Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fun day at Textile Outlet and Chinatown

Yesterday my good friend Ellen invited me on a road trip to the Textile Outlet in Chicago. She has a student in from New Zealand named Brenda, who wanted to find fabrics that she could not easily find there. Naturally I leaped at the chance.

I imagined this place to be similar to Vogue Fabrics which is amazing, but the Textile Outlet was unbelievable. Imagine a city block ,three story brick warehouse overflowing with a crazy quilter's dream load of fabrics and trims. I even managed to find some vintage glass sew ons and a few beads. Unfortunately it was extremely hot and even hotter inside the building. This made for a much shorter time spent fondling fabrics. We started upstairs in bins that had remnants of all shapes and sizes which sold by the pound. Then I wandered off into a room filled with Brocades and sent the stock boy down with a few rolls. I then discovered a stairway which led down into the trim and lace room. I was certain I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn't focus because of the variety and quantity. I had wished I had thought to bring my camera. You would not have believed it. Ellen and Brenda found me in there drooling , well, sweating anyway. I wandered into the next room filled with sheers and satin. Somehow I gained the strength to make it to the Dupioni section, then the bulk beaded appliqué barrels sold by the pound before I decided I couldn't take the heat any longer. It was that hot. You know it had to be for me to willingly stop looking through fabrics.
The owner's name is Steve and he was so nice. Since it was my first time there I didn't know the minimum cut was a yard. Being a crazy quilter, I explained to Steve that I use small pieces and my norm is quarter yards. He was kind enough to allow half yards and I was happy with that. I went for unusual fabrics I didn't have and a few Dupioni's tossed in. It was awesome to see such a place and only an hour from home.

After loading up on fabric treasure, we drove to Chinatown a few blocks away and roamed the streets. We ducked into a few grocery and hardware stores and gathered more unique treasures. I enticed the ladies to try ginger candy. My sister-in-law who was a chef in CA introduced them to me and I have been hooked ever since. For those who have never tried them, they are like a ginger gummi,wrapped in dissolving rice paper with a hot spicy flavor. My sis in law enjoys them while reading to keep her attention.

Brenda, from NZ houses exchange students and of course cooks for them so she bought some lovely utensils and a wonderful dragon shaped veggie cutter. Very intricate, to shape carrots and cheeses for her Japanese students. Brenda and I gathered unusual rice candies to exchange and sesame items. We hadn't eaten all day and I think our tummies were guiding us.

It was a really fun day. There is nothing like a fabric shopping day with friends to get you back on track. Wed they will be coming here for a look around my projects and a walk through the garden. Ellen is always a delight, and Brenda is so nice and I love her New Zealand accent.


  1. What a delightful-sounding day! I love the embroidered white to the far right of the 3rd pic down. Your trip through Chinatown sounds fabulous, too. When I was in Chicago, a few years ago, I wasn't with a quilter, so I didn't get to go there.

  2. What a fun day!
    Too bad about the heat...but it might have saved your wallet some...

  3. What a shame about the heat! It must have been certainly hot, cause I cannot imagine you (or anyone that is a crazy quilter) to leave such a place. I'd be in my element, we just don't have things like that here!
    Beautiful bargains. :-)


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