Saturday, January 16, 2016

Seattle Recap

I recently spent several days in Seattle. I was there for work, but extended my stay to include a weekend. I love Seattle and was happy to have a couple days to check out the sights. So, I have a museum and shopping report!

And yes, this is a long, photo-filled, post!


Counter Couture Exhibit at the Bellevue Museum

I had heard about the Counter Couture exhibit in Bellevue (near Seattle), but it closed on January 10th, so I thought it unlikely that I would be able to see it. When it turned out that I would be in Seattle on its last weekend, I was thrilled. Claire, a local sewing pal, offered to pick me up from the airport and take me to the exhibit, and then to Nancy's Sewing Basket in Seattle. Yay!

What a fascinating exhibit, featuring hippie clothing from the 60s and 70s, largely originating from Haight Ashbury. I had to wonder why a San Francisco museum (hello, de Young?) has never had a similar exhibit.

The exhibit featured handmade garments, shoes, and jewelry that was painted, embroidered, crocheted, and covered with studs. It reminded me how handwork was prized in my youth (in the 70s), when creative ideas were "out there", and colors were exuberantly expressed. Some of the displayed clothing was "every day", some was created as performance wear, and some was worn by cult members. It was fun to see the early work of many wearable artists that I recognize: Yvonne Porcella, Candace Kling, Jean Cacicedo, Laurel Burch. I especially loved the studded garments by Billy Shire.

I'll share a few of my many photos.

One of Wavy Gravy's outfits, made entirely from doilies

Crochet jacket by Jean Cacicedo. You may recall that I recently made a coat using the newly released Jean Cacicedo pattern.

A painted leather jacket. (I didn't note the maker on this one.)

A painted dress

A necklace by Laurel Burch

Embroidered jacket for Merl Saunders by Nina Jean Carisi

Chrysalis Collar Eye Necklace by Alex and Lee

Denim jacket by Billy Shire, winner of the Levi denim art contest in 1973. That center piece is a car ash tray—the lid slides back and forth. That must have been a hit at a party.

The front of the jacket features a desk bell.

Detail of Billy Shire's jacket

More work by Billy Shire

Dresses by Yvonne Porcella

Whimsical shoes by "Apple Cobbler" (Mickey McGowan)

Boots and more boots by Apple Cobbler

An entire room was dedicated to the wonderful, whimsical crochet by "100% Birgitta" (Birgitta Bjerke)

Claire's Issey Miyake Coat

I also want to mention Claire, my gracious tour guide, who was sporting a piece of wearable art herself! Claire attended Design Outside the Lines in Fall 2014, the first time that Carol Lee Shanks was Diane Ericson's guest teacher. She started this coat at the retreat, using an Issey Miyake pattern. I think she used Vogue 2182, though she tells me that she had to modify it quite a bit. She finished the coat recently, just in time for this winter. She included some wonderful details, such as gathered organza trim and contrasting boucle details.

I love it!

Thanks to the museum staff, who offered to take a pic after admiring Claire's coat

Claire recommended that we lunch at The Mediterranean Kitchen and I loved their felafel plate, which is more like a felafel salad! After lunch, we drove into Seattle, heading towards a fabric store I have been wanting to visit. On the way to the Queen Anne district, Claire wanted to show me one of the best lookout points in Seattle, just above Kerry Park.

As we approached the street above Kerry Park, we saw this:

It turns out that there had just been a shooting in the park. (Pic from this story.)

So I guess I'll have to save this sight for a future visit.

Bye bye and thank you, Claire!

Seattle Fabric Shopping

Nancy's Sewing Basket

Claire and I ended our outing with a visit to Nancy's Sewing Basket. An independent fabric store in the Queen Anne district, you may have seen their booth at Puyallup. Nancy's carries a very nicely curated selection of fabrics. Here are a few fabrics that caught my eye:

They also have a nice selection of knits and sweater knits

I didn't buy anything, but Claire found a couple beautiful Japanese cottons


On Sunday, as I was taking a long walk from the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, I stumbled across a small independent fabric store, Stitches. A cute little store, with a mix of quilting, garment, and costume fabrics, as well as a limited selection of yarn.

I would support this little store if I lived in the area. I didn't see any fabric or yarn that I needed, but I did buy some cute gift hang tags.


Once I arrived in the area near Pike Place Market, I wanted to check out a number of shops. One of them was pirkko, Seattle's Marimekko store. They have bolts of Marimekko fabrics in the back. Nothing tempted me, but it's good to know about another resource.

