A new fall wardrobe for boys

If you have been to the store in the past few months, you may have seen the sweet collection of girls’ clothes hanging in our window. As summer turned into autumn, we decided it would be great to make a new kids’ wardrobe, this time for a little boy.

NSB - boy fall wardrobe header

Full fall wardrobe sewn by Tamara. Sock monkey and sock dog sewn by Kitrina.

We have loved Japanese pattern books, like Pattern Magic and Drape Drape, for many years. This year we received a large selection of new titles that are all equally fascinating and charming, including She Wears the Pants, Basic Black, Stylish Dress Book, and Casual Sweet Clothes. We also got in a handful of the pattern books that focus on children’s wear. The girls’ clothing in our last window was created using patterns from the book Sew Sweet Handmade Clothes for Girls. For our boys’ wardrobe, we used patterns from two books: Stitch Wear Play and Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids, and a tee-shirt pattern from KwikSew.

From Stitch Wear Play, we selected the unisex jacket and boy’s shorts patterns (though we lengthened the boy’s shorts into a full pant). From Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids, we chose the patterns for wide-leg pants, pull-over parka, and boy’s shirt. The tee-shirt pattern we selected is KwikSew 133.

Once we had the patterns picked out, we started pulling fabrics that would be appropriate for a little boy: comfortable, durable, and fun! At first, we pulled all the fabrics we thought fit the concept, then we narrowed by color and pattern. We came up with a great collection of fabrics that includes flannel, corduroy, canvas, and French terry.

For the jacket, we landed on two-color twill weave in warm gray and black, to be lined with a red & gold plaid Mammoth Flannel from Robert Kaufman. While Stitch Wear Play recommends a cotton jersey for this jacket and leaves it unlined, we wanted to make this a cozy fall jacket, so we simply created a lining from the flannel using the body pieces. For the button closure, we selected a metal button style that is painted to look rusted, which makes this feel like a bit like a barn jacket.

NSB - boy jacket

For the Stitch Wear Play pants, we used lovely fine-wale corduroy in a golden color. As mentioned above, this pattern is drafted as shorts; we lengthened the leg into a full pant. The pattern features a drawstring waist and a yoke that is cut on the bias, giving it a very relaxed silhouette.

NSB - boy corduroy pants

For the pull-over parka, we selected another cozy Mammoth Flannel, this time a small blue/grey gingham motif and used cotton twill tape for the drawstring.

NSB - boy pullover

We made two versions of the wide-leg pants pattern from Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids. For one pair, we used a casual cotton/spandex quality in blue-grey featuring both herringbone and double pinstripe details. This pattern features patch pockets on the back, which are too cute.

NSB - boy double pinstripe pantNSB - boy double pinstripe pocket detail

For the second pair, we used a lighter-weight cotton canvas in cement grey. We altered the pattern to add pockets to the front and faux fly details. Because this is a pull-on style with elastic waistband, we made the waist casing in cotton broadcloth for a softer, more comfortable alterative to the canvas. Our fabric choice for the waist casing is a cute sloth print from Cotton + Steel.

NSB - boy canvas pants

For the boy’s button-down shirt, we used cotton broadcloth in a great new arrow print. The fabric has a muted blue ground and arrows in yellow, chartreuse, grey, and tan. For the buttons, we picked out the same rusty looking painted buttons as used for the jacket, which pick up some of the colors in the print.

NSB - boy button front shirt

We also made two versions of the KwikSew tee pattern. For both versions, we used a super soft French terry quality, made of rayon from bamboo, cotton, and spandex. We carry the fabric in a bunch of great colors, so to coordinate with our other fabric choices, we selected red, blue, and citrus green.

For one tee shirt, we used the red french terry and appliquéd a band of sloths, wrapping from the front to back on the left side.

NSB - boy red tee

We made the second tee in the blue and citrus green colors and made a few cool adjustments to the pattern. The first change was to splice the front and back to create color blocking (an effect that was continued on the cuffs and neck band). The second adjustment was to shorten the neck band. The final change was adding a sloth to the back of the tee, peeking out at the hemline.

