Category Archives: fashion shows

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: Susan

Today’s “get to know” interviewee might be best known as the ‘Ribbon Lady’. An accomplished historical costumer, she inspires everyone around her to fall in love with vintage textiles and trims and to appreciate the stories they carry. Please welcome Susan.

NSB - gtksusan header
Who are you?
My name is Susan, though I also answer to ‘Ribbon Lady’.

How long have you worked at Nancy’s?
I think it’s been 18 years.

How long have you been sewing?
Since I was a very small child. As a toddler, I started with a yarn needle (my mother would thread it for me) and I would sit and sew for hours. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t sew.

Do you have a special focus?
Handwork and historical costuming, though to me they are one and the same. I’m interested in basically all costuming eras aside from the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. My favorite costumes to create are from the 18th century and Edwardian eras, as both are suited to lots of handwork. Where 18th century styles have fairly simple construction, Edwardian construction is a bit more challenging, which I enjoy.

NSB - gtks yellow gown bodice

The design and color palette for this c.1755 style gown was inspired by the small piece of antique fly fringe at the top of the stomacher.

My costuming process begins with my collection of textiles and trims. It is a slow process; I collect items and create kits of fabric and trims. I use mostly antique and vintage trims, as antique yardage is more difficult to find and more fragile. The starting point for a given costume is usually a single item, like a button or a trim; sometimes it is a tiny piece of 18th century fly fringe, sometimes it is a piece of fabric from the 1920s.

NSB - gtks harlequin detail

A black-and-cream checkerboard fabric from the 1920s and vintage cherry motifs inspired this 18th century costume with harlequin details.

What was your first sewing project?
The first true project was sewing doll clothes. I had very well dressed dolls, in many eras of historical costume. Sewing and historical costume go hand-in-hand for me; the clothing of other eras has always been of more interest to me than the clothing I could see on the street.

What is your most recently completed project?
An Edwardian ball gown skirt, made in silk brocade with antique butterflies and antique Art Nouveau trim. The silk brocade is a very deep navy blue, the butterflies are black backed in gold metallic fabric with a slight pleat; it is a moody and mysterious color palette. I’m still working on the bodice that goes with it.

NSB - gtks edwardian ball gown

One of Susan’s completed Edwardian ball gowns, a true 1901 shape. Her recently completed skirt and soon-to-be finished bodice have a similar silhouette.

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
The most memorable project would be my daughter’s wedding dress. When I started making it, I believed I had six months to complete it. Then she was awarded an overseas scholarship that had to be used immediately, so the wedding was moved up five months. I completed it in three and a half weeks.

NSB - gtks wedding gown bride and groom

The bride, Susan’s daughter, and her groom on their wedding day.

It is an 18th century style gown made in a color palette best described as ‘triple cream French vanilla’. The dress is vanilla-colored silk dupioni, with monochromatic embellishment, including embroidery, ribbon embroidery, beading, and dimensional ribbonwork. Most of this dress was made with modern materials, but I did use a gorgeous antique woven tubular silk ribbon. Though the tube is flattened, it still has a lovely dimensionality.

NSB - gtks wedding stomacher detail NSB - gtks wedding skirt embroidery detail NSB - gtks wedding skirt detail NSB - gtks wedding skirt side detail

My favorite project is one of the two things that I made without a deadline: an 18th century ensemble.The skirt was made of cream-colored wool challis, which I embroidered using antique thread. Some of the embroidery – a double wave of pearls winding around the skirt – was inspired by something I saw on an 18th century skirt. The floral motifs were informed by the availability of colors in the antique thread. My mother was a florist and I spent lots of time in her shop when I was young; I used my memories of different flowers to create the motifs, which include lilies of the valley, pansies, forget-me-nots, sweet peas, tiger lilies, anemones, and morning glories. Because I didn’t have a deadline, I was able to spend time experimenting with the flowers. It was lovely.

NSB - gtks favorite 18th c ensemble

Susan in her favorite 18th century ensemble

NSB - gtks favorite 18th c ensemble

To coordinate, I made a Pierrot jacket using an incredible antique 18th century silk fabric in brown with a woven stripe. I trimmed the jacket with white silk organza ruffles, two 18th century metallic trims (one ruffled, the other serpentine), and ribbon and thread buttons from the Victorian era. It wasn’t the most ornate or structurally complex costume I have made, but I felt totally at home in it and it remains a favorite.

NSB - gtks favorite pierrot front NSB - gtks favorite pierrot back NSB - gtks peplum detail

What project is next?
At present, I am preparing for an exhibition of my costumes, which will take place November 11th through 15th at the Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theater at the University of Washington. The show will feature more than 50 costumes, ranging in date from the late 17th century (Cavalier era) through the 1920s.

NSB - gtks collar detail

In terms of costume, I have several works in progress: an embroidered 1920s coat and the bodice to the Edwardian ball gown skirt, among others. I plan to finish the Edwardian bodice next.

What do you love most about Nancy’s?
The quality of the staff and the quality of the merchandise. And the Ribbon Room, of course! The Ribbon Room and I were made for each other.

Thank you Susan! We are all so excited to see your costumes on display in November. To learn more about Susan’s exhibit, including glimpses into her incredible historical wardrobe, please go to the event website: Art of the Costume.

All photographs in this post courtesy of Nancy’s employee Susan and may not be used without express permission.

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.

6842

 

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.

 

6914

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!