HeartFelt Valentines

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! How are you planning to show a little love this year?

Inspired by our 2016 intention, I decided it would be fun to make valentines that last! Enter our “heart felt” valentines!

NSB - heartfelt valentines header

These handmade valentines are a sweet and unexpected way to show your loved ones how much you care.

I took inspiration from some of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories and came up with three fun styles for these valentines. The first is inspired by classic conversation hearts.

NSB – heartfelt convo hearts

The second style is inspired by the valentines I made as a child using paper doilies & construction paper.

NSB – heartfelt doily valentine

The third style has extra dimension and makes a great ornament, perfect for giving and decorating!

NSB – heartfelt ornament

Aren’t they sweet? I can’t wait to deliver them to all my favorite people!


Ready to make some heart felt valentines of your own? These valentines require very few supplies and are simple enough that they could be a fun project to make with children!

SUPPLIES

For all versions:

  • Download our heart templates here: NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet
    • I recommend printing on cardstock to make a sturdy template. I find it easiest and most accurate to trace the template directly onto the felt, rather than pinning a paper pattern and cutting around.
  • Felt in any colors you prefer (I recommend a wool blend felt, though synthetic craft felt is fine).
    • My color palette was inspired by classic conversation hearts (pale pink, yellow, light blue, green, white, purple) and I added a few, more saturated colors for accents (red, magenta, hot pink, light grey).
  • Embroidery floss in colors that match your felt and also contrast it.

 

For conversation hearts:

  • Fiberfill (a 12 oz. bag will yield many hearts!)

For ornament style:

  • Thread to match felt for larger hearts (optional)
  • Short piece of ribbon (~3”; optional)

TOOLS

  • Needle for hand embroidery
  • Scissors
  • Removable ink pen (I recommend water-erasable)

For doily style:

  • Pinking shears or scallop edge scissors (optional)

For ornament style:

  • Sewing machine (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Conversation Hearts

  1. Using our template (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut two hearts out of felt. On one heart, write out your message using the removable ink pen. Use a favorite saying or make up something special!NSB - heartfelt ch prepare pieces
  1. Using red embroidery floss, embroider your message. I recommend using two strands of floss and a backstitch. Use more floss for a bolder look.NSB - heartfelt ch embroider message
    When complete, rinse out ink, if applicable.NSB - heartfelt ch rinse markings
  2. Place two hearts together, with message side out. Using embroidery floss that matches the felt, blanket stitch around ¾ of the heart. NSB - heartfelt ch blanket stitch together 3-4
    I recommend starting in the dip at the top and stitching around one side down to the bottom point. Then, starting in the same place at the top, stitch around the heart bump on the other side and leaving a space of about 1.5” open for stuffing. Do NOT cut your floss at this stage, as it will be used to sew the opening closed.
  3. Pull a small handful of fiberfill from the bag.NSB - heartfelt ch poly fill
    Stuff the heart with fiberfill. I recommend starting with the bump on the partially sewn size, then stuffing the second bump, then the full body of the heart.NSB - heartfelt ch stuff heart
  4. When heart is fully stuffed, pin the opening, and sew closed with blanket stitch.NSB - heartfelt ch pin opening closed
  5. You are now ready to start a conversation with your sweetheart!NSB - heartfelt ch finish blanket stitching
  6. Want to make these a bit faster or more simply? These look just as adorable as solid colors! Just cut out a few hearts in each of the felt colors and then pair them at random.

    Use floss in one of the two colors (or a different color altogether) to create your blanket stitch, providing a little visual interest.

    These two-hue hearts look great on their own or mixed in with the conversation hearts!NSB - heartfelt ch convo and two color hearts


 

Doily Valentine

  1. Using our templates (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut one large heart and one small heart in two different colors.NSB – heartfelt doily cut large small hearts
  2. With your scissors, cut freeform scallops around the edge of the large heart. I recommend starting with a single scallop at the center bottom and moving up both sides.