NSB - boy color block tee frontNSB - boy color block tee back

Each of these patterns was fun and easy to construct. In fact, the lengthiest part of making this wardrobe was tracing off all the patterns!

Any questions about the books, patterns, or fabrics we used? Leave them in the comments section below!

Inspired – Nancy’s takes on the runway!

Our anniversary sale has come to an end, but I am excited to share with you all of the runway-inspired looks that were created by Nancy’s talented staff.

NSBxRW header

Every year, the staff is given opportunity to make model garments to display during the anniversary sale. In past years, we have followed different themes: one year, everyone used the same jacket pattern and altered it to create completely different looks; another year, everyone made a frock. For the last few years, we have been inspired by the amazing fashions that walk down the runway – and attempted to recreate looks for fractions of their retail prices!

This year, the designers that inspired us are Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, The Row, and Tibi. Let’s take a look at the original inspirations, talk about the fabrics and patterns used to create our own looks, and see the finished garments!

Marilyn was inspired by this Dries Van Noten jacket, shown here styled by Barneys New York.

To create her version of this jacket, Marilyn started with KwikSew 3764, which is the pattern used in the Motorcycle Jacket class taught by Jacque Goldsmith. She altered the pattern to add length, make the collar bigger, and create a two-piece sleeve.

For fabric, Marilyn used a 100% polyester jacquard for the body and African Mongolian faux fur for the collar. She underlined the jacquard with 100% cotton flannel and lined the jacket using a warm back winter lining.

NSB - MNxDVN jacketNSB - MNxDVN collar

The original Dries Van Noten jacket retails for $1,745. Marilyn made hers for $103!

Jeannie wanted to make a ‘tribute’ dress based on Dolce & Gabbana’s “Viva la Mamma!” collection.

She used McCalls 5927, a now out-of-print pattern, which features a fitted bodice and skirt with pleat detail, similar to the silhouettes shown on the D&G runway.

Jeannie selected a silk & wool blend suiting in a subtle brown/grey plaid for the dress and fully lined it with rayon Bemberg lining.

To really pay tribute to “Viva la Mamma!” Jeannie embroidered a rose motif on the front of her dress. After sketching out a rose design, she drew it directly on her fabric using a metallic pen. She then embroidered over the design, embellishing it with copper colored sequins and iridescent blue beads.

NSB - JNxDG dressNSB - JNxDG detail

The Dolce & Gabbana dress shown above retails for $6,995. Jeannie’s version cost just $75!

Chris loved this jacket by The Row, with its cropped sleeve, longer body length, narrow lapel in contrast tweed, and one red buttonhole.

Using Burda 6842, Chris was able to capture the essence of the original style. She worked with Jacque Goldsmith to alter the pattern, shortening the sleeve and updating the lapel, ultimately creating a garment that is flattering to her figure.

The original jacket is made of double-faced wool and silk; to achieve a similar look, Chris paired dense felted wool with lighter-weight wool tweed. For the single red buttonhole, she used silk thread.

NSB - CWxTR jacketNSB - CWxTR front detailNSB - CWxTR collar detail

The Row jacket retails for $4,090. Chris made her version for $176!

Prompted by the prevalence of the ‘match set’, Ellen was inspired to make her own version of this Tibi ensemble.

For the top, Ellen used Butterick 6134, altering the pattern for a straighter fit. She selected Butterick 6178 for the pant.

Ellen chose lovely wool suiting in slate blue with a pale stone woven motif for her match set. While neither of her selected patterns includes linings, she opted to add them to each garment. She underlined her top and created a regular lining for the pant.

NSB - EMxTB match set

The original Tibi ensemble retails for $1,300. Ellen’s version was made for $150!

Two of the Nancy’s employees were inspired by the styles with black lace overlays shown at Bottega Veneta.

Izzie liked the idea of a dress with sleeves and was intrigued by the shaping created by the seams of this dress.

