Sources for Fabric and Craft Supplies in Chicago

Fabric Stores
Roosevelt Road
Devon Avenue
South Side
Evanston (and points north)
West Suburbs

Craft Supplies and Other Useful Stuff
Japanese and Oriental Stuff
Metal and Wood
Serious Art Supplies, Beads and other general craft supplies
Millinery, Wigs and Artificial Hair

Mail-Order Sources
Dye & Fabric Modification
Books and Patterns
Art Supplies/Other

Copyright Katharine Whisler 1998.  Revised 2006. All rights reserved.

     I first started to collect the information for this list when I was in art school, years ago.  Then I went to law school and didn't have much time to make stuff.   For that reason, some of the information is out of date: the last serious update was in 1998.  Opinions expressed about the stores reflect my own biases, tastes, and faulty memory.  I've done some quick updates recently, but alas most of them have been to delete references to stores that have gone out of business. (Dang, I miss Usable Materials, the Weaving Workshop, and Robin and Russ Handweavers!) For what it's worth, I hope this information helps you.

Fabric Stores

Roosevelt Road

(the old garment district)

Fishman's Fabrics
1100 S. Des Plaines Street, Chicago.  312-922-7250
A classic family-run fabric store, this place has very nice (but expensive!) designer fabrics.  If you want incredible wool jacquards from Italy, or fabulous printed silks from France, they have them.  They have gorgeous high-end bridal fabrics and laces for $30-150/yd.  I find it inspiring just to look at the stuff.  (Some cost less-- they have some silks for around $10.) Lovely "home decorating" fabrics as well.  Though it tends to be expensive, the quality is really there, and sometimes there are very good deals on the sale tables.  Decent trim selection. They will make curtains for you. Mail order swatching service.

Vogue Fabrics
623-627 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago.  312-829-2505
Another family-run fabric store. Like Fishman's, they have some really great designer fabrics, some of which are left-overs from designer ready-to-wear, but their real specialty is "glitz."  Most of their silks and other fancy fabrics are in the $10-20/yd price range, though there are a few that get up to around $50/yd+.    I have better luck with their trim selection than Fishman's but you may feel differently. The Roosevelt store is smaller than the Evanston .  I love the $1/yd sale table-- sometimes you can find some great stuff.  They do mail order-- call 800-433-4313 for the mail order office.

Tenner Fabrics
605 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago.  312-666-7980
To my mind, not worth a special trip, but if you are already going to Fishman's and Vogue . . . .  They have a strange amalgam of fabrics, sometimes you can find something really nice and unusual.  They are the only fabric store in Chicago that I am aware of that has ecclesiastical fabric as a stock item.

Roosevelt Fabric
555 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago. 312-733-7370
A block from the other stores mentioned in this section, in the mall on the south side of the street. There is a pay lot, which doesn't charge or gives a discount (I forget which) if you get your ticket validated by one of the stores in the mall. Notable for a fairly large selection of traditional-style African fabrics, and fairly large selection of wool and wool and rayon blend suitings. Prices are quite reasonable.

Also in the vicinity: I. Sachs

Directions to the above four stores from (Southbound) Lake Shore Drive:
Take Lake Shore Drive south, past the Buckingham Fountain, to Roosevelt (1200 South).  Turn right (west) on Roosevelt. 
Take Roosevelt several blocks, over the Chicago River, to Jefferson (Notice Tenner & Vogue to the south, and Chernin's shoe store to the north.) 
Look for parking on the street, unless you are going to Fishman's only.  (I think Vogue has a parking lot in back, but am not sure.)  If you cross the Dan Ryan, you've gone too far. 
To get to the Fishman's lot, you will need to go around the block, so turn right (north) on Jefferson. 
In going around the block, take Jefferson to the next intersection, Taylor Street, and go left (west).  Take Taylor to Des Plaines, a one-way street heading south.  Turn left (south) onto Des Plaines.  Take Des Plaines down about a half a block, you will see the Fishman's lot on the left with a fence around it.



Chicago Fabric Sales Company
72 E. Adams Street, Chicago.  312-427-1528
Right down the street from the Art Institute, across from Russian Tea-Time Cafe.
This store has an eclectic selection of fabrics, and prices are fairly low.  You never know what you will find.  However, the thing that makes the store interesting to me is the bins of trimming, lace scraps, leather scraps, parts of old craft kits, etc. in the back room.  They used to have a bunch of slightly soiled but usable buckram bridal headpiece frames that were very cheap, for example.  I wouldn't make a special trip, but when I am already going to the Art Institute, I sometimes stop in.

Beret Limited
328 S. Jefferson Street, Chicago.  312-715-0404
Corner of Van Buren and Jefferson.  (The same building as Fencing 2000.)
Wholesale ONLY.  You need a tax-id to shop here, but if what you want is a whole bolt of velvet (for example) they may be able to help.

Leonard Adler & Company
5456 Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625.  773-506-8700
Moved from their old Wabash location listed on this page in 1998, the building seems to be gone! I need to recategorize this into the proper place.
Leonard Adler doesn't sell fabric (except for lining), they sell tailoring supplies.  (And furrier's supplies.)  If you want a thimble in your specific size, if you want an industrial dress form, or tailor's rulers, or big boxes of dress hooks, or needle-pointed tracing wheels, or paper gridded for enlarging patterns, or thread made just for handsewing, this is the place.  Scissors that are built to last.  Pattern notchers.  Back when I was taking the costume technology class at the DePaul University Theater School, this is where the professor sent us for our tools.  They also sell some garment-weight leather.  Monday-Friday 9-5:30, no weekend hours. No credit cards.
Also in the vicinity:  International Bead, City Stitcher.


Devon Avenue Sari Shops

     Saris make a lovely source of unusual fabric for some sewing projects.  A few years ago sari fabric was showing up in a lot of costumes at the Lyric Opera.  I cannot recommend any shops in particular (though I have had good luck at Taj, Regal, Uma, and Sari Sapne in the past), just go look around in the Indian neighborhood on Devon.  (Primarily just to the west of Western Ave.) Forget trying to park on Devon, look for parking on a side street or use one of the public lots. While you are there you can have a delicious vegetarian meal at one of my favorite restaurants, "Mysore Woodlands" at 2548 W. Devon. (Across the street from Taj Sari Palace.)

      Saris are usually sold in 6 yard lengths, shops will not usually sell you a shorter length. Watch out for "art silk," the term is short for "artificial silk," which is to say, rayon.  Many shops have a remnant bin somewhere toward the back with bolt ends-- they make great veils for middle eastern dancers.  The same neighborhood also has some large Indian grocery stores, which are always worth a visit for spices in bulk and big bottles of rosewater.  Other stores have useful stuff like brass candle holders, unusual jewelry, sandals, etc.  Almost all of the shops in the area are open on Sundays.

An incomplete list:
Al-Rahim Sari Center, 2655 W. Devon Ave.  773-338-7777
House Of Fashion, 2334 1/2 W. Devon Ave.  773-764-7777
India Sari Palace Ltd., 2536 W. Devon Ave.  773-338-2127
Rangoli Niketan, 2611 W. Devon Ave. 773-338-9399
Regal Sarees, 2616 W. Devon Ave., 773-973-1368
Reshams, 2540 W. Devon Ave., 773-764-9692
Sari Sangeet, 2607 W. Devon Ave., 773-761-0531
Sari Sapne, 2623 W. Devon Ave., 773-338-7274
Saris Sagar Inc., 2627 W. Devon Ave., 773-262-5912
Taj Sari Palace Inc., 2553 W. Devon Ave., 773-338-0177
Uma Sarees, 2535 W. Devon Ave.,  773-338-6302


South side

Supreme Novelty Fabrics Company
5954 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago. 
I've never been here, but I understand they have an excellent selection of "special occasion" fabrics.  Once considered one of the great Chicago fabric stores, they changed locations about 5? years ago and got rid of the showroom.  I understand that if you go there now, you need to choose your fabric from swatches and then they bring it out to you from the warehouse.   I understand they are now primarily a wholesaler, although they apparently also do a lot of mail order.  If you check it out, let me know how it is.

Textile Discount Outlet (aka L&Z Products, aka Fabric Warehouse)
2121 W. 21st Street, Chicago.  773-847-0572
The neighborhood isn't wonderful, and this place doesn't look like much from the outside, but zowie do they have a big selection of "special occasion" fabrics!  (You probably will be hard pressed to find a natural fiber other than cotton in the store, however). Prices are very reasonable.  About half the store is given over to "home decorating" fabrics, some of which appear to have been in stock since the late 60's.  Large trim selection. Probably worth a trip, but don't go alone, don't go after dark, and check a map so you know where you are going, as some bad areas are nearby.  I wouldn't try public transportation, either.  (Of course, I [was] a suburbanite, you may feel differently.) Closes early on Friday and closed on Saturday (but open Sunday.)


