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.

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Kristina’s daughter in a linen dress.

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Cutie in a sunflower dress, made by Kristina

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

Meet a friend of Nancy’s: Candace Kling

Today we are thrilled to share an interview with someone who is very special to Nancy’s Sewing Basket. She is a vendor, a friend, and an artist. You may know her as author of the exquisite book The Artful Ribbon, who also teaches workshops in our store.

Please welcome ribbon goddess, Candace Kling.

NSB - meet Candace Kling header

Who are you?
Candace Kling, Oakland CA

What is your business?
My tax return says artist/teacher.

How did you get started?
I studied flat pattern drafting at a local junior college, later teaching it, as well as dress-form-making, at the California College of Arts and Crafts. I made custom wedding dresses for a one-of-a-kind, handmade clothing store called Sew What in Berkeley, California. My husband and I made hand-painted clothing using Inkodye.

In the 1980s, I worked at Bizarre Bazaar, a vintage clothing store in Oakland, California. Since then, I have been researching ribbon and fabric embellishment (mainly on garments and accessories). I’ve traveled around the country exploring museum costume and textile collections, private holdings, and libraries with vintage sewing books and periodicals. I’ve coupled those travels with a busy schedule of lecturing and teaching all the techniques that I have learned and continue to learn. My book, The Artful Ribbon, seems still to be a favorite among ribbon fans.

From the onset of my discovery of this wealth of vintage knowledge, I have tried to incorporate parts of it into my own artwork. My richly detailed textile sculptures (helmets and headdresses as well as diminutive candy boxes and monumental waterfalls) have been exhibited nationally and internationally over the last 30 years and are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts and Design and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and The Oakland Museum of California.

‘Red Rainbow’ by Candace Kling, 1980.

‘Cobra’ by Candace Kling, 1986.

‘Love with a Bite’ by Candace Kling, 1988.

‘White’ by Candace Kling, 1980.

What is your connection with Nancy’s Sewing Basket?
In February 1994 I presented my artwork (helmets and headdresses) and taught ribbon classes at Costume Con 12 in Santa Clara, California. Agnes Gawne (costumer and most excellent instructor of fashion history at Seattle’s New York Fashion Academy) took one of my classes and liked what she learned. She returned to Seattle and convinced Nancy’s store manager Tamara to hold ribbon classes sponsored by the store in conjunction with NYFA. I’ve been coming to NSB periodically ever since. It is such a bonus for my students to have a ribbon room and a ribbon expert extraordinaire (Susan, the ‘ribbon lady’) “in house”. But the real bonus…girlfriends!

NSB - CK bunting for Oak Mus - hist document

Bunting made for a 19th century document at The Oakland Museum of California history section.

What is your most recently released product or completed project?
Victory is measured in increments. So rather than being able to report publication of my second book (focusing on fabric flowers), I can say that I have been working all this year on it. Three hundred images are mostly edited to perfection and eight chapters are pretty darn smooth.

Candace Kling fabric flowers board

Examples of fabric flowers made by Candace Kling.

Candace Kling cabochons board

Candace Kling created these cabochon style flowers from fabric and ribbon.

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
In 2005 I participated in a “wedding” themed show at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco CA. I created “Massacre at Bridal Veil Falls”, a 15-foot-tall textile sculpture. I worked on the piece for four months, pressing, stitching, gathering and tacking, 250 yards of fabric at least. Throughout, the work lived sideways on a long table in a low-ceilinged room. Only on gallery-moving day did it take its upright position.

‘Massacre at Bridal Veil Falls’ by Candace Kling, 2005. Photo by John Bagley.

It was my biggest “Tada!” moment ever. So much bigger than me, and in my mind’s eye that day, magnificent.

A true ‘Tada!’ Candace Kling at installation.

What is next?
Back to the book!

Thank you so much, Candace! It sounds like you are making excellent progress on your book! As always, we are very excited to host your upcoming classes.

If you are interested in taking a workshop with Candace in October, please head over to our website to view our class schedule.

Photographs in this post are courtesy of Candace Kling. If you would like to learn more about Candace, and see more pictures of her work, check out her website CandaceKling.com. Additional pictures of her work can also be found on Patrice Krem’s pinterest board. Photograph in header by Debbie Bone-Harris.

Interview with a store department: the quilt shop

In a similar vein to our interviews with Nancy’s employees, I have a fun new series planned for the NSB blog! Let’s get to know the store, one department at a time!

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Who are you?
Hello! I am the quilt shop at Nancy’s!

