A Quilter's Alphabet - by Chris Chiros

I’m on vacation this week, and it’s making me hypomanic and silly, so I decided to create a quilter’s alphabet.

A is for the angles I try to piece just right
B is for bobbins all lined up and tight

C is for the curves I just love to piece
D is for dying fabric, does the fun ever cease?

E is for EQ7, designing and such
F is for fabric, can we ever have "too much"?

G is for my guild full of excitement and friends
H is for their help that never ends

I is for ideas that jump into my mind
J is for the jumping I do with a great fabric find

K is for kaleidescope quilts, my 2010 obsession
L is for local quilt shops, with their wares and teaching sessions

M is my machine that keeps me in a groove
N is for needles that stay nice and smooth

O is for Oops, mistakes that are slight
P is for piecing my blocks just right

Q is for the Quilts I finally finish.
R is for retreats to help my fabric stash diminish.

S is for my sketch book where ideas get going
T is for the thread that allows me to keep sewing

U is for the UFO's I try not to count
V is my "this quilt is done" victory shout!

W is for my occasional whining when something is not perfected
X is for the mark in my sketch book when a design gets rejected

Y is my yearning for more quilt time to play, and
Z is for my sleep at the end of a great quilting day!  Zzzzz......

Saturday Series: Quilt Backs

Nikol here from Sewtropolis, I am a day or two late, but here is my Saturday Series continuing the conversation on quilt backs.

I have tried different backings for quilts, whole cloth, pieced, etc. but what I always try to do to the back is stick a label on it! 

When I first started to quilt I didn’t bother putting a label on any of my quilts. I think I figured that I’d never be good enough to ever give any of my quilts away, let alone sell one! I thought a labeling my quilts would seem a bit too ‘pretentious’. But after a few years and a few too many quilts I decided I wanted to remember at least, when I made them.

At first I just wrote my name and the year as small as possible on the back near the binding. Then I moved onto creating a label using a stamp and some sharpie pens.

Recently I’ve been either taking a picture of the quilt and transferring that onto photo cloth. I would then write information about the quilt under the picture. 

I usually put my name, the year I finish the quilt and who I made it for – if I know that ahead of time.

I still don’t label ALL my quilts, but I do label a majority of them. I know that one day when I’m “Dust in the wind”, I want my great grand children to know at least when I finished a quilt. Because I’m sure my quilts are still going to be around if not with my grand children then hopefully in a museum or antique store.

A quilt that will take decades (hopefully)

One of our members in the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild recently mentioned ideas around keeping a journal for sewing and quilting. I love starting journals; maintaining them, however, is not my strong suit.

But the idea stuck with me, and I really liked those little scraps of fabric that were in the journal showing what was used for the project.  Enter postage stamp quilts!

I first saw a postage stamp quilt a few months ago, summarily thought it was an insane project (as I often consider any project I think  I will never be skilled enough to do) and later started thinking that this very quilt would be a great way to remember all the fabrics I have used throughout my quilting years. Being a newer quilter (five years) I still have scraps from those first quilts, and my scrap bins have been getting uncomfortably full (so far I refuse to buy bigger scrap containers).

Though a google image search will land you dozens of beauties, here are a few that really captured my admiration:

This beauty is by Rita at Red Pepper Quilts. She also has a tutorial.

"Central Park Postage Stamp Quilt" by Becky

I love how simple 1 inch squares (finished size) can lead to such different and gorgeous products. That's always been one of my favorite parts about quilting; seeing the artist come out in each of us.

So, I have no finished project to show you (of course...), but here are my humble beginnings

The inspiration (known to me as "ugh, too many scraps!"). I have three of these; warm tones, cool tones, and neutral tones.

The sorting process. This was extra fun because I got to buy a cute new organizer to hold said scraps (always love excuses, er, reasons, to shop).

And here is my first block, 10 inch square. One hundred blocks. Here's to the ultimate UFO!

Member spotlight: Kristin S.

I’m Kristin Gwena on facebook, MissEnota online and Kristin Schwarze in the real world.

Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in southwestern Montana and the west metro here in Minnesota. Now, I live in Buffalo with two grey and white cats and a bearded guy I love. I’m a ten-year US Army veteran (deployed to Bosnia and Iraq) so that experience finds its way into many of my conversations.
Professionally, I’ve been a Subway sandwich artist, a video store clerk, a cook, a factory cog, a military intelligence analyst with a Top Secret clearance, a camping gear salesperson, a belayer at an indoor climbing wall, and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) operator. Now I’m unemployed, working on a history BA and occasionally I do public speaking engagements regarding my time in the service.
If you know anyone who’d hire someone who’s been out of work for awhile…
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?

Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I am a collector (some people call it hoarding) of many things such as baby Jesus figurines, anything with a buffalo on it, metal first aid tins, butterprint Pyrex…maybe you get the idea.
We home brew beer, fish year round, love to be outside (camp, hike, swim, boat) and travel. I have a 100cc scooter and an affinity for sewing toys and stuffed animals. I can knit, embroider, cross-stitch, do simple woodworking/carving, enjoy drawing, and like to try my hand at creative pursuits whenever they come along. I’m also a movie lover. Chances are I’ve seen it or I want to see it or I have an opinion on it in any case.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I started sewing in January 2012 with a machine my mom picked up off the curb. My fist practice project was a pieced and machine-quilted potholder. I’ve been piecing blocks for many months but have only finished a few small quilts -- mostly minis for swaps on Flickr.

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
1 potholder, 1 doll quilt, 4 mini quilts for swaps, and 1 baby quilt. I have about six UFOs and lofty plans for around five more.

How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
It really varies from about two to sometimes twenty+ of sewing in general…much more thinking and reading about it.
Describe your first quilt.

After the potholder I didn’t make another quilt until April when I found a doll cradle on the curb and just had to make bedding for it. I actually found the tutorial for the mattress on Vanessa’s blog and then I made this little quilt the next day.
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
My mini quilts are all my designs and I really learned a lot with them. I’ve given them all away in swaps.

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
After a few months of sewing at the kitchen table, I moved into our former guestroom/office and completely took it over. I have a bare space behind my ironing board that I plan to set up as a design wall soon. I listen to music and drink copious amounts of tea and coffee.
I believe tools should be as cute as they are useful and I tend to surround myself with things I think are adorable. I’m sort of “known for” the albino ceramic frog named Chips; he holds my Olfa rotary cutter.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I haunt the sale sections of online shops and the coupons locally—because that’s what I can afford right now. When I travel, I like to stop in little fabric shops and I always try to get a FQ or two. Mostly I have bright, graphic, novelty prints and a few solids. I keep everything in baskets and bins for the most part. I adore Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Pam Kitty among many other lines.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
Favorite is the addictiveness and community.
Least favorite would have to be cost and snobbery.
I also tend to chafe at gender or age rules/biases for fabric and quilt patterns (or for just about anything else too.)
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
Just quilting them myself would be a real triumph. I’d love to make a quilt for my own bed that my husband and I both love that my cats’ fur wouldn’t show up on too much…so there’s that to look out for.
I’m also really interested in computerized pattern drafting (for paper-piecing blocks) and learning quilt math.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I want to learn how to FMQ as well as hand quilt and to piece curves and hand applique.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
You all in the MMQG! Also: Blogs, Pinterest and Flickr, fun fabrics, and showing off projects to my mom.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
I think blogs are a nice way to motivate yourself and document your progress (You know, Oprah-journal style!) If you keep an idea notebook (I do) or a Pinterest project idea board, make sure you actually produce some of them.
I’ve been told I point out the flaws in my work too often but then I firmly believe in not ripping out mistakes unless structurally necessary. So my advice would be to take pride in your work, flaws and all. Learn from it and move on to cool new ideas.

Saturday Series: Quilt Backs II

When I make quilt backs, I do the same thing as Tracy - try to incorporate scraps or leftover yardage from the quilt front. There are a few strategies I use. The first is making the back a simpler version of the front. For these quilts I calculated how many blocks I needed for the front and back, and made exactly that number. I don't like having much leftover fabric and I really dislike having leftover blocks, so I do a lot of math before I make my quilts.

When this quilt was finished I had only a Ziploc sandwich bag full of leftovers.

My second strategy is to use up leftover yardage from the quilt front. Here I bought a yard of Menagerie on sale and fussy cut only a few squares for the front, so I had a lot of yardage leftover. I used more of the focus fabric for the back than the front.

My favorite method is to piece the back using strips. With baby quilts this is super easy. I just cut width-of-fabric (45") strips and piece them together. My baby quilts are usually 36" wide so this works well - I like to have the back be a few inches bigger than the front on all sides.

However piecing strips is only easy if you make them big. If you make the strips small and you do straight-line quilting, it can be a pain to make sure your quilting lines up with both the front and the back. This quilt took a LOT of basting pins.

The final strategy I use is solid yardage for the back. Even here I try to use a few scraps, with prairie points in the lower right side.

What are your strategies for piecing quilt backs?

April Meeting Canceled

Due to the dangerous state of the roads, tonight's rescheduled April meeting has been canceled. Please be careful out there!

Member spotlight: Caitlin B.

Tell us about yourself.
I moved to Southeast MN recently to be closer to my significant other and his family. I work as a physical therapist in a hospital by day and sew by night.

Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
I have a blog that I have not updated in a while.
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
Have done most craft projects. I am up for trying anything new.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I have been quilting for about 9 years that I can remember. I started quilting in college when the only places to buy fabric was Walmart or the local quilt shop. When I stopped at the LQS, the owner told me about a shop hop that was going on and that if I could to go to the shops that close that she would give the rest of the mystery pattern. That was the first quilt I made and finished. The cross stich quilt was one of first one that I made, I think.

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I think that I have made about 10 quilts now. I have about 19 UFOs. I have a lot of finished tops that need quilting.
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
about 8-10, depending on what I am motivated to do.
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why? (a photo would be nice, but is optional)
My favorite quilt top that I have finished was my Groove top.

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments (music, tv, wine, etc).

I currently sew in my second bedroom, which is a step up from the middle of my living room. I love being able to leave my supplies out, makes it easier to sew for a little bit of time. I like to listen to movies when I sew.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I am a fat quarter hoarder. I pick up fat quarters as souvenirs from LQS that I visit if I can find a fat quarter that I like. I am working on organizing my stash and projects. I did move 15 liquor boxes full of fabric.
My mini bolts of fabric that are a yard or more.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
My favorite thing is seeing a quilt come together. The time and amount of pieces that it takes to complete a quilt.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
My current goal is the finish the projects that I have fabric for. Professional looking quilting done by me.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
Appliqué is a technique that I would like to learn about, so I feel more comfortable doing it.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I am a quilting blog addict. I find so much inspiration from them.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Start small, so you can complete something.

May Block Swap Update

1. Sample block for mmqg block swap., 2. Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild Block Swap, 3. Chris C's cookie swap sample

Here is the original post on our May Block Swap.  Participants should make 12 blocks of the same color...again be sure to upload a sample block to the flickr pool to see what everyone is making and to assure a nice variety of colors.  The mosaic above shows 3 participants different blocks. We have two orangish blocks so I would try to use another color.

Just to be sure I haven't missed anyone here is the list of participants I have thus far:

  1. Chris
  2. Kristin*
  3. Sharon*
  4. Caitlin*
  5. Rozina
  6. Beth*
  7. Kristin*
  8. Vanessa*
  9. Maria
  10. Karen
  11. Rebecca

Those with an asterisk by their name, indicated they'd be willing to make/like more blocks so this group should make 6 additional blocks in a second colorway to swap.

If any of the above information is not correct, you're missing or you want to join (we have room for more in the main/dozen group) email me at badlandsquilts@gmail.com 

Tonight's meeting rescheduled due to weather

Tonight's meeting has been rescheduled to next Thursday, April 18th at Sewtropolis, (at the usual time) due to the lovely spring we are having. This gives you all an extra week to work on your name tags, block lotto blocks, and dig out more for the garage sale!

How to find that OOP Fabric?

 (My stash of Lush by Erin Michael for Moda...OOP with a reprint coming soon.)

Sometimes we discover our new favorite fabric that we've been drooling over isn't new at all...but rather has been out of print (OOP) for some time and it seems like we have no chance of ever finding any.  Or, sometimes we don't finish a project on a timely basis and realize we need just a bit more of a particular fabric, again only to find it's not available anymore.  So what is a quilter to do? Why take to the internet to start...here is the exhaustive process that an obsessive fabricaholic like myself goes through...if you have any ideas to add, please be sure to share them via a comment on this post.

(Neptune by Tula Pink for Moda, another popular OOP line.)

The first thing is to know what you are looking for, or rather the exact name.  If you go to the manufacturer's website you can match up the information with the selvedge.  You should be able to determine the manufacturer, designer, collection name, name of print, color name of print and then also perhaps unique item number code.  Here is a photo of a relatively current fabric's selvedge from  from the Marmalade collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda and it is pattern 55056.

On the manufacturer's site (Moda), this is the information I find.  Here I learn the color name of this print is raspberry and the complete item number maybe 55056-12.  It is odd that there is not a pattern name but a quick online search of retailers determines it is sugar.  So in this case I would be looking for from the Marmalade Collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, Raspberry Sugar 55056 - 12. 
Here then are the options I try to find a fabric:

1. Google:  This is the most obvious, try combinations of manufacturer/designer/print name or color to look for results. (Sometimes even searching by item number code only.)

2. Etsy and Ebay: Again, obvious choices, but do try different word combinations for the search.  Some listings may not have the manufacturer name or collection name?

3. Quiltshops.com: This is a site that can search a large number of online quilt shops at once.  If you are looking for a whole collection it is a nice way to find out which shop has the most different prints in a collection by the responses that come up.

4. Try a different search engine for your general search.  I generally use google, but sometimes trying yahoo.com or bing can yield different results.

5. Flickr - there are several groups dedicated to fabric swapping or even ISO (in search of fabric) on this photo sharing site.  You can grab a jpg of the fabric from the manufacturer's site and add ISO lettering to it and then post to your photostream.  All of your flickr contacts will see it and then you can add the photo to appropriate groups such as these few that I belong to.  (Most you can choose to join and are not invite only).  If you are working on a collection or something is not an immediate need, put it in your flickr profile and if someone wants to swap with you, they'll see what you are looking for.  Many quilters have a swap set of photos on flickr that they are working with on an ongoing basis to obtain or dispose of fabrics.  Also, if you don't have a selvedge of your fabric, flickr is a great place to post a picture and search for assistance in identifying what you have.

6. Instagram/Twitter - As with flickr, post a picture with ISO on it in your stream of these social media sites.

7.  Online shops that are not listed with quilt shop.com or search engines.  Shocking, but there are many stores that don't seem to show up in google searches or a search service like quiltshop.com...so they need to be found the hard way.  The Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop had nearly a 100 stores participating for several years...I've saved that paper and made notes which stores have online shopping.  This is a pretty large number and sounds daunting.  The other thing to consider is foot traffic...what stores don't get a large turnover of customers because they are away from a metro area or are in a small town? Since I grew up in the least populous county in North Dakota which is not exactly a population busting state, I think of home.  After quizzing my mom out about which stores she has been to and which stores have a lot of fabric, I have found finds like Prairie Rose Quilt Shop in Minot, ND.  They have a LOT of older Moda fabrics, many older Amy Butler lines and even Girlfriends by Jennifer Paganelli.   I found several older fabrics of Anna Maria Horner's on the website of Fiberworks in Billings, MT this way.  Hingeley Road Quilt Shop in Floodwood, MN was a find off the quilt shop hop list that has lot of flannels on their site as well as precuts and more.    Cia's Palette right here in Minneapolis also has lots of goodies that are challenging to find...I really don't know how I even stumbled upon it's site.

8. Calling brick & morters on the phone.  I don't do this very often, and it is really hit or miss if the person on the other end knows what you are looking for...even if a shop knows they ordered a specific line years ago, they might not realize that they still have a few FQ in a bin somewhere or remember that they actually have a bolt of one print left on their colorwall.

Those are all things I have done and do to find a must have fabric. (I used to efficiently hold and sooth a crying baby in one arm and web search with the other?!)  Sometimes the process involves waiting and watching (flickr groups) or even repeating. (stores joining quiltshop.com bringing existing inventory online)

So what are your fabric finding tricks?

April Block Lottery

This is a duplicate of the post on the members blog... I wanted to put it here as a reminder and for also any paid guests that will be joining us on Thursday night.

April's block is a simple coin strip...2 strips are equal to one block/entry.  You may use reads as, tone on tone or solid fabrics is our HOT color palette of red, orange and bright pink.  Use a combination of strips cut between 1.5" and 2.5" in width to make this 6.5 x 12.5" block.  This is a great block to raid your scrap bins and goes together super fast!

Saturday Series: Quilt Backs

It might still feel like the first quarter of 2013 with this cold, snowy spring, but it's already the second quarter and our new Saturday Series is on Quilt Backs. 
On The Road To Spring Quilt Back (this picture is from March 2010. Look, no snow!)
When it comes to finishing up a quilt, getting the back completed means I'm half way there.  I personally feel that putting the back together is like solving a puzzle.  I try and use fabric that I have in my stash plus any blocks and scraps left over from the quilt top. I get so many comments from non-quilters that many of my quilt backs look like they could be the front.  I think people just expect a single piece of fabric on the backsides of quilts, but I see it as a blank canvas.