Evanston (and Points North)

Vogue Fabrics
718 Main Street, Evanston IL 60202-1702.  847-864-9600
Half a block west of the Howard (red) 'L' line Main Street stop.  Half a block west of the Metra North Line Main Street stop.  About 3 blocks east of Ridge and half a block west of Chicago street (which becomes Clark street in Chicago).
Family-run fabric store.  This is the largest of the Vogue stores.  (See the listings for the Roosevelt Road and Water Tower stores.)  Takes up most of one side of a block.  One room is all more or less discounted fabric.  One room is all silk, wool, and other fancy fabrics.  One room is all patterns and trim.  Three rooms are upholstery and drapery fabric.  (One is discounted upholstery fabric!)  Great sales all the time.  Have you guessed yet that this is my favorite fabric store?  I know people who drive to Chicago from Iowa to shop here.  Extra parking in back.  They do mail order.

Also in the immediate or close vicinity and worth a look: Tom Thumb, Dave's Down-To-Earth Rock Shop, Good's Art Supplies, Closeknit, Inc., The Paper Source.

Century Weaver's Upholstery Fabrics
7040 N Austin Ave., Niles. 847-647-7300
This is a new location since the 1998 update. The store is a upholstery fabric wholesaler, and has discounts on fabrics in stock. I wouldn't call shopping there cheap, because the fabric is expensive even at a discount, but it is very nice fabric, (or even extremely nice fabric.) Voided velvets, chenille, multicolor jaquards, etc.

Chicago Canvas & Supply
3719 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. 773-478-5700 (Not open on weekends.)
W I D E canvas, muslin, and other fabrics for theatrical scenery. By wide, I mean 33 feet wide for some of their offerings. (Narrower widths also.) In addition to muslin & canvas, they also have 100% linen artist's canvas up to five feet wide, cotton artist's canvas up to 12 feet wide, flame-retardant muslin in white, photographer's grey and blue, commando cloth, theatrical gauze (scrim), and burlap. Other scenic supplies such as glow-in-the-dark gaffer's tape, "cable path" gaffer's tape, heavy curtain hanging hardware, Deka fabric dyes in 1 lb containers, and dropcloths and tarps of various sizes and types. They do mail order. No minimum order other than 1 yard minimum.

Hallmark Textiles
2820 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. 773-489-7701
Corner of Western, Elston, & Diversey. Primarily upholstery fabrics but some could be adapted to clothing. In general prices are very reasonable. They have sparkly vinyl upholstery material like you would see in a 1950's diner for $15 per yard. (Less expensive than from Mendel's listed under mail order.) Chenille, voided velvet, embroidered silk, multicolor prints, Italian sheers, varied and pleasing selection. Some fabrics are as low as $5 per yard. One yard minimum cut for most items. Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9-5; Sat. 10-3.

The Sweden Shop
3304 W Foster Ave., Chicago. 773-478-0327.
Primarily a gift shop selling Swedish and Scandinavian items. Listed here because they have a limited selection of Marimekko fabrics by the yard. After you are done here, go down the street for an excellent Swedish meal at the Tre Kronor Restaurant.

West Suburbs

Aurora Bleachery
911 N. Lake Street
Aurora, IL 60506-2515
This is the place of legend where you can buy cotton, and cotton-poly blend fabrics for a dollar to a dollar-fifty *per pound*.  (For reference, 4-1/2 yards of cotton quilting fabric weighs about a pound.)   They are only open Monday through Friday 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.  It is a very good idea to call first.  The retail fabric sales are handled by one lady only, and if she doesn't come in, they won't sell the fabric.  Cash only.  Stock varies. Online map of the area. Note: the prices given were current in 1998, they may have gone up since.

Other stuff that is worth knowing about

Japanese and Other Oriental Stuff

     Of course, you can always get keen oriental stuff in Chinatown and New Chinatown.  In addition to restaurants and gift shops, Chinatown also has a really nice restaurant supply store, a couple of good grocery stores, and recently, a place selling very nice (but expensive) Chinese and Japanese stuff, called "Hoi Polloi / Chicago Funwear"-- on the east side of Wentworth. If you decide to eat in Chinatown, I think the best place is The Phoenixon Archer Ave, across from the new mall area. [2006 update: My new favorite is "Lao Szechwan/Old Szechwan" at the southwest end of the new mall.]

      New Chinatown, as some call it, is the Thai/Vietnamese neighborhood on Argyle-- get off the CTA at the Argyle stop and you will be in the middle of it.  (Broadway and Argyle.)  There are many Thai grocery stores in the area, some of which sell a few housewares.  A good place to buy sandalwood incense, and elaborately decorated embossed aluminum bowls.   It is possible to get the really big folding plastic tatami mats that some people like for picnics at one of the larger grocery stores.  (I forget the name-- it might be Hoa Nam?  It is on Argyle, on the SE corner about 2 blocks east of the L station.)

Toguri J Mercantile Company
851 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago.  (773)929-3500
Hours: Mon-Sat. 10-6 , closed Sunday.
About 1 block east of the Belmont CTA stop (red line), on the corner of Clark and Belmont.  Across the street from the "Punk" Dunkin' Doughnuts. 
General Japanese stuff.  Stationary supplies, books, dishes, kitchen utensils, bonsai and ikebana supplies, yukata (a type of summer kimono), martial arts clothing, stone garden ornaments, origami paper, shoji screens, tatami mats, go sets, incense, toys.  Some Chinese stuff as well, including Chinese shoes.

Double Happiness
907 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago.  (773)929-1122
Just down the block from Toguri's. Various Chinese goods, similar to the better-quality items that can be found in Chinatown. Cheongsams, oriental "robes," Chinese jackets, fur hats, tai-chi uniforms, various brocade-covered items.

Aiko's Art Materials
3347 N. Clark Street, Chicago.  (773)404-5600
Hours: Tues-Sat. 10-5, Closed Sunday & Monday.
A few blocks north of the corner of Clark and Belmont, right near P.S. Bankok and the place where the L tracks pass over the street.  An easy walk from Toguri, above. Specializes in Japanese washi & handmade paper, as well as bush painting supplies.  Woodblock printing and bookbinding equipment and supplies.  One of the only two comprehensive U.S. suppliers of tools and supplies for katazome (stencil-printing on fabric-- John Marshall is the other source).  Pottery and Japanese prints.  Books on Japanese culture and art.  Well worth a special trip if any of this interests you.  Just to further entice you, there are many sushi places in the area.

Sea Ranch Grocery
3223 Lake Avenue, Wilmette. 847-256-7010 (grocery store), 847-256-4404 (fish store), 847-251-0384 (restaurant).
Immediately east of the Lake Avenue exit from the Edens expressway, on the south side of the street. If you pass the gas station, you have gone too far. Closed Monday?
Japanese grocery, connected with the Japensese restaurant Akai Hana and the Japanese seafood store in the same strip mall. The fish at the seafood store (also called Sea Ranch) is extremely fresh. When I took a sushi-making class at Whole Foods in Evanston, the instructor told us that the Sea Ranch fish store has the freshest fish in the Chicago area. (I think she may have thought Mitsuwa, below, was too far to go.) Unlike Whole Foods, she said, there is no need to order "sushi grade" fish from them in advance-- you just walk in and buy it on the spot. They also have sushi to go. The grocery store, though small, has a reasonable selection of Japanese and oriental food items, and the restaurant has good fish dishes.

Mitsuwa Marketplace (formerly "Yaohan Plaza")
100 E. Algonquin Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Mitsuwa is a large Japanese grocery store anchoring a small Japanese-themed mall.  The grocery store includes a bakery, a fancy cosmetics department, and an extensive liquor section.  There are also other shops within the mall including a Japanese-language bookstore, a small housewares store, and my favorite, the food court!

Directions to Mitsuwa from downtown: 

Take I-90 (Edens or Dan Ryan, depending on how far south you are when you start) to the 90/94 Junction, and bear left (northwest), staying on I-90.  Stay on I-90 past the O'Hare airport.  You will pass Wolf Rd., Elmhurst Rd, and Busse.  Get off at Arlington Heights Road (north).
Follow Arlington Heights Road, and look for Algonquin Road (Highway 62)-- I believe you should turn right (east) to reach 100 E. Algonquin, but I am not certain!  (I normally go down on Algonquin, but it isn't as efficient coming from the city.)  Yaohan Plaza is right at the intersection of Algonquin & Arlington Heights road.  I think the parking lot is right before the intersection. 

From the north suburbs: 
Take your best route to Arlington Heights Road, and go south. Look for the intersection of Arlington Heights and Algonquin-- Yaohan will be at the near side of the corner, on the left.

Chicago Food Corp. (The "green sign Korean store")
3333 N Kimball Ave Chicago. 773-478-5566
Huge Korean grocery store. Get off I-94 at Kimball, it is right there. It is the green sign visible northbound from the highway. Well-stocked Korean grocery, also a back room with specialty Korean cooking utensils and appliances such as rice cookers and kim-chee makers. Excellent prices on many Oriental food items, wide variety of frozen fish. It can be so busy on the weekend that they must direct traffic in the parking lot.