Where do you reside at Nancy’s Sewing Basket?
We recently rearranged a few sections of the store and now I live just inside the front doors, to the right of the stairs.

NSB - quilt shop angle view

It’s especially great because I get a lot of natural light through the big front window, so it is easy to color match. I love my new location!

NSB - quilt shop birds eye view

Do you have a special focus?
I specialize in fabrics that are appropriate for quilt making and craft projects. I house all the printed and solid cotton broadcloth, along with some cotton/linen blends that are suitable for quilting. If you are looking for fun, bright prints, this is likely where you will find them!

NSB - quilt shop low view

I also house the quilt batting-by-the-yard. We have a lovely selection in a variety of qualities: light and lofty polyester batting, heirloom quality washable wool batting, classic cotton batting, and a nice cotton/rayon from bamboo blend that has an exquisite drape.

What is your most recently received product?
We just got in a fabulous set of Halloween themed prints, that I adore. One of the prints is actually designed as bunting, featuring a few different motifs, so it’s a fun and fast-to-complete project!

NSB - Halloween bunting

The collection also includes a large panel print that I think will make an awesome wall hanging or banner to display for Halloween! I love the historical costuming aspect, in addition to the wordplay. It is ‘sew scary’!

NSB - Halloween panel print

Do you have a current favorite product?
Nancy’s recently started carrying a fabulous new line of prints called Cotton + Steel, which are incredibly charming and come on a variety of base cloths. While the majority of the prints are on cotton broadcloth, C+S also makes lovely cotton lawn, cool linen/cotton canvas, sumptuous cotton double gauze, and smooth rayon challis. We’ve received two shipments so far and I love every single print.

NSB - C+S prints

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?
One of my favorite projects is something called a “me doll”. The local schools make them every year, meaning we get a rush of enthusiastic younger students who come in looking for fabrics that represent them, which they usually find among the cotton prints. I’ve never actually seen a finished doll, but I imagine them to be perfect and adorable.

Thanks, quilt shop! Any questions about what is available in this department? Let us know in the comments below!

New classes starting soon! Introduction to Modern Quilting

I am really excited to make this announcement! Nancy’s is introducing a new series of classes, to be taught by yours truly: an introduction to modern quilting.

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This class series will cover the basics of quilt making, focusing on the construction of several basic quilt blocks, all with a modern bent. In each section, we will cover the following:

  • basic quilt math
  • piecing and trimming quilt blocks
  • assembling a quilt top
  • quilting on a sewing machine
  • plus! we will go over how to sew the quilted blocks into a throw pillow cover, including installation of an invisible zipper

Each three-week section will concentrate on a single, foundational style of quilt block, how to make it, and it’s versatility. It is amazing to see just how far one block will take you!

First up: the ever classic nine patch! Arguably the most foundational quilt block style, the nine patch utilizes techniques that are used for making everything from the smallest to the largest quilt.

NSB - IMQ 9P pillow

A throw pillow in a classic nine patch, made with five smaller nine patch blocks. It’s like Inception, made from patchwork.

The second section of classes will focus on the half-square triangle. This is one of my very favorite blocks for its cool, graphic style, plus it can be arranged in a million ways for very different effects. Well, maybe not a literal million ;)

NSB - IMQ HST pillow

The versatile half-square triangle can be rotated to create a variety of patterns.

The third block we will explore is the log cabin. Another personal favorite, this block is versatile and provides techniques that are helpful for larger quilt assembly.

NSB - IMQ Log Cabin pillow

These log cabins have been arranged in the ‘fields and furrows’ style.

These classes will take place at Nancy’s Sewing Basket. Each section is $75 and includes all materials needed to create a black and white quilted pillow cover. As with our other sewing classes, we have sewing machines and a tool kit for students use.

Our first section of classes, the nine patch, will take place on Thursdays 8/13, 8/20, and 8/27 from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

Additional details, and our full class schedule through the end of 2015, can be found here.

Any questions? Let us know in the comments below!

Color-wheel quilt

Hello! Jessica here. Today I am thrilled to share with you a recent quilting project! (You may even remember that I mentioned this quilt in my interview!)

NSB - color-wheel quilt header

Using the pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s book Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, I made a color-wheel quilt featuring Kona cotton solids from Robert Kaufman.

NSB - JH last minute patchwork book cover

The original design uses printed cottons to create beautiful color movement with lots of visual texture.

NSB - JH color-wheel quilt in book

I love the way this looks, but decided I wanted to try it out with solid colors. We carry the Kona cotton line at Nancy’s, offering a decent selection of the 303 colors (!) that Robert Kaufman makes. I planned to make this color-wheel using clear, saturated colors.

