Tag Archives: interview

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.

Meet a friend of Nancy’s: Marie Cooley of Fitting Room Corsets

Today, I am excited to introduce you to another friend of Nancy’s! She is a talented seamstress and the proprietor of Seattle’s premiere custom corset shop. Please welcome Marie Cooley.

NSB-meet Marie Cooley header

Who are you?
I am Marie Cooley of Fitting Room Corsets.

What is your business?
I’m a corset maker, making custom corsets. That means I take your measurements, make a designated pattern for you, and make a corset from fabrics that you select. I do all the work in my Seattle workroom.

NSB - fitting room workroom

Marie Cooley’s Fitting Room

As a corset maker, I work in fulfilling peoples’ fantasies. It’s amazing. Everybody has a thing like, “I saw Gone with the Wind and I want to wear a pretty Scarlett O’Hara dress…” and then they come to learn that they really like to wear corsets; it feels good to wear them. You feel presented; your posture is better, when you stand up straight, you immediately look better.

I make between 100 and 200 corsets per year.

How did you get started?
I have been a dressmaker since I was 14 and started sewing for money. I was an all-purpose dressmaker for twenty years. My major skill-set is sewing; it’s what I do.

I started doing historical costuming pretty early on and the first thing I learned was that I needed corsets to make the dresses look good. And all corsets really grow out of historical pattern work.NSB-MCFR-renaissance georgian style

After I made a few corsets for myself to wear with costumes, I learned that not everyone likes to make corsets. It’s very exacting, it’s drafting, it’s minutiae, it’s little details and engineering. I’m kind of a frustrated engineer, but I like the engineering part.

So, I started making corsets for other people. And I discovered that it is something I like to do and can charge an appropriate price for the amount of work. And the other advantage to corsets is they are small; they don’t take up a huge amount of material and they don’t take up a lot of space in my workroom.NSB-MCFR-deep plunge

How long have you been acquainted with Nancy’s?
Oh gosh! Since before Nancy’s moved into the building it’s in now. It used to be in a smaller space, which was very dark! [editor’s note: Nancy’s started in the space currently occupied by Caffe Ladro] I remember going into that location just when you were getting ready to move and you were having a big sale.

Nancy’s is my home away from home. It’s a great store and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.

What is your most recently released product or completed project?
I just finished a pretty standard corset. It’s not the most exciting corset I’ve ever made: it’s made from a simple fabric in the under-bust style that reminds me a bit of my mother’s girdles.NSB-MCFR-waistcincher

At a given time, I might have anywhere from one corset to a dozen in process.

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
I have made many memorable corsets over the years, from corsets for a pirate reenactor to a corset made for a goth bride. One memorable corset was made for a fantasy-style wedding. This bride had purchased a bolt of three-dimensional fabric, with all this decoration on it. I initially thought it would be impossible for me to work with and for her to wear. For the most part, however, the fabric itself just made a great corset. I did not add anything to the fabric, though I did take a few pieces and judiciously place them where they needed to be.NSB - fitting room corsets fantasy

The bride also made a skirt using the same fabric and she wore the ensemble with fairy wings. It turned out so beautiful and looked great on her.

I’ve also done a few fashion shows. In 2010, I collaborated with Tamara on a fashion collection of Steampunk garments, which showed in the SteamCon II fashion show. We set out to go very far out on a limb, to push the whole Steampunk aesthetic. Though that movement has delved a little bit into the eighteenth century, the overall aesthetic of Steampunk hasn’t changed much. We wanted to show ideas that were fresh and new.

I thought it was a great collection, though it did not seem to resonate as much with the audience as we’d hoped. I loved doing this show; I was very proud of what we did.

NSB-MCFR-CoutuReFormation group

Marie & Tamara and their wild weird west circus

What is next?
In terms of corsets, I am working on something for a cosplay that is a variation on Harley Quinn. This sketch has my scratchy little notes, but you can see the basic shape with the high back and shoulder straps. I was worried it would take a lot of fitting, but when the customer tried it on, it fit just right! It’s going to have alternating black and red panels, with a black & white diamond print in the center front. I’m excited and eager to get this one done!

I also have a grand class in the works! I’ve done one-on-one classes and intensive workshops, but I want to teach the full construction process in a larger setting.


Thanks so much, Marie! It was great to see so much of your work and learn a bit about the world of custom corsets. I am very excited to hear about your grand class; I’ll keep an eye out for more details!