Super H Mart
801 Civic Center Drive, Niles. 847-581-1212. (Strip mall near the southeast corner of Waukegan & Oakton. The other anchor store is Home Depot.)
Korean grocery store/shopping mall. Similar in concept to Mitsuwa, the building also houses a food court area and several small shops. Notable shops in the building with the supermarket include the "Hikosen Cara" shop, a specializing in adorably cute cotton household textiles, bags and children's clothing appliqued with kittens and/or puppies.


Metal, Wood and other Non-Fabric Things

American Science and Surplus (Jerryco)
5316 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.  773-763-0313
Gladstone Corner Shopping Center, at the intersection of Milwaukee, Foster, & Central.
Weird stuff!  All kinds of cool used, obsolete, or just plain strange scientific stuff, as well as other general surplus stuff: lenses, computer parts, wire, beakers, test-tubes, paper tablets, bowling trophies, small motors, rubber Jabba the Hut heads, lasers, springs, military surplus (but alas, they finally sold the WWII bombsight that was there for so long that I remembered from my childhood), superballs, hemostats, telephone parts, turntables, vacuum tubes . . . you just never know what you will find.  Most of the stuff is really cheap if you know what you are going to do with it.  I love this store.  My dad loves this store.  My mom hates it when we go to this store.  They also do mail order, but if you live anywhere in the area you really owe it to yourself to go to the store sometime.

Jordan Industrial Supply Company (formerly Harrison Supply Company)
345 N. Wolf Road Wheeling. 60090 1-847-520-5500
Various kinds of metal "remnants," stock varies. Also tools, but most useful for the metal. No weekend hours.

Wood World Hardwood Center
1460 Paddock Drive, Glenview.  (847) 729-9663
2228 N. Elston, Chicago. (773) 227-6700
The name pretty much says it all.  They specialize in wood suitable for making furniture and cabinetry rather than for, say, building your garage.  Thin & specialty plywood & nice millwork.
Woodcraft Supply
1280 E. Dundee Road, Palatine.   847-776-1184
In a strip mall on the north side of the road, near the Dodge dealership, across the street from the mall with the Office Max and the Whole Foods. (Not far from the Michael's Craft Store, above).
With Frog Tool out of the picture, this may be the most convenient place to get specialty woodworking stuff.  Hand tools, power tools, veneer, trim, hardware, glue, etc.  All types of carving tools and woodturning tools. Sharpening equipment. Hardware. Large book section. Cabinetmaking wood offered in planks as well as turning and carving stock. They have a full workshop on the premises and teach classes. They do mail-order.

Woodworker's Store
268 W. Rand Road, Arlington Heights. 847-253-8875
Woodworking supplies, including veneer, hardware, glues, books, etc. This is part of a national chain with a mail order catalog. Although they have all kinds of useful items in stock, there is something about this place that makes me think their customers are hobbists rather than professionals, for the most part. Not that that's a bad thing! Not far from the Minnesota Fabrics and Jo-Ann Fabric stores.

Serious Art Supplies, Beads and other General Craft supplies

International Importing Bead and Novelty
(Also known as "International Bead.")
111 N. Walbash, Garland Building, 7th Floor, Chicago. 312-332-0061
Corner of Walbash and Washington in the Loop. Same building and floor as "Heaven on Seven" restaurant.
In the building where Crate & Barrel used to be.  At long last they moved out of their old building with the bad elevators and scary staircases to a new, larger space!
The best selection of beads, rhinestone and/or sequin trim, etc., in the city.  Jewelry findings and beading tools as well.  They've been in business since 1918. Worth a special trip if you are planning a beading project, or need unusual buttons or something like that.

City Source/City Stitcher
28 E. Huron Street, Chicago.  312-664-5499
Very high quality embroidery supplies and equipment.  Real linen evenweave embroidery fabric, and real silk embroidery floss is available.  (More than one brand!)  They also have cotton fabric and ordinary 6-strand cotton floss.  Needlepoint supplies, too.  Gift shop downstairs, embroidery shop upstairs.  Street parking may take a miracle.  Worth a visit.

Tom Thumb Hobby and Crafts
1026 Davis, Evanston.  847-869-9575
Reasonably close to the CTA and Metra Davis Street stations.
A serious craft supply emporium.  This store is not merely stocked but *packed* with all kinds of craft supplies from the commonplace to the obscure.  Big bead selection, if a touch on the cheezy side in spots.  Sew-on rhinestones. Jewelry findings.  Plenty of molds for candles and soap.  Big blocks of wax.  Strips of sheet metal.  Wide variety of Styrofoam shapes.  Excessive amounts of rubber stamping stuff.  Sealing wax.  Model kits.  Skateboard stuff.  Dollhouse stuff.  Feathers.  Stained glass.  Embroidery floss. Candy-making and cake-decorating supplies.  Wooden objects for tole painting and woodburning. The best part is that there are some older folks who work there who are like the old guys who work in hardware stores: you tell them about your weird craft project, and they help you figure out what will actually work so you can  execute it.  (I went in once, looking for glue to stick feathers on a vinyl umbrella & still let the umbrella fold.  Don't ask. They sold me bathtub caulk and it worked perfectly.) More eclectic and interesting than the big Michael's chain stores.

Ayla's Originals
Sherman Avenue, Evanston. Evanston. 847-328-4040
South of the corner of Sherman and Grove on the east side of the street, down the street from the Holiday Inn. A bead shop primarily of the necklace-making variety, also carries Delicas. They have beads from the Middle East and Africa as well as antique European beads. They give a student discount, but only for students at Northwestern.

Dave's Down-To-Earth Rock Shop
704 Main Street, Evanston.  (847)866-7374
A few doors to the east of Vogue fabrics, right by the Main Street Metra & CTA stations.
Sells semi-precious stone jewelry, rocks (including soapstone for carving), fossils, lapidary supplies.  Jewelry findings.  Has loose and strung semi-precious stone beads suitable for jewelry-making or embroidery.  Educational fossil display for the amusement of the youngsters.

Good's of Evanston Art Supplies
714 Main Street, Evanston. (847)864-0001
Between Dave's Rock Shop and Vogue.
General art supply and framing store.  Carries, among other things, real gold leaf (behind the counter) and a decent selection of fabric dyes.  Framing is competently done and reasonably priced.  Or they will sell you a frame, a mat with a window cut to your specification, glass, and backing.  You can then assemble the frame around your artwork for substantially less then it would cost to have them do it all for you.

Closeknit, Inc.
622 Grove, Evanston.  (847)328-6760
Sells yarn and other knitting supplies.

The Paper Source
232 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago.  312-337-0798
2112 Central Street, Evanston.  847-733-8830
The Chicago location is near Chicago Ave. Brown Line CTA stop, across from Pearl Art Supplies. The (smaller) Evanston location is a few blocks west of the Central Street Metra station.  All kinds of paper, glue, and other bookbinding supplies.  "Artist's books" and kits.  Stamping supplies, computer fonts.  Stationery supplies.  They sell Twinrocker handmade paper.  Classes offered.  They do mail order.

Flax Co. Art Materials
222 S. Wabash, Chicago.  312-431-9588
West side of street, between Adams and Jackson, next to Tower Records. Very close to the Art Institute Museum.
This is the new location. Family-run national chain. To me, Flax has always seemed to be aimed at professional graphic designers more than the other art supply stores downtown. One of the few places to buy shell gold (or at least they used to have it), wide selection of lettering pens. Medieval reenactors: one of the Flax family was(is?) an SCA knight in his youth, which may explain some of the more unusual but slow selling items that they carry. This new store doesn't hold a candle to the old store, but is better than nothing.

Brudno Art Supply
601 N. State, Chicago.  312-787-7980
High-end art supplies. Extremely high-quality, but expensive, oil paints. Really nice paper, brushes etc. The favorite store of one of my painting instructors, who was something of an art supplies snob. Some obscure items: one of the few places I have seen tube egg tempera for sale.

Dick Blick Art Materials (formerly "The Art Store")
42 S. State Street (NW corner of State & Monroe) Chicago. 312-920-0300
(Also1574 N Kingsbury Street near the Whole Foods at the North Avenue traffic jam the real estate developers call the "North Avenue Collection," and 1755 Maple Avenue in Evanston near the Century Theater.)
With the increase in the number of art & design students in the Loop and the demise of some of the old standby art stores, Dick Blick has happily moved in to fill the vaccum. Not as big as Pearl, but not bad either. Less expensive silkscreens that Pearl or Goods of Evanston, but arguably not as high quality. Plenty of fancy notebooks/sketchpads and Kolo photo albums on the first floor. There's a coffee shop in front in case you need to grab something to eat when you go here on your lunch hour.

Pearl Art & Craft Supplies, Inc.
225 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago.  312-915-0200
Near Chicago Ave. Brown Line CTA stop. The generalist's art supply store, said by some to be the best in the city.  Hobnob with art & design students from all over the city.  Very extensive selection of art supplies, from encaustic waxes, to rubber stamps and stickers. Right by The Paper Source. Prices tend to be reasonable.

