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by Cameron

Fabric Sale Next Sunday

August 22, 2009 in Ballard, Ballard Fashion by Cameron

All kinds of fabric, from bridal to vintage, will be on sale at the New York Fashion Academy on Ballard Avenue, next Sunday, August 30th from 10-2pm.

Bolts of one of a kind, surplus fabric from local designers will be available for sale on the main floor of the school. Prices are cheap for hard to find (in Seattle) fibers like cashmere, crepes and silk organza. This  sale will be a reoccuring event, hosted at the school every other Sunday, starting on the 30th.


by Kendra

Sunny days and….umbrellas?

June 11, 2009 in Ballard, Ballard Fashion by Kendra

It might seem strange to be talking about umbrellas during these sunny warm days, but I can’t resist writing about my discovery of a unique Ballard business.  Bella Umbrella is a one of a kind shop featuring umbrellas.  You would think with the climate in Washington state that there would be plenty of shops like this, but it’s the only one in Seattle to sell umbrellas exclusively and indeed it’s one of only a few shops like this in the world.

You might think a shop like this would be slow during this sunny stretch, but Bella Umbrella has a fantastic rental business providing vintage umbrellas for weddings to protect from the sun, rain or just to look picturesque in the wedding photos. In addition to renting umbrellas, there are vintage or modern umbrellas for sale.  There were some umbrellas made with Marimekko fabrics that were smaller than the usual compact umbrella.  Unlike most compacts, these could actually fit very easily into a purse, even a small bag.

For those of us more used to picking up a cheap umbrella from a big box store, this shop is an eye opener.  The vintage umbrellas have a charm not available in the modern versions.  Not only are the fabric choices more interesting, but the handle are works of art.  I was shown an umbrella with a carved wood handle more than 100 years old, an umbrella with a handle decorated with 14 karat gold and longingly eyed the lucite and colored handles on rows upon rows of umbrellas.  I honestly felt looking around as if I was in an art gallery there was so much to look at.

In chatting with the owner, Jodell, she mentioned that with global warming people are thinking about using umbrellas for more than rainstorms.  Recently a woman came into the shop desperate to buy an umbrellas because she couldn’t take the sun.  There was a time when ladies were supposed to have marble white skin and only ‘rough’ women had tanned skin.   Maybe the clock is turning back to this earlier era and we will see a sea of umbrellas even in summertime.

Bella Umbrella Boutique
1421 NW 70th Street
Seattle, WA 98117

PH 206-297-1540

by Cameron

Art-Walk Action

September 12, 2008 in Ballard, Ballard Art, Ballard Events, Ballard Fashion, Ballard Fun by Cameron

Let’s face it, this Saturday’s Art-Walk event will probably be the last dry and relatively warm Art-Walk night for the next, oh, I don’t know… nine months? So we are rolling off the couch, and from 5-9pm we will enjoy the cool, descending summer evening on Market Street.

Here are some of the options for this Saturday’s Art-Walk:

Opening Celebration at Monster Art and Clothing

Join the Monster crew to celebrate the very recent opening of the newest clothing and accessory storefront in Ballard with savory delectables, music and maybe even some trapeze action. (Corner of Ballard Avenue and 20th in the Cors and Wegener Building).

Glassblowing at Art By Fire

Pretend to have talent like Dale Chihuly and go to the Art By Fire Gallery at 5465 Leary Ave. NW. For $29 and 15 minutes of inflated, molten glass, you can blow like the pros. Call in advance for reservations (206-789-1490).

Beats at Triple

Did you even know that there was probably the coolest shoe store outside of San Francisco in the space above Rudy’s Barbershop and King’s Hardware? Triple features an array of beat-boy (and girl) styled sneakers and usually hosts DJs to spin records while you shop on Art-Walk nights( Check it.


by Cameron

Not Your Average Souvenir

July 31, 2008 in Ballard, Ballard Art, Ballard Fashion, Ballard Fun by Cameron

Sitting unmarked on Ballard Avenue for the past nine years was at one point the largest distributor of handmade, original greeting cards in the United States. Souvenir, owned and curated by Curtis Steiner  ( with a friendly sales associate named Liberte, is less of a boutique and more of a decorative art gallery, full of quirky and eccentric surprises from the all original handmade cards (only $6.50 each!) made from vintage photos, match boxes and gold leaf to early 20th century botanical lithographs. Steiner is a real artist and craftsman– his stuff, 1,000 Blocks, is a permanent feature in the Seattle Art Museum–as anyone could probably decipher from the glassine baby doll dresses dangling in the storefront of his shop. This store is more than just retail, it’s a museum of treasures, but here, you’re encourage to touch– and even wear the exhibits. 

