Tag Archives: Local Shops

Sewing Machine Punk? Is there such a thing?!


I finally visited AllSaints Spitalfields on Wednesday. Here’s a travel log of my trip.

AllSaints Spitalfields is in the 900 N. Michigan Building—part of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The store sells clothing and accessories for men and women with a gothic/Victorian theme.

The entry is a cathedral to the Industrial Revolution: instead of stained glass, old black sewing machines are shelved over every inch of the window. No wonder people call this look steam punk.

What is this place? AllSaints Spitalfields.

What is this place? AllSaints Spitalfields, photo courtesy of Google Maps, Photo by AllSaints.

Inside, the display cases are adapted from large sewing machines and other real and pseudo machinery.

Thank goodness I don't have to pedal this treadle long arm.

Time or money has warped and smoked the mirrors.

Is it me, or is it dark in here? By the way, I am wearing the Ribbed and Cabled Sweater that I designed. I just finished it last week!

The store is successful at creating atmosphere. A fellow shopper gushed that it was an “eye meal”!

Here, there be monsters

AllSaints’ clothing whispers and grumbles in grayish champagne, black, white, and a few other dull but beautiful tones. The most colorful item was a dress printed with sea creatures reminiscent of monsters found on old world maps. Highlights of the spring/summer 2012 collection include miniskirts with matte sequins arranged in a “tribal” pattern, a white eyelet maxi dress tied with a leather belt, fitted jackets, a drop-stitch sweater in faded black, and draped and pleated dresses and tunics made of washed satin. They even offer a complicated get-up of folded and twisted fabric that looks like a dress but is worn as an onesy! Since I wasn’t shopping to buy, I didn’t notice any price tags. Online the store offers clothing from $40 for bikini bottoms, to $550 and up for leather jackets and heavily beaded dresses.

Which reminds me of a book…

It all reminds me of  Mortal Engines, a book. (Yes, I read Young Adult fiction from time to time. Please don’t let anyone know, it’s a carefully guarded secret!)

Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve, tells of a post-apocalypse world in which portable cities scavenge Europe looking for food and resources. In this future, all our current computer technology has been lost and mechanical ingenuity rules. But, forget the plot! I enjoyed the descriptions of this alternate (hopefully) future and the reverence with which they held the past computer glories (such as, shiny plastic discs). Peter Jackson is working on a movie!? Similar, and better, is The Golden Compass series by Philip Pullman.

Tulips’ last stand

In contrast to the dark interior of AllSaints, the sun shone brilliantly outside. This winter was so warm, the tulips are nearly finished for the season.

Michigan Avenue in Chicago. April 18, 2012

Over the blue double-decker bus you can see the top of the Marilyn Monroe sculpture and Chicago Tribune headquarters behind that. This is also on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

I hope you are having a beautiful spring and enjoying something new or beautiful today!

Be of good cheer!


Photo Essay: Lakeview East


When I left the house Friday afternoon, I didn’t know I was starting on a treasure hunt. That’s exactly what my walk turned into!

Book me!

My 1st stop was my neighborhood branch of the Chicago public library — Merlo — at 644 W. Belmont Avenue in Chicago. Merlo’s best how-to, fashion and beauty books are in the Recent Releases upstairs—just to the right of the door. They don’t have a super selection, but it’s a quick way to scan the freshest books.

Close to the recent releases are the movies. They have a quite a few titles. Here’s a secret: due to limited space, they have more titles than they have on display. Use the online reservation system to check availability and/or inter-library loan to get the movies you want.


Going to the birds

Two white doves in a white and blue cage

There's a reason the term "lovey-dovey" was coined.

In route to my next destination, I saw two white doves in the window of Abbot Hotel. The ‘Hotel’ hardly deserves the name – their sign advertises, “Color TVs”! It is a hold over from the days when the neighborhood was less polished. I can just imagine an elderly clerk putting the cooing birds in the window to get some winter sunshine. As I watched, the birds whispered sweet nothings to each other. I raised my cell phone and the doves became shy!

