crafts · fabric · Sewing · travel

Fabric shopping: Chicago, Minneapolis, and Joann’s (?)

I have retrieved my fabric from my in-laws, and I’m ready to talk about the fabric stores I visited on my trip!  I asked for suggestions here, and you were all kind enough to give me the details on the best places to visit.  I made a plan of attack: visit the Textile Discount Outlet, Fishman’s Fabrics, and the downtown Vogue fabrics location on the same day (they are all near each other) and visit SR Harris in Minneapolis.

We drove to Chicago on Wednesday and made it to our hotel (in Schaumburg – I usually stay downtown, but the price was right, and we weren’t staying long.  Note to self: never again.  Other note to self: should you ever move to Chicago, live close to downtown – the traffic is madness!)  We did go to a fun restaurant there – a conveyor belt sushi place.  I wouldn’t say it was the best sushi I’ve ever had, but it was a fun novelty, and really not bad for what it was.  The next day we went downtown to (among other things) visit the fabrics stores.

Textile Discount Outlet – 2121 W. 21st street

I read the reviews of this place saying how huge and messy it was, but I was not prepared.  I think this photo says it all:

Want that fabric?  Be prepared to move a literal mountain of foam!

I actually love places where you have to dig, but I didn’t find anything to buy here.  There is a ton of polyester, and I’m not against that in general, but nothing really appealed to me.  I was also running on very little sleep, so I was maybe not in the mood to dig deeper.  This place is totally worth a visit if you’re in Chicago – there are several floors in an old warehouse that are literally piled with fabrics (I’d say it’s maybe half home dec? Seems like it would be great to visit for that purpose.)

Fishman’s Fabrics – 1101 South Desplaines Street

This store is located very close to the downtown Vogue Fabrics – less than a block I’d say.  The store is clean and well organized – the photo on the website is very accurate to what the store looks like.  There are salespeople eager to help you with your project, and a good selection of interesting trims.  I’ll be honest – I’m probably too much of a bargain shopper to love this place.  The fabric is all lovely, but it’s mostly pretty expensive.  I don’t shop that way, but that’s because I have the time and willingness to scrounge through piles and wait for sales.  I also go through a pretty high volume of fabric, so I like to save money where I can.  If you want a special piece of fabric this would be a great place to shop!  They have a fun collection of articles and memorabilia from their long history in the entryway, and I enjoyed reading all about the history of the place.

Vogue Fabrics – 623 West Roosevelt

I visited the downtown location.  I did not make it to the flagship store in Evanston, but I enjoyed the downtown location.  There is a lot of fabric in this place.  Organization isn’t too bad, but it’s not great either – there are a lot of mystery fabric bolts.  There is a whole room of remnants, most of which are a decent size (enough for a top or short dress.)  This was my favorite of the Chicago stores, although I once again failed to buy anything (as I mentioned, I was pretty tired and coming down with a sinus infection!)  I really wish there had been a better selection of natural fibers – as with most stores these days, there was more poly than anything else.  I wasn’t surprised, because one of my frustrations with the vogue website is how much polyester they carry, but I suppose they know what sells better than I do!  I don’t hate polyester in some forms (knits mostly) but I wouldn’t choose any of its more slippery forms (charmeuse, chiffon etc) because they are so hard to work with.  And yes, that is a poly charmeuse down the page… the price was right and I loved the print, I’m a hypocrite!

So yeah, I left without buying anything – can you believe it? I think I was not in the mood.  But I still had one more stop.  Several days later my husband and I ventured off to SR Harris in Minneapolis (my in-laws live in St. Paul, and it was about a 35 minute drive to the store.)  And this is where I fell in love:

This store is huge.  Seriously, the photo doesn’t even begin to show the size of this store.  It’s basically organized in sections – linens/wools/knits/shirting/knits/quilting/ silks/designer fabrics.  There is a lot of fabric.  It’s not all labeled – some is wound onto reused bolts.  The fabric is stacked in a way that requires some serious muscle power to get out of the stacks!  The best part?  A ton of natural fibers.  Tons.  It was easy to find the area I wanted, though not to find fabrics.  I spent two hours here, and could have taken more time.

