Thrift-Shop Hop Minneapolis: Junket

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Playfulness. Inspiration. Community. When these things combine, they make a powerful combination, a triple threat of goodness. If I can find them all in one place, you can bet I’ll try to get there. And so explains my hankering for thrift stores. Maybe you share the same infatuation. (Is yours enduring, too? Oh thrift stores, I’ll always love you.) Or maybe you just need a break from whatever stress is on your mind.

Either way, welcome to my new series: Thrift-Shop Hop. When I’m in a different city or exploring my own, I’ll seek out second-hand stores. I’ll invite you along as I discover stories they have to tell. I’ll find items that may spark an upcycling project or two. Or else the treks will simply be amusing, which is just as good, I say.

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See? I hope you’re amused already. Junket intersperses works from local artists throughout. Here’s one such cheeky surprise.

The shop from my first installment, Top Drawer Thrift of Austin, Texas, was exceptional. It inspired me to define what makes a thrift shop great. Let’s see how the checklist stacks up as I visit one closer to my home: Minneapolis’ own Junket: Tossed and Found. (Spoiler alert: Thumbs way up.)

Five Signs You’re in the Presence of Thrift-Shop Greatness

Sign #1: Displays are Artfully Prepared

When I stepped into Junket, I could tell it was set up by somebody who cares. It was just a feeling I got, but evidence quickly followed. Arrangements featured handmade signs, many which suggested ideas for DIY types like me. Thread arranged by color made me want to reach out and grab spools by the rowful.

Before long one of the displays taught me a new word, a move that earned Junket some bonus points. (How, may I ask, have all of you been describing those protective ornamental plates in your life? Excuse me for a movement while I arrange my collection of escutcheons.)

Sign #2: Wandering Brings Out Your Playfulness

As I ambled through Junket, playfulness surrounded me. Sure, anyone can toss a bunch of beads in a cabinet, but those wily Junket arrangers knew better. You’ll have to ask my man to know for sure, but it’s entirely possible I laughed out loud when I saw the drawer labeled, “Holy beads, Batman!”

Dont get me started on the medley of snarky teacups. You’ll have to visit Junket yourself to see them in all their spiteful glory–yes, coffee mugs are included, too–but I’ve provided my favorite here. I’m snickering even as I type about it.

Sign #3: The Shop Supports the Community

Okay, y’all, let’s just put it out there: Junket’s a community-supporting superstar. First of all, free coffee and donuts greeted me at the door. This made sense given its pedestrian-friendly, local-business-championing neighborhood, but still. This show of openness was a nice touch.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, I was impressed by the sizable stream of customers, many who clearly seemed to know the place. Mugs at the door were available for use, as well as for purchase.  (I had to venture deeper inside to get to the irreverent ones.)

Another example of local support was the mosaic artist positioned by the door. (I was too shy to take pictures.) Working on one of his creations, he chatted with those who stopped by. A few of his pieces appeared in the store. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, there’s an empty wall in my craft room that really should have this beauty hanging on it. Oh, man. I wonder if it’s still there.

I was also delighted to discover some books designated for Little Free Libraries. Do you have these in your neighborhood? (I’m pretty sure the movement began in Wisconsin, and these cute boxes are definitely a thing in the Twin Cities.)

The official site describes them as boxes “full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another” to share. Each is a standard size, but all are different and reflect the style of whoever put it up. I’ve seen them in residences and at businesses.

Sign #4: You Find an Affordable Discovery You Can’t Live Without

Of course I grabbed a basket of my own. For months I’ve had a project in mind that requires transforming Altoid tins, so I snapped up a couple. Four projects on my list will likely come first, but I’ll get to it. Really, I will! If I can achieve what’s in my head, those tins’ll give me a good way to encourage friends going through a tough time.

Sign #5: The Shop Inspires A New Project

Those of us who sew are notorious for having stashes of fabric. I’m no exception, though I make a strong effort to buy fabric only for each project at hand. That said, when I came across a basket of remnant bundles, I saw a silky scrap that caught my eye.

It featured diamonds of sage and mustard, two of my must-have colors. It would make the perfect lining for a hat or bag. (Within the month, I’d already found a use for it: Making a decorative accent to the pocket on my bottomless bag made from men’s suits.)

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So. . . what treasures are you finding at thrift stores? Leave a comment and let me know.

A Makeover for Socks (and Life, Too)

sometimes_life“Sometimes life needs a makeover.” So says the mission page of Enchanted Makeovers, and I couldn’t agree more. Improving tired things–from Savers suits to my own life–is what this blog is about.

So when my favorite sewing podcast introduced me to Enchanted Makeovers, I was intrigued. Stephanie Kendron, host extraordinaire of Modern Sewciety, got choked up when asking her listeners to support the organization. I can easily see why.

Since 2007, Enchanted Makeovers’ mission has been to transform homeless shelters for women and children. The goal is create places that inspire behavioral and psychological change.

During her interview, founder Terry Grahl described what it’s like to redecorate the rooms. She builds a homey atmosphere by setting up sewing spaces and adding handmade linens. When asked how others could help, said dolls were in particular demand. I decided to participate but wasn’t sure what to make.