Utrect Art & Drafting Center
332 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. 312-922-7565
On the corner, about a block south of the Art Institute. Sells primarily its own house brands of paints, paper, etc. Big selection of unstretched canvas, including unprimed linen canvas. PVA and rabbit-skin glue prices are reasonable. My uncle, a professional artist in Iowa, often has me buy big buckets of gesso for him, since the price is much better than anything he can get locally. The small branch store at School of the Art Institute in the Sharp building at 37 South Wabash sells pattern notchers, spiky tracing wheels, and other items needed for pattern drafting that folks used to trudge down to Leonard Adler to buy when it was on Wabash. Utrecht does mail order.

Michael's Arts & Crafts Inc.
This is a huge chain.  Check your phone book for the nearest locations.  I can only speak for the following:
7225 W. Dempster Street, Niles.  847-966-3060
5651 W. Touhy Avenue, Niles.  847-647-1502
749 E. Dundee Road, Palatine.  847-934-7620
Of these three, I think the Dempster store is the largest and the Dundee store is the smallest.  The Touhy store is right next to Loomcraft.  Carries general arts and craft supplies: embroidery, paint-by-number, floral, cake decorating, yarn, etc.

Winnetka Stitchery
718 Elm Street, Winnetka. 847-441-6585
Located in scenic downtown Winnetka, within walking distance of the Metra station.
Wide selection of handpainted needlepoint canvas. Threads for stitching. Very nice threads for stitching, actually, including Paternayan wool, and various silk flosses. I am not a needlepointer, but I sometimes go to this store just for the thread/yarn they have available. They will paint your own design on canvas for you.

Caravan Beads
3361 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. 773-248-9555 (Hard by the CTA Brown line Paulina stop-- you can see it by looking south from the platform.)
Bead store specializing in seed beads and Delicas, carrying every color Delica makes (over 500 colors.) They also have larger glass beads in a wide variety of colors, as well as Swarovski crystal beads, handmade beads, and semi-precious stone beads. They offer classes in lampwork bead making and fused glass, and also"regular" beading clases.

T.L.D. Design Center
26 E. Quincy Street, Westmont. 630-963-9573 (In the back of the Ace Hardware building. About 20 miles from Chicago, but walking distance from Westmont Metra station.)
Weaving studio, fiber art, weaving, and bead store. Refurbished and new looms for sale. Also yarns for weaving and knitting, equipment for soapmaking, felting, and glass bead making. Some spinning supplies. Will order looms & equipment from several manufacturers. Also offers classes.

Arcadia Knitting
1613 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago. 773-293-1211 (SW corner of Ashland and Lawrence.)
Wide selection of yarn for knitting, displayed sorted by color. Also supplies for spinning, and needlepunch felting. Books, patterns, and knitting tools. Classes offered. Near Metra North line Ravenswood station, CTA Brown line Damen station.

See also, Pendragon Calligraphic Supplies.


Millinery Supplies, Wigs and False Hair

Custom & Hard-To-Find Wigs, Ltd.
(aka Wigs For Less)
4065 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.  773-777-0222
Hours: 9:30-6 M-Sat., 11-5 Sun.
One block north of Irving on Milwaukee. Lots of wigs, hairpieces, etc. They have natural & synthetic falls, as well as human hair in bulk. Store covers a city block.

Heads and Threads Boutique
1254 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago 773-235-1190
Comes well-recommended for costumers.

P.J.'s Beauty Suppy
On State, between Adams and Jackson, west side of street. Near Flax Art Supply.
Beauty supply store especially for women of color. All kinds of cosmetics and manicure supplies as well as hair-dressing supplies. Rayon crochet snoods. Real and artificial hair in a variety of colors. Prices are low.

Wigfield Boutique Inc.
22 E. Adams Street, Chicago.  312-263-6034
Near the Art Institute.  Primarily a wig store, the falls and false braids are in the back-- you must ask for them.  Not particularly cheap, but a central location and the shopkeepers are good at matching hair color.



Call first!

I. Sachs
637 W. Roosevelt, Chicago.  312-666-0091
Near Vogue and Fishman's.  Leather wholesaler, but has been willing to sell to art students in the past, and may well be willing to sell to others as well.

Surak Leather
1464 W. Webster, Chicago.  773-248-5737
Hours: 8-4:30 M-F?
Leather in quantity. By appointment or chance, stock varies.

Leo Stein
4314 N. California, Chicago.  773-478-7260
Hours: 8:30-4:30 M-F?

Newberger Brothers
2108 W. Fullerton, Chicago.  773-489-4100
By appointment only.  Leather importer.  $200 minimum purchase at last report.

Monterey Mills, Inc.
1725 Delevan Drive, Janesville, Wisconsin 53545. 608-754-8309, 800-432-9959.
Manufacturer of fake fur, wool mattress pads, and synthetic stuffing. Factory store sells all three, fur is available by the yard as well as remnants priced by the pound. Stuffing by the pound, in 20 lb. bags. Mail order available.

See also, Leonard Adler & Company.



Audrena's International Bazaar
P.O. Box 26, Chicago Ridge, IL 60415    800-327-3406
Middle-Eastern dance supplies & costumes. Featured on Ben Loves Chicago in 1997.

Lewis & White
1031 W. Madison, Chicago.  312-421-4345
Huge selection of silk flowers, low prices.  Also have florist supplies and party favors.  "Just Married" and "Baby Shower" signs in Spanish. The area around the store is notable for its many restaurant supply stores, many of which carry used equipment at a discount.

Athenian Candle Company
300 S. Halsted Street, Chicago.  312-332-6988
In Greektown.  Wide variety of candles and religious icons.  Very interesting.

Brewin' Beer
6148 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago. 773-685-2895
2 blocks west of Austin. Brewing supplies, obviously. I've never visited this place, but one of my friends says that it is good.

Chiarugi Hardware
1449 W. Taylor St. Chicago. 312-666-2235
Yes, it says "hardware," but they are a convenient place to pick up brewing and winemaking supplies. Near Rush Med. Center and UI Hospital in the old Italian neighborhood. Just down the street from Pompeii Bakery (good pizza slices) and Conte Di Savoia (good submarine sandwiches, and Italian groceries). Online map of area.

Chicago Protective Apparel, Inc.
3425 Cleveland St., Skokie. 847-674-7900
Very friendly, family-run local business selling protective clothing. While most of their business appears to be items such as firefighter's protective gear and protective clothing used in heavy industry, they also sell workshop aprons and similar items. They will make direct retail sales if you come to their warehouse, and they are very inexpensive. If you need bib aprons to outfit a scout troop or use for students in a class you are teaching, these folks can help you out very nicely. (I like the "denim shop apron" style #532-2P.) And if you do need armored chaps to wear when using a chainsaw, or you need a welding mask, or a sandblasting hood, or perhaps chainmail mittens they can help you there as well. The only downside is that they are only open during regular business hours. If you go, I suggest phoning them first. They are located about a block west of McCormick Blvd. between Main and Oakton.

Dann Dee Display Fixtures
7555 Caldwell Avenue, Niles. 847-588-1600 (may also have an "800" number.)
Store fixture supplier. Coat hangers in quantity. Rolling garment racks. Mannequins. Niles address is the warehouse, you can pick stuff up yourself and save on shipping, but you must pick things out from the catalog and call first rather than browsing the warehouse. Friendly folks, perfectly willing to sell to retail customers.

Erikson's Delicatessen & Fish Market
5250 N. Clark, Chicago. 773-561-5634
Swedish delicatessen. The best place for pickled herring. Yeah, I know it isn't craft supplies, but it is really good herring! Allow plenty of time if you plan to buy herring for Christmas. The store is small, and right before Christmas people are sometimes lined up all the way outside.

Fantasy Costumes Headquarters
4065 N. Milwaukee, Chicago. 773-777-0222 1-800-USA-WIGS
Hours: 9:30-6 M-Sat., 11-5 Sun.
One block north of Irving on Milwaukee. Large costume and novelty supply store, has an unusually wide variety of wigs. (See above for review of wig selection.) Costumes for rent and for sale, including elaborate "parade mascot" costumes. Morbidly complete selection of rubber vermin, plastic skeletons, and skull-motif candleholders that makes you think you've found the Hallmark store for Goths. Mardi Gras, luau, etc., theme party costumes & decorations. Costumes for children. Fake swords, clubs, and inflatable harps for angels. Theatrical makeup, including complete line of Ben Nye products. Separate room of party favors for bachelor/bachelorette parties which range from being in bad taste to being downright obscene. Magic tricks, masks, silly hats, clown shoes, you name it.