If you have any questions for Marie, please leave them in the comments below! Interested in a corset of your very own? Visit her website to learn more about her work and how to order. And don’t forget to follow her on Facebook!

Photos of corsets, costumes, and the Fitting Room workroom are courtesy of Marie Cooley and may not be used without express permission.

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

Interview with a store department: the Ribbon Room

Today we get to know a favorite space in the store – the Ribbon Room!

NSB - Ribbon Room header

Who are you?
Hello, I’m the Ribbon Room!

Where do you reside at Nancy’s?
I have a cozy little room in the back right-hand corner of the store. Because I have my own room, some people miss me on their first (or second!) visit to the shop.NSB - RR df satin and petersham

Do you have a special focus?
Yes! I am home to the exquisite ribbons and trims carried at Nancy’s, in addition to millinery supplies like flowers and veiling, specialty buttons, and fun little gifts. For ribbons, there are lots of great basics – like rayon Petersham grosgrain, double-face satin in both silk and polyester, and sheer polyester organdy ribbons – but we also have an incredible selection of vintage ribbons, heirloom laces, and trims.

NSB - RR dessert case

The ‘dessert’ case holds some of our most beautiful and expensive ribbons and trims. Many are vintage, some are reproductions, all are truly exquisite.

As Susan, the ‘ribbon lady’, puts it: the Ribbon Room is where we keep the dessert.

What is your most recently received product?
We just got a large shipment of lovely millinery flowers, including some fun little toadstools! We also received a fun selection of vintage flowers.

NSB - RR flowers and toadstools

Do you have a current favorite product?
A few months back we got a huge selection of vintage ribbons, including exquisite taffeta and lustrous satin in a rainbow of interesting colors.

NSB - RR vintage satin and taffeta

Among the vintage options was this fabulous double face ribbon: velvet on one side, satin on the other. It is a silk and cotton blend, with the most luxurious hand. The color, called Hula Brown, is very beautiful, but what makes it interesting is the satin and velvet sides are different hues, like dark and milk chocolate.

NSB - RR hula brown satin velvet

Plus, the packaging on the vintage options is incredibly charming!

NSB - RR oriole label

Check out this label!

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?
Goodness, this is difficult to answer. Like the woolens department, we have sold so much ribbon, veiling, and trims throughout the years that this answer could be a mile long.

There are a lot of projects that are fun, but not necessarily unique. We work with lots of brides who are looking for ribbons to trim their invitations and programs, to make a veil, or who simply want a colorful sash. We are lucky to carry the embroidered trims, laces, and insertions that go into heirloom sewing, so we get to help people making christening gowns. We also sell ribbon for things as simple as hair-bows and gifts, which are delightful.

NSB - RR striped grosgrain

Beyond that, some highlights do spring to mind: Every time Candace Kling comes to teach a class at Nancy’s, we get to see our wares turn into incredible work: striped grosgrains become cockades, wired ribbon and stamens blossom into flowers, and much more.

NSB - RR stamens and flowers

Working with antique doll collectors and miniaturists is always fun and surprising. It is also incredibly enjoyable to help people find the perfect trimmings for costumes, whether historical, for a local theater production, or for a kid’s Halloween costume!

Thank you, Ribbon Room! It is always fun to see your treasures!

From now until the end of the Nancy’s anniversary sale, the Ribbon Room will be featured for daily specials on Tuesday, Sept 15th (15% off flowers), Wednesday, Sept 16th & Friday, Sept 18th (15% off buttons), and Sunday, Sept 20th (15% off ribbons)!

All pictures in this post copyright of Nancy’s Sewing Basket, LLC. Special thanks to Kam Martin for her photography skills.

Get to know a Nancy’s employee: SPECIAL EDITION!

Today I am sharing a particularly exciting edition of the ‘get to know’ interview series. In celebration of Nancy’s Sewing Basket’s 37th anniversary*, I sat down with Nancy (yes, that Nancy!) and her mother Jackie, who owns NSB, to learn more about the store itself and the people who started it.

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The original shop location, with a familiar face sweeping in front

Tell me a bit about the shop. What inspired you to open a fabric store?
Nancy:
My mother and father wanted to open a retail shop on Queen Anne. We talked about an Italian deli but opted for a fabric store. Quite a leap! Both my mother and I loved to sew, but we were tired of being in the middle of a project and having to get dressed up to take the bus to downtown Seattle to purchase notions, patterns, and fabric at Frederick & Nelson. This was at a time when you did not go downtown without looking your best!

