Tag Archives: Meet a friend of NSB

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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Meet a friend of Nancy’s: Janet from Decades of Style

With Halloween around the corner, we are spending a lot of time thinking about costumes. There are so many ways to do costumes, from fanciful and fantastic to historic, and we love them all!

In preparation for this exciting holiday, we decided it would be fun to interview a friend of Nancy’s whose work is great for daily wear and costuming alike! She is a whiz with vintage patterns – and makes it easy for the rest of us to work with them, too.

Without further ado, we present Janet from Decades of Style Pattern Company.NSB - meet Janet headerWho are you?
I’m Janet, from Decades of Style Pattern Company. My official title, according to my business card, is ‘Person’.

What is your business?
We make vintage sewing pattern reproductions for the modern sewer, offering patterns from the 1920s through the 1950s, with a couple styles from the decades before and after.

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We do a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ associated with sewing from vintage patterns. We translate vintage yardage requirements to work with modern fabric widths. We also grade all our pattern styles to fit nine different sizes (from a 30” bust up to 46”). Decades patterns are also friendlier to work with than actual vintage patterns and they are available in sizes that are reasonable! So many vintage patterns are only available in that mystifying 30” or 32” bust size. I had outgrown that size by the age of 13! We make vintage styles available for the 99% of the population that is larger than a size 0. That’s actually the mission statement of the company.

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Actual vintage patterns from Janet’s collection. Lots of 30″ and 32″ bust sizes.

How did you get started?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in antique or vintage clothing. It is a lifelong interest that has turned into a life. Even though I was interested in wearing vintage clothes when I was younger, I didn’t really have any access to purchasing them. Apart from a few 1950s suits that were castoffs from my fancy grandmother’s closet, I didn’t get to wear actual vintage clothing until I left home and could shop in vintage clothing stores. It was a brutal awakening to see that only a tiny fraction of the inventory would fit me.

I realized if I wanted to wear vintage style clothing, I would have to make it myself. Annoyingly enough, most vintage clothing patterns that have survived the last 50-plus years are only available in ridiculously tiny sizes. In order to make those styles for myself, I had to grade the patterns and I knew I could not be the only one who wanted them. Decades of Style is an extension of the grading process.

How long have you been acquainted with Nancy’s?
Nancy’s has carried Decades of Style patterns since 2012. It seems like the pattern line is a very good match for the store.  It’s an honor to be a part of Nancy’s and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the ladies there.

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Decades of Style patterns on display in Nancy’s.

What is your most recently released product or completed project?
In the summer of 2014, we launched a micro-line of patterns called Decades Everyday. The aesthetic of these patterns lean toward 1960s styling but they still feel modern. The patterns are designed for those who are newer to sewing, though the patterns are great for more skilled sewists who just want a quick make. They are easy to sew and you can pretty much make them in a day. We released our second pattern – the ‘Given a Chance’ dress – in May 2015 and are now working on the next pattern for this line.

NSB - DoS Decades Everyday

Do you have a most memorable or favorite project?
This question is practically impossible to answer! If I must have a favorite pattern, I would say the E.S.P. Dress from Decades Everyday. Even though I totally adore the more elaborate patterns in our catalog, I cannot deny the appeal and relatively instant gratification of whipping up a pretty dress in an afternoon. And really, depending on the fabric you use, the result can be quite sophisticated.

NSB - DoS ESP fabric details

This E.S.P. was made with a lovely embroidered border linen.

I probably have more E.S.P. dresses in my wardrobe than any other pattern in the catalog, so it must be my favorite! And if I’m being completely honest, I have quite a few pieces of fabric lined up with this pattern in mind.

NSB - DoS ESP dress

Another E.S.P. dress made in a unique fabric! This time, an ikat is fussy cute to meet in the center front and center back of the bodice. Rickrack at the hemline is a particularly charming touch.

I also love this pattern because I think it is an accessible project for a greater number of sewists out there. There are so many people who have only started to sew in the last few years. It is important for us to keep them in mind as much as the more advanced sewers.

What is next?
PDF patterns. Yup; it’s happening. We just decided it was time to join the 21st century on this one so we’ve been developing this project all year. We’ll keep you posted via Instagram and Facebook on when that launches. It should be coming up very soon.

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Thanks so much, Janet! We are very excited about your venture into PDF patterns and can’t wait for the next Decades Everyday pattern!

For more glimpses into the world of vintage pattern making, including completed customer projects and in-progress photos, follow Decades of Style on Facebook and Instagram!

All photographs in this post are courtesy of Decades of Style and may not be used without express permission.

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.

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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!

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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.