Tag Archives: handmade

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: Izzie

I am very excited to share today’s “get to know” interview. In addition to working in our Ribbon Room every Tuesday, this employee is also a talented Seattle milliner. As she is both an employee and a friend of Nancy’s, this extended interview includes questions we ask of our vendor friends! Please join me in welcoming Izzie.

NSB - gtk izzielewis header

Who are you?

I’m Izzie Lewis and I am a milliner. I also work at Nancy’s.

How long have you been acquainted with Nancy’s? How long have you worked at Nancy’s?

I’ve been acquainted with Nancy’s for 20 years or so, through millinery and classes with Candace Kling.

I think I started working at Nancy’s in 2008, so I’ve been with the store for about 8 years.

NSB - IzzieLewis pink straw

Izzie models a gorgeous pink cloche constructed from vintage straw braid, trimmed with a ribbon rose handmade using Candace Kling’s techniques.

How long have you been sewing?

Well, I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember, but I was in second grade the first time I sewed a garment from a pattern.

What was your first sewing project?

I made a little cotton top with a sailor collar that zipped up the front. It was very cute. It had little puffed sleeves. The fabric was navy blue with white anchors.

Tell me about your business.

I make custom hats and I teach hat making in my studio in West Seattle. I work in straw, felt, and fabric, and find that whatever material I am working with at the time is my favorite. That can make it difficult to change seasons.NSB - IzzieLewis felt hat from scrap

How did you get started in millinery?

I started making hats when I found out that you could actually make hats. It hadn’t really occurred to me before that. I used to wear a lot of vintage hats, so when I found out I could make them myself I started pursuing hat making.

I actually met a hat maker – Wayne Wichern – while shopping at a fabric store in downtown Seattle. I was wearing a hat and he came up to me and said, “I really like your hat. I am a hat maker, if you’d ever like to have a hat made…” and I was like, “What? I can have a hat made?!” I had him make a hat for me and it was through that experience that I started studying with him. Years later, he explained that the day we met, he had just picked up his business cards and he was so excited about it that he came right up to me and gave me a card. He said that he wouldn’t have done that except that he was excited to have business cards.

My background is in architecture, which is still that idea of constructing things. When I began making hats, the architecture firm where I worked – Workshop 3D – had a gallery within the space. My boss asked me to do a millinery show, so I started putting together group shows every spring and fall. These shows became one of the foundations of the millinery community in Seattle.

What is your most recently completed project?

I make garments for myself on occasion. My most recent garment was the sheer overdress/printed cotton underdress for the Nancy’s anniversary sale.

I’m also currently completing a variety of straw hats for a group hat show, which is happening on Saturday, April 2nd. The show, which I am doing as part of the Millinery Artisan Group Northwest, takes place 10am-4pm, at the Phinney Neighborhood Center.

NSB - IzzieLewis parisisal straw vintage roses and veiling

A parisisal straw hat is trimmed with vintage veiling and roses

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?

I did a fun project in 2015, which started out as a little tweed top hat. I bought a yard of fabric and made the top hat. I had fabric left over, so I thought I’d make another hat. I made a cloche, and there was still fabric remaining, so I made a little cap. Then I just decided to keep on going until I had used every scrap of fabric. I think I ended up with seven or eight hats, the last one being this tiny headpiece on a headband.

It was a fun project that kind of developed on its own, but is in keeping with what I like to do, which is use scraps. One of my signature hats is a felt hat that is made of scraps and pieces left over from other hats.

NSB - IzzieLewis felt cloche made from scrap

Scraps from at least five different hats come together to create this fantastic cloche

Another memorable project was The Great Blocking Marathon. I invited students (former and current) and local hat makers to help block nearly every form that I have in the studio. We worked for 2 days, with a break to sleep and we blocked approximately 50 hats!

NSB - izzielewis great blocking marathon

Hat blocks used for The Great Blocking Marathon

What project is next?

This coming Saturday, April 2nd I have the group show at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. I will be there selling spring and summer hats. There will also be a special exhibit as part of the show: we were given a millinery challenge to create an “elemental” hat. The hat I am contributing evokes the element of whimsy. It was created from the scraps of an oddly sized straw cartwheel, which I combined with some vintage trims (editor’s note: “cartwheel” is a name for a large, unblocked piece of straw or felt).

