Fabric Swatch Book Ideas: How to Make the Most of Your Samples

A fabric swatch book is an essential tool for any fashion designer and sewist. It lets you see how different fabrics look together and helps you choose the perfect material for each project.

This blog post will discuss fabric swatch book ideas to help you make the most of your samples!

What is a Fabric Swatch Book?

fabric swatch book clients
Showing fabric swatch to clients. Credit: canva

Cloth swatches or fabric swatches

A fabric swatch is a small piece, usually cut from a larger bolt of fabric, used to test the material’s color, feel, or other qualities. Fashion designers and sewists often use fabric swatches to help them choose the perfect fabric for their projects.

Fabric sample book

A fabric swatch book is a fabric sample book. It is a compilation of fabric swatches in one place. This fabric reference book is beneficial to have all the samples in one book because you can quickly flip through them and compare the fabrics.

 What can I do with a fabric swatch book?

The law of fabric: the more material you touch, the better you understand what fabric is and how to work with it.

There are many reasons you might want to use a fabric swatch book.

For example, you can use a fabric swatch book to see how different fabrics look together if you are a fashion designer. This can be helpful when trying to choose the perfect material for a new design.

If you are a sewist, you might use a fabric swatch book to test different fabrics before using them in a project. This can be helpful if you are unsure how a specific fabric will look or feel.

To sum it up, some of the most common reasons are:

  • To test out different fabric combinations and fabric pairings
  • To see how a particular fabric looks in person
  • To touch and feel the fabric to see if it is the right quality
  • To find the perfect match for a specific or future project
  • To show the actual fabric to clients
  • To have your fabric swatch library for reference with ordering fabric.

With this book, you can save emergency trips to the fabric stores whenever you have new projects.

Fabric Swatches Book Ideas

There are many ways to create fabric swatch books, and I have compiled a list of some of my favorites.

Fabric Swatch Notebook

fabric swatch clips
Fabric swatch book. Credit: canva

This is the most basic type of fabric swatch book. It’s just a notebook with pockets on each page for fabric samples.

You can use this method if you don’t want to invest in actual pieces of a fabric swatch book.

How to make it:

  1. Cut out fabric bows, squares, or rectangles with scissors.
  2. Fold them in half along the long edge. Then cut off one corner, leaving only a tiny triangle left. This will give you a pocket to store your sample inside.
  3. Once you have read all your scraps of fabric pieces, staple them into fabric swatch binder pages.

Fabric Swatch Journal

fabric swatch journal
Fabric swatch and sketch. Credit: canva

These are more like scrapbooks than fabric swatch books. Each page has space to write about the strips of fabric and any notes or sketches you might have made while working with it.

How to make it:

  1. Use a sewing machine to sew fabric strips onto pages of a journal.
  2. If you don’t own a sewing machine, hand stitch the fabric strips yourself.
  3. Write down any notes or sketches related to the fabrics.

Fabric Swatching Tool

fabric swatch book
Credit: canva

If you prefer not to use fabric scraps, you could always buy squares of fabric swatching tools. These tools come in many shapes and sizes, but I think they look best when shaped like a square or rectangle.

How to make it:

Sew fabric swatching tools by hand. Or you could glue material swatching tools to a piece of cardboard using double-sided tape.

Fabric Swatches Sticker Sheets

You can also try making fabric swatch stickers instead of fabric swatch books. This is a perfect option if you already have a lot of fabric swatches.

How to make them:

  • Print fabric swatch designs on sticker paper.
  • Peel off the backing and stick them on fabric swatches.

Fabric Swatch Clips

This is another excellent option if you already have a lot of fabric swatches. You can use them to clip fabric swatches together or attach them to pages in a notebook.

How to make them

  • Print out the template on cardstock.
  • Cut out the pieces and glue them together.
  • Attach a strong magnet to the back.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I’m sure you can develop many more creative ways to use your fabric samples.

How Do You Make a Fabric Swatch Book?

fabric stash
Fabric stash in a basket. Credit: canva

If you want to make your fabric sample book, here are the steps of what you can prepare and do.