Fabric cutting is self-serve, and checkout is on the honor system (you make a tag for each fabric with the price on the bolt and how much you cut.)  All fabric is 50% off the bolt price (I assume this is all the time.)  This makes most fabrics roughly the price you would pay online at a place like fashion fabrics club or  It’s a great deal in my eyes, particularly if you know what you’re looking for!  They have a decent selection of designer fabrics – I saw Donna Karan, Ellen Tracy, Anne Klein, Ralph Lauren, and even a few Milly prints (sadly, not the ones I wanted!)  I didn’t buy any of those, choosing to take my chances in the stacks.  Here is my final haul, along with the patterns I’m considering.

I was able to buy three linens to make my colorblocked shift dress (Vogue 8805).  I plan to make this soon – I love the color combo!

Nice quality matte jersey to make McCall’s 6553.  The color is a deep grey.  I’m fascinated by this pattern, and not at all convinced it won’t look like a giant weird sack (it has a belt through the front only) but I want to try!

This was a mystery fabric – I think it might be a linen, but it was filed with the denims.  I want to make a dress with some chevron stripes – maybe Vogue 8789, which is designed for stripes.  On the other hand, this fabric is a bit on the stiff side – I’ll have to wash it and see how it comes out.

This is a Michael Miller linen/cotton print.  I love the print so much, and want to make a fun novelty skirt using New Look 6872.  This print comes from a collection of Tammis Keefe reprints they came out with a bit ago.  It will need to be lined.

This is a soft batik print.  I thought it was a rayon challis(it was not labeled, other than manufacturer name) but according to the Robert Kaufman website it’s a combed cotton.  Either way it’s soft with a nice drape, and appropriate for clothing.  I ordered the Jade dress from Style Arc along with my recent order, and I think this would be a good fit!  It has a beachy feel, which I like even though I don’t go to the beach (and I love the turtles.)

I also bought this cotton/lycra print.  The pale seaglass green is my favorite shade, and I couldn’t resist.  I’m not sure what I will use it for (a vintage dress I think) but I’m glad I picked it up!

On our way home I went to a Joann’s on a rest break (that’s a long drive!)  They had 50% off clearance fabrics, and they were getting rid of the April Johnson Project Runway line from last year (they have new fabrics – the line looks to be recurring.)  And yes, it’s sad that I ended up buying fabrics there – but I don’t have a real hate on for Joann’s.  For many people it’s their only fabric source, and I really feel like they’ve been trying hard to improve their apparel fabric offerings.  Plus – cheap!  None of this was over $5 a yard, and most was much less.

This fabric looks like lots of tiny eyes staring at you.  Try to unsee that image now!  But I like it anyway, and want to use it to make Simplicity 1803 (I’ve been looking for a fabric all spring for this one!)

I mentioned Burda 7220 the other day.  I want to try it in this fabric, which is a bit lighter than it looks on my screen.  Orange isn’t my usual thing, but I liked this one for some reason – and it’s the same on both sides, essential for the odd hem.

I also picked up this Burda (7204) when I got the pattern above.  Wouldn’t the top from this pattern look nice in a turquoise tie-dye voile?

I got two other clearance fabrics that I don’t have any ideas for – but I’m sure something will come up!


The sequin print is a poly charmeuse, and I know… it isn’t my favorite fabric.  But I think it could make a cute blouse, and I’ve liked it since I first saw it (it was something like $3 a yard.)  The second fabric is a cotton sateen.  I’m considering Vogue 1298, the new Rachel Comey dress.

crafts · knitting · Life · travel


We had a great time in Florida, but I’m happy to be back.  I met up with old friends…

And Marc proved again what a giant kid he will always be…


Which is of course why I love him.  Aww…

I didn’t get a whole ton of knitting done because I was super busy, but I did get 16″ of the back finished on the Dollar and a Half cardigan.  2 more before I start shaping!  Please ignore the cat, he can’t be separated from me after being mostly alone for a week.

I must say that I love this pattern so far.  The changing textures never give you the chance to be bored.  And the Cotton Fleece continues to surprise me – I thought I wouldn’t like it since I didn’t like the other wool/cotton I’ve tried (KP Mainline) but it’s just lovely to work with.  And the best part?  My hands don’t hurt at all.

Have you seen this new free pattern from Berroco?  I just love it, and I’m not usually a huge fan of their patterns.

I came home to 2400 unread Bloglines posts, so I apologize if I’m a bit slow responding.  I’m glad to be back.  I like traveling, but I get tired of being unsettled after awhile.