Because the color-wheel is comprised of 52 wedges, I set to work choosing all my colors, beginning with some of my favorites hues and filling in where necessary. In the book, Hoverson recommends creating quadrants of 13 colors for ease in planning, which was incredibly helpful. I made a color inventory to keep track of exactly what colors I would use and where I wanted them to sit in the wheel.

NSB - color-wheel quilt color inventory

I wish I’d taken a photo of my selection process, but I actually started by pulling out and lining up the full bolts of Kona, just to ensure I had the best colors. When I couldn’t find exactly the right transition color in stock, I checked against the Kona color card and made a note of what we should order in for the store.

The color inventory came in very handy when it was time to cut my fabrics and again later when I was assembling my quilt top.

NSB - color-wheel stack of fabrics

This pattern was very fun and easy to construct. The recommended quilting (straight quilting radiating from the center, using the color wedges as guides) is fairly simple and has an incredible effect. I used washable wool batting for this quilt, which has a gorgeous loft.

In addition to using solid colors rather than prints, I did one other major thing different from the book: where Hoverson calls for white fabric for the background, binding, and backing, I decided to use a very pale solid grey (Kona color Ash). I opted for this pale neutral largely because it reminds me of the Seattle sky, but also because I wanted the transition from ground to color-wheel to be less stark. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

NSB - color-wheel quilt complete

One thing I love about finishing a quilt and taking photographs is that you really get to see how the fabrics play with one another. I absolutely love that the lightest colors in my color-wheel look like they are shimmering.

This color-wheel quilt was super fun from start to finish. I love the versatility in how it can be made up: altering the fabric palette from prints to solids (or doing a mix of both), selecting a narrow color palette (e.g. using a two hue palette rather than a full rainbow), changing out the background color, and much more. I have had a lot of fun looking at the other color-wheel quilts that have been made using this pattern! Here are a few of my favorites:

Kelly of Purple Workbench made the color-wheel quilt as a wedding gift for her brother and sister-in-law, using their wedding palette as the color guide. Her fabric choices in teal, silver, and lime green are perfection! I also love how she quilted it using concentric circles for the wheel and added their initials and wedding date to the center.

Kristen at All Snug as a Bug changed the color of her background from white to black with awesome results. I love how it changes the effect!

Holly of Stitch Craft made one for her son, limiting her color palette to blues and greens. The effect is really lovely and very chic. She also made a matching curtain using her left-over fabric!

Dani of Knit, Stitch, Click! followed the pattern of the book quite closely, but added borders to make it fit a queen size bed! I love that she quilted the color-wheel as shown in the book, but changed the quilting in the added borders to create a kind of frame.

Tamara Kate, a talented fabric designer, used the pattern to create a modern holiday ‘wreath’ featuring her print lines Festive Forest and Festive Nest. She says it will be hung on a blank wall in her home every holiday season for additional color and warmth! Such a clever idea! I also love how she quilted this, leaving the center open, like a wreath.

Thanks for joining me today! Have a question? Let me know in the comments below!

Rococo ribbon rosettes

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Rococo ribbon is a fantastic ¼” wide 100% polyester ribbon with gradient color across the width and picot edging on both sides. We love this ribbon for many reasons, including its versatility in application and its ability as a trim to pull disparate fabrics together.

NSB - rococo ribbon colors

Today we are sharing a quick and easy-to-make flower using this fabulous ribbon! This little flower is the perfect addition to clothing (especially when sewn in clusters!), gifts and handmade cards, doll clothing and accessories, and so much more.

We made a fun short video tutorial to show you how to make a Rococo rosette. Hope you enjoy!

SUPPLIES & TOOLS

  • ‘Rococo’ ribbon, minimum cut of 3” (can substitute any 100% polyester ribbon in its stead, though you will need more length if you use a wider ribbon); each length will make two flowers
  • scissors
  • lighter or candle (flame needs to be accessible, so recommend tapers over votives)
  • ruler
  • floral stamens (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut a 3” to 4” length of ribbon
  2. Cut ribbon length in half at an angle
  3. Using lighter or candle, melt the squared end of the ribbon
  4. On the long angled cut, find and pull a thread close to the ribbon’s edge; this will create the gathers along the full ribbon length
  5. Holding gathers in place, use your flame to melt the angled cut edge
  6. Voila! You have made a Rococo ribbon rosette!
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 5 with the second half of your ribbon;
  8. Optional: If you want to add stamens, fold in half and insert into the flowers center; catch in place when sewing to your project