    You can save a little time by using pinking shears or other decorative scallop scissors.NSB – heartfelt doily pinked edges

  3. It’s time to embroider your smaller heart! Consider a simple valentine’s phrase like “love” or “be mine”, or plan to embroider a sweet motif like flowers or hearts. Not sure what to embroider? It may be helpful to trace the small heart onto paper to sketch out different styles.NSB – heartfelt doily sketch
    Using your removable ink pen, plot your decoration on the smaller heart and embroider! I like to use flosses in colors that match the large heart for a cohesive look.NSB – heartfelt doily embroidered small heart
    When complete, rinse out the ink, if applicable.
  4. Layer the two hearts, right sides up, centering the smaller. Using a running stitch, sew the small heart to the large.NSB – heartfelt doily stitch together
  5. If desired, embroider a small motif in each of the scallops, using a color to match the small heart. This is a fun way to mimic or compliment your embroidered motifs in the small heart.NSB – heartfelt doily embroider scallops
    On the back, there will be two visible sets of stitches.NSB – heartfelt doily finished back
  6. Voila! NSB – heartfelt doily finished

 

3-D Valentine Ornament

  1. Using our templates (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut two large hearts from one color of felt and four small hearts from another.NSB – heartfelt ornament cut hearts
  2. Using a sewing machine and thread, or a hand sewing needle with thread or floss, stitch the two large hearts together from center top to center bottom. This will create a total of four ‘arms’ that make up four large hearts.NSB – heartfelt ornament sew large hearts together
    Open between the two layers on each side and fold hearts on seamline.NSB – heartfelt ornament fold on seam
  3. Center one small heart over one of the larger hearts, aligning the bottom point and top dip of the small heart to the seam- or fold-line of the larger heart. Pin the layers together on one side (I like to pin the left side first). Turning the ‘arm’ so your unpinned side is facing away, center a second small heart over the larger heart that now faces up. Pin one side of the new small heart to the large heart, catching the unpinned side of the previous small heart.NSB – heartfelt ornament pin small hearts
    Repeat for all small hearts.
  4. Using a hand needle and embroidery floss that matches the larger hearts, begin sewing through three layers with a running stitch, working from the center top to the bottom around one side of the heart.
    Repeat for all four ‘arms’. You will have four stitched small hearts.NSB – heartfelt ornament repeat for all
  5. If you like, repeating the process of step 4, add an second row of stitches to the inside. Use a different shade of floss for visual interest.NSB – heartfelt ornament second color
    Repeat a third time, with another shade of floss, if you prefer.
  6. Your 3-D valentine is complete! If you want to make it into an ornament, sew a small loop of ribbon to the top center. Otherwise, hand it to someone you love!NSB – heartfelt ornament final

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! If hand embroidery is not your thing, consider using puff paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, or even printed fabric to help embellish your valentines!

Have a question or feedback? Please leave it in the comments below!

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: Ellen

For our first interview of 2016, I sat down with the employee who oversees our wonderful notions department, ensuring that we can cut out our patterns, pin our pieces together, and sew all the seams! She’s also an active member in our neighborhood and Chair of the Queen Anne Community Council. Please welcome Ellen.

NSB - gtk ellen header

Who are you?
Ellen Monrad.

How long have you worked at Nancy’s?
I don’t really remember…I started when my son was in fifth or sixth grade, around 1996.

How long have you been sewing?
Since I joined 4-H when I was 10.

Do you have a special focus?
Myself! [laughs]

NSB - gtke corduroy top

An ensemble for Ellen: corduroy top is pattern V8924, printed ponte pant is the Helix pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

I’ve sewn for my daughter-in-law and when my mother was alive, I would sew for her. I don’t really sew for other people. I have a friend that once in a while I will sew a gift for her, but nothing too intricate. Lately, I’ve been making scarves for gifts.

NSB - gtke mitten gifts

Embroidered mitten ornaments made as Christmas gifts for friends.

I also knit, which my grandmother taught me when I was about 11, but I didn’t really knit until I was a freshman in college. I had a major in history so I had a lot of reading, and it bored me to just sit and read, so I learned to knit and read at the same time. My first knitting project was a Fair Isle Shetland sweater.

NSB - gtke knitting

Ellen’s current knitting project: a cable scarf made from ombré-dyed yarn.

What was your first sewing project?
I made my first sewing project in 4-H: a gathered skirt. It won a blue ribbon at the fair.

What is your most recently completed project?
It’s a top, the Hudson pattern from The Sewing Workshop. I made it in sparkly blue and black stripes, for the holidays.

NSB - gtke hudson top

Hudson top pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
No, not really. I don’t go out to fancy affairs, so I’ve never made anything with boning; it’s all basically clothing for me, and my style is very “east coast preppy”.

What project is next?
My current big project is a state of Washington block-of-the-month style quilt that I’m making for my son, who now lives in Amsterdam.