The Abbot Hotel

The Abbot Hotel. Photo courtesy of Google Maps Streetview.

Forward march

The next photo opportunity was literally around the corner at Design. It is in the old location of Jonathan at 3161 N Halsted St, just south of Belmont. They had an awesome window display of furniture, home accessories and – my favorite – necklaces. I loved the combo of elegant furniture and textured necklaces. I wanted to include a link, but I couldn’t find them online.

A still life in the window of Design

A still life in the window of Design

Delilah cut my hair

A few minutes later, I reached the Aveda Institute for my scheduled trim. My student, Delilah, shampooed, trimmed and primped me with Aveda’s natural products. At just $16 (with a no-tipping policy), a basic hair cut is one of the best deals in the city. Since they have been taken over by Michigan-based Douglas J, I think it’s better than ever. For those who remember the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, I’m happy to report that after the hair cut I felt no loss of strength.

Two dimensional

Two Sided seen from the outside.

Two Sided seen from Wellington. Photo courtesy of Google Maps Street View.

Heading to my next errand, I saw a sign on the door of Two Sided. It said something like, “Hey you…something, FREE gift…something, something.” I had to stop in. Two-sided is one of my favorite vintage-flavored gift shops. They offer candles, cards, books and ephemera. The woman at the counter explained that I needed to “Like” them on facebook to receive the free gift. She showed me the most adorable wooden figures and pointed to a poster with a QR (quick response) code that linked to their facebook page.

Dilemma, shilemma

Ooh oh! My cell phone is only half smart. I don’t have the QR ap and I don’t want to pay for the mobile ‘net on my phone. My phone can text and take pictures: that’s it. So, what did I do? I rationalized! I knew I would “Like” them when I got home and second, I would tell people on my blog! I took a picture of the poster and smiled at the lady. She asked me which adorable critter I wanted: owl, rabbit or squirrel. I chose the squirrel. Here are a few more shots of the shop.

The wooden squirrel is made of two pieces of wood that slot together.

My new pet, the two-sided squirrel. The wooden squirrel is made of two pieces of wood that slot together.

The Clark street window of Two Sided is a bonanza of vintage findings.

Doorstop Hedgehog

This little hedgehog doorstop is stole my heart. His little fingers are individually sewn. When you lift him, you can feel the satisfying shift of the bean weight.

I hope you have the opportunity to visit Two Sided or one of its sister stores, Four Sided. Those stores also do framing. (True to my word, I have now “Liked” Four Sided. http://www.facebook.com/Foursided and told you good people about the store!)

Two Sided is at 2958 N. Clark, Chicago, IL (at the SW corner of Clark and Wellington).

Nails away!

Across the street is Ulta. As I opened the door, I saw a fun display of OPI’s spring nail polish. Their spring line is called, “Holland.” Their color names are always so witty (some people would say “punny”). Here are a few:

  • “Wooden Shoe Like To Know?” (a shimmery medium chocolate brown),
  • “Gouda Gouda Two Shoes” (a dark rosey pink) and
  • “A Roll In The Hauge,” (a bright, smooth orange).

If you would like to see a review of the entire Holland collection, check out this blog:

https://www.thepolishaholic.com Holland-collection 

Paper Windmill display of OPI's Holland Collection

I love how intricately this paper windmill is constructed.

On display

You might have noticed that I have a thing about packaging and displays. The OPI display had the cutest folded paper display of a 3 dimensional windmill. After whipping out my phone to take yet another picture, I finally got to the task at hand: I had visited Ulta to redeem my quarterly points.

A point program I like

Based on how much you spend, you earn points. At the end of the quarter you can choose a free product from a pre-set list. For my level 2 gift, I chose a bottle of Nicole by OPI in Enchantress, a sheer opalescent pale pink. A few minutes later I checked out with my free polish and finally headed home.

Thank you!

I feel thankful to live in such a fun corner of Chicago. Thanks for walking with me!