To create her version of the look, Izzie made two separate dresses, using two patterns. She used Vogue 8944 for her overdress, altering the shape of the waistline. For the underdress, she used McCalls 7014, adjusting the neckline to better work with the overdress.

She selected printed cotton broadcloth for her underdress and a sheer patterned fabric for the overdress.

NSB - ILxBV dress

Jessica loved the simplicity of this dress silhouette and the effect of layering a delicate fabric over sporty stripes.

To recreate this look, Jessica used Burda 6914, which features the same rounded silhouette as the runway look. She lengthened the pattern and adjusted for size.

Jessica selected a rayon quality with a reflected digital print for the under layer and opted for a lace with metallic motif for the outer layer. For the trims, she found a piece of geometric black lace. She used the rayon as an underlining, sewing both layers as one. Because the pattern features a pleated detail at the neck, she opted not to add a lace collar per the inspiration.

NSB - JVxBV dress

These two dresses look pretty great together!

NSB - ILJVxBV dresses

The Bottega Veneta dress that inspired Izzie’s dress retails for $7,600. Her version cost less than $100 for both dresses!

The dress that inspired Jessica’s version retails for $11,000. Including pattern & thread, her dress cost just $112!

Kitrina’s ensemble was inspired by many elements from the Marc Jacobs collection, including mixes of fabrics, like the use of sheer fabrics combined with opaque, tailored silhouettes, luxurious textures, and beading & sequins. Ultimately, Kitrina chose to make a box-pleat skirt that explores the opaque/sheer concept, a tailored double-breasted jacket, and a blouse with a band of sequins.

For her jacket, Kitrina used McCalls 8346, lengthening the jacket body and letting out the waist slightly. The blouse was made using KwikSew 3601; Kitrina altered the neckline and shortened the tunic body. Kitrina based the skirt on Burda 8155 (this is the pattern used for our Pencil Skirt Secrets class), reworking the shape to allow for the box pleats.

Kitrina selected burnout velvet in a purple/grey wild cat motif for her blouse and black sequined mesh for the band at the hemline. For her skirt, Kitrina used an olive/brown/navy plaid wool suiting for the outer pleat and black mesh with metallic dot for the inner pleat. Her jacket was made from a wool suiting – navy  pinstriped in brown – using black mohair for the contrast collar and faux pocket flaps.

NSB - KCxMJ blouse+skirtNSB - KCxMJ full ensemble

A similar ensemble from Marc Jacobs retails at $7,500. Kitrina was able to make her version for about $493!

I hope you enjoyed this look at our runway-inspired garments! Have questions about any of the looks? Leave them in the comments below!

Interview with a store department: the Ribbon Room

Today we get to know a favorite space in the store – the Ribbon Room!

NSB - Ribbon Room header

Who are you?
Hello, I’m the Ribbon Room!

Where do you reside at Nancy’s?
I have a cozy little room in the back right-hand corner of the store. Because I have my own room, some people miss me on their first (or second!) visit to the shop.NSB - RR df satin and petersham

Do you have a special focus?
Yes! I am home to the exquisite ribbons and trims carried at Nancy’s, in addition to millinery supplies like flowers and veiling, specialty buttons, and fun little gifts. For ribbons, there are lots of great basics – like rayon Petersham grosgrain, double-face satin in both silk and polyester, and sheer polyester organdy ribbons – but we also have an incredible selection of vintage ribbons, heirloom laces, and trims.

NSB - RR dessert case

The ‘dessert’ case holds some of our most beautiful and expensive ribbons and trims. Many are vintage, some are reproductions, all are truly exquisite.

As Susan, the ‘ribbon lady’, puts it: the Ribbon Room is where we keep the dessert.

What is your most recently received product?
We just got a large shipment of lovely millinery flowers, including some fun little toadstools! We also received a fun selection of vintage flowers.

NSB - RR flowers and toadstools

Do you have a current favorite product?
A few months back we got a huge selection of vintage ribbons, including exquisite taffeta and lustrous satin in a rainbow of interesting colors.

