On March 14th, 2020, Rethink Tailoring & Sewing Lounge opened its doors in South Minneapolis. The very next day it closed them, due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Yet despite this rocky beginning, the unusual business has thrived. 

The philosophy of Rethink Tailoring is an eco-conscious one. The brainchild of owner and operator Kristen McCoy, the shop encourages customers to “rethink” and reuse what they already have. Originally self-taught on her grandmother’s sewing machine, Kristen went on to learn more about the trade at Minneapolis Community & Technical College. It was there that she saw firsthand how wasteful the garment industry is and vowed to do better by making all of her designs from secondhand or deadstock fabrics.  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This earth-friendly way of thinking continues at Rethink, with the goal to keep as many garments out of landfills as possible. To accomplish this, Rethink Tailoring & Sewing Lounge offers three main things to its loyal customers: tailoring and mending services, sewing classes, and goods made from repurposed fabric.

Even the tailoring services work toward this goal. For example, items must be at least one year old in order to be tailored. In line with Rethink’s bold objectives, nothing brand new can be brought to the shop for alterations or mending. Customers are also encouraged to think outside the box and into the world of upcycling. Is it time for a sentimental item of clothing to be made into something else? Would you like a favorite dress even better as a skirt? Could a damaged quilt become a tote bag? How can we transform what we already have into what we currently need? However, these services have proven incredibly popular. Check with the shop for current availability or to be added to the waitlist.

Another thing that sets Rethink Tailoring apart is their sewing classes, taught by Kristen as well as co-worker Laura Poelhman. Also a self-taught sewer who later went on to MCTC, Laura discovered her passion for teaching while working at Sewtropolis, a now defunct fabric store and sewing lounge formerly in South Minneapolis.

Offered both in-person and on-line, class topics range from “meeting” your sewing machine to learning to sew from a pattern to creative alterations and upcycling. When taken in person, students can utilize the sewing machines and other tools available in the shop. The online classes have the added benefit of being available to anyone, anywhere. Due to small class sizes, both options provide plenty of one-on-one attention and time for questions. Private lessons are also an option for only $45 an hour. (Make note that sewing classes are a great gift for someone who already owns plenty of “stuff.” We could all benefit from a little extra knowledge.)

The final way Rethink tries to keep fabric out of the dumpster is with the clothing and accessories they make onsite. The goods for sale at Rethink are all made from repurposed materials, of course, many of which are donated. The children’s face masks have been especially popular now that kiddos are back in school. Other goodies for sale include denim earrings, hand-stamped clothing, and revamped vintage finds. Kristen’s own line of resizable baby clothing, Ginger Bean, is also for sale, as well as a sampling of secondhand sewing supplies. You can purchase from their growing selection either by visiting the Green Boutique in their storefront or online at store.rethinktailoring.com

Be inspired to give old things a new life with a visit to Rethink Tailoring & Sewing Lounge. Afterward, you will start to see everyday things around you in exciting new ways. In fact, wouldn’t that tea towel over there make an amazing pillow?

Rethink Tailoring & Sewing Lounge is located at 3449 Bloomington Ave in the Powderhorn neighborhood of Minneapolis. For current hours and services, please visit rethinktailoring.com.


By Liz Walker