Sometimes they come together easily.  This one is jut a lot of green fabric and leftover pieced blocks from the front which were just sewn together. Quick, easy and economical.

Sometimes I get carried away and wind up making way too many blocks than are need for the quilt top.  This is a good thing if they can be pieced together easily for the back.  However, on this quilt back I may have bit off more than I could chew.  The blocks didn't line up in easy, square sections, which is what my skill level can handle. But once it was all quilted and washed, you couldn't really tell that the seams weren't perfect.

I have found that piecing together solids can make a visually bold quilt back. I always check the remnant rack at JoAnn's and pick up any and all Kona solids that I can find.  These quilt backs are made up of mostly remnants and some other Kona that I had in my stash.  The lesson learned on these two quilt backs is dark brown and black fabric will show all of your quilting errors when using white thread.
This back was put together using some fat quarters that I had on hand plus left over solids from the front of the quilt.
What I enjoy most about quilt backs is that there is no pattern, no rules, just your imagination and using what you have on hand.  You can be as creative as you like or just keep it simple and understated.  
So don't just show off the front of your quilts; show off the backs too!

Goodwill Outlet for quilters

Many of you are probably familiar with Goodwill's regular thrift stores, and might be wondering, what is a Goodwill Outlet, and why should I shop there?

Goodwill Outlet is essentially the last stop for things in the Goodwill chain before they either go to the landfill or are shipped overseas. Stuff from the regular Goodwill stores that didn't sell goes here. They also have a lot of stuff that didn't even make it to the stores--if there are too many donations, the overflow just goes here as they don't have enough people to sort everything that comes in.

So why shop there? Unlike regular Goodwill, the stuff is only sorted into rough categories (like clothing) and put in piles or bins. It is fun to dig for treasure!

Also, the prices can't be beat. There are no price tags--when you check out, they weigh your items and you pay by the pound (for most things). $1.49 a pound for clothing! To give you an idea of what that means, a pair of men's khakis weighs about a pound.

Apparently 80% of all Goodwill Outlet shoppers are resellers--they buy carts full of things that they resell on eBay or Etsy or to local shops. The things you find here are probably 99% crap, but there is a lot of great stuff to be had if you are willing to dig.

So, what should you look for while you are here?

Fabric! Have fun cutting up clothes to score some very inexpensive fabric for your stash. It feels so wrong the first time you do it, but it gets to be fun cutting up clothes, and the more expensive they originally were, the better!

It is true that it takes longer to extract fabric from clothing than from bolts of fabric at the store, but at under $1 per yard of fabric, it can be worth the extra time. Especially if you have down time where you don't feel like sewing--I cut up clothes while watching tv. Bonnie Hunter has a great video on quickly "de-boning" a shirt to give you an idea of how to speed things up (although I find that ripping doesn't always work for me).

I usually just scan and grab things by looks alone, but I always give things a quick feel. If the clothing feels good and is good quality, it will probably work well for you. If it feels scratchy, stiff, thin, cheap, or at all unpleasant, just put it back, no matter how pretty it is. There is so much to choose from--don't waste your time on crap.

As you get more practice, you will be able to mostly identify fibers by feel and appearance--being able to spot linen or silk from across a table is handy. To be safe, though, always check your labels.

As far as quilting and sewing fabrics, consider all of these below.

Cotton (of course!), and cotton blends. Double-check the labels, and make sure there is no spandex as it is stretchy. If you are very careful you might be able to make it work, but I don't bother.

Women's cotton pants and shirts tend to have spandex, can be cut on the bias, and have lots of darts and stitching that make it more difficult to get a large usable chunk of fabric. Men's shirts yield much more fabric--just feel them first as some are unpleasant.

Linen. A large linen dress or skirt will yield 1-2 yards of usable fabric and cost around $2-3.

Denimcorduroytwill, canvas/home dec. All of these make great picnic or other utility quilts, tote bags, etc.

Wool. Wool pants, shirts, etc. can be lovely, but feel for scratchiness if you are using them for a quilt. I like old wool blankets--I have a few that I am busy turning into batting for camping quilts. Thin wool pants would also make a nice warm very thin batting--just piece it together.