NSB - RR vintage satin and taffeta

Among the vintage options was this fabulous double face ribbon: velvet on one side, satin on the other. It is a silk and cotton blend, with the most luxurious hand. The color, called Hula Brown, is very beautiful, but what makes it interesting is the satin and velvet sides are different hues, like dark and milk chocolate.

NSB - RR hula brown satin velvet

Plus, the packaging on the vintage options is incredibly charming!

NSB - RR oriole label

Check out this label!

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?
Goodness, this is difficult to answer. Like the woolens department, we have sold so much ribbon, veiling, and trims throughout the years that this answer could be a mile long.

There are a lot of projects that are fun, but not necessarily unique. We work with lots of brides who are looking for ribbons to trim their invitations and programs, to make a veil, or who simply want a colorful sash. We are lucky to carry the embroidered trims, laces, and insertions that go into heirloom sewing, so we get to help people making christening gowns. We also sell ribbon for things as simple as hair-bows and gifts, which are delightful.

NSB - RR striped grosgrain

Beyond that, some highlights do spring to mind: Every time Candace Kling comes to teach a class at Nancy’s, we get to see our wares turn into incredible work: striped grosgrains become cockades, wired ribbon and stamens blossom into flowers, and much more.

NSB - RR stamens and flowers

Working with antique doll collectors and miniaturists is always fun and surprising. It is also incredibly enjoyable to help people find the perfect trimmings for costumes, whether historical, for a local theater production, or for a kid’s Halloween costume!

Thank you, Ribbon Room! It is always fun to see your treasures!

From now until the end of the Nancy’s anniversary sale, the Ribbon Room will be featured for daily specials on Tuesday, Sept 15th (15% off flowers), Wednesday, Sept 16th & Friday, Sept 18th (15% off buttons), and Sunday, Sept 20th (15% off ribbons)!

All pictures in this post copyright of Nancy’s Sewing Basket, LLC. Special thanks to Kam Martin for her photography skills.

Happy 37th anniversary to us!

NSB - anniversary headerIt’s our anniversary! In celebration of the 37 wonderful years we have been in business – and to thank all our customers for their patronage over the years – we will be offering 25% off all fabrics* in our store starting today, Monday, September 7th, and running through Sunday, September 20th!

In addition to that fabulous discount on fabrics, we also offer daily specials at 15% off anything within that category! Check it out:

  • Monday, September 7th: RIBBONS
  • Tuesday, September 8th: FULL PRICE PATTERNS**
  • Wednesday, September 9th: NOTIONS
  • Thursday, September 10th: BOOKS
  • Friday, September 11th: FLOWERS
  • Saturday, September 12th: RIBBONS
  • Sunday, September 13th: BUTTONS
  • Monday, September 14th: BOOKS
  • Tuesday, September 15th: FLOWERS
  • Wednesday, September 16th: BUTTONS
  • Thursday, September 17th: FULL PRICE PATTERNS**
  • Friday, September 18th: BUTTONS
  • Saturday, September 19th: NOTIONS
  • Sunday, September 20th: RIBBONS

We hope you can join us for the sale! It’s too good to pass up!

*Sorry, some items not discounted during sale including classes, remnants, and sale items. Discount is limited to in-stock items only and will not be applied to special orders.

**Full price patterns include Burda, Decades of Style, Folkwear, Grainline Studio, KwikSew, Liesl+Co, Sewing Workshop, and more! Patterns from Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s are still 40% off, every day.

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: SPECIAL EDITION!

Today I am sharing a particularly exciting edition of the ‘get to know’ interview series. In celebration of Nancy’s Sewing Basket’s 37th anniversary*, I sat down with Nancy (yes, that Nancy!) and her mother Jackie, who owns NSB, to learn more about the store itself and the people who started it.