NSB - IzzieLewis hat element of whimsy

‘Whimsy’ is perfectly captured by curvilinear form and vintage blossoms

In general, I’m working my way through a lot of the vintage trimmings and do-dads in my studio, attempting to use them all. For most of my hats, the trims are an integral part of the design, not just added on. For this new project, it’s more that I am making these hats and adding these vintage pieces. The challenge is: am I taking these vintage materials and making pieces that look like vintage pieces, or am I taking these vintage materials and creating something that looks new and fresh? I’d love to be able to have my pieces look fresh and modern.

NSB - IzzieLewis sinamay straw vintage irises

Vintage irises are the perfect trimming for this sinamay straw hat

What do you love most about Nancy’s?

Well, the Ribbon Room, of course! I love all of the conversations about different design ideas that happen in the store, and how helpful and knowledgeable the staff is. And seeing all the projects that people bring into the shop.

Thanks, Izzie! It is such a delight to see what our very talented staff creates!

If you are interested in contacting Izzie about having a custom hat made, or in taking classes with her, find her on Facebook or her website. And if you are in the Seattle area this coming Saturday, April 2nd, be sure to check out her show at the Phinney Neighborhood Center! More details can be found on the show’s event page here.

All photographs in this post courtesy of Nancy’s Sewing Basket and Izzie Lewis and may not be used without express permission.

Fabulous spring patterns from Decades of Style & Decades Everyday

We’ve talked before about our love for independent pattern company Decades of Style and our love is still going strong! For the Sewing & Stitchery Expo this year, we decided to once again feature patterns from their fantastic catalog, with a special focus on the Decades Everyday micro-line. We created a fun collection of garments that would be perfect additions to any spring wardrobe!

NSB - DoS spring wardrobeAll of our Decades of Style samples look so wonderful we want to share them with everyone! Check out all our makes below.

The two newest Decades Everyday patterns are separates: the Three’s a Charm Jacket and the Buttons & Bows Blouse.

For the expo, we were lucky enough to have an exclusive prerelease of the brand new Buttons & Bows Blouse! This fun new style has two options for pussy bow ties, buttons up the back, and has a gorgeous curved hemline.

Jeannie, who made the beautiful Dolce & Gabbana inspired dress for our anniversary sale, whipped up a Three’s a Charm in multi-color patterned wool. Though the basic pattern is unlined, she opted to add a lining and finish all edges with bias tape made from sweet printed lawn. The result is a perfect transitional weight jacket. She also constructed a Buttons & Bows using one of our all-time favorite fabrics Indian cotton voile in an iridescent blue/violet color. Jeannie made the version with the shorter ties and used a double layer of voile through the body for more coverage.

We paired the blouse with the 1940s Empire Waist Trousers from the original line, made in a lovely wool/linen suiting with a subtle lavender pinstripe. The waistline of the trouser combined with the ties of the blouse give this ensemble a sweet sailor effect!


Tamara made the Decades Everyday Given a Chance Dress. This shift dress is a great example of sophisticated simplicity, with a bias-cut, origami-inspired yoke and attractive double bust dart. Tamara’s version was made from textured Japanese cotton with a print that features 8-bit interpretations of Japanese landmarks. This style is easy to make and easy to wear!


Jessica used two Decades Everyday patterns for a sweet ensemble: the E.S.P. Dress and the Three’s a Chance Jacket. For her jacket, she used a floral print Japanese linen/cotton, constructing her version according to the instructions and leaving it unlined. For visual interest and a retro touch, she finished the facings and hems with a decorative running stitch. The result is a Three’s a Charm that is the perfect layering piece for spring.

Jessica’s E.S.P. dress was sewn from a striped linen/cotton shirting with a seersucker look. The stripes were placed horizontally on the bodice and vertically on the skirt. Though the E.S.P. is drafted as an unlined pattern, Jessica opted to line the bodice and skirt, leaving the sleeves unlined. Inspired by the stripes of the skirt, Jessica constructed the skirt with pleats, rather than gather as per the original instructions.


Marilyn, who created the fabulous Dries Van Noten inspired jacket for our anniversary sale, used the Siren Sundress pattern from the Decades of Style original line, sewing it up in sorbet colored cotton voile. This pattern, originally from the 1940s, features a unique wrap-in-the-back silhouette: long straps cross at the open back and wrap around the front waist to tie in the back. The pattern is drafted with a lined bodice and unlined skirt and straps. For additional coverage under our lightweight cotton voile, Marilyn added a full lining to the dress and doubled the straps. It’s the perfect sundress!


Will you construct any new garments for your spring wardrobe? Do you participate in Me Made May? Now’s a great time to get started! We’d love to hear what you are planning; tell us in the comments below!

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