Julie Ballard is a local fabric artist. Ballard owns Ballard Bunting in Westminster. She specializes in sewing alterations and custom sewing projects. For example, she takes wedding dresses and makes christening gowns.
Every spring Ballard alters 60-80 prom gowns. In addition, she alters three or four wedding dresses a month. But since the pandemic, there are no prom gowns to alter and few wedding dresses.
Facing the possibility of not being able to pay her shop rent was daunting, but Ballard got a text from an old customer asking for a mask for her son and his friends in Hawaii. They are nurses. Ballard made the masks, intending them to be free for nurses, but the customer donated $100 for the project. That was just the beginning.
Ballard started making masks for nurse friends here and her family. People learned about her masks on Facebook and started ordering them. Soon, she was mass producing masks for everyone. Ballard had orders as high as 40 at a time. She was able to use leftover fabrics which kept the costs down and allowed her the ability to continue to donate some. When she ran out of elastic, a generous person donated some to her.
Ballard’s church, Springfield Presbyterian in Sykesville, has sponsored masks for a Navajo reservation out west. Ballard and several other women in the church are making the masks to send.
When Ballard finally started to catch up on the huge mask orders, she was able to keep working on some other projects, during the time that she did not have much other business due to the quarantine.
One of her specialties is sewing T-shirt quilts. The quilts are made from people’s favorite T-shirts or those of loved ones. Often, they are gifts or memory quilts. She made two quilts from T-shirts that students have worn over the years as graduation gifts. Each quilt is made from about 20 squares. They can be all T-shirts or some squares made from colored fabric to help fill in-between the T-shirts.
Another artistic project is making memory bears. They are made from clothes of loved ones who have passed. Ballard made 12 bears that were taken to a funeral and every grandchild got one. Some bears are even made from nightgowns. Other people have bears made from favorite clothing just because they like bears.
Ballard’s store is full of great custom made gifts including handmade baby gift items such as burb cloths, changing pads bibs and blankets. She also makes bowl buddies that are hot pads for soup bowls or to protect your hands if you have a cold bowl of ice cream. They wrap around the bowl. She also makes napkins to match.
Ballard makes three sizes of tote bags, small zipper bags that are called “Simply a Bag”, and another size called Andrea Pouches, which also have a key ring added.
She has handmade cards, baby headbands with bows or barrette clips with bows all made by her nieces, Annette, Susie and Paige.
Currently, a few couples are planning small weddings with large receptions to follow in the fall, because of the pandemic. She has sewing orders for three weddings for August already.
Ballard also does clothing repairs and alterations. She even repairs stuffed animals. She has repaired a lamb named “Lovey” many times. Sometimes they must be repaired the same day so the child does not know they are missing.
Ballard also sews patches onto clothing. For the Boy or Girl Scouts, Military, State and local Police and even the motorcycle folks come in to her little pink shop to get their patches sewn onto their vests or jackets.
“It is not work,” Ballard said, “because it is what I love to do. Even when I had to close, I went to my shop to sew. I [reopened] my store officially on June 12, my 14th anniversary.”
She has been in business for 22 years. Ballard Bunting is located behind 77 E. Main Street facing the parking deck for the City of Westminster. She can be reached at 443-540-8142.