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Designer’s Sample Swatches: Ordering, Storing, Using

November 18, 2012

Working on the second project for KLC  – “Creating decorative scheme for a room”, I needed some curtain and upholstery fabrics as well as wall coverings. Having already an idea about which colours I need it was easy for me to choose textiles and wallpapers.

1. Ordering. Most of the fabric and wallpaper producers allow ordering samples online on their website. With some of them, it is possible to request an unlimited amount of complimentary swatches but most of the companies provide only 4-6 samples free of charge and for the rest, you have to pay.  Here are the companies which I asked samples from and my short review about them:

Crown Trade – company producing paints. I ordered a collection of colour swatches. It is very easy to use it for selecting a paint for the walls as all colours are presented in order. It can also be very helpful for KLC students working on the 1st Project “Colour Theory” to illustrate the brochure. Crown Trade also offers complimentary paint samples and some useful books such as ” Professional Painters Guide”, “Inspiration” and “Historic Colours”.

Harlequin – one of the most famous fabrics and wallpaper companies in UK. It is possible to order 6 free samples. I requested gorgeous Amilie Etienne fabrics which are very trendy at the moment and which I am considering to use for one of my future projects. Samples arrive in 20X20 cm size and they are supplemented with a paper showing how the full pattern looks from far away.

Laura Ashley – a very famous brand for home furnishings, curtains and upholstery fabrics. Up to 6 free curtain samples can be ordered. They arrive in a little bit small size (9×14 cm) which sometimes doesn’t allow to see the full pattern, however I was very happy with the quality of textiles.

The Natural Curtain Company – as it is clear from the brand’s name this company specializes in curtains made from natural materials such as cotton and linen. You may order up to 8 free swatches. The fabrics are  beautiful and I like the natural feeling about them. Actually I selected one of fabrics from this company for my project.

Villa Nova – supply upholstery fabrics and wall coverings from different designers. You may order almost all available swatches free of charge.

Multiyork – company specializing in producing sofas with replaceable covers. You can order 5 free samples.

Sanderson – have beautiful collections of classic English style curtains and wallpapers. Textiles which I requested had amazing embroidery and beautiful floral patterns. It’s a pity that I could order only 6 free samples.

Ian Sanderson – amazing selection of fabrics for interiors in classic or cottage style. I needed to register on website to receive free swatches.

My wallpaper samples were ordered with Farrow & Ball and Wallpaperdirect. They were supplied in an A4 size. Wallpaperdirect allows to order only 2 free swatches while for the rest I needed to pay little amount of money (£0.75 per sample). Farrow & Ball provides 5 free wallpaper swatches, colour cards and you may buy paint sample pots and wallpaper swatchbooks.


2. Storing.

When all of my samples have arrived I had another problem to find solution for: how to store them. The main difficulty I faced with fabric swatches is that they tend to fringe and wrinkle. I needed to find a storage solution which allows to keep them in a presentable way and to find the required fabric quickly. First of all I decided to put each sample in the separate transparent file. Like this I could see pattern and colour while the samples are protected from dust and dirt. Initially I was thinking to use standing file boxes, but then I abandoned the idea as I understood that fabrics will not stand properly inside the box and will tend to fall out. Then I found some old laundry boxes and decided to reuse them for storing my samples. I covered them inside with coloured paper to look prettier and put on the front side tag with a category (e.g. “fabric samples”, “flooring samples”, etc).

I decided to categorize my storage boxes for fabrics by colour so that I can easily find the required one. For wallpaper samples I decided to use the usual file boxes. Again I put each sample in a separate transparent file and labeled a folder with a category.

3. Using

After selecting materials for a project, a designer needs to show them to a client. Sample boards are used to present them in a nice way. All material samples are attached to the mount board (including flooring, wall and ceiling coverings, fabrics for upholstery and curtains). In my future posts I will share my experience how I produced a sample board for my project.

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