Fry's Electronics
3300 Finley Road, Downer's Grove. 630-390-2100
Huge electronics store. Legendary in California, they finally opened a store in Chicago in 2003. Not only do they sell personal computers and home electronics like CompUSA and Best Buy, they also sell most of the things you need to build your own computers and other electronic components. Also metal detectors, ham radio equipment, hand-held spotlights, stereos, DVD's, computer games, books on computers and electronics, fuses, wire, weather stations, LED's, household appliances, and toys.

1800 E. McConnor Parkway, Schaumburg. 847-969-9700
Immediately to the north of Woodfield shopping mall, just beyond the Hyatt. From Golf Rd., look for the corner with the Borders bookstore & the Nordstrom's Rack outlet and turn north.
Swedish furniture store specializing in low-cost, functional furniture. Some people consider it a way of life. This enormous store, the first in the Midwest and the largest outside Sweden, had about 20,000-30,000 customers on the day it opened on Nov. 18, 1998. (The store can hold 6,500 at a time.) All kinds of very inexpensive furniture and home furnishings which are far nicer than the nasty cardboard stuff you find at K-Mart. (Nice lamps for $5. End tables for < $20.) Respectable selection of fabric by the yard in primarily in "Swedish modern" type prints, as well as items such as wood stains for decorating their unfinished furniture-- many things they sell would make a good basis for a "craft project." (In fact, many of the craft projects in Burda magazine call for small items from IKEA, such as drinking glasses to turn into candle lanterns, etc.) Small section of Swedish specialty food items. Has a supervised children's play area so you can leave the kids while you shop, and two restaurants so you can keep up your strength as you wander through this enormous store.

Krasny & Co., Inc.
2829 N. Clybourn, Chicago. 773-477-5504
Restaurant & bar supply store, very long on paper products, glassware, steam table accessories. Also janitorial supplies. Fewer items of interest to non-restaurant owning customers than Northwestern Cutlery unless you have an unusually extensive home bar and your friends are lushes, but there is a good basic selection of baking pans, saute pans, and stock pots in various sizes. Also of interest if you do a lot of indigo dyeing or "vat" dyeing with fiber reactive dye, because they sell various sizes of large white trash cans with lids. These are better for dye vats than the dark-colored ones at the hardware store because they make it easier to assess the condition of the indigo vat and otherwise see what you are doing. M-F only, closes at 6 pm.

600 County Line Rd. Elmhurst, IL 60126-2081
Customer Service: (630) 833-0300; (630) 600-3600. (24 hours)
Will-call hours: 7:00 am - 6:00 pm (M-F); 7:00 am - 2:00 pm (Sat.) But as of early 2005 no longer permit Saturday pick-up for individuals.
No, you can't wander the aisles, but we are lucky to have one of the main warehouse locations of this granddaddy of industrial supply catalogs nearby. It is basically the ultimate hardware store by mail order. Phone in your order or place it online, then drive out to Elmhurst and pick it up during their "will-call" hours. They carry everything from welding equipment to meat saws for food service, from microscopes to sledgehammers. No minimum order.

Military & Police Supply, Inc.
7351 W. Madison Street, Forest Park.  708-366-9711, 312-SURPLUS
Police gear, military surplus, camping equipment. Large boot selection. Reenactor-friendly. Rents military equipment and gear for film productions.

Northwestern Cutlery
810 W. Lake Street, Chicago. 312- 421-3666
Chef's knives, expert knife sharpening. Faster & cheaper than the folks at Sur La Table, this is where the pros go. Limited selection of restaurant supplies. (Nothing like the late, lamented Edward Don Outlet.)

Prairie Avenue Bookshop
418 S. Wabash, Chicago. 312-922-8311, 800-474-2724
Attractive bookshop specializing in books on architecture and design, both new and used. The movie The Lake House was filmed here, the bookshop played the part of an architect's study.

Salvage One
1840 W Hubbard, Chicago.  312-733-0098
Architectural salvage.  Hardware and millwork.  Not cheap.

Schwartz's Intimate Apparel
108 Skokie Boulevard, Wilmette. 847-251-1118
Near Old Orchard shopping mall, a block or so to the north on the east side of the street.
Some people say this is the best lingerie store in the entire greater Chicago area. With an emphasis is quality and fit, this is not an "interesting underwear to beguile your man" type store. They have experienced salespeople who really know the products and the various types of fitting problems, and they are not pushy. One of my friends who makes custom bridal gowns sends her clients here for the best strapless longline brassieres, even in large sizes. They also carry mastectomy prostheses. If you have a really serious fitting problem, or are devoted to a very obscure style, be aware that they are perfectly happy to special order from the manufacturer's catalogs.

Spice House
1941 Central Street, Evanson, IL 60201. 847-328-3711 A few blocks west of the north line Metra Central Street station. (Near the Paper Source.)
1512 N. Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60610. 312-274-0378
As the name suggests, a spice store. Multiple varieties of everything. Not only do they have different types of cinnamon/cassia from different varieties of plants for your tasting delight, they also have obscure spices-- oriental pepper, "grains of paradise" (Aframomum melegueta), legal to have in the U.S.A. heat-treated Sichuan pepper, etc. Also high quality ready made soup stocks. They have rosewater, orangeflower water, and tamarind concentrate. Because they supply many of the major restaurants, they turn over their stock very quickly, and many of their spices are ground on at least a weekly basis. The flavor of these freshly ground spices is far superior to anything you will find that was commercially packed, spent weeks in transit, and then has sat on the supermarket shelf for months before you buy it. The folks at the shop are very willing to help you find what you need, and will often help you find information in the store's own herb and spice reference library. Part of the "Fruitcake" episode of Good Eats was filmed here. They do mail order.

Uncle Dan's Army-Navy Camping
2440 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.  773-477-1918
700 Church Street, Evanston.  847-475-7100
Evanston store is near the public library.  Very little surplus these days, primarily camping gear and outdoors clothing.

Z Wallis Surplus
4647 N. Broadway Street, Chicago.  773-784-9140
Military surplus and camping gear.

Mail-Order Sources


Rupert, Gibbon & Spider
P.O. Box 425
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Do yourself a big favor and at least call for the price list. These folks are pretty much the least expensive when it comes to white or "natural" silk. In 1995, we got silk for my sister's wedding dress from them for around $4/yd and it looked great. They also sell ready-made scarves, etc., for people who like to do fabric embellishment. The scarves also make nice veils for the ren faire/medieval reenactment crowd.  I have been very happy in all my dealings with this company.  I have been ordering stuff from them since at least 1986. See the Jacquard listing for their line of fabric paint/dye and for books. 

Thai Silks!
252 State Street, Los Altos, CA 94022
1-800-722-SILK (1-800-722-7455)
Silk fabrics in colors and prints. You will need the swatch set to really understand the price list unless you are already quite familiar with their product line. They also carry some wools, linens, and cottons. If you order $200 worth of non-sale stuff and you include your business card (or something else showing that you are an artist or dressmaker or something), then you can get a 25% discount on any future orders over $50. Prices are pretty low, but you might find equally low prices on the sale tables at the various fabric stores here around Chicago. I was much more impressed when I lived in Iowa. Call for the price list and decide for yourself. They also have some styles of silk clothing blanks, the nice thing is that some have open side seams for easier printing or painting. Also, if you can use a lot of something, try Exotic Silks in Mountain View, CA (800-845-7455) they sell virtually the same product line (the products are so similar that I wouldn't be surprised to find out they are affiliated in some way) at lower prices but have a $100 minimum order and the smallest fabric cuts range from 15 to 25 yards depending on fabric type.

Angus International
19/F, 8 Soares Avenue, Kowloon City, HONG KONG.
Telephone 011-852-2718-2748. (International number)
This is not fabric mail order for the timid, I'll grant you. If you send them a check for $10 or are willing to email your credit card number, they will send you an impressive swatch set. Prices are quite low, but nothing like as low as they would be if you went there in person. I've placed a few orders with these folks and have had no problems at all. I can personally vouch for the fact that they have been in business for at least 20 years. They say that they can have silk fabric custom woven for you.

Liberty of London
210-220 Regent Street, London, England, W1R6AH.  Telephone: 0171-734-1234
Liberty has been in business since the late 19th century. It was a popular shop for the likes of Morris & Rossetti, as well as other fans of the Pre-Raphaelite movement & the Aesthetic Dress movement. Morris wound up designing some of the fabric himself, and some of the designs are still available. Later, in the 1920's, it was famous for its Art Nouveau fabrics, clothes, and home furnishings.
Today, it remains an amazing store, full of really cool furniture, oriental rugs, clothes, "giftware," and . . . the fabric department is to die for! Too bad it's in London. Not only do they sell the lovely Liberty print cottons, they have some delicious other fabrics as well. Unfortunately, there no longer are Liberty stores in the U.S., though you can sometimes find Liberty things in department stores. I haven't seen Liberty yardage in a fabric store around Chicago in years. With luck, mail order will fulfill the lack. Unfortunately, the "giftware" catalog that they send out for the asking is very sparse and includes only small, high-ticket items, and they charge about $30/order for shipping. 2005 update. Looks like they aren't that interested in doing mail order sales to the U.S. through their website these days.

Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc.
P.O. Box 415-W, Pierceton, IN 46562
Specialize in 18th and 19th century reproductions for living history. Among other things, they sell reproduction fabrics intended for making reproduction garments. The fabrics include linen and wool, as well as Sunforger tent canvas. They also have unusual reproduction buttons and clasps.

Burnley & Trowbridge Co.
108 Druid Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Specializes in fabric for making reproduction garments for historical reenactors. Wool and linen in historic colors and weaves. They even have linsey-woolsey! Send $5 for catalog. They will send fabric swatches. An excellent source for hard-to-get fabrics.

Thistle Hill Weavers & Rabbit Goody
101 Chestnut Ridge Road Cherry Valley, NY 13320.
Textile mill producing short runs of reproduction fabrics for film productions, house museums and other hard-core period fabric types. Offerings include rugs, coverlets, trims. $7 for swatches.
25 N. Willson Ave., Suite A, Bozeman, MT 59715.
A variety of reproduction cotton fabrics for quilting representing 1770 to 1970. Also Turkish scarves and books on quilting.

Archive Edition Textiles
12575 Crenshaw Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250
Very convincing, high-quality reproduction Victorian and Arts & Crafts period upholstery fabrics. Available as yardage as well as made up into decorative pillows, table runners, curtains, etc. Swatch set $15. Fitzsimmons Decorative Arts at 311 W. Superior in Chicago carries some of their items.

Scottish Lion Import Shop
3016 Main Street, North Conway, NH 03860-5115
1-800-355-SCOT (7268)
They carry a lot of Scottish stuff, clothes, mugs, clan badge pins, tartan neckties, etc. I've listed them here because they sell real tartan fabric by mail order, which can sometimes be difficult to find. The fabric is not listed on the web page, you will have to call for a catalog, but they have tartans for hundreds of clans. The price is not low, tartan never is, but if you really want it and you can't find it elsewhere . . . .

Linda Clifford: The Knockomie Collection
Linda Clifford
RR #2 Box 3745, Bryant Pond, ME 04219
(207) 364-3019 (call only before 5pm eastern time)
I just heard about this source, though I've never had any dealings with her personally. Linda Clifford is a textile artist who makes quilts out of tartan fabric. As a side effect, she is a supplier of tartan fabrics in both wool and silk. She can also arrange to have tartans custom woven for you. Like Scottish Lion above, she will also order a kilt for you.

Richard the Thread
10405 Washington Blvd., Culver City CA 90232.
Corset supplies of all types. Corset coutil, boning, busks, hooping wire. Also general tailoring supplies.

Mendel's/ Far Out Fabrics
1556 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Art supply/ fabric store. Notable for small but well-edited selection of wacky cotton prints (skeletons on flaming motorcycles being my favorite), PVC "fabric" in a variety of colors, and the kind of sparkly vinyl upholstery material associated with diners in the 1950's.

Barre Army Navy Store
955 North Main Street Barre, VT 05641
Listed here because they sell military camouflage fabric by the yard. Also general military surplus.

Fabric Tales
4-28-202 Matsushitacho, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo 662-0962 JAPAN
Japanese cotton, rayon, and silk fabric by mail, prices range from $10 (simple cotton prints) to $30 per yard (silk obi brocade). Also printed ribbon, fabric cording, and fabric mousepads. It will probably cost you $10 - $20 to ship-- shipping costs are based on the price of the goods ordered.

Eastwind Art
P.O. Box 811, Sebastopol, CA 95473
Cotton quilt fabrics with Japanese designs. Also tools for sashiko embroidery, patterns and books on Japanese textile crafts, various small Japanese gifts. Rice hulls for pillow-stuffing.

Silk Trading Company
5900 Blackwelder St. Culver City, CA 90232 (But there is a "to the trade" shop in the Mart.)
Most of the time, fabric labeled as "silk velvet" is normally a silk base fabric with rayon pile. (That's why devoré works, the cellulose pile is chemically burned off.) But to my mind, rayon pile is missing the point. These folks, however, have velvet that has silk pile on a synthetic base. It is a special order, and it is about $150/yard. They have many other lovely silks as well. (For those dreaming of 100% silk velvet, it is still being made-- see this information on Hangzhou Goldenstar Velvet Factory. But you will probably have to order a lot of it if you get it from them!)

18220 Waldron Dr., Waldron, MO 64092
The manufacturers of "Fiber-Etch," they sell Azeta Polyester/Cotton fabric for use with devoré burnout techniques. Unlike regular 50/50 cotton/poly, the Azeta fabric is woven from cotton-wrapped polyester thread, that means that you get a much clearer burnout affect when you use it than you would on a fabric made from threads where the cotton and polyester has been spun together. Silkpaint! sells a bunch of other interesting things as well. (E.g. Airpen, a godsend for those who like drawing with dye in squeeze bottles so much they now have carpal tunnel.) And Fiber-Etch itself is a handy product if you don't want to make your own burnout paste with supplies from PRO Chem.

415 Delaware Ave., West Pittiston, PA 18643
Their main products are reference test fabrics and fibers for people engaged in textile science investigations, as well as chemically very stable fabrics for use in museum display construction and for restoration. So they have a very broad range of different kinds of fabric that is prepared-for-dyeing, including fabrics prepared for digital printing. That said, for basic items such as bleached, mercerized cotton print cloth you may find better prices at places like Dharma. But it all really just depends on what you are trying to do.

See Dharma for fabric as well, also Chicago Canvas & Supply.


Dye & Fabric Modification

Dharma Trading Company
Box. 150916 San Rafael, CA 94915
Encyclopedic catalog of fabric dyes and paints. Primarily serving folks who like to embellish pre-made garments, they have a lot of supplies for tie-dye, batik, and gutta-serti technique scarf-painting. Amazingly extensive selection of pre-made garments that are ready to dye, some sewn with cotton thread. For example, they have three grades of ready-to-dye cotton leggings, all offered in every size from a child's small to an adult double-extra-large. (This last could be handy as tights for ren-faire folk.) They also sell some some fabric yardage, but if you want silk you are probably better off getting it from Rupert, Gibbon & Spider. Cotton fabrics come in a variety of weights and widths, including hard-to-find 120" wide scenery muslin. (Fabrics are all white or natural, of course.) They also carry some books, chemicals, and other equipment. In business since the 60's (big surprise, given the name & product line.)

Jacquard Products
P.O. Box 425
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Same company as Rupert, Gibbon & Spider (see above for silk fabric yardage). This is their dye and fabric paint division. If you go to your local art supply store and look for fabric dye or paint, chances are it was manufactured by Jacquard. Dharma also sells their stuff. The catalog lists a wide variety of supplies and tools, all their own brand. No middle man, so their prices are a little cheaper than other sources for their products. They also sell books and extremely nice embroidery floor stands. Jacquard beeswax (from your local store or by mail order) is likely to be among the cheapest you will be able to find. Large, old, reliable company. I have been ordering stuff from them since at least 1986.

PRO Chemical & Dye
P.O. Box 14, Somerset, MA 02726.
1-800-2-BUY-DYE (1-800-228-9393.)
These folks carry almost everything you could want if modern chemical dyes are your thing. (They do not carry "natural" dyes.) Not only do they carry the standard stuff that Dharma and Jacquard carry, they also have vat dyes including synthetic indigo, disperse dyes (yes, Virginia, you can dye polyester deep shades at home-- if you have damn good ventilation, a good respirator mask, and chemical-resistant gloves), and basic and direct dyes. Full line of fiber-reactive dye colors (color names are different than the Jacquard dyes). They have textile paints as well. They also carry some dye application tools, such as glass eyedroppers and electric tijanting, and safety/protective equipment. Marbling supplies. The prices on their chemical assistants seem to be lower than other companies, and the folks answering the phone at customer service really know what they are talking about. The instruction sheets they send with orders are very helpful. On the other hand, the catalog is written with the assumption that you have some idea what you are doing. My favorite dye supplier!

John Marshall: works in fabric
2422 East 23rd Street, Oakland CA 94601.
Above, I mentioned Aiko's as one of two comprehensive U.S. sources for katazome (Japanese stencil-dyeing) supplies and equipment. This is the other. John Marshall is primarily an artist (and an extremely talented one), but he also sells supplies, equipment and books. He sells natural indigo. I prefer his komon nuka to that available at Aiko's. (Nuka is a special type of prepared rice bran used in traditional rice-paste resist.) If you are interested in katazome, it is also worthwhile to look for the various workshops Mr. Marshall does throughout the country from time to time. In case it rings a bell with you, he is the author of Make Your Own Japanese Clothes.

Earth Guild
33 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC 28801.
A general supplier of craft supplies and books, particularly for the "fiber arts," including looms and basketry equipment. They have the best selection of natural dyes in any catalog I have come across. The complete catalog is $4. But now that they have a website, you can just shop online.

