Kaleidoscopic ribbons of fabric, including cotton, canvas, silk, and satin, unspool across Colchester Mill Fabrics’ expansive aisles, enveloping crafters in vivid designs from the industry’s most revered manufacturers. Hundreds of quilting books and patterns incite celebratory bellkicks beneath more than 5,000 bolts of cotton fabrics that dazzle retinas with soul-warming batik, oriental, and novelty prints from the wonder weavers at Hoffman, Timeless Treasures, and Moda ($8.98 - $11.98/yd.). Decorative fabrics (starting at $4.98/yd.), including tapestries and canvas coveralls from Barrow and Robert Allen, reanimate one-note living spaces, and cushion foam and upholstery fabrics soothe threadbare seats ravaged by sandpaper skirts and pantsless porcupines. Cozy crafters find knitting tackle lines and crochet hooks lining aisles alongside felt, stencils, and beads and complementing oblong tubes of yarn, and brilliant bundles of
faux flowers wait to be gathered into a festive holiday centerpiece or a chic everyday bouquet.
Over the course of 25 years, family-operated Just Like New has inspected apparel, accessories, and home furnishings from thousands of consigners, accepting only the pieces that meet strict quality and style standards. At the start of each fashion season, the family treks to New York City to gather enough designer duds to restock two 5,000-square-foot locations. Clothing, shoes, and accessories by classic brands such as Coach and Ann Taylor adorn shelves and keep mannequins from being charged with public indecency, and a children's section outfits youngsters in apparel purchased exclusively from catalog brands and specialty stores. Just Like New's jewelry selection glitters with 14-karat gold and sterling silver; vintage and costume jewelry occasionally makes the cut by way of jingling the shop owners' favorite songs. Vintage glassware, furniture, and artwork make unique design accents for the home.
At Art & Soul Gallery Studio, Lis-el and Alexis Crowley lead casual art classes in a space brimming with creations by local artists. In the studio, the artists demonstrate steps in crafting items such as fused-glass pieces and painted scarves. Students follow along during class sessions, eventually bringing pieces into existence with their own individual flair and burgeoning telekinetic powers. After class, students can decamp to the gallery for a glimpse of other’s work or pop into a comfortable lounge for sips of coffee or tea.
If you traveled back through time and asked strangers for tours of their homes, you'd probably get a good idea of the aesthetic style prevalent in each era. But you could also gain that knowledge in a simpler way: by heading to South Windsor Antique Boutique, where owners Mary and Ken Langevin have been amassing antiques and refurbishing furniture for more than 10 years. They stock items from dozens of decades, with pieces from the 1800s as well as modern designs. In addition to nabbing larger furniture pieces, shoppers can add personality to rooms with artwork, collectible advertisements, and glassware by designers such as Waterford and Heisey.
For 18 years, foodies at For the Kitchen have stocked their shelves with premium pots, pans, cutlery, and kitchen accessories. Striving to stock items "customers will only have to buy once," shopkeepers source brands known for durability and high performance. All-Clad, Berndes, and Scanpan pots and pans quickly heat up meats, veggies, and frozen archeological artifacts atop the stove, and French-made Staub dutch ovens equipped with self-basting lids leave slow-cooked items tender and brimming with flavor.
In addition to the big-ticket items, smaller kitchen accessories such as Microplane graters, cookie cutters, and vegetable peelers ease everyday cooking. Regardless of the size of the item they grab, shoppers can count on free gift-wrapping to make a present extra special or a utensil holder extra colorful.