Chicago's best fabric stores
Looking for that Project Runway moment? You'll find it when you step into this gigantic Pilsen discount warehouse. (And warehouse it is–dusty at times and disheveled in all its glory). The selection of fabrics? Massive. Including apparel, ulpholstery, drapery, speciality, and outdoor at some of the lowest prices around. It's not a stretch to understand why fashion students and designers flock here by the hundreds. You can also browse some of the store's selection on Facebook.
So, you want mad sewing skills like Grandma's, but the YouTube tutorials aren't cutting it. Meet The Needle Shop, your new favorite place, as it caters to sewers and DIYers of all skill levels. It's chock full of modern (aka stuff you'd actually wear) fabrics, and it's a hub for tons of classes like sewing 101 ($75), upholstery ($80), hand embroidery ($75) and more. Happen to be a business owner? The shop offers wholesale pricing to businesses, online stores and manufacturers. Find free parking behind the building.
Established in 1903 to provide sewing supplies to the garment industry, you could say Leonard Adler & Co knows its stuff. Today, the old-school warehouse location still takes pride in being Chicago's go-to for all garment construction supplies (thousands of buttons, zippers, retail supplies, threads, and more–to give you a taste). It also has a small fabric selection, comprised of primarily menswear. The store serves as the provider of choice for several local design programs, schools, and universities (so you know it's the real deal).
In the biz for well over 100 years, Fishman's specializes in one thing, and that's high-end fabric. The family company boasts a 10,000-square-foot warehouse and showroom for both apparel and interior fabrics. Expect prices to be on the higher side for these fine textiles (but remember, you get what you pay for.) Can't make it into the store? Fishman's will send you up to six samples for free, or place a custom order for you. If you're looking for speciality fabric of any kind, this spot is a great bet.
This small, no-frills, family-owned fabric store is a favorite of local design students and sewing lovers for its friendly service and fair prices on apparel fabrics. Head here for lace, cottons, chiffons, silks, suiting fabrics and more, available by the yard or bolt, in a well-organized setting that won't give you a headache.
Despite being a big-box chain, JoAnn's rarely dissapoints when the DIY pang strikes. This craft store's fabric department stocks bolts upon bolts to suit those everyday needs, and it also carries the machines, patterns, supplies, and classes like sewing basics ($35), home decor sewing ($30), jewelry-making 101 ($35) and quilting ($35) to take your skills up a notch. The low prices, extended hours, and major convenience of its website don't hurt either.
Being the only fabric spot near the downtown area, Chicago Fabrics gets major points for location and convenience. Its huge selection is often disorganized–don't expect to get in and out in five minutes. However, if you're willing to dig, you'll likely find what you're looking for. Or you could opt to check out the website to see if anything catches your fancy.
With more than 80 years of business under its belt, it's clear that Supreme Novelty Fabrics stands out from the rest. In addition to suiting your everyday fabric needs, this shop offers unique, custom fabric printing services, as well as an extensive collection of bridal fabrics and intricate beaded laces. Want to get thrifty and replicate that Vera Wang bridal gown for less? SNF can help with that too–just show the staff a photo of your dream gown, and they'll help make it happen. Fun fact: The store has also partnered to create a custom fabric with Project Runway star, Peach Carr, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.