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Swatch Cards (+ Giveaway)

November 14, 2011

I love my Kona colour card.  I love seeing all the fabulous colours available for whatever project I might be dreaming up, or dreaming up a project based on all the fabulous colours available. ;)

There’s a catch, though.  Each sample of fabric on that colour card is a pesky one square inch, and they are all fixed in place.  It can be difficult to really get a sense of how a particular colour will look with the prints you’re using, and even more difficult to compare the solids with one another.  The ideal solution would be to have a bolt of every imaginable colour, ready and waiting in my sewing room (wouldn’t that be fantastic?!), or to move next door to The Workroom so that I could pop in whenever I needed a quick colour consultation, but since neither of those things is possible, this is the next best thing!

Swatch Cards, 4" x 6"

What I’ve decided upon is a system for storing larger swatches of fabric, based upon two standard index card sizes, 3″ x 5″ and 4″ x 6″.  You can either use blank index cards, which can be readily purchased at a office supply store like staples, or you can cut your own out of heavy card stock.  I chose the second option since I still had a stack of paper left over from the wedding invitations I did for my brother’s wedding in May.  If you have a printer that can accommodate photo paper then printing these out should be easy peasy.

Both Sizes

Once you’ve made your paper choice and printed your cards, you will need to cut out your fabric swatches.  If you decided on the 3″ x 5″ cards, then you’ll need 4″ square swatches.  If you picked 4″ x 6″ then you’ll need 5″ square swatches.  The larger size would be perfect if you bought a bunch of the sampler charm square packs that most manufactures sell.

Card + Charm

To attach the swatch to the card you need to line it up on the front first, by overlapping the fabric ever so slightly past the registration marks on the cards.  In the picture I left them visible, but they should be covered by the fabric.

Lined Up

Next, just fold the fabric to the back of the card and fix it in place!  I told you it was easy!

Front + Back

I tried a number of different options for fixing the fabric to the card, and each had its pros and cons.  Using a glue stick on the card was quick, but the least precise (although I was using a large glue stick, so perhaps that was the problem…).  Double-sided tape meant for scrap-booking was the least messy, and the most time consuming.  But if you are only starting out with a few swatches then that might be the way to go.  My personal choice was to use a permanent spray adhesive.  It can definitely be messy (I used an old box as a spray booth…an old trick from building architectural models), but quick and ultimately secure.  I would recommend experimenting with some scraps of fabric and paper to figure out what works best for you.


So there you have it!  I’ve created a new pattern shop over at Craftsy (I’ve got lots of other ideas that I want to produce, too!), so if you’re interested in giving my system a try you can find the printables there.  There is a small fee for them because it took me HOURS to work everything out, but I think it’s a fair price and I hope you will, too.  So far I’ve produced cards for Kona Solids by Robert Kaufman, Pure Elements by Art Gallery Fabrics and Designer Solids by FreeSpirit Fabrics.  I’m working on Bella Solids by Moda, but I’m having a heck of a time figuring out the scope of all the solids they offer.  If anyone has any insight into that one I’d love some help!

Finally, I’d love to give away a set of these printables, so leave me a comment here (about anything you’d like!) and I’ll pick a winner next Monday.  (But go ahead and get the files now if you really want them.  I’ll refund your money if you’ve already bought them and I pick your name.)

Oh, and if you end up using my printable to put together your own set of swatch cards I’d love to see them in action!  You can add pictures to my Flickr group here: thought & found designs.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Joyatee permalink
    November 14, 2011 1:44 PM

    I love your graphic design abilities.

  2. Cecillia permalink
    November 14, 2011 4:20 PM

    WOw, what a great idea and a ton of work!!

  3. November 14, 2011 5:51 PM

    Brilliant idea! Another way that i’ve used to adhere fabric to card is to use fusible webbing e.g. Vliesofix. Apply to the back of the fabric as you would for applique, then iron it to the card with a dry iron. Works a treat!

  4. November 14, 2011 10:34 PM

    Super cool cards!!! I might be able to offer some help with the Moda colors…send me an email if you want to talk.

  5. November 15, 2011 10:18 AM

    Great organizing work, Sheila! These look great.

