Yay, it’s time to go FABRIC SHOPPING! Woot woot, Oprah levels of excitement! I’m not being facetious!
Despite living in a metro area of 1.5 million peeps, there’s no decent fashion fabric store in the greater Milwaukee area. Hard to believe, but true. 😥
So, when it comes to in-person fabric shopping, I’m left with Joann (which is hit or miss). EXCEPT for the once or twice a year I hop on I-94 and cruise down to Evanston, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago and about 1.5 hours from Van Handel Headquarters (VHHQ). That’s where I practically shop till I drop at Vogue Fabrics!
What You Need to Know About Vogue Fabrics
Vogue is a sprawling, single-story building. It’s obviously been added on to over the years as the business has grown. Because of this unusual layout, Vogue has four large, separate rooms of fabric, two rooms for home decor and two rooms for fashion fabric. There’s also a long, skinny room for notions, sewing machines, trim, and catalogs. (BTW, in the video I didn’t show the home dec rooms.)
As you cruise around Vogue, you’ll notice fliers for classes and catalogs for fabric (Vogue also sells fabric online). There’s also a big sign in the home dec department that declares, “We slipcover and upholster.”
Vogue doesn’t have a parking lot; I’ve always parked on the street, and I’ve never had to park more than a block or two away. (Here’s store info, including parking.) I have a feeling that if you bought a bunch of stuff and didn’t want to haul your goodies to your car, you probably could scoot back to your ride and drive it to the store entrance, click on the four-way flashers, and load up.
Below is a 17-minute tour of Vogue Fabrics, plus a look at my fabric haul! Please enjoy!
How to Shop for Fabric at Vogue
Here’s what you need to know to shop like a boss at Vogue. It’s a little different from cruising Joann.
1.) You pay for AND get fabric cut in each room. That means if a roll of fabric in one room catches your eye, you take it to the cutting counter IN THAT ROOM.
2.) Leave your rolls on the cutting counter. That’s right — don’t drag them around (they’re huge, BTW). As you find stuff you like, slap it on the cutting counter in the appropriate room. Employees literally will tell you not to carry rolls.
3.) This is not a fast process. You pay at the cutting counter; there aren’t checkouts or registers. In fact, as your fabric is cut, the cutter will fill out a carbon copy of your order and total it in front of you with a calculator (it’s deliciously analog). You give the employee your payment, she shuffles away to swipe your credit card or whatever, and you walk out with the handwritten receipt and your purchases.
4.) There are limits on fabric samples. At the store, you may ask for a free sample if the fabric is less than $3 per yard. If it’s more than $3 per yard, you may buy 1/8 yard of the fabric.
My Fave Fabric Picks at Vogue
I have A LOT of favorites at Vogue. Like a comically long list of them. What can I say? The store does a lot of stuff well! Following are fabrics that I think are worth shopping for at Vogue:
- Wool suiting
- Swim spandex
- St. Tropez striped knit: a medium-to-heavyweight viscose/poly/spandex blend
- Real silk: Can’t get that at Joann!
- Knits: hemp, bamboo, rayon, ponte
- Stretch denim
- Special event fabric: formal wear with insane beading, embroidery, sequins
Vogue Fabrics truly has almost anything you can think of fabric-wise, with a few exceptions. If you’re interested in the following types of fabrics, I suggest giving a call or checking the Vogue website. Just because I didn’t see it this time doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s a big store; maybe I missed it.
Based on my investigation, these fabrics were AWOL:
Performance/wicking fabrics: There’s stuff in store you probably could substitute for athletic wear.
Leather: I did see some faux stuff. Maybe there was leather deeper in home dec?
Bra-making fabric and notions: There’s a good chance this stuff is in the bridal/special events section.
What I Bought at Vogue + Sewing Plans
I bought some cool stuff, naturally.
Antique gold spandex: I love wearing metallics, and this color caught my eye. It’s not a strong yellow gold, but more of a dull, subdued gold. It has a lot of silver under it. Anyhoo, I want to make leggings with this metallic spandex.
Royal blue spongy poly crepe: I’m not big on polyester, but I love the texture of this crepe. It has a swingy, bouncy drape, and I think it’ll make some dramatic full-length Winslow culottes. I need culottes in my life.
Fuchsia ribbed cotton knit: This is a heavy-ish knit that I think will work fabulously for another hacked Briar T-shirt dress. I see the curved lines of this dress looking great with the ribbed knit. Bodycon for the win.
Printed ITY knits: Now, again, I’m not big on polyester. BUT. The ITY knits were on sale for $2.99 per yard, and I had to get in on this action. I envision for these knits super-simple T-shirt or tank dresses (maybe Simplicity 8379?) that travel well. Poly like this doesn’t wrinkle much, making ITY dresses wonderful candidates for the suitcase. And if I choose the right patterns, I can wear short ITY dresses with leggings in cool weather.
Other Evanston Recommendations
If you’re not interested in anything beyond fabric shopping in Evanston, stop reading here. If you’d like some recommendations on the town, should you be interested in puttering around, this next bit is for you!
For eats, I recommend Taco Diablo and Edzo’s Burger Shop. I had an AMAZING mezcal margarita called the Mercy & Salvation at Taco Diablo that I’m still bringing up to Husband Mark. And the tacos and house salsas were remarkable, too.
Edzo’s has sublime milkshakes, freshly cut and fried French fries, and perfect hamburgers. It’s one of those restaurants that rocks simple food by preparing it expertly with the finest ingredients.
Mark and I stayed at a cute hotel in Evanston — Margarita European Inn. Based on my experience in Europe, it did have that vibe. Reservations include a yummy continental breakfast, and I found the cost of our smallish room very reasonable. I think we might make Margarita our jumping-off point into Chicago next time we’re down for the weekend.
I also have to mention Vintage Vinyl Records. I recently inherited my parents’ turntable, so I’ve been on a record-buying spree. This record store is INTENSE. It’s straight out of “High Fidelity.”
Also worth mentioning is the Evanston Public Library. I stopped in here to do some computing on the free internet, and this library is swank, with lofted ceilings, eye-catching artwork, and lots of room to spread out. I love me a good library. Plus, apparently there’s a peregrine falcon that calls the library home, too! Yay, urban birds.
So, after you’re done shopping at Vogue, park yer car in the Sherman Plaza parking garage to be within walking distance of all this cool stuff. By the way — watch out for all the Northwestern University students, though, and their fearless pedestrian and cycling moves. (Northwestern University is in Evanston. If you’ve ever lived in a college town, you’re familiar with the way students cross traffic with little consideration for the motor vehicles around them. Hey, I was like that back in the day, too. A lot of us were!)
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Vogue Fabrics! Have you shopped at Vogue — either in person or online? What’s your two cents about it? What’s your nearest proper fashion fabric store? Please share in comments!
P.S. Here’s the previous post, should you be interested: Stabilizing Seams: The Pros and Cons of Stabilizers.
P.P.S. Here are some other resource-ish posts for ya, if you liked this one:
Sewing Bargains: How to Save Money on Amazon
How to press scuba knit and more: Tips for working with scuba fabric
The over-researched sewing table buying guide for the Type A sewist
Amazon Tricks for Fabric Shopping: The Ultimate Guide for Sewists