Silk. Especially if you are into art quilting. Silk weighs next to nothing!

Avoid: Anything with spandex. Most synthetics, like acrylic, or anything more than about 50% polyester. If you are quilting, any fabric that is too thick, thin, stretchy, or slippery to work with without expletives, like rayon or satin. Also check the clothing for wear. Stains and rips you can cut around, but worn out, faded, or badly pilled means unusable.

But don't let that limit you! Use your imagination; that is part of the fun!

So, what can you expect here? It can be a little overwhelming your first time, especially if you are a thrifting newbie. This is the view as you walk in the door. It is basically a giant open space.

View as you walk in the door.
There are a few unposted rules, and you will get scolded by employees and other customers if you miss one. I noted these below.

There are two different kinds of areas for stuff--the conveyors + bins, and the tables.


On a regular day, bins full of stuff roll out on conveyors about every 15 minutes, 2 or 4 conveyors at a time (there are 8 conveyors). After the bins have been out for awhile, employees come and dump out the bins into these giant cardboard boxes, clearing 2 or 4 conveyors at a time. After the conveyors are empty, new bins full of stuff roll out. Usually they stop sending out new stuff about 2 hours before closing.

General view of the conveyors + bins

When they are really going, you have to be fast if you want to look through all the bins, spending no more than about 5 seconds per bin, or 2 minutes per row (there are about 20 bins per row). By the time you get to the last row of bins, they will be dumping it out! Some days and some weekends they have a more "relaxed" schedule and only put out new bins every few hours, and instead swap out the stuff on the tables more often.

Employee emptying bins into a giant box

Rule for the bins: no standing in the center aisle that has new stuff rolling out (the "center" is the aisle between two conveyors that has the giant box).

Also, when new bins are coming out, no touching the bins or items in the bins until they are all out and an employee says it's ok by saying "Ok!" or "Thank you!" or something. You will know it is time because there will suddenly be a frenzy of people digging!

People standing in front of bins rolling out--no touching!


Also for your digging pleasure are tables full of stuff. Mostly clothes, but also shoes, bags, books, and toys.

If you get here and the tables are empty (like below), either you came too close to closing time, or they might be about to put out a bunch of new stuff.

Empty tables--new stuff about to come out!

New stuff!
Another rule: No touching stuff on the tables as it is being put out--even if they are done with the one table. If you aren't sure, look around; if everyone is standing around and staring at the stuff, you probably are not allowed to touch.

People waiting to start digging.
When the employees signal to start digging, there is usually quite a frenzy of people looking through the pile. I often just wait a few minutes until things calm down. If you are more assertive, dive in!

New stuff frenzy!

A few general tips

Dress in grubbier clothes. It is a little dirty, and you don't want to wreck your nice clothes. Have hand sanitizer handy. Some people wear gloves, but I don't.

Leave your purse in the car or at home. You can't keep an eye on it at all times, and a purse in your hand or over your shoulder impedes digging ability. They take credit cards, so that is all you need.

Leave your kids at home. Some people bring their kids, but they will just get in the way, get bored after 15 minutes, and ask for a bunch of crap you don't want to bring home.

Bring a bag; they don't have any. I usually bring a couple of expandable string bags to stuff my finds into as I go along--they hold an amazing amount of stuff.

Don't stop to ponder every item you think looks interesting as you go--it is too slow. Grab it all, and edit your choices later. Give everything a careful once-over right before you check out.

If you find that your stuff is getting too heavy, you can get a cart. Cover your cart with something big you find nearby, like a sheet, as otherwise people will shop from your cart. Rule: carts stay against the wall.

Carts must stay against the wall.

Stop when you are tired. You can literally stay here all day and continually dig through new stuff, but you shouldn't. There will always be more stuff and another day! I usually either set a time or volume limit (e.g. one hour or one bag full) for myself or I find it hard to leave.

And finally, but perhaps most importantly, avoid the pitfall of finding a use for everything you touch and turning your house into a hoarder's house of sewing projects to be! Be selective and realistic about what you actually have the time and inclination to make. I try to collect things for specific projects only, while giving myself a very small allowance for unexpected finds.

Back storage room. Wow, that's a lot of stuff.
To find their hours, check the Goodwill Outlet page. The store itself is pretty centrally located, off the 280 where it meets the 94 in St. Paul. Hope you have fun! 
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