Aljo Manufacturing Co.
81-83 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013
They have direct, acid, fiber reactive, basic, disperse, and vat dyes. Also some batik supplies, and florescent acid dyes suitable for nylon. Alcohol-water dyes for silk painting.

Maiwa Handprints Ltd.
#6 - 1666 Johnston Street, Granville Island Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2, CANADA
604-669-3939 (Country code needed?)
I admit, I've never ordered anything from these folks, but I've looked at their on-line catalog and it is very impressive. Charlotte Kwon is the owner, and she has posted a great deal of information on fabric dyeing as well as information on her products. The information posted seems to be both accurate and easy to understand, and I hope the business is equally well done. She offers cochineal as one of her natural dyes. This is helpful, since Earth Guild no longer had it, last time I contacted them. Entire catalog is posted online, or may be downloaded in PDF format.

Colorado Wholesale Dye (also known as Grateful Dyes)
5325 S. Broadway, Littleton CO 80121
Procion MX dyes and related chemicals. Some of the lowest prices I've found for gallon bottles of Synthrapol. They sell "Rubine MX-B" (a lovely red pure dye not available in the Jacquard line) as #14 "Cherry Red." Ordering can be an adventure, the online ordering function of their website is often down for long periods, and phoning them may result in having your call transferred to the owner's cell phone while he is driving. But they are good folks, have good prices, and ship quickly.

The Village Spinning & Weaving Shop
425 Alisal Road Solvang, CA 93463
Natural dyes, and equipment for the "fiber arts" including spinning wheels, niddy noddys, swifts, felting tools, fibers for spinning, etc. I purchased a book and some chemicals used in natural dying from them about a year ago and had no problems. Too bad it isn't somewhere closer, it looks like an interesting shop.

Earthsong Fibers
1782 40th Avenue Osceola, WI 54020
Pleasantly quirky "fiber arts" supply business run by a Waldorf schoolteacher couple. In addition to natural dyes and chemical dyes for wool, and a variety of fiber arts tools, they also have charming-sounding kits for knitting toy alpacas and so forth, and fiber art kits suitible for children. No online ordering and no toll-free number, but very friendly service and fast shipping to Chicago.

Hillcreek Fiber Studio
7001 Hillcreek Road Columbia, MO 65203
Dyes and equipment for weaving, knitting, and other textile arts. Online "shop" is a little confusing to use, but the humans on the other end are friendly and helpful. Shipping to Chicago is relatively fast.

See also, Sinopia Pigments & Materials.


Books and Patterns

67 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801.
1-800-284-3388 (Same as Lark Books)
Excellent news! Everyone's beloved Folkwear patterns are back in print. In May 1998, it was announced that Folkwear was purchased by Altamont Press (publisher of Fiberarts magazine & owner of Lark Books). Many of the out of stock patterns have now been reprinted. Once they catch up with needed reprints for exising designs, they hope to add more. The Metropolitan Museum of Art patterns will be permanently discontinued because the Met declined to renew the licensing agreement. If you want one of those, I suggest you order it now as some of them can still be obtained at discounted prices. New patterns for spring include Kinsale Cloak in girl's sizes, a cocoon coat, another 20's coat, 3 different 20's dresses, and a "Tea Dress." They are soliciting suggestions for new patterns, Kate Mathews is the contact person. Catalog is $3.

Amazon Drygoods ("Amazon")
2218 E. 11th Street, Davenport, IA 52803
Not to be confused with Johnny-come-lately "," Amazon Drygoods has been around for well over twenty years. Specializes in period patterns and books on costume. (The book selection is relatively small but carefully chosen.) They also have reproduction period shoes, hats (and other millinery supplies), corset bones, etc., as well as period-like fabrics. They also carry various other items of use to Civil War re-enactors, including ready-made clothing. I have been ordering things from them since 1986 (and even visited the warehouse in Davenport once), and have been very pleased with their products and service. There are separate catalogs for patterns, shoes, and re-enactor supplies.

3749 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
626-585-2994 (Tue-Fri 10-5:30 California time=12-7:30 Chicago time.)
150+ page pattern catalog, primarily patterns for period/vintage clothing. They also carry some period costume-making supplies such as "00" grommets and corset boning. The pattern selection is very extensive including medieval/ren patterns, Victorian patterns, square dance patterns, horseback riding patterns, patterns for the handicapped, middle eastern dance patterns-- you name it.  However, delivery times can be extremely slow. A non-rush order is described as taking four weeks for delivery. [So in 1998. Now they have it trimmed down to three weeks.] When I telephoned in a non-rush order with a credit card and didn't see the goods after five weeks, I called them up and found out that it hadn't been mailed yet!  It took an additional 10 days after that before I had my items in hand. If you are willing to pay a premium, there is a "Rush" option, but as I have never tried it, I don't know if it would do any good.

Articles of War, Ltd.
8806 Bronx Avenue, Skokie, IL 60077-1896
847-674-7445, fax 847-674-7449
(Closed Sunday-Tuesday?)
Specializes in new and used books on military history, aviation history, and naval history, as well as novels with a military theme, mysteries, and science fiction. (Excellent collection of books on the history of uniforms.) Recommended by a librarian friend, these folks are able to order books from more overseas distributors than the large bookstore chains. They don't mind ordering things for you that aren't military history, and will ship anywhere.

Lark Books
67 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801.
Specializes in books on crafts, including sewing. Catalogs are tempting, filled with illustrations from the books. I have ordered several books from them, and had no problem when I needed to return one because it did not meet my expectations. Look out, though, for the gorgeous craft tools and kits that are interspersed with the books in the catalog. Though they appear to be very well made, in most cases similar but cheaper and equally functional tools and kits are available if you look around.
On the web, of course. So many books in the catalog, it almost passes for "Books In Print." (Don't be fooled though, there are some things they don't list that nevertheless are still in print.) Out-of-print search service is not as good as they would have you believe.

The Outlaw Press
160 Washington SE, Suite 43 Albuquerque NM 87108-2749
Publishers of The New Carolingian Modelbook, by Ianthe d'Averoigne. An excellent book of counted embroidery patterns for pre-1600. $24.95 + postage. (Book rate to Chicago is $2.61. Or you could just get Borders to order it for you.) Also publish Name Construction in Medieval Japan, A Bibliography of Heraldic Resources, and Facets of Knighthood.

Poison Pen Press
951 Coney Island Ave., Suite 111 Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 853-8121
"Books on medieval cookery, costuming, domestic aspects of the Middle Ages and Renaissance." They have Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, as well as several pre-1600 embroidery books, other costume history books.

Simmons & Simmons Fine Books
(a.k.a. Rosamond's Reclaimed Treasures: Books for the Medieval Life)
P O Box 80033, 4616 Central Ave. SE Albuquerque, NM 87198
505-260-1620, e-mail:
Used book dealer who is also an SCA member. General catalog of needlework books. They used to (and still may) have a catalog particulary aimed at SCA members. They sell photocopy reprints of rare out-of-copyright costume books, or at least they used to.

Fred Struthers Books On Cloth
P.O. Box 2706, Fort Bragg, CA 59437
707-964-8662, e-mail:
Used book dealer specializing in books on costume, textiles, and the needle arts. I have a love-hate relationship with this business. On the one hand, their catalog is great and they have some fabulous, hard to get books. On the other hand, because some of the books are rare, by the time you get the catalog from the mailman's hand, read through it for 15 minutes and then run to the telephone to call them up, you are too late, the book has been sold! Often the entries in the catalog are cryptic enough that in some cases you have to know about the books already to tell if they are good or not. A particularly good source for museum publications from Germany. Also publishes some reprints of public domain textile books. I've been buying from him for a few years now.

See also, Lacis, Earth Guild.


Art Supplies/Other

Pendragon Calligraphic Supplies
P.O. Box 1995, Arlington Heights, IL 60006
847-870-9988, 1-800-775-PENS (1-800-775-7367)
This is the same Pendragon that used to be in Minnesota, said by some (including me!) to be the best supplier of calligraphy tools in the country. Huge selection of calligraphy and gilding supplies, from the commonplace to the obscure, as well as instructional books. One of the few sources for gum ammoniac (used for gilding on paper). Stock includes papers, paints and dry pigments, brushes, pens, nibs, light-tables, bookbinding tools, real quills (prepared and unprepared), knives for preparing quills, and even real vellum! The owner is herself a calligrapher, and can help with questions. I put this here even though it is in Arlington Heights, because it is strictly mail order. Catalog $2. [Call to verify, this listing last updated in 1998. Rumor has it that she is now out of business.]

Paper & Ink Books
P.O. Box 35 / 3 N. Second Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798
1-800-PEN-7772 (1-800-736-7772)
Large mail order catalog of calligraphy tools, paper, & inks, as well as books on book/paper arts and rubber stamping supplies. Gilding supplies, one of the few sources in the U.S. for gum ammoniac (used for gilding on paper). Prices appear to be higher than Pendragon for some items, but lower for others. I can't remember if I got my beloved portable plexiglass drawing board/light table from these folks or from Pendragon, but they seem to have a similar one in the catalog now.