NSB - gtk nancys header

The original shop location, with a familiar face sweeping in front

Tell me a bit about the shop. What inspired you to open a fabric store?
My mother and father wanted to open a retail shop on Queen Anne. We talked about an Italian deli but opted for a fabric store. Quite a leap! Both my mother and I loved to sew, but we were tired of being in the middle of a project and having to get dressed up to take the bus to downtown Seattle to purchase notions, patterns, and fabric at Frederick & Nelson. This was at a time when you did not go downtown without looking your best!

Jackie: I remember Nancy really hated having to leave Queen Anne for a spool of thread. Opening a fabric store in our neighborhood was a good solution.

Did you have much experience in retail prior to opening Nancy’s?
Jackie: No. Well, the truth is when I was about 14/15 years old, I ran an ice cream shop in my hometown in North Dakota. I never ate a drop of ice cream the whole time I worked there because the previous shopkeep – a relative of the owner – got fired for eating ice cream. We were open year round, though summer was our busiest season. I did that for about two years.

My husband, John, loved business and was very interested in starting one of his own, which is why we went for it.

Nancy: No retail experience at all. I studied hard in high school taking bookkeeping, business, and economics classes. When living in Arizona, I took some accounting classes at the local community college.

I was very nervous during the first months the shop was open. Since I had very little schooling in sewing techniques/fibers/etc. I was sure everyone who came into the shop knew so much more than me. But, what I learned is that you treat everyone politely and answer their questions the best you can. When I did not know the answer, I got back to the customer with the proper information. My mother and I had so much fun talking with, helping, and building very loyal customers and friends.

Tell me a bit about the early days.
Nancy: The original shop – where Caffé Ladro is today – was so small.

Jackie: We had fabric reps who originally refused to even come into the shop because it was so small! The first storefront was a small, cramped space. We worked in very tight quarters; there was barely room to move behind each other at the cutting counter! We met with reps in a tiny room you could hardly turn around in. But right off the bat, we made decent sales.

Nancy: Yes, we were successful enough to expand into the two north spaces (originally a beauty shop and a real estate office) by our third year.

The first shop was not fancy and was so jam-packed with fabric (everything from quilting cottons to woolens to imported French laces), notions, buttons, yarn, and patterns. Jackie and I loved to buy lovely things. We wanted to carry everything! We wanted to be the local fabric store our customers could count on to find what they needed.

Jackie: Nancy, John, and I spent a lot of time in the shop over the years; it was real work.

How has Nancy’s changed over the years? 
When we purchased the last space on our block of Queen Anne Avenue and built our permanent location, the shop started looking more organized.  Jackie and I worked with an architect to create a space we thought would reflect the character of Queen Anne and work for our purposes. Today, with the ideas and creativity of the Nancy’s staff the shop looks amazingly beautiful. It is like Nancy’s has grown up from our very humble beginning.

My one disappointment is that Nancy’s now has the reputation of being very expensive. Yes, we have some very special fabric and it is expensive. But, we also have the basics!

Jackie: Well, the store has changed in some ways I didn’t originally expect. Like Nancy said, we now carry a lot of special fabric that can be expensive. I always loved notions and the supplies that contribute to making small crafts. While we still offer a lot in the way of notions (Ellen does a great job with our notions department) and we have a nice selection of craft materials, we don’t really carry all those crafting supplies anymore. That isn’t what I anticipated.

What is your current role at Nancy’s?
Nancy: I do the daily bookkeeping and set the budget for all the departments. I keep in touch with the shop management via email and telephone on a daily basis. And, I still participate in the most fun stuff: buying the lovely fabric we offer to our customers.

I must say I miss being at the shop. It was such a huge part of my life for a very long time. It was so special to work with all our customers.

Jackie: I’m on the back burner. I talk to the store every day to keep up on what is happening, what’s selling well, what kinds of projects people are doing. Mostly just supervising from a distance. I still like to participate in buying fabric!

Do you have a favorite memory of running the store?
I have a few favorite memories. One time, in the early days, I had a customer who came in looking for Velcro. I hadn’t ever really used it and, in my unfamiliarity, I accidentally sold them only one side! I was so embarrassed. They never did come back for the other half…

Another time, in our first space, a customer came in asking if we carried woolens. I very proudly showed him to the wool section, which at the time contained just three bolts!