District Fabric

I've mentioned visiting District Fabric in the Fremont district here and here. This store carries a nice selection of garment fabrics and is two blocks from my Seattle office, so I generally stop by when I'm in town. However, I wasn't able to visit this trip: I worked on Monday and Tuesday, and District is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Oh well, next time!

Have I seen all of the fabric stores in Seattle? Have I missed anything? What about great yarn stores?

Shopping Shopping

When visiting another city, I love to search out shops that sell interesting garments and accessories. Seattle did not disappoint!

All of these shops were in the area surrounding Pike Place Market, a shopping mecca.


My first stop was a Margy recommendation, Totokaelo. This store sells gorgeous, high end clothing, shoes, and accessories, from designers like Issey Miyake, Dries Van Noten, and Commes des Garcon. I didn't stay long enough to see everything, but I saw an R13 cape that I keep thinking about.

This beautiful green and teal Issey Miyake bag was on sale, though still a bit out of my budget at $800.


For years now I've been following Sandylew's blog. This compact store carries brands like Comfy USA, Itemz, Spirit House, Transparente, Ronen Chen, and Stella Carakasi. Like most of the stores I visited, they were having a big January sale. I had a lot of fun trying things on, chatting with Sandy and her sales people, and enabling other customers. I ended up buying a bracelet and a pair of tattoo leggings, both of which will make an appearance at some point.

Maggie's Shoes

Next, I headed for Maggie's Shoes, Seattle's purveyor of Trippens and other European brands. Even though I was there well within their Sunday shopping hours, they were closed, with a suggestion to ring the bell. I rang the bell several times, and waited around, but finally had to move on.

Baby and Co

I came across Baby and Co as I was searching the internet for Seattle shopping places. This store carries interesting designers, like Rundholz (a favorite) and Kenzo. They are, very conveniently, directly across the street from Maggie's Shoes. By the time I arrived, it was nearing sunset. I'd walked for miles and was losing steam, but I still bought myself a hat, on sale, of course.

Did I miss any great clothing stores? I'd love to hear about it. :)

Chihuly Museum

I feel like I've saved the best for last! I put this last because it has nothing to do with sewing or wearables, but I've been wanting to go to the Chihuly Museum for ages. Many people seem to confuse the Chihuly Garden and Glass with the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, but they are quite different. I saw the Tacoma museum last year when attending Puyallup Sew Expo. It's a nice museum—my favorite exhibits were the glass sculptures made from children's drawings.

The Chihuly museum is located at the base of Seattle's Space Needle. Last year, I went to the top of the Space Needle and I got an aerial view of Chihuly's glass garden and the hall with massive windows. I had seen the Chihuly exhibit at the de Young Museum in 2008 and it was amazing. The Seattle museum is similar to that, but larger and more impressive.

The museum opens at 11am on Sunday and it was a perfect time to go. It just so happened that this was also during a big Seahawks vs. Cardinals game (leading up to the Superbowl), so the streets, and the museum, were deserted! What a treat to visit this museum with only a handful of other tourists! It was also a blazingly sunny weekend (really unusual at this time of year), which makes the glass glow.

Enjoy some pics!

Looking directly up at the ceiling

Looking up at the Space Needle

Who doesn't love museum gift shops? I gravitated to the children's section in the Chihuly gift shop. I was enamored with the Snooter Doots. After much dithering, I selected the Washington Cherries. Here they are, packed for the trip home.

And here they are, keeping me company in my office. They make me happy!


I wore my new Minoru every day while in Seattle. It was chilly and rained two of the four days. I love this coat! I received countless compliments on it. In fact, as I was walking along 1st Street, a group of 4 young men wearing droopy jeans, hoodies, and knit caps, passed me, going the other direction. Just as they passed, a voice emerged from the group, "Nice jacket, ma'am." It almost didn't register. I stopped, turned around and said, "THANK YOU!" One of the young men stopped, turned around, and smiled shyly.

It made my day!

In fact, I am planning on making the Minoru again for my Paris travel wardrobe.

If you've hung around this far, here are a few more pics that didn't fit up above.

Near the Chihuly Museum

Maybe it's easy to tell - I'm wearing a Marcy Tilton wide-legged pant from a long OOP pattern.

Pic taken at an outdoor grocer at Pikes Place Market. I love how the produce resembles Chihuly glass!