With the wealth of studios, maker fairs, craft stores, and supply shops this city has to offer, your only challenge will be which to visit first
Portland beckons lovers of handmade
It’s no secret that the city of Portland, Oregon, is home to a wealth of creative talent. From craft bloggers to textile designers, professional screen printers to occasional hobbyists, the prolific rise in the local maker community has earned this relatively small city a national reputation as a hot spot for all things crafty. Team Mollie spent a couple of days seeking out the best craft and vintage stores that Portland has to offer.
Kick off your tour downtown, on SW 10th Avenue, where you’ll find the most renowned craft store in Portland, Crafty Wonderland. Beginning as a monthly craft event back in 2006, Crafty Wonderland quickly gained a reputation as a great place to find local maker talent. In 2010, founders Cathy Zwicker and Torie Nguyen opened a pop-up shop downtown which, four years on, looks set to stay. Showcasing more than 180 local artists, Crafty Wonderland is the perfect place to soak up a wide range of handmade goodness.
Pop across the road to the utterly charming Button Emporium on SW Taylor before heading North to swoon at the gorgeous yarns in KnitPurl on SW Alder. Continuing North you’ll find Billy Goat Vintage on the corner of Burnside and Broadway. Filled to the brim with handpicked clothes, accessories, and homewares from the 1900s - 1980s, Billy Goat is a joy to browse. And with each item of clothing lovingly restored to its original luster, it’s easy to find great-quality vintage loveliness here.
Heading further North toward the Pearl District, you can pick from a cute selection of vintage toys at Billy Galaxy on Burnside, indulge yourself in stunning handmade papers at Oblation on 12th, and purchase from thousands
of art supplies at Blick on Glisan. Oh, and don’t forget to hit the unrivaled craft section in Powell’s City of Books on your way through – it’s a must.
Public transport is easy across the Willamette to the East side of the city, but if weather permits, there’s no better way to traverse the city than by bike. Head down to Waterfront Bicycles on Naito Parkway and pick up a classic European Linus bicycle for the afternoon. For $28 you’re free to explore the East side at your own pace. And with a cute wicker basket on the front, you’ll have extra room for any crafty goodies you happen to pick up along the way.
Once across the river, you’ll be in the thick of Portland’s craft community. Leafy streets lined with wooden clad craftsman houses are interspersed with quiet main streets housing coffee shops, community grocery stores, art galleries, and more. Heading along NE Alberta, you’ll find Portland’s most notable creative hub. Galleries, thrift stores, craft shops, and cafe’s line this bustling main street. Treat yourself to a sewing workshop at Modern Domestic, fill your craft supply box at Collage, and see local artists at work in the Make House. If you have kiddos in tow, you can paint a pot at Mimosa Studios or try a curiously delicious ice cream at Portland’s famous Salt and Straw. Dare to try a scoop of black raspberry and smoked ham?
Heading South through the Irvington neighborhood, you’ll find a great little cluster of vintage stores on the cross section of East Burnside and 28th as well as the gorgeous Wanderlust just one block down. Originally trading out of a 1969 trailer, owner Vanessa Lurie has grown her business to include a range of locally handmade goods as well as a nifty selection of vintage clothes and accessories. It’s quite
possible to get lost in this tiny store for hours…
For more vintage goodness continue south to Vintage Pink and Deco to Disco on SE Hawthorne, the latter specializing in midcentury furniture, lighting, and decor. If you want to deck out your house like a scene from Mad Men, this is the place to do it. Luckily, they ship to most US destinations, so you don’t need to worry about strapping that sideboard to your bicycle.
Finish your tour of handmade and vintage Portland with a trip to the inimitable Xtabay on SE Clinton. Hailed as Portland’s most stylish vintage clothing boutique, Xtabay’s client list includes White House VIPs and red carpet celebrities. Owner Liz Gross personally selects the items in her collection, which includes a number of rare 1920s dresses, ’40s frocks, and chic ’60s minis. Thankfully, the price range is vast, so it’s possible to pick up a pristinecondition 1950s summer skirt for less than $60.
Lovers of handmade and vintage can’t help but fall in love with Portland’s unique charm. And it’s quite possible that after a couple of days exploring this wonderfully creative city, you will too.
01 Feast on local food at the street carts on NE Alberta. 02 Vintage cubes at Collage. 03 Indulge in a little vintage shopping at Wanderlust.
01 One of many cafe’s along NE Alberta. 02 Embroidery on display at Modern Domestic. 03 Stock up on Liberty fabrics at Modern Domestic. 04 Handcrafted ceramics at the Make House.
Get yourself lost among the vintage home wares at Vintage Pink. 02 Revel in rare vintage at Xtabay. 03 Dare to try some of the kooky flavors at Portland’s infamous Salt and Straw icecream parlor. 01