If you are looking for instant gratification this might be the shop for you.
Off the Bolt is a home decor fabric shop owned and run by Norene Fremont. She offers a good selection of textiles that may be cut and purchased on the spot. Silks, chenilles, velvets, wools and mohairs - the vibe is fairly traditional but there is a nice color selection.
Located near the intersection of Division and Halsted, the shop is hidden away in a office block. You ring for admittance, but once you are buzzed in and reach the showroom, it becomes a regular retail experience. The folks working when we stopped in were friendly, and gave us time and room to explore the large selection. If you have been shopping for fabrics at regular designer showrooms, we think you will find the prices lower here. The real benefit of Off the Bolt : the accessiblilty of so many decorating fabrics that you can compare (not just swatches), and then, once you have decided, it's yours...without any ordering or wait time.
photo of striped settee: thanks to chaircouture.
(Re-edited from post originally published 04.19.06)