Best Sewing Lessons 2018 | Urban Spools | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

It's hard to walk into Urban Spools without being drawn to the colorful fabrics lining the walls. But past the bright, quirky patterns is a classroom with sewing machines where beginner, intermediate and advanced students work on quilts, embroidery, clothing and more. Classes often teach trending projects, such as the atomic starburst quilt or the jelly roll rug, but there are also introductory lessons for various techniques, as well as classes and camps for kids. If you'd like to learn a new craft but had a bad experience in middle school, home, etc., patient, friendly teachers are there to help.

Whether you're a new photographer or someone who started shooting film decades ago, Don Puckett's shop stocks nearly every available film worth loading into your vintage or new cameras. Don's Photo Equipment started selling new and used photographic equipment to Dallas professionals and hobbyists nearly 20 years ago, and while most camera shops in Dallas went all in with memory cards and megapixels, Don and his son Todd have continued to serve the film photography community in North Texas. Don and Todd never shy away from answering questions and will happily talk shop with amateurs and professionals alike. The shop stocks cameras, lenses, camera bags, studio lighting, darkroom equipment and much more.

When Macklemore rapped about thrifting in 2012, suddenly the act of buying used and outdated clothes became a cool thing to do. Whether you're on the search for some old Levi's to cut into Daisy Dukes or a really ugly sweater that you think can make you look like a trendy work of art from Urban Outfitters, Thrift Giant has it all. There are racks upon racks of women's and men's and kids clothing. On top of all of that, there is furniture that looks good worn down or looks like a nice DIY project. And then there are baby dolls sitting on top of the racks of clothing just staring you in the eye, asking you to give them a nice home.

Instant film and other analogue photography are having a serious moment right now, but it can be tricky figuring out where to find your next vintage camera without spending a fortune. With a massive, ever-revolving assortment of cameras from which to choose, as well as darkroom services, camera equipment and a wide assortment of films and instant-film cameras, Denton Camera Exchange is the perfect place to tap into your analogue side. The small shop, located just off Denton's Downtown Square, was once a pharmacy in the 1950s, with old pharmaceutical equipment serving as decoration throughout. Like other used camera shops, you never know what gear will be in stock, but Denton Camera Exchange typically carries everything from digital and film camera bodies, lenses, camera bags, tripods, filters, film and more. They also develop black-and-white, color and slide film, from 35mm up to 4x5, with some scanning and printing services.

Look, we're newspaper people here, right? Our furniture standards are traditionally not that high. Anything that doesn't come in a flat box with an Allen wrench, doesn't cling to cat and dog hair, doesn't cost too much, doesn't retain smoke odors and resists wine, beer, whiskey and other fluid stains that are none of your business — we consider that fancy. Is Nebraska Furniture Mart a locally owned shop loaded with hip used furniture or stuff designed by local artisans? Nope. It's just HUGE. Like, about the size of DFW airport. Bigger than IKEA, probably, and much easier to escape. In a place that big, with loads of brands from high-end to affordable, shoppers are almost certain to find the perfect couch, chair, dining set, rug or decorative gewgaw for the home. Plus, there are rows upon rows of kitchenware, appliances, electronics, outdoor furniture, basically everything, from whole room setups to our dream machine — a robotic lawn mower that's like a Roomba for lawns. Pickup at the store is handled with the technical aplomb of an air traffic control center, and they'll deliver most anywhere. Volume, volume, volume, baby. Sometimes it can't be beat.

Paper may be the most underrated substance known to man. But maybe not for the reasons you're thinking, because there's something soothing about good paper. Smooth, peaceful, solid and comforting — perhaps like the tree from which it came. All paper is not good paper, but good paper is always worth it. The folks at Missing Q get this because they are paper people. Paper people can spot each other in the greeting card aisle. We are not reading, we are rubbing. We are weighing. We are smelling. We are not just buying stationery for a friend or loved one; we aim to enrich their whole life with one small stack of quality stock. If you recognize yourself, this is your place. Missing Q's generous selection of custom cards, invitations and other paper goods are designed and produced in small batches with custom ink colors and finishes. The shop uses four old-school letterpress and engraving machines to create chic, luxury designs for all occasions. Studio visits are by appointment only, but we can assure you that if there is a heaven for paper people, it is Missing Q.

Best Place to Get a Beautiful Book You'll Never Read

Half Price Books

Having a shelf full of books in your parlor (or even having a place you call the parlor) can make you look pretty impressive, and nothing could ever be more attractive than looking good without having to pay much. Half Price Books on Northwest Highway offers a tremendous selection of literature, nonfiction, magazines and even CDs and movies, all for unbeatable prices. So even if you never, ever read that leather-bound collector's edition of Dante's Inferno, you can feel self-satisfied because you acquired it for next to nothing, and it looks so very intellectual sitting quietly on your shelf.

Of course you don't need your 13th gerbil, but at least you can wish for it on an aimless stroll through Dallas' very own Petland, which offers all the normal pets, along with fluffy chinchillas, oh-so-affectionate snakes, and those colorful birds that outlive their owners, squawking continuously as the coffin is lowered. Petland allows visitors to enjoy the company of any doggie for as long as they like, and its employees are notably helpful if you ever need pet-care advice. Further, they carry all the supplies you could ever wish to have for an animal. Just don't drop any hamsters on your visit (personal experience — those things run like the flames of hell are singeing their furry bums).

Kathy Tran
The Wild Detectives

Since its inception in 2014, The Wild Detectives has served as the perfect date spot. As a traditional bookstore, there are shelves surrounding the border of the store stacked full of books. Serving as a nontraditional bookstore, there's a bar in the middle, making the thrill of finding a new book or author even more exciting. On top of the books and booze, The Wild Detectives regularly hosts events, like book readings, panels about feminism and even stand-up comedy on the back patio. Located in Oak Cliff, it's just a few blocks away from restaurants and bars and makes the perfect low-key, Friday-night spot.

Roderick Pullum
Josey Records

A sprawling 15,000-square-foot space with an estimated inventory of 100,000 vinyls, Josey Records is a place where you and all your friends can morph into John Cusack a la High Fidelity, or pretend to anyway. The most ambitious record store in Dallas is a crate-digger's dream even by crate-digging standards. Patrons can browse the vinyls, listen to the vinyls, buy turntables or just lounge around and people-watch.

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