NSB - gtke patchwork gift

A previous patchwork project: Ellen made several of these pins featuring a variety of birds

What do you love most about Nancy’s?
I love Nancy’s because it’s a local business, everyone who works here is great, I enjoy the owners, and it’s a great way to sew. It’s inspiring. And, I really like the customers; people who sew are nice. I’ve worked here long enough that I know a lot of people who have come in, and I’ve been able to follow their life stories.

Thanks so much, Ellen!

Have any questions for Ellen? Leave them in the comments below!

Welcoming 2016 with intention

Happy New Year!

Do you make resolutions? It may not be common practice for fabric stores to make resolutions, but we’re doing it for 2016.

Inspired by the wise words of Dame Vivienne Westwood, we intend to ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’ this year.

Nancy's logo new 2015

For us, this means spending time creating clothing that is made to last, out of fabrics that are made to last. It means taking the time to fit patterns so that the garments we make look incredible when we wear them. For some of us, it means using treasured fabrics from our stashes in addition to buying beautiful new pieces.

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen this video that we shared in December. We appreciate the sentiments expressed by Carin Mansfield of in-ku about the complexity of garment construction and the changing face of ready-to-wear fashion.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35122104/embed

As part of this year’s theme, we will use our blog to share simple-but-long lasting construction techniques, consider the versatility of patterns, and look closely at our favorite fibers and textiles. We will also continue sharing tutorials for small sewing projects, along with our series of interviews with employees, friends, and store departments.

Buy less, choose well, make it last.

We are very excited for the year ahead and hope you will help us make it fantastic.

Late-in-the-game gift ideas

It’s December 24th! Where has the time gone?

If you are in the market for some last minute presents, we have some fun ideas for quick to assemble gift sets. Check it out!

Do you love sewing down-to-the-wire? Our toweling-by-the-yard is a perfect solution for a handmade gift made in a jiff! The sides are already hemmed, so all you have to do is pick a length and hem the top and bottom! Mix and match a few patterns for a great little hostess gift!NSB - last minute gifts toweling


If you know a child who has wanted to learn sewing, we have all the right tools to get them started, from the cutest notions to an informative and fun book! The gift of sewing is a gift that truly keeps on giving!NSB - last minute gifts kids


For kids of all ages, make a little craft kit including a book and the supplies to make one project! It’s a perfect way to keep hands busy during the lull between gift opening and dinnertime.NSB - last minute gifts handcraft


Know a vintage fashionista? We have vintage reproduction patterns and gorgeous fabrics & trimmings to help them create a unique look, plus cards and journals to help them share their style!NSB - last minute gifts vintage


Have a laundry lover in your life? Assemble a few great products to help them treat, wash, and iron their favorite garments and textiles!NSB - last minute gifts laundry


Is your loved one is a lover of Liberty London? Give them the gift of Liberty Tana lawn to keep…or of Liberty note cards to share!NSB - last minute gifts liberty london


For the artist in your life who loves color and sewing, help them make their own color-wheel quilt! Pick up a copy of Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, a package of candy colored wonder clips, and pick out 52 fabrics for their color-wheel!NSB - last minute gifts color

If all of these sound like they require a bit too much effort, remember: we sell gift certificates!

Nancy’s Sewing Basket is open today until 4pm, for all your last minute gifting needs!

 

 

Interview with a store department: Flannels, Fleeces, and Minky

Winter is finally here!

Though we are experiencing typical Seattle weather at present (cold and rainy), we have a forecast for snow on Christmas morning. It’s been a while since our last department interview, so we thought it would be fun to chat with the fabrics that keep us warm and cozy during these chilly winter days!

NSB - flannels interview header

Who are you?

I am the flannels, fleeces, and minky department.NSB - flannels interview solids and minky

Where do you reside at Nancy’s?

Since the store was rearranged this summer, I primarily reside halfway through the store, on the right. During the cooler months, however, I feature some of my wares along the stairs and main walkway.NSB - flannels interview prints table

Do you have a special focus?

Anything cozy! My fabrics are perfect for making blankets, scarves, pajamas, bathrobes, and more!NSB - flannels interview prints side 1

NSB - flannels interview prints side 2

What is your most recently received product?

Frankly, the most recently received products have been reorders. Restocking our basics in solid colors and the most popular prints and plaids in our fleeces and flannels.NSB - flannels interview fleeces

Do you have a current favorite product?

I have two favorites at present.