  6. November 18, 2011 4:23 AM

    What a fantastic idea

  7. Barbara permalink
    November 18, 2011 7:36 AM

    what a brilliant idea ! That’s the cat’s pajamas

  8. November 18, 2011 1:41 PM

    great idea! currently all my solids are in a big plastic bag,, not very organized! with the card you could even write on it amounts that you have… if one were so organized. :)

  9. November 18, 2011 4:56 PM

    What a brilliant idea! I have an ever-growing rainbow of Kona solids and this would be a great addition to my colour card.

    I just found your blog through Quilt Story today and I’m excited to discover another Canadian modern quilter!

  10. Sandi permalink
    November 19, 2011 7:47 AM

    I love office supplies and organization, and when I saw your swatch cards my mouth literally dropped open. What a fabulous idea!

  11. Laura permalink
    November 19, 2011 9:09 AM

    Wow! What a great idea. I’ve been thinking about asking for a Kona color card for Xmas, but Iike this idea better.

  12. November 19, 2011 10:06 AM

    This would help me keep track of all those solids scraps too. I’d be able to match the scrap to the card. Hopefully I won’t do another project with part white and part snow again.

  13. natio radison permalink
    November 19, 2011 10:17 AM

    Oh joy, to have such a card system like this on hand is pure bliss to me. I have only recently begun to appreciate the enormous potential in the use of solid colours and am participating in colour circle charms swaps and want to get my fabrics into more precise order, so …I do see the value of your system and I also recognise the thought and effort you have put into constructing it. Thank-you for the opportunity.

  14. Mimi permalink
    November 19, 2011 11:07 AM

    Very professional look to your cards…. would love to know how you get them through a printer??

  15. November 19, 2011 11:55 AM

    Absolutely brilliant! Makes SEW much sense.mThank you.

  16. November 19, 2011 12:03 PM

    These are brilliant! Apparently I’m not the only one who can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Please draw my name for a set of these!

  17. Chris P permalink
    November 19, 2011 12:59 PM

    This is a very clever idea. Love the Kona color cards and would love to win your printables. Thanks for a chance.

  18. November 19, 2011 1:10 PM

    brilliant idea, you are a genius! Love it and I will have to start collecting charms I think!

  19. November 19, 2011 5:56 PM

    What a fantastic idea….! I think I am going to start my collection…I am always frustrated that when I need to match my prints with solids…I would have to go to websites that has all the colours and match it up on the screen….how frustrating is that?!?! Been meaning to get colour catalog and it is such a HOT cake that it is always out of stock in IQS….thanks for sharing your tutorial….I think we should all have our own special catalog :)

  20. KatieW permalink
    November 19, 2011 9:38 PM

    This is such a great idea!

  21. Gayle Grier permalink
    November 19, 2011 11:09 PM

    When I first started quilting, I tried very hard to organize my growing stash…now, 9 years later, this is the answer!!! I love this idea and the professional touch you have added. Thanks for your creative touch!
    aquiltersplayhouse at gmail dot com

  22. November 20, 2011 11:43 AM

    wonderful idea, and so precise! I would love to win these danaandleeAThotmailDOT.coDOTuk

  23. MoeWest permalink
    November 20, 2011 11:47 AM

    Thanks for sharing this great idea. I wish I did have a bolt of each colour!

  24. November 20, 2011 2:06 PM

    i love that they fit into a standard-size index-card box. i have beautiful wood ones that will do the sample cards proud!

  25. November 20, 2011 4:12 PM

    This seems like a very user friendly way to keep track of the colors! Great idea!
    (I read about this on

  26. November 20, 2011 6:00 PM

    Super, super smart. I’ll be getting this once I get some card stock!

  27. Rhonda permalink
    November 20, 2011 6:56 PM

    This is brilliant. I’m in the solids club from Pink Chalk and I have to leave them in the bags to keep them matched with their names – this would make it so easy to match them up, and use them!

  28. November 20, 2011 8:03 PM

    Such a great idea! Thanks for doing all the work and offering it to us all. I love organizing and making your life so much easier.

  29. November 20, 2011 8:32 PM

    Cool idea!

  30. Arita permalink
    November 21, 2011 11:15 PM

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing this idea.


  1. Another cool thing I found in a blog « Piecemeal Quilts

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