One more: for several years, Nancy’s would put on fashion shows, where all the staff would make an ensemble and then wear it in a runway show. One year, one of our staff was a bit behind in her sewing and to complete it on time she used glue to finish her last few seams. It was a workable solution; she got to wear it on the runway!

Nancy: Over the 23 years that I was at the shop daily, there are too many to mention. Okay, here’s one: I am a punctual, on-time person.  Even though I was always at the shop on time, my dad often beat me to the shop and that annoyed me at the time. But looking back, it was so fun to see him sweeping the sidewalk, always there to say hello. It was very special. He loved the shop and that is why our building has a memorial plaque in his honor.

Let’s switch gears a little; I want to know more about you. When did you learn to sew and what was your first project?
Nancy: My mother taught me the basics of sewing at a very young age. In high school, I took the required course of home economics. Mrs. Hayes was the home ec teacher at Queen Anne High School and Oh! My! Gosh!! My first project was a hand sewing sampler and you were either lucky or talented if you passed that! I passed, not sure if I was talented or lucky! ;) Then we moved on to the machines to make an apron with perfect seams. She was like a drill sergeant but, oh my did you learn the proper way to sew.

Jackie: I started with embroidery work when I was 8; that was my first fight with a needle and thread.

When I got older, I learned how to sew clothing because I wanted to go to the school basketball games. You see, it cost money, which I didn’t have, to go to the games. Then I figured out that if I joined the band, I could get in for free. I stabbed at the clarinet, and could really only hit a C note, but they still let me play. But back to learning how to sew: in order to be in the band, you had to have a pair of white pants. Those, like tickets to the game, cost money that I didn’t have. My first sewing project was my pair of white pants for playing in the band. I joined the home economics class and got enough help from the teacher that I completed the pants! I think she must have helped me with all the buttonholes, because I don’t remember putting in a zipper.

Do you still sew much? How do you spend your time now?
No, I can’t really do that any more. I work on all sorts of paperwork for another business. I also spend time with my three littlest granddaughters (twins who are two years old and a baby who is one). They are very well-behaved and so fun.

Nancy: I do not sew much anymore, although I have great plans to get up to my sewing room someday soon when my life finally slows down! I joke with friends that my sewing these last years has been repairing horse blankets.

After managing the shop for 13 years and then commuting to Queen Anne from my farm, south of Olympia, for another 13 years, I decided to semi-retire. Since I know the shop is in good hands under the management of Tamara and Kitrina with the help of our amazing staff, I can relax.

These days I spend my time with my horses. I train and have competed the last 19 years at dressage with my amazing Morgan geldings. My husband, Bill, and I  have been on many trail rides, rides at the beach and weekends spent riding and camping in the National Forest Wilderness.

Of course, living on a farm, there are the annual garden veggies that need to be processed.  So, I am busy, busy.

My husband and I love to travel.  We have had some amazing adventures in the last 20 years.

Did you have a special focus in sewing?
Jackie: Well, my sewing was pretty basic. I primarily made simple clothes for my grandchildren: tee shirts, nightgowns, and pajama pants. I didn’t sew much for myself. I made a couple of dresses over the years, and I still have a shirt that I made that turned out very well. I’m not a particularly accomplished seamstress, but I was good with the basics.

Nancy: I did a little of everything – tailoring, sewing for my boys and family, always having a project in the works. I especially liked making Halloween costumes for my boys – fun, creative, and you did not have to have the perfect fit!!  And: they loved it.

Jackie: Nancy was a really talented seamstress. All her garments were finished impeccably; she could wear them inside-out!

Do you have a favorite or most memorable sewing project?
Jackie: One year, when my younger son was around 12 years old, I made rain-capes for him and his football team out of a waterproof material. It was a simple silhouette, not much more than a hole for the head and a couple of seams on the sides, but it was a fun project. I must have been the only mom who could – or would – make them!

