changes from. DSCF0104

Pencil Skirt, First Class: Fit, Ease, Alterations

I’ve been working at Nancy’s for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of talented people and their work: our customers, my co-workers, and guest teachers (Candace Kling). I feel so fortunate to be able to appreciate and learn from everybody who has been a part of Nancy’s Sewing Basket.

But I’ll tell you the one thing that has really intrigued me lately after FORTY YEARS (plus!) of sewing…  assisting at our regular teacher Jacque Goldsmith’s classes. I realized after listening in on even the ABC (Absolute Beginning Construction) that there was plenty to learn and think about in the sewing world. Jacque leaves no stone unturned, sharing all kinds of tips and knowledge about how it all works.


And that is why I jumped at the chance to take her pencil skirt class. For advanced sewers, it sounds simple, right? I learned it is so much more than that. And I do know from experience sometimes the hardest thing to fit perfectly is the simplest thing. There are fewer places to hide tweaks!

In the first class, we learned about the pitch and tilt of each individual figure as well as the standard for ease in a slim-fitting skirt. I found it interesting to be reminded that everyone’s idea of ease might be different and it’s what we’re comfortable with.

We got to try on different skirts (Jacque has sewn up all of the sizes, with the hipline marked) and she tweaked each individual fit down to the sixteenth! Maybe even the 32nd, if I could be that accurate. She also measured us thoroughly and we came away with a clear record to keep for reference.


Then she helped us translate our individual changes onto our skirt pattern, which is provided for with the class. Note, I thought it was really nice that she has all of the tools (rulers, hip curves, etc.) just at the ready for the students to use. And there are never more than four students in Jacque’s classes so it is very hands on, ask as you go.


I haven’t decided on what fabric I will use, but I have been collecting wool remnants for a long time with the intention of making pencil skirts for work! The most fun I had in class was looking at Jacque’s fifteen (!) perfectly finished pencil skirt samples….all one pattern, but all with different fabric, waistbands, vents, lengths……VERY inspirational. In the next two classes we will learn about all of those finishes and work on samples in class. Jacque said we could sew along at home on our real skirt but that no one needed to feel pressure….How nice is that?