5325 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
View on Google Maps

Tel 206-297-7116

Hours: Tue-Sat 11-5.30, Sunday 12-4

by Kendra

It's in the Bag

May 5, 2008 in Ballard, Ballard Fashion by Kendra

Handbags are a very personal item. If they only served the function of storing items we need throughout the day, we would have only one. Instead, most of us women have a collection in different colors, fabrics and sizes. The choice of handbag is a form of self-expression and a projection of what image we want to give the world on any particular day. Laura Bee Designs, a Ballard shop, understands that. The store is based on the concept of women choosing all the elements for a handbag and then having it created by one of the craftswomen at the store.

The store has been located in Ballard since 2002. Laura Bee, the owner, tested the waters first by participating in the Ballard Sunday Market with her first designs. Her other tie to Ballard was the fact that her boyfriend, now her husband, was living there and they both liked the area. As Laura says, “Ballard really influences the spirit of the business. The neighborhood is like our bags; casual, fun and stylish. I love the sense of community and the fact that we have regular clients. In fact, it’s great to see the progression of their lives. We have had single women come in to get a handbag made. Next we did bags for their wedding party and after that came making a baby bag for them.” In fact, she mentioned that they are working with a lot of wedding parties at this time of year and told a story about a wedding they were hired to make the bags for that contained a lot of personal elements. “The bridesmaids designed their own bags. For the bride she wanted her bag to reflect the theme of ‘something old, something new..’ Her bag was created using part of her sister’s veil, with the silk flower as an embellishment and a silver charm that had belonged to her mom was used for the zipper pull.”

It’s not just bridal parties that get the fun of designing their bags together, Laura Bee can also put on a ‘purse party’ for any group of friends or an organization. They have even done children’s birthday parties. So instead of the usual visit to Chuck E. Cheese, you can create a memorable experience for your child and their party guests by giving the kids the opportunity to show their creativity and create their own party favor. Laura emphasizes the diversity of ages that visit the store. As an example, she mentioned one savvy mom whose daughter was about to get her first allowance. Her mom thought it would be a great idea to let her daughter design a wristlet (small bag that dangles from the wrist) to keep the allowance in and mark the occasion.

The shop carries a variety of fabric, trim and vintage buttons but the employees really enjoy when customers bring some of their own items to be incorporated into the bag as they often come with interesting stories attached. “One customer came in with some beautiful Hawaiian bark cloth which came from a muumuu her mother had often worn. We made two bags; one for the woman and one for her sister. Carrying the bag brought back memories of seeing her mother in the muumuu. Another customer brought in some interesting fabric from South Africa. The fabric was used to make two book bags for her nieces. The bags were similar but with slight differences to make each one special. The customer then filled the book bags with Golden Books encouraging the love of reading.” The act of bringing in unique materials not only makes the bag a special one of a kind piece, but it’s also eco friendly to give these fabrics new life, a value that eco aware Ballardites appreciate.

Although the store is located in Ballard, the customer base isn’t limited to the neighborhood. Laura mentions hearing from a woman from Portland who was in Antarctica for a scientific study. While there she met a woman who had a Laura Bee item, and she was so smitten with it, she wanted Laura to make her one when she returned.

While the most popular items in the store are the custom handbags, the store also carries a variety of ready made items. Gift certificates are also available and are a popular choice with men who want to give their significant others the gift of a unique custom bag without trying to pick out the colors and fabrics themselves.

photo by:

by Kendra

Collective Rises Like a Phoenix

April 28, 2008 in Ballard by Kendra

I was wondering where I was going to get my vintage furniture fix when Collective closed.  Jeremy Schneyer and his wife Kelly who were driving forces in the original Collective decided that their next adventure would begin in Portland.  Portland vintage aficionados will benefit from their eye at their new shop, Janus Home, in downtown Portland but their departure left a gap in Ballard, after all, how would all those new condo owners furnish their new spaces without the funky shop that housed a little bit of everything, each piece unique and as far away from the cookie cutter Pottery Barn vibe as possible?   After all, one of the great fears of long time Ballardites is the yuppification of Ballard and a nightmare vision of chain stores and restaurants invading the unique character of this part of Seattle.

Well Collective fans can rejoice in the fact that Collective has reopened, minus the Schneyers at 5339 Ballard Avenue just a few doors north of their previous location. The shop not only fits well with the newly hip Ballard vibe, but Ballard has long been a bastion of sustainability and eco consciousness and the fact that the items in Collective have had a previous life makes for responsible shopping practices.

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