Saying 'sew' long

After nearly four decades, Nancy's Sewing Basket to close

A staple of Queen Anne Avenue retail for nearly four decades will close its doors next month.

Occupying the same block since opening in 1978 — and the same building since the early 1990s — Nancy’s Sewing Basket (2221 Queen Anne Ave. N.) will sell its final sheets of fabric and spools of ribbon on Nov. 18.

“It’s really hard for all of us who work here,” said store manager Tamara Somerfield. “All of us will miss the store as well … [it’s] so emotional to think of it going after all of these years of being here.”

Somerfield, who has worked at the shop since 1980, said she learned a little more than a month ago about the store’s fate. With owner Jacqueline Rossi, who opened the store in the former Elsie’s Five and Dime location (now Café Ladro) alongside her husband John, nearing the age of 90, the time had come to retire. The building, with almost 4,000 square feet of space, will be leased to a currently undisclosed tenant, after being on the market for some time.

When asked how the business had done in recent years, Somerfield was candid, summing it up in one word with a laugh: Terrible.

While there were loyal customers, she said, the retail climate began to change in the early 2000, with internet retailers beginning to find increased success.

That’s something Somerfield believes is affecting all brick-and-mortar retail.

“I think with a lot of retail businesses, just even like Macy’s and all of that, you know everybody is experiencing that people are shopping on the internet,” she said. “And boy, are they going to be sad when they don’t have a place to go run in and buy something.”

At the same time, the store saw a decline in the number of customers to make the trip from the Eastside, with a drop-off that coincided with the building boom in South Lake Union and the years of work on Mercer Street.

“They don’t want to drive through the traffic,” she said.

Then, there’s the state of sewing itself.

“Sewers kind of come and go in popularity,” she said. “When Project Runway was on, we kind of got a surge.”

Somerfield said she’ll have plenty of fond memories from her time at the store, from buying trips to France and road trips to fabric shows in San Francisco and Las Vegas. She’s had “amazing,” co-workers, and it’s been fun to help customers with their own projects, she said.

“All around, it’s just great to be around creative people,” she said.

She also recalled the store’s annual fundraiser for Mary’s Place, joining with the Queen Anne Book Company to fashion doll clothes that matched literary characters, and raffling them off to donate the proceeds.

Meanwhile, the store’s departure will also leave a gap for those who sought the shop’s curated selection of high-end fabrics, and the accessories that went with them.

While Somerfield mentioned small shops in Fremont, Capitol Hill, and Pioneer Square, none have quite the same approach.

“There’s nothing like here,” she said. “The depth of what’s in this store is just insane.” 

To prepare for the liquidation, the store will be closed later this week — Oct. 18-20 — and will reopen on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., accepting cash and cards only. All merchandise will be 25 percent off, with Vogue, Butterick, Kwik Sew & McCall Patterns 65 percent off, and all sales are final.

Further price reductions leading up to the store’s final day — Nov. 18 — will be posted to the store’s website, and on its social media pages. Store hours until the closing are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

And with the store’s shrinking inventory will come the goodbyes to customers that have frequented the store for nearly four decades. For Somerfield, that may just be the toughest part.

“I wish I could stay forever.”

For the latest updates on the liquidation sale, visit, or go to @NancysSewBskt on Twitter, @nancyssewingbasket on Instagram, or search Nancy’s Sewing Basket on Facebook. To comment on this story, write to