Thompson Conservation Laboratory
7549 N. Fenwick, Portland, OR 97217
Specializes in restoring medieval and renaissance books. They publish small books on their techniques and on what they have learned about books of the period, as well as reprints of period books. They also make and sell replica inks, made using various period recipes. Their web page loads slowly, but has a lot of interesting information about bookbinding. They offer a workshop on "Medieval Book Technology." The ink sample and book that I ordered arrived in good time, and the book made very interesting reading (Medieval Manuscript Inks). However, the ink sample was disappointingly small, but perhaps its cost was due to its nature as a handmade ink. No size was given when I ordered-- I think the $3 bottle holds about one dram. The reprint books they offer are not all on book arts, and several are on brewing-related topics, like, A Booke of Secrets: Instructions for Ordering of Wines, described as "advice from 1596." ($2.95 plus postage.)

Sinopia Pigments & Materials
229 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
I've never ordered anything from Sinopia but the catalog, but thought it deserves mention. They deal in pigments and dyes for art restorers and people who like to make their own art supplies. The bulk of their products are dry pigments for preparing paints as well as for use in fresco. They have glass mullers for grinding your own pigments, and the binding agents needed to make watercolors and inks. They also sell gold leaf and gilding supplies, and have "historic" drawing inks, sepia from squid ink, and bistre. The reason they deserve mention as a dye resource is that they offer lac dye. It is quite expensive ($30/50g), but I've never seen it for sale anywhere else and it is good to know that it is available somewhere for those who want it. (Lac is similar to cochineal, but is from India rather than South America. It is an ancient and fast bright red natural dye. As far as I know, no one sells kermes anywhere.) Finally, they have books on art technique and art history. [2006 Update: Looks like they might not have lac anymore. But now that more businesses are on the Internet it may be easier to find. Try Paradise Fibers instead, or Kermer listed just below.]

Kremer Pigmente
247 West 29th Street New York, NY 10001
Like Sinopia, they sell historical dyes and pigments for art restorers, violin makers, etc. Notable because they have actual Tyrian purple dye in their catalog (for about $100/ounce). Also have lac, dyer's weld, indigo from woad, and a number of other interesting items.

3163 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703
If you need some obscure needlework tool, these folks probably have it. Mostly lacemaking supplies, but they also sell tools for "ordinary" needlework. I got my tambour hook from them, as well as my lacemaking bobbins. They've also got a lot of unusual and obscure needlework & textile related books.

Hedgehog Handworks
P.O. Box 45384, Westchester, CA 90045
310-670-6040, 888-670-6040 (toll-free)
Needlework supplies. Chatelaine parts, sampler kits, real silk embroidery floss (several varieties), linen thread, silk ribbon for embroidery, metal thread, real gold-filled and silver spangles, corset-making supplies, costuming and history books.

Londra's Clover Notions
804 Vista Drive, Bismarck IL 61814 (mailing address only, no bricks-and-mortar store)
Many unusual Japanese-made notions by Clover, an alternative source for some of the less common items. (See also Clover's offical website.) Clover makes a lot of thing that you probably won't see at Jo-Anne Fabrics. The site owner, Londa Rohlfing, has other interesting sewing notions websites as well. For example, her site has unusual zippers by Riri.

Textura Trading Company
116 Pleasant Street, Suite 343, Easthampton, MA 01027
Sells some very unusual yarns for handweavers and knitters. Haven't you always wanted holographic yarn, and embroidery thread that changes colors with UV light exposure? Corespun cotton-synthetic yarns if you want to try devoré on your handwoven fabric.

P.O. Box 700, Saddle River, NJ 07458
1-800-CAMPMOR (1-800-226-7667).
This can't be considered craft supplies unless you are planning to make a tent. Campmor sells replacement parts for Eureka! tents, including collapsible tent poles and shock-corded fiberglass tent poles. If you are making your own tent, you may be able to adapt the design to the poles they sell. In addition to tent parts, they are a great source for discounted camping gear, particularly clothing, sleeping bags, cooking gear, solar showers, tents, and backpacks. Prices are very reasonable.

Lab Safety Supply
PO Box 1368 Janesville, WI 53546-1368
Labratory equipment, not just safety equipment. Chemical & heat resistant gloves, safety glasses, weighing equipment, pipettes, lab glass, weather stations, sediment sampling dredges, the fume hood you've always dreamed of, etc. Fair warning, if you order from these folks you may wind up getting a promotional calendar in the mail featuring pictures of Labrador retrievers posed next to test tube displays.

Elemental Scientific (previously listed as Hagenow Laboratories)
PO Box 571 Appleton, Wisconsin 54912.
Mail order supplier of lab chemicals and glassware for schools, hobbists, homeschoolers. May be easier to deal with than the big guys-- they are reportedly popular with the "alchemy experimenter" community. $25 minimum order.

Daigger Lab Supplies
675 Heathrow Drive, Linconshire, IL 60069-4206
1-800-621-7193, fax 1-800-320-7200
Lab supplies and lab chemicals. These folks normally sell to research labs, hospitals, etc., so much their lab equipment tends to come in rather large lots. However, they do sell lab chemicals in relatively small amounts, if you are looking for obscure chemicals for textile dyeing. Also special denatured alcohol, suitable for homemade cosmetics. They also have precision lab balances and accessories, if you need to weigh small amounts of powdered dyes (or whatever), and they charge less for them than the craft/dye supply places. Although this is in Lincolnshire and therefore within driving distance of Chicago, this is really a mail-order company, you can't go wandering around the warehouse.

United Nuclear Scientific Supplies
P.O. Box 851 Sandia Park, New Mexico 87047
While their focus is more on things like Telsa coils, Van de Gaaff generators and other supplies for exciting chemistry demonstrations like glow in the dark paints and meteor fragments, they also sell things like geiger counters and even some radioactive materials, as well as some chemicals that can be used in making fireworks. One imagines a very popular chemistry teacher buying stuff from these guys. A useful source for some of the more obscure chemicals you might use for historical textile dyeing techniques, say if you want to try using Prussian blue, discharge print on Turkey red, or you want to set a zinc-lime indigo vat.

Turn of the Century
1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
Hand made turned wood crochet hooks and hair sticks. Very nicely made by artist William Schmidt. I have the hair sticks, which cost $15.00/pair + $6.00 shipping. Crochet hooks are $13 + shipping. Check or money order only.

Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers
Reproduction Victorian, Arts & Crafts, and Art Deco wallpaper.

Jackson Marking Products Co., Inc.
9105 N. Rainbow Lane Mount Vernon, IL 62864
Supplies and equipment for making "rubber" stamps using UV photopolymer. They have an introductory kit for about $100 with enough materials to make a great many stamps. (You will have to come up with your own UV source, however.) For instructions, see this excellent article in TC Punk Webzine: "Rubber Stamps 101," by 7734. Instructions can also be found here, but those guys charge $$$ for the supplies. If you are really talented, maybe you could find some way to combine a computer plotter and a UV laser to make your own rapid prototyping machine with this stuff.

901 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson, WI 53538
Primarily a supplier of equipment for school home economics and vocational courses, but they don't seem to have a problem selling to individuals-- I understand they supply homeschoolers as well as schools. If you are of a certain age, this is where you get those "To-Sew" project kits for making pillows and what not that you may fondly (or not so fondly) remember from home economics classes in your youth. Actually, if you are looking for materials to teach sewing to a scout troop or something similar, you may find some of their class packs helpful as well as some of their teacher resources (fabric sample files, "how to sew" video, etc.). They also have things like colorful fabric care charts for decorating your laundry room (or perhaps a lovely "dangers of alcohol" display for over the bar?), sturdy sewing machine tables, demonstration mirrors if you really want the family to watch you cook, and realistic plastic fake food (for demonstrating portion size). They also have things like toy food and other kinds of things you find in kindergarden classrooms, Orvus paste detergent (they sell it for washing livestock but some people use it for cleaning delicate fabrics), canning supplies (including large enamelware canners sold out of season), model rockets, unicycles, lab equipment, giant model molocules, preserved frogs for dissection, solar energy kits, and wheelchair accessible gardening planters. The point is that if you are trying to find something that you know is made for insitutional/educational use and can't find it anywhere else, you may be able to find it here.

The Universal Currency Converter
You may find as you vist overseas websites, or send for catalogs from overseas companies, that you need to figure out how much something will cost in U.S. dollars (or whatever your local currency may be). I have found the website linked just above to be very helpful. Supports 180 world currencies, including Kazakstanian Tenges and Zambian Kwachas.

See also Earth Guild.

For Chicago area businesses that offer mail order, see above, Dann Dee Display Fixtures, The Paper Source, Woodcraft Supply, Vogue Fabrics, Audrena's International Bazaar, McMaster-Carr, Chicago Protective Apparel and others.

Last update: 11/14/2006

Copyright Katharine Whisler 1998.  Revised 2006.  All rights reserved.