A few days later the question was answered for me as I walked past a second-hand bookstore. The window display featured a collection of sewing-project books. Of course I had to go in and scope them out. Minutes later I was flipping through Sock and Glove, filled with plans for how I’d turn a pair of socks into a cutie stuffed elephant.

I liked that this was a way to upcycle socks that may have grown a little thin. I was psyched, but it took me a few weeks to sit down and do it. Once I did, I was relieved the instructions were easy to follow. I had fun seeing the elephant come together. Piece by piece, I glimpsed this little gal coming to life. As you can see, my snuggly thing’s heading to the mail tomorrow. I hope she brings comfort, wherever she may land.

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If you happen to have what I’ll call “package-labeling OCD,” then please accept my sincere apologies for this photo.

If you want to create something special for Enchanted Makeovers, here’s how you can help. Even if sewing’s not your thing, there are plenty of ways to contribute, such as monetary donations, blog posts, or hosting a fundraising party.

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Feel free to comment and let me know if you participate. Have fun!

Thrift-Shop Hop: Austin

If you love thrift shops, be forewarned: I’m about to make you strikingly jealous. First, close your eyes and picture the sassiest one you’ve ever seen. In what city was it located? I’m happy to report I have a new answer: Austin, Texas, baby.top_drawer

Last week I attended a conference in Austin, which happens to be my former hometown. I took a few days afterward to visit friends I rarely get to see. After enjoying tacos with my fave gals from the high school days, I ventured across the street to Top Drawer Thrift. It turned out to be wondrous, and I’d like you to have a similar encounter soon. To make sure you’re prepared, I’ll share my Five Signs You’re in the Presence of Thrift-Shop Greatness.

Sign #1: Displays are Artfully Prepared

Not everyone knows how to pair a silver vintage dress with a colorful ceramic mask. Or that the same silver dress would benefit from a paisley silk scarf being swooped around its waist. Fortunately, somebody at Top Drawer’s got a keen artistic eye. Artful displays in the aisles impressed me even before I discovered the shop hosts college-level interns in visual merchandising. (Loving your sparkle-antlers, Anna!)

Sign #2: Wandering Brings Out Your Playfulness

unicornI get that some people don’t understand the allure of shopping for discarded items. For me, though, it’s hard to beat the experience of making old things new. Seeing possibility requires a certain level of playfulness.

This shop clearly understands the the importance of a joyful shopping experience. Um, yeah . . . if your display contains a tutu-sporting, boa-wearing, equality-touting unicorn, then I say, “Playfulness? Check!”

Sign #3: You Find an Affordable Discovery You Can’t Live Without

For my friend, this meant finding a pair of pink-and-purple boots. The second she came across them, she exclaimed, “I’ve been looking for a cowboy rainboot!” They fit her perfectly and it was a done deal. I, on the other hand, had never heard of cowboy rainboots. This did not stop me from immediately wishing those fabulous things were mine. How, oh, how, had I lived through four decades without knowing I had an urgent need for plastic boots?

The item I couldn’t live without turned out to be vintage upholstery fabric. Labeled Covington Fabric Corp., the sample pack showcased an address of Fifth Avenue in New York. The 1940 company has since moved away from this textile-row address, but it remains one of the largest manufacturers of printed home-decor fabrics.

 Sign #4: The Shop Supports the Community

Thrift shops and community go hand in hand. In this case, the store is part of a nonprofit that provides hospice and housing. In also supports the local economy, evidenced by a hand-drawn map of other second-hand stores in the area.

Sign #5: The Shop Inspires a New Craft Project

As soon as I saw the Covington samples, I sensed they’d become a sewing project. Their colors were vibrantly retro. Their linen-cotton blend would be easy to work with, but provide substantial heft. And I couldn’t resist the way the samples coordinated with each other. The only question was, “What to make?”

Vote: What Should I Make from Fabric Samples?

So, what should I make, y’all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Modern Bag in Dotted Grey

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Here’s a kicky little bag I made because I had some fun fabric. It’s a water resistant type called laminated cotton. Discovering this stuff opened up a world of new possibilities for me. It’s lightweight (feels similar to quilt-weight cotton), and I’ve found it elevates the look of any project.

Finding laminated cotton can be a challenge, though. Fabric stores tend to have limited selections, if they carry it at all. So, I went online and discovered this grey-dotted version. I loved its modern aesthetic.

But the fun really started when I got to combine it with fabrics from my stash. Designing fabric mixes is my favorite part of sewing. I swear, putting together patterns gives me a dopamine hit or something. (For me, buying premixed fabric combos is blasphemy. Why deprive myself of all the action?)

The fabric for the interior pockets came from the annual garage sale hosted by the wonderful Textile Center of Minnesota. The strap, from my local JoAnn’s, added to the funky, clean vibe. The wide yellow strip of flowers on the front came from my closet. I have one confession, though–the awesome grey peacock interior was from the same fabric line as the exterior. (Gah! It was too beautiful not to break my own rule of ordering pre-designed combos.)

Fusing disparate pieces to create an artistic whole gives me energy. What about you? What gives you a hit of creative energy?