Nancy: I made the most beautiful hot pink – but not hot pink – wool crepe dress with bias cut matching silk binding from a Vogue pattern, more difficult than I had imagined. It was for an especially fancy New Years Eve event. After 40 hours of constructing this dress I was finishing the hand work until the minute before we left! I felt like a princess in it.

Thank you so much, Jackie and Nancy! This was a really fun interview and I have an even greater appreciation for the shop and its history!

*the Nancy’s Sewing Basket anniversary sale will begin on Monday, September 7th. For more details, please check out our website.

Thanks for reading this special interview! If you have any questions for Nancy or Jackie, please leave them in the comments below!

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: Kristina

I am excited for today’s interview; join me as we “get to know” Nancy’s employee Kristina. She is an important component of our team, who takes care of ordering buttons for the store, has a great eye for arranging fabrics, and is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met.

NSB - get to know kristina

Who are you?
I’m Kristina.

How long have you worked at Nancy’s?
I guess twelve years? I started about eighteen years ago and left after about nine years to get my cosmetology and esthetician licenses. I returned to work the Sunday shift a couple years ago and have picked up a few additional days as there has been need.

How long have you been sewing?
I started in 7th grade home economics, but I’ve always been around sewers. My grandmother sewed clothes all the time and my mother made dolls.

Do you have a special focus?
No, not really. I manufactured children’s clothing for 18 months about ten years ago. It was a LOT of work for not a lot of money, so I stopped, though I love making clothes for little girls.

NSB - kl girls dress

Kristina’s daughter in a linen dress.

NSB - kl sunflower dress

Cutie in a sunflower dress, made by Kristina

NSB - kl kids clothes

Kristina’s daughter, sporting a dress she made, and her son.

These days, I primarily sew bags, pillows, and other small projects. I also make dolls.

NSB - kl skeleton doll

A soft body doll with skeleton applique and great printed legs.

I also spin my own yarns and knit them. I’m interested in how things are put together, which is why I started spinning. I took a weaving course in college, which was incredibly inspirational.

What was your first sewing project?
My very first sewing projects were done in school. I made a pair of shorts, followed by an apron. After I learned to sew, I started picking up pieces at thrift stores to alter them. One time, I found a wedding dress at the thrift store and altered it for a Renaissance Faire.

What is your most recently completed project?
[laughs] I have a bunch of half-done projects and fully conceptualized projects! As soon as my kids go back to school, I’ll have more time to sew.

NSB - kl doll hand in progress

Work in progress: a soft sculpted doll hand, showing the inner armature, built from real pipe cleaners. The red nubs in the pipe cleaners help grip the stuffing inside the body, which allows for better positioning.

I think the most recently completed garment is the dress I made from one of the Italian shirting cottons for my two-year-old niece. We displayed it at the Sew Expo back in February. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the dress before it was gifted to my niece.

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
I think my favorite project is the Willy Wonka costume I made for my daughter when she was about ten. It was modeled after the costume worn by Johnny Depp (Gene Wilder’s performance always terrified her). That costume got a lot of use, too, as my son used it for dress up after my daughter was done with it. Once, when my son was five, he wore it to the barbershop; the barber said he looked like a pimp, in his velvet blazer and top hat. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures!

What project is next?
I’m working on some dolls: some made out of cloth, some will have hands and heads sculpted of clay.

NSB - kl doll torso front

This fabric doll is being needle sculpted and will then be painted. Kristina uses the sketched lines as guides for stitching additional dimension into the doll’s body.

NSB - kl doll torso side

From the side, you can see more of the dimension that has been added to the face through needle sculpting.

NSB - kl doll hands

These hands also have wire armatures, built from pipe cleaners, which allows the fingers to be posed. The hand on the left has already received some detailing with a needle and thread, the hand on the right awaits the same treatment.

NSB - kl doll feet

Like the hands above, one foot has started being needle sculpted (right) and the other is untouched. Stitches define toes and a small dart creates an arch in the foot.