Jackie: I remember Nancy really hated having to leave Queen Anne for a spool of thread. Opening a fabric store in our neighborhood was a good solution.

Did you have much experience in retail prior to opening Nancy’s?
Jackie: No. Well, the truth is when I was about 14/15 years old, I ran an ice cream shop in my hometown in North Dakota. I never ate a drop of ice cream the whole time I worked there because the previous shopkeep – a relative of the owner – got fired for eating ice cream. We were open year round, though summer was our busiest season. I did that for about two years.

My husband, John, loved business and was very interested in starting one of his own, which is why we went for it.

Nancy: No retail experience at all. I studied hard in high school taking bookkeeping, business, and economics classes. When living in Arizona, I took some accounting classes at the local community college.

I was very nervous during the first months the shop was open. Since I had very little schooling in sewing techniques/fibers/etc. I was sure everyone who came into the shop knew so much more than me. But, what I learned is that you treat everyone politely and answer their questions the best you can. When I did not know the answer, I got back to the customer with the proper information. My mother and I had so much fun talking with, helping, and building very loyal customers and friends.

Tell me a bit about the early days.
Nancy: The original shop – where Caffé Ladro is today – was so small.

Jackie: We had fabric reps who originally refused to even come into the shop because it was so small! The first storefront was a small, cramped space. We worked in very tight quarters; there was barely room to move behind each other at the cutting counter! We met with reps in a tiny room you could hardly turn around in. But right off the bat, we made decent sales.

Nancy: Yes, we were successful enough to expand into the two north spaces (originally a beauty shop and a real estate office) by our third year.

The first shop was not fancy and was so jam-packed with fabric (everything from quilting cottons to woolens to imported French laces), notions, buttons, yarn, and patterns. Jackie and I loved to buy lovely things. We wanted to carry everything! We wanted to be the local fabric store our customers could count on to find what they needed.

Jackie: Nancy, John, and I spent a lot of time in the shop over the years; it was real work.

How has Nancy’s changed over the years? 
Nancy: 
When we purchased the last space on our block of Queen Anne Avenue and built our permanent location, the shop started looking more organized.  Jackie and I worked with an architect to create a space we thought would reflect the character of Queen Anne and work for our purposes. Today, with the ideas and creativity of the Nancy’s staff the shop looks amazingly beautiful. It is like Nancy’s has grown up from our very humble beginning.

My one disappointment is that Nancy’s now has the reputation of being very expensive. Yes, we have some very special fabric and it is expensive. But, we also have the basics!

Jackie: Well, the store has changed in some ways I didn’t originally expect. Like Nancy said, we now carry a lot of special fabric that can be expensive. I always loved notions and the supplies that contribute to making small crafts. While we still offer a lot in the way of notions (Ellen does a great job with our notions department) and we have a nice selection of craft materials, we don’t really carry all those crafting supplies anymore. That isn’t what I anticipated.

What is your current role at Nancy’s?
Nancy: I do the daily bookkeeping and set the budget for all the departments. I keep in touch with the shop management via email and telephone on a daily basis. And, I still participate in the most fun stuff: buying the lovely fabric we offer to our customers.

I must say I miss being at the shop. It was such a huge part of my life for a very long time. It was so special to work with all our customers.

Jackie: I’m on the back burner. I talk to the store every day to keep up on what is happening, what’s selling well, what kinds of projects people are doing. Mostly just supervising from a distance. I still like to participate in buying fabric!

Do you have a favorite memory of running the store?
Jackie:
I have a few favorite memories. One time, in the early days, I had a customer who came in looking for Velcro. I hadn’t ever really used it and, in my unfamiliarity, I accidentally sold them only one side! I was so embarrassed. They never did come back for the other half…

Another time, in our first space, a customer came in asking if we carried woolens. I very proudly showed him to the wool section, which at the time contained just three bolts!

One more: for several years, Nancy’s would put on fashion shows, where all the staff would make an ensemble and then wear it in a runway show. One year, one of our staff was a bit behind in her sewing and to complete it on time she used glue to finish her last few seams. It was a workable solution; she got to wear it on the runway!