We’ll go to a few weddings soon, but our next trip will be our honeymoon.  We’re planning on a small trip after the wedding, and then taking a longer trip overseas later.  I’m taking suggestions on nice places to go that are in the US.  I don’t like the beach at all (I can’t swim, I don’t tan, and I don’t love the heat) so I’m having a hard time getting good ideas.

crafts · knitting · Life · travel

Happy Ash Wednesday!

I hope everyone had a lovely fat Tuesday!  We had a dinner and then went to Meijer (exciting I know!)

Today is Ash Wednesday, which  means the most  crowded church service of the year (because there’s only one, unlike big holidays) and me playing the song “Ashes” about 900 times.  Plus I have to teach.

Ms. Marigold is coming along.  Marc and I are watching the whole Buffyverse saga together, since he’d never seen them, and we’ve just gotten to the exciting part of Angel Season 4.  We watched 3 episodes last night, which is just unheard of!  I knit on Ms. Marigold.  One more inch and I can join into the round!

Having just knit another sweater with a deep neck (Sahara) I have to say that I much prefer the way that this pattern has you work the armholes.  Sahara had you work them both at once, using 2 different balls of yarn.  I hated that, because the yarn was constantly getting tangled, and I kept getting confused on where to turn around.  In fact, this is why I put down the Fad Classic vest almost immediately after starting.  It makes more sense to me to work them separately and just keep track of how many rows you do.  I think I’ll try that on the vest.  This is why I don’t knit 2 sleeves at once either, or 2 socks.  It makes me batty keeping up with the yarn.

I’ve been so focused on work/life/wedding planning that I’ve just realized that in 2 and a half weeks we will be in Disneyworld!  Marc has a work conference for a few days, and I do not turn down a chance to go for free (well, for cheap… we still have to buy my park ticket.)  I’m usually an obsessed planner about vacations, but I guess I’ve been busy.  Time to get cracking!

Life · travel

I’m back!

We’re finally back from New Mexico, after more driving than I think you can possibly imagine. How long? Including meal stops, the drive took 23 hours. No kidding. I think we took full advantage of the “unlimited mileage” offer on the rental car. We did get to travel through some states I’ve never visited before, including Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

Leon didn’t want us to leave. And I am aware that my constant stream of “I wonder what Leon is doing now” comments makes me an official crazy cat lady. I’m ok with that.

New Mexico wins the straightest road award.

It was beautiful though, and the driving overall wasn’t so terrible, although I’m not so certain that we looked well by the time we arrived. We stayed at the “Pueblo Bonito” B&B, which was perfectly nice, with a comfortable bed, tiny old kitchen, and a stocked kiva fireplace. We took advantage of the fireplace, due to it being 40 degrees the entire time we were there.

On Thursday we went sightseeing around the plaza in Santa fe. Santa Fe is a much smaller town than you might imagine, and probably more touristy than you think. It was lovely, and the air was very clear, but overall I don’t think I’d like living there – I don’t like the feeling of being isolated in a relatively small place. The dryness also bothered my eyes and skin a great deal.

We (ok, I) like to visit churches, so we visited the Cathedral. The cathedral was pretty unexceptional, but had this insane statue of St. Francis in front.

I don’t know what’s up with his foot either. We also visited the Loretto Chapel, which is known for its “miraculous” staircase, supposedly built with no nails by a mysterious carpenter.

There were a lot of wedding type activities, so we didn’t really do a ton of traveling, but that was ok. Marc was really happy to see his friend for the first time in years, and the wedding was lovely.

The ceremony itself took place outdoors on a mountain… a really lovely location. The reception was inside a shelter, with lovely beams and a huge fireplace in the middle.

Yes, that black and white button is hard to avoid…

Overall it was an excellent trip, if a bit exhausting. I loved the beautiful artwork everywhere in Santa fe

And I really felt that I made friends with the bride, so hopefully someday they will get to visit us.

And the food… so wonderful. I thought I didn’t like mexican, but apparently I just don’t like bad mexican. Plus we ate at this one restaurant that had crazy rodeo clown photos everywhere

and Marc is crazy. This photo sums up the insantiy of an entire day lost to travel.

That’s right… this is Kansas. We didn’t have to go to Kansas – we actually drove there so that Marc could add another state to his list. Of course, all of Kanas that we saw was this crazy trucker’s strip club in the middle of nowhere, but whatever floats your boat, right? I love the crazy.