I have some ideas for a few dolls that are inspired by sideshow attractions and oddities. I’ve always been fascinated by anomalies. For example, I want to do a set of conjoined twin babies.

What do you love most about Nancy’s?
It’s like family! And you get to play with fabrics all day, so what’s not to like? It’s great being surrounded by color and texture all day; it’s nice to come to work and just be inspired.

Thanks for sharing your works in progress, Kristina! The construction of your doll is fascinating and I am excited to see it completed!

Have any questions for Kristina? Leave them in the comments below.

Interview with a store department: woolens

As August begins it’s descent into September, we are beginning to think about changing leaves and autumn wardrobes. While this summer in Seattle has been incredibly beautiful and sunny, we would be lying if we said we weren’t excited for a little fall drizzle.

In anticipation of the harvest season – and the Nancy’s Sewing Basket anniversary sale! – we decided it would be fun to have a chat with the woolens department :)

NSB - woolens header

Who are you?
Hi, I am the wool department.

Where do you reside at Nancy’s?
I live in the center of the store, toward the back. I used to reside in a long row of tables in the back right section of the store, but since we rearranged, I am now in a cluster by the main walkway. I’m enjoying the brightness of being under several skylights.

NSB - woolens new location

The new location is arranged in a way that is fabulous for browsing.

Do you have a special focus?
I house all of the woolen and woolen-blend fabrics, both woven and knit, which are perfect for suiting, coats, dresses, skirts, and more. I am also home to all of the specialty animal fibers, like cashmere and camel hair.

What is your most recently received product?
In preparation for the fall season and the Nancy’s anniversary sale (which begins on Labor Day…), we just received a large shipment of woolens. We got in a lot of beautiful basics and interesting novelties.

Among the latest shipment is a small grouping of 100% wool crepe, fiber-dyed in the prettiest colors. Each color way has an interesting depth of hue. I think they would make a lovely dress or match set, like a tailored woven tee and a pencil skirt.

NSB - woolens new crepes

New wool crepes in exquisite colors: grey, brown, olive, and blue-grey.

Another interesting piece that arrived in the latest shipment is a twill-weave coating with a brushed surface that is comprised of 65% rabbit hair 35% wool. I believe the fiber is Angora rabbit hair, because it has the softest hand. It is incredibly luxurious and would make a sumptuous winter coat.

NSB - woolens specialty fibers

Three bolts of brushed woolen fabrics made with specialty fibers. From left: black fluffy mohair/wool, black rabbit hair/wool twill, and brown heather wool/cashmere/mink.

Do you have a current favorite product?
I am a big fan of the Italian 100% cashmere coatings that we carry. We have solids and patterns, all of which are simply gorgeous.

NSB - woolens cashmere

Incredible Italian cashmere in beautiful solids and exquisite textures and patterns.

We also have a nice selection of real Harris tweeds. Harris tweeds used to be narrow and very stiff, but we are lucky enough to carry what I think of as the ‘new generation’ of Harris tweeds: beautifully finished with an incredibly soft hand and 60″ wide.

NSB - woolens Harris tweeds

Gorgeous Harris tweeds! These are just begging to be tailored into a hacking jacket or a lovely little skirt.

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?
This could easily be a very long list. We have sold so much wool throughout the years!

Right now, I am excited to see what the staff at Nancy’s creates for display during the anniversary sale. They are recreating several runway looks and many of them are using wools. I know there will be a D&G-inspired dress and a Marc Jacobs-inspired jacket & skirt ensemble, among others.  It will definitely be worth a visit to the shop when the sale is on to check out the different looks!

Thanks, woolens! We are also excited to see how the runway looks turn out! If you have any questions about materials shown in this post, let us know in the comments below, or by calling us at 206-282-9112 or 800-443-2964.

All pictures in this post copyright of Nancy’s Sewing Basket, LLC. Special thanks to Kam Martin for taking the picture used in the header.