Category Archives: ribbonwork

Mee-yow!! We love the new Cats Cradle Dress pattern from Decades of Style

Hi there! It’s been a long while since our last blog post! I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer, wherever you are.

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I am very excited to share details about the latest pattern from the Decades of Style micro-line, Decades Everyday: #105 Cats Cradle Dress! This sweet sundress style features a fit-and-flare silhouette, patch pockets, and cage detailing at the neckline. I especially love how this style looks a little vintage and a little modern.

DoS 105 Cats Cradle Dress

When I first saw the pattern artwork for this dress, I got so excited. Beyond the fact that the new style is awesome, the illustration makes me super happy – I totally love the vibe of the model!

For materials, I selected lavender gingham check seersucker and red Petersham ribbon from the Ribbon Room. Though the pattern calls for 1/2” wide ribbon or tape, I used a 3/8” width and it worked perfectly.

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One of the coolest components to this pattern is you use a tear-away interfacing to make the caged-ribbon neckline.

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The instructions helpfully recommend using a temporary glue stick to adhere the ribbon to the stabilizer, which I did not use, but very much wish I had (the ribbon came out a little loose on my finished dress, so I will absolutely use this technique next time).

The fantastic notion I did employ? Lite Steam-a-Seam 2 tape! This product was super handy when applying my ribbon to the neckline.

To help me fit this dress pattern, I used my trusty E.S.P. pattern as a foundation when tracing off the bodice pieces of the Cats Cradle. This was one of the first times I’ve attempted this method with such great success.  It definitely helps that the bodice styles are similar and from the same pattern company. Aside from basic bodice fitting, I hemmed this skirt 1” longer than the allotted 2” hem. (I didn’t add any length to my pattern pieces; I simply made a smaller hem). I am absolutely thrilled with the results.

NSB - JV Cats Cradle dress

If you’re wondering about the crowd-pleasing capabilities of this style: I wore this dress to the wedding of one of my dearest friends and I received a zillion compliments. It’s a definite recommendation from me.

I love this dress and can’t wait to make another. In fact, I have a rad vintage jacquard ribbon that is just begging to be used for this style…


Do you have any summer garments in the sewing queue? Let us know in the comments below!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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