One is the Mammoth and Shetland Flannel lines from Robert Kaufman. Talk about making cozy fabrics even cozier! These are some of the plushest flannels I have ever encountered.NSB - flannels interview mammoth

The Shetland line uses classic weave patterns and colors in updated combinations to create fresh, modern flannels. These are two color yarn-dyes with one hue in the warp and another in the weft. So lovely.NSB - flannels interview shetland flannel

The Mammoth line features different plaids woven from crêpe yarns and the result is marvelous. NSB - flannels interview mammoth flannel

In addition to creating a more plush flannel, the texture of the yarn creates a dappling effect between colors.NSB - flannels interview mammoth detail

The other favorite is the fleeces with Seahawks and Sounders prints! It is really fun to see all the projects people make with these.NSB - flannels interview sports

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?

Is it weird to say everything?

One recent fun project is the Laura Ingalls Wilder dress made for the Nancy’s Once Upon a Time raffle using Shetland Flannel.NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Little House in the Big Woods

Another sweet project I’ve seen was pajamas made for the whole family. Mom and dad each had their own plaid and the kids got a third plaid that incorporated colors from the parents’ plaids.

Beyond that, I love that my wares are perfect for last minute gift making. Fun gift ideas include flannel pillow cases, fleece infinity scarves, and quick blankets made of minky!NSB - flannels interview minky blanket

Quick and easy tote tutorial

This tote pattern was inspired by the best bag I ever had: big enough to carry a small selection of groceries or a creative project, but small enough that it never felt cumbersome. To expand on that bag’s great shape, I created three different sizes, each perfectly useful in its own right.

NSB - quick and easy tote tutorial header

The simplicity of this tote design provides so much opportunity to exercise creativity! Choose a fun printed fabric and embellish it with embroidery. Create some graphic patchwork and quilt it for additional texture. Paint your own fabric to be used for the outside. Make it in leather for a chic look.

This pattern goes together so quickly, I doubt you will want to make just one!

SUPPLIES

For all sizes, you will need:

  • Fashion fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Lining fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Webbing or ribbon for handles
  • Thread
  • Fusible fleece (optional; this adds body to the bag and stabilizes fabric)

TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (recommended) or scissors
  • Quilter’s style see through ruler (I use 6.5” x 24”)
  • Self-healing mat (if using rotary cutter)
  • Marking tool (pen, pencil and chalk are all fine)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Hand sewing needle (optional)

DIMENSIONS

quick and easy tote dimensions chart

Finished tote sizes:

  • The small tote finishes approximately 9.5” tall x 8.25” wide x 3.25” deep
  • The medium tote finishes approximately 12.25” t x 10.25” w x 4.25” d
  • The large tote finishes approximately 14.75” t x 12” w x 5.25” d

DIRECTIONS

For this tutorial, we show the construction of a medium tote. All seam allowances are 3/8”.

1. Cut fashion and lining fabrics to size. If using fusible fleece, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fuse to back of fashion fabric.NSB - quick and easy tote cut fabrics to size

2. For each piece of fashion fabric, find center point of top edge. Measure and mark the distance from center point according to dimensions chart (e.g. for medium tote, measure and mark 3” to either side for a total spacing of 6”).NSB - quick and easy tote mark center and strap spacing

Next, take one strap and align raw edge of webbing to raw edge of fabric along the top, matching to the  outside of the spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 1

Repeat with other end of strap and second spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 2

On sewing machine, baste straps in place (I like to sew 1/4” from the edge).NSB - quick and easy tote baste strap

3. Pin and sew one lining piece to fashion fabric along top edge using 3/8” seam allowance. NSB - quick and easy tote pin lining to outside

Repeat for second fashion fabric and lining pieces.NSB - quick and easy tote sew lining and outer pieces

Iron to set seam, then iron lining and fashion sides down (this will help create a clean finish along top edge).

4. Take one side and reopen; lay wrong side down. NSB - quick and easy tote lay wrong side down

Open second side and lay atop the first, right sides together, matching fashion fabrics and aligning the seams at edges.NSB - quick and easy tote pin tote pieces right sides together

Sew the two side seams and the bottom seam for the fashion fabric. On the bottom edge for the lining, leave a 4” to 5” opening in the center. **NOTE: it is best not to  backstitch at the corners, as these will be pressed open and cut off**NSB - quick and easy tote sew all sides leaving an opening at bottom of lining

Press flat.