Nancy: Over the 23 years that I was at the shop daily, there are too many to mention. Okay, here’s one: I am a punctual, on-time person.  Even though I was always at the shop on time, my dad often beat me to the shop and that annoyed me at the time. But looking back, it was so fun to see him sweeping the sidewalk, always there to say hello. It was very special. He loved the shop and that is why our building has a memorial plaque in his honor.

Let’s switch gears a little; I want to know more about you. When did you learn to sew and what was your first project?
Nancy: My mother taught me the basics of sewing at a very young age. In high school, I took the required course of home economics. Mrs. Hayes was the home ec teacher at Queen Anne High School and Oh! My! Gosh!! My first project was a hand sewing sampler and you were either lucky or talented if you passed that! I passed, not sure if I was talented or lucky! 😉 Then we moved on to the machines to make an apron with perfect seams. She was like a drill sergeant but, oh my did you learn the proper way to sew.

Jackie: I started with embroidery work when I was 8; that was my first fight with a needle and thread.

When I got older, I learned how to sew clothing because I wanted to go to the school basketball games. You see, it cost money, which I didn’t have, to go to the games. Then I figured out that if I joined the band, I could get in for free. I stabbed at the clarinet, and could really only hit a C note, but they still let me play. But back to learning how to sew: in order to be in the band, you had to have a pair of white pants. Those, like tickets to the game, cost money that I didn’t have. My first sewing project was my pair of white pants for playing in the band. I joined the home economics class and got enough help from the teacher that I completed the pants! I think she must have helped me with all the buttonholes, because I don’t remember putting in a zipper.

Do you still sew much? How do you spend your time now?
Jackie:
No, I can’t really do that any more. I work on all sorts of paperwork for another business. I also spend time with my three littlest granddaughters (twins who are two years old and a baby who is one). They are very well-behaved and so fun.

Nancy: I do not sew much anymore, although I have great plans to get up to my sewing room someday soon when my life finally slows down! I joke with friends that my sewing these last years has been repairing horse blankets.

After managing the shop for 13 years and then commuting to Queen Anne from my farm, south of Olympia, for another 13 years, I decided to semi-retire. Since I know the shop is in good hands under the management of Tamara and Kitrina with the help of our amazing staff, I can relax.

These days I spend my time with my horses. I train and have competed the last 19 years at dressage with my amazing Morgan geldings. My husband, Bill, and I  have been on many trail rides, rides at the beach and weekends spent riding and camping in the National Forest Wilderness.

Of course, living on a farm, there are the annual garden veggies that need to be processed.  So, I am busy, busy.

My husband and I love to travel.  We have had some amazing adventures in the last 20 years.

Did you have a special focus in sewing?
Jackie: Well, my sewing was pretty basic. I primarily made simple clothes for my grandchildren: tee shirts, nightgowns, and pajama pants. I didn’t sew much for myself. I made a couple of dresses over the years, and I still have a shirt that I made that turned out very well. I’m not a particularly accomplished seamstress, but I was good with the basics.

Nancy: I did a little of everything – tailoring, sewing for my boys and family, always having a project in the works. I especially liked making Halloween costumes for my boys – fun, creative, and you did not have to have the perfect fit!!  And: they loved it.

Jackie: Nancy was a really talented seamstress. All her garments were finished impeccably; she could wear them inside-out!

Do you have a favorite or most memorable sewing project?
Jackie: One year, when my younger son was around 12 years old, I made rain-capes for him and his football team out of a waterproof material. It was a simple silhouette, not much more than a hole for the head and a couple of seams on the sides, but it was a fun project. I must have been the only mom who could – or would – make them!

Nancy: I made the most beautiful hot pink – but not hot pink – wool crepe dress with bias cut matching silk binding from a Vogue pattern, more difficult than I had imagined. It was for an especially fancy New Years Eve event. After 40 hours of constructing this dress I was finishing the hand work until the minute before we left! I felt like a princess in it.

Thank you so much, Jackie and Nancy! This was a really fun interview and I have an even greater appreciation for the shop and its history!

*the Nancy’s Sewing Basket anniversary sale will begin on Monday, September 7th. For more details, please check out our website.

Thanks for reading this special interview! If you have any questions for Nancy or Jackie, please leave them in the comments below!

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.

NSB - kl skeleton doll

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 🙂

NSB - woolens header

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.