Bring out fabrics then create swatches

The most convenient source of swatches is what you already have. Whatever material you’re using, save a scrap for later. You can accomplish this with every fabric stash you create.

Labels are useful. Make a list of everything you know about the fabric. The most helpful information for you is probably what the material is called and what kind of fiber it contains.

Buy fabric samples

If you don’t have any scraps available or want to test out a new fabric before using it in a project, buying samples is always an option.

You can do fabric shopping from an online fabric shop or wholesalers. They will send you a small cut of the fabric, usually about 12″ x 18″.

Different fabric swatches

Now you have different fabric swatch collections, from velvet fabric, cotton fabric samples, duralee fabric, expensive fabrics, or any other fabric categories. The pieces of fabric can be individual fabrics or larger fabric swatches.

You can categorize the mountain of fabric by putting all the solids together, all the prints together, or all the knits together.

You don’t need too many swatches. Try for 30-50 swatches to start.

Once you have a good selection of different fabrics, it’s time to think about how you want to organize and store them.

Book of fabric swatches

Determine how you want to organize your samples

You can organize your samples in many ways. You can keep them all in one big pile or divide them by fabric types, color, weight, fiber content, or project type.

For your swatch collection to be helpful, a fabric swatch book will help you put all your swatches into an order that makes sense to you.

Once you have all your fabric samples, it’s time to start creating your fabric swatch catalog.

Fabric Swatch Tips

Do you want to learn how to sew a perfect swatch? If yes, then keep reading!

Sewing a perfect swatch is very important if you get a good result. 

  • Make sure you have enough fabric swatch books to last through the year!
  • Keep your fabric swatch books organized.
  • Don’t throw away your fabric swatch books after using the fabric swatches. You may find inspiration from them later.
  • Write ideas for future projects on the back of your fabric swatch cards.
  • Try to get at least two fabric swatches per color.
  • When you use a fabric swatch, fold it up and place it in its corresponding spot in your fabric swatch book. That way, you won’t forget where you put it.
  • If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could still sew fabric swatches by hand. Just be careful not to tear the fabric too much.
  • You should probably keep them flat if you use fabric swatches as tags, labels, or posters. Otherwise, they may become wrinkled.
  • Try storing them in a fabric swatch box to avoid losing your fabric swatches.
  • If you are looking for a new project idea, take note of the fabrics used in your fabric swatch books. You may want to create something similar to what you saw.
  • If you’re planning to make fabric swatch notebooks, you may want to add pockets. They will help protect your notebook from getting dirty.


How to organize fabric swatches

You can organize your fabric swatches by color, weight, fiber content, or project type.

What is a fabric sample book called?

A fabric sample book is called a fabric swatch book. It is a collection of fabric swatches organized in a way that makes sense to you.

How can I get free fabric samples?

You can get free fabric samples by asking for them from online fabric shops or wholesalers. They will send you a small cut of the fabric, usually about 12″ x 18″.

How to attach fabric swatches to paper?

You can attach fabric swatches to paper using adhesive or sewing them on.

What is the best way to store fabric swatches?

The best way to store fabric swatches is in a fabric swatch box. This will help protect your notebook from getting dirty.

How to make free fabric samples book

To make a swatch book, you’ll need some scrap fabric, a ruler, scissors, and a needle and thread. Cut each piece of fabric into a square 2-3 inches wide. Then fold the square in half so that the two short ends meet. Sew across the folded edge to create a sturdy seam. Repeat with all of the squares.

Now you can open up your swatch book and test out different fabrics for your next project!

How to organize fabric samples

There are a few ways to organize fabric samples:

  • By color
  • By type of fabric (wool, cotton, etc.)
  • By purpose (drapery, upholstery, etc.)
  • Alphabetically or by designer name

Whichever way you choose, ensure the system is easy to follow and that you can find what you need when you need it.

Labeling each sample with its corresponding information (color, type of fabric, purpose) will help keep things organized. You might also want to consider storing your fabric samples in a storage container, like a file folder or box.

Was this article helpful?