5. Create the box bottom: in one corner, pull the two fabric pieces away from each other so the two seams match; press seams open. Using the ruler, measure and mark the length shown on the dimensions chart perpendicular to the seam line (e.g. for the medium tote, measure 4” from fold to fold). I find a quilting ruler marked with 45° angle to be particularly helpful to this task, as I can align with the folded edge. NSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom outer fabricNSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom lining

Sew on machine; be certain to backstitch at the edges. NSB - quick and easy tote sew box bottom

Trim seam allowance to 3/8”.

Repeat for all four corners. Press to set seams.

6. Turn the bag right side out through opening in bottom of lining.

Edge stitch the opening closed on the machine or blind stitch closed by hand.

NSB - quick and easy tote stitch opening closed

Fit the lining into the tote body, matching the box corners.

7. Iron the top edge (this is where that ironing in step 3 comes in handy). Pin in place, if desired.NSB - quick and easy tote iron top edge

Stitch around top 1/8” from edge; stitch again 1/4″ from edge.

8. Admire your new bag!


As mentioned above, there are many ways to personalize this tote!

In one version, I added a pocket to the lining…

…which would also work very well on the outside!NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote pocket outside

For another version, I used a printed fabric and a coordinating near solid for the lining. I added embroidery to the printed fabric and made a matching appliqué for the near solid. By finishing the ‘lining’ by hand, this becomes a reversible bag!

I hope you enjoy making your own version of this tote! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Using fabric as gift wrap

After making my advent calendar, I became excited by the idea of starting another new tradition in my household: reusable gift wrap. Just thinking about the amount of torn wrapping paper that goes to recycling after opening holiday presents is enough to make me feel faint, so I thought: why not wrap gifts in something that is easily reused?

The solution? Fabric!

NSB - reusable gift wrap header

Wouldn’t it be so fun to find this stack of gifts beneath the tree?

Whether using a cut of fabric to wrap a gift or sewing it into a bag that can double as a fun holiday tote, there are many fun approaches to wrapping gifts in fabric. Let’s take a look at a few of them.


 

Earlier this year, we shared a tutorial for our easy gift bag pattern. This bag is quick-to-make and perfectly fits a wine bottle. It looks great made in a variety of fabrics, from novelty print cotton to a shimmery organza. Tailor it to the recipient or the specific bottle you are giving!

NSB - reusable gift wrap easy gift bag


 

Nancy’s carries the excellent book Wrapping with Fabric by Etsuko Yamada, which explores traditional ways of using furoshiki. Totally inspired, I decided to try a couple basic wrap styles using fabric in fun prints.

 

NSB - reusable gift wrap with fabric and book

These were wrapped in rayon challis (left) and cotton broadcloth (back right). Both prints are festive, but neither is specifically “holiday”, so they can easily be reused for other occasions.

 

While a traditional furoshiki has two selvedges and two hemmed edges, I decided to serge around the four edges of my fabric for minimal sewing. This would be a lovely way to wrap a present for someone who sews, as the wrapping fabric can double as a gift!

NSB - reusable gift wrap fabric

Can you guess what’s inside? The green parcel has a pair of books and the red gift is a sewing basket! I purchase 3/4 yard of each fabric to create my version of the furoshiki.


 

Our free grocery bag pattern (NSB grocery bag instructions) also makes a great gift bag. The shape is especially great for larger and bulkier items!

NSB - reusable gift wrap grocery bag pattern

I left off the handles for a clean finish and added ribbon for festive flair. The fabric I selected is actually toweling-by-the-yard, which is the perfect width for this pattern!


 

I love the idea of wrapping a gift inside of a gift (think of it as the turducken of giftwrap). Enter our quick and easy tote in three sizes!

NSB - reusable gift wrap three totes

These bags combine the fun and ease of wrapping in a gift bag with the practicality of a tote bag. I love the notion of filling this bag with a collection of small gifts for a deserving recipient. Make a home spa kit for a beauty enthusiast or tuck a couple books into the tote for your favorite bookworm!

All three sizes of this tote are incredibly useful and appropriate for anyone, young or old.

NSB - reusable gift wrap small tote outside

The small tote is perfect for kids or for reuse as a lunch bag!

NSB - reusable gift wrap medium tote

Our medium tote is the perfect ‘anytime’ size!

NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote outside

The large tote is an excellent size for commuters and students, easily carrying a laptop and a couple books.

Interested in making a quick-and-easy tote of your own? Check back with us tomorrow for a full tutorial!