There is so much more fashion and design in Chicago than there was when we got here in 2000 or started up the workrooms in 2003-4, but fewer fabric stores.
Gone are the days of the Chicago fabric and tailoring district, but we still have some real winners that are beating the odds and doing their best to get you what you need.
This list was rewritten in April 2018. None of the stores listed are compensating us in any way whatsoever for the listing here.
Here are the stores that our students have used over the course of classes:
Address: 1101 South Desplaines Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607
Phone: 1 (312) 922-7250
Fax: 1 (312) 922-7402
Fishman’s Fabrics has a wide selection of designer fabrics and high-end upholstery special order. Check them out for everything from silks and suit weight wools to really nice laces and shirtings. A Chicago standby for sure if you want the nicest fabric possible with a knowledgeable staff without a lot of fussing, fretting, and digging. You will pay for this luxury and convenience, but this has always been the way of the world.
Address: 718 – 732 Main Street, Evanston, IL 60202
Phone: 1 (800) 433-4313
Fax: 1 (847) 864-0113
Vogue Fabrics is one of those fabric stores that can pretty much only exist in large cities at this point. You can find reasonably priced upholstery fabrics, designer yardage, as well as cottons, shirtings, wools, and knits. It is a little more approachable for most people than Fishmans, and there is some overlap, but we usually put them on the same level. They will end up being your two go-to stores in Chicago when you need access to a solid range of fabrics. They also do a solid business in sewing machine repair, remnants, notions, and have a more varied pattern company selection for a brick and mortar. If you are worried about driving to Evanston, we usually recommend taking the Red-Purple lines to Evanston and walking the two blocks over. It is a little easier in the long run, we’d say.
Address: 3738 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60613
Phone: 1 (773) 245-6633
We won’t use a sewing pun here, but it would be appropriate for Oak Fabrics because their lines are SO cute, interesting, and fun. You can find interesting and modern apparel fabrics with contemporary/cute/interesting prints. We’ve had a number of printed cottons and some silky fabrics that you would otherwise have had to go to NYC or LA to buy if you weren’t scrounging around online. Check them out – you won’t be sorry. They were great when they were The Needle Shop and they have really upped their fabric game as Oak Fabrics. Rachel knows her stuff.
Address: 2647 N Elston Ave. Chicago, Il, 60647
Phone: 1 (773) 227-7874
Address: 555 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 1(312) 243-0771
Jo-Ann Fabrics doens’t need a lot of introduction here – they’ve pretty much taken over the North American fabric market (RIP, Hancock Fabrics…godspeed). A few years ago when they were a publicly traded company, we would tell you that they were mainly useful to the home sewer for cotton, utility fabrics, patterns, and notions. Since they have been purchased by a private holding company, though, things have changed just a little. We are starting to see more decent apparel fabrics come from their sales floors. This is a nice change to see.
Jo-Ann fabrics is still the place we recommend sewers buy the basic notions and patterns necessary for their projects because the prices are generally better, but have a look through their apparel fabrics while you are there if you haven’t for a while. You may be pleasantly surprised by what the buyers are coming up with.
New Rainbow Fabrics
Address: 608 Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 1 (312) 356-9979
Fax: 1 (312) 356 – 9989
New Rainbow Fabrics is a lot like Vogue in the selections they have available, but smaller and a little friendlier. They’ve really taken up space in our hearts as the replacement for Vogue Fabrics on Roosevelt, and they deserve it. Pop in if you need apparel fabrics that range from nice seersucker shirtings to bejeweled and bedazzled woven and knits. Just a delightful little shop that isn’t too basic or too over the top.
Textile Discount Outlet
Address: 2121 W 21st Street, Chicago, IL, 60608
Phone: 1 (773) 847-0572
Textile Discount Outlet, or LZ Fabrics is all over the map when it comes to fabrics and supplies. This is the place to go when you have no idea what you need, but you need it NOW. If you can’t find something that will work here, it speaks to your lack of vision or experience, not their selection. A few things to keep in mind: They are huge, so plan on really spending some time looking. They are better organized than they were a few years ago, but they can still be pretty overwhelming. Customer service is good, but don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet. They are happy to see you there and will answer any question they can – just like every other shop selling things anywhere ever, really – but if you are the kind of person who says: “May I speak to your manager?” more than once every couple of years, you may not love it here. This is not the place to pull retail sadist shenanigans.
Address: 208 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: 1 (312) 322-9094
Chicago Fabrics and its proprietor Buddy has a special place in our hearts. His shop is small and the range of fabrics is always changing, but it is in a great location for our folks who work downtown and need a spool of thread, a couple yards of lining, or a zipper before they come up. Check him out, but keep in mind that the store is always changing stock.
He has frequent shipments of African fabrics that can be hard to find at the major fabric stores in town, so keep an eye out. Last time we were there there was some GREAT hand painted stuff in earth tones.
Address: 2316 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
Phone: 1 (773) 338-6200
One of the reviews for Salma fabrics online said that this is the place for “everything Indian & Pakistani” and that seems to be the consensus with our Indian and Pakistani students when it comes to fabric. “Where should I go?” is always answered first with “Salma” and then the phones come out for other places.
Second City Quilt Supply
Address: 2153 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: 1 (773) 530-1532
Second City quilt supply is such a better experience for quilting cottons and medium weight stuff than Jo-Ann Fabrics. Check them out for cottons and quilting supplies. Great little shop. A few of the shirts students have worked on up here were from nicely printed cottons from Second City.
Address: 1759 W. 95th St. Chicago, IL 60643
Phone: 1 (773)445-0525
Djenne Collection has a range of African prints, woven, and brocades. Check out their website to see what is in stock. The yardage is usually charged by the piece rather than the yard, so be aware of the difference. When Zuvaa comes to/pops up in Chicgao, we always get a reference or two for Djenne. They also carry a wide range of African clothing and lifestyle products – from mud cloth ponchos to cocoa and shea butter products.
Chicago Canvas & Supply
Address: 3719 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60625
Phone: 1 (773) 478-5700
Chicago Canvas is the go-to store in Chicago for industrial fabric supply. Whether you are making massive curtains, draping a whole collection in heavy duck, or stretching canvasses, they will help get you where you need to be.
This list is in no way exhaustive, so stay tuned.