2121 21st


Writing about my trip yesterday to the Fabric Warehouse is a daunting task. Even explaining why it is daunting is daunting. I’m just going to jump right in… forgive bad sentence structure and f’d up punctuation. So the Textile Discount Outlet this huge brick warehouse down in Pilsen (2121 21st to be exact). And it is full of the heaviest longest bolts of every kind of fabric imaginable. And it’s dusty and grungy and dirty. Going there is very much like a thrift store experience. Digging through things and a very hands-off attitude by the employees. Actually it is exactly like being in an off-limits storeroom somewhere. Stuff is strewn everywhere. There are those big dolly cart things full of bolts of fabric just parked in the aisles. Boxes of loose ribbons, cabinets full of zippers. I can’t even describe how disorganized it is. And so much of it looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades. It’s three floors and room after room and the further away you get from the stairwell the scarier they seem to get, especially in the basement. The basement was a trip. Some of the best and scariest stuff was down there. And is the stuff good? You can’t really tell. At first it’s like a dream, so much fabric! Then you start down the aisles and you’re thinking well I don’t need taffeta, or beaded silk, or polyester satins and then it gets disappointing and then the next aisle has beautiful brocades or amazing stripey knits and things look up. My head was spinning trying to decide what projects I could use things for. Then if you find something you like you have to haul these huge bolts of fabric all over the place. They have shopping carts on the main floor but that’s it. So we set up a staging area, took all our finds there and dumped them off before heading to the next floor. Of course when we came back to collect our goodies our cart was gone! They’d emptied it and sorted it all to be reshelved. So they we had to hunt through the reshelving carts to find all our fabric. I was ‘oh damn!’ing all the way home as I kept remembering things I didn’t find again. So next time we’ll need a better system. I feel like this trip was just practice for next time. Next time I’ll know what to skip and where to dig deeper. Next time I’ll squirrel away my finds so these invisible employees can’t find them and take them! Next time I won’t be so freaked out by the hurried, stressful cutting/checking out process where you dump all your fabric on a table, Saul is called over to price everything and then you have to make quick quick decisions about how much if any you want of everything. The prices were pretty cheap $6, $5, $4 /yd even 50 cents for one of mine. But you can’t get less than one yard. I always just buy bits of fabric so I was stuck trying to figure out which ones I wanted to get a whole yard of. I ended up with about half the things I picked out. Well, less if you count the items that went missing. Ok, let’s look at some photos…

Oh and Cinnamon describes her trip to 2121 much better on her site (scroll down to Fabric Nirvana entry).



Looking down at one of the creepier back rooms…


The room of trim. At first glance very exciting but really they didn’t have as much of what I was looking for, embroidered ribbon. They did however have tons and tons of lace which can get very expensive at a normal fabric shop. And the same with the trims. If you need poms or tassels, this is the place to go!


There so much upholestery fabric that looked like it’s been sitting there for decades


Erin lugging a huge bolt of green


Speaking of green, check out Lexi’s awesome green shoes!


And here’s what I came home with. Found some great striped jersey to back Oscar’s birthday quilt. And some neat trims and a good ribbon. Some very very soft pink fur – a staple of course. And some upholstery fabric that I couldn’t resist. Some cool Christmas ribbon. 2 bags of eyeballs, green and blue. Really when I look at it all I can see is what I didn’t get. Next time!




11 thoughts on “2121 21st

  1. Angela says:

    Hmm, looks like fun but I know how creepy these places can be. I used to go to a couple of these types of fabric warehouses in Toronto – fab but killer on the dust allergies! I actually fainted from the heat in this one place. Dante’s Inferno revisited! Looks like you got some awesome stuff – love the ribbon/trims!

  2. Giao says:

    Nuts! I’m going to have to go and experience this fabric scariness myself (I am all about the trims!). Thanks for the great roundup. You got some sweet stuff despite the reshelving fun.

  3. Tif says:

    I wandered in through a series of links! LOL…In any case, I leave here drooling! How I wish we had a fabric warehouse here in this part of upstate NY!!!

  4. tina says:

    Could you email me and tell me where exactly this place is? What state and city? I’d love to visit a place like this. Thank you.

  5. Justin Redpath says:

    OMG … my heart is beating a mile a minute! I was just in Chicago this weekend; my friend took me to the Evanston Vogue and, after telling me, “Yeah, the other Vogue locations have different fabrics” (roll eyes), he said, the day I left, “Oh, there’s this designer runoff store on the Southside….” Just started reading about TDO today and I think I’ll have to go sometime in the winter, i.e., Chicago sans heat-wave!
    On another note, I’m going to San Francisco this Saturday for 10 days. I’ll visit Britex and others (there is a great fabric listing at Fuzzy Galore http://www.fuzzygalore.biz/events/sffabric.shtml) but does anyone know if there is a warehouse-store like TDO in S.F?
    BTW: great description!
    JR, Wash, D.C.

  6. B says:

    awesome description & accurate photos.
    I’ve been going to TDO for years.
    I’ve converted this page to a .pdf so I can save it forever as part of my personal journal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *