Today, the same spot where you’ll find Caffe Ladro in Upper Queen Anne was once the place where store owner Jacqueline Rossi originally set up Nancy’s Sewing Basket in 1978. Rossi, now 83, and her large collection of fine fabrics and accessories outgrew the small space and moved to the current location, about half a block north from the original store.
Named after Rossi’s daughter, Nancy, the shop is a treasure trove of fabrics, ribbons, and all manner of sewing accessories, from tailoring equipment to books that will teach you how to use said equipment. Tamara Somerfield currently manages the shop—we caught up with her to find out what we can expect next from the crafter’s paradise.
WWW: What song or album is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
Somerfield: We’re playing KEXP because it has a little bit of everything. We love that it is local and supports local artists. Sometimes it’s a little much, but it has such a cool sound.
What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
My first job was at Herfy’s on Elliott Avenue, which was a burger chain. I loved that I was 15 and had landed a job, but I absolutely hated the orange polyester uniforms—ugly orange pants and a matching tunic. The double-polyester outfits really held onto the smell of the burger joint.
What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but lately I’ve really enjoyed a gorgeous piece of lace from France. It’s a light, coffee-with-cream color—a really warm ivory hue with a swirling lace design. I recently made a wedding dress from the same fabric for a red-headed bride and the creamy, Alençon lace went so well with her coloring. We sourced this lace from Sophie Hallette who provides lace to all of the major couture houses. It’s really breathtaking.
Where do you shop when you’re not at your store?
Definitely Met Market, but for clothes and other fun stuff, I love to shop at the Queen Anne Dispatch.
What do you love about your store’s neighborhood? What nearby restaurants, coffee shops, etc., do you recommend?
One of the places I love around here is Orrapin Thai. There are rumors that there is a French bistro opening around the corner from La Reve by the same partners behind that amazing bakery. So far they’re just rumors, but I would love that because I live in Capitol Hill and I absolutely love Cafe Presse.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
Well, we now have a ‘no pets’ policy because one customer came in with his dog and it went to the bathroom in the store, and the dog’s owner didn’t do anything about it.
What are a few of the coolest projects customers have shopped for at your store?
We once helped a customer make a sari for a cat doing a Bollywood dance. Another time, a woman made Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland costumes for her chihuahuas, and she later won prizes for them. Then there was the customer who came in for supplies to make footed pajamas for a wedding party. But in general, the most unusual and fun projects are the Halloween costumes.