How to Catalog and Organize Fabric Samples
In this article you will find out how to catalog and organize your fabric samples, download the free PDF and catalog your fabrics.
Why catalog fabric samples and materials in general
Whether you are a seamstress or experienced creative manufacturing on commission or simply sewing is a hobby of yours, I suggest you create an inventory of all your materials. The sooner you start doing it, the better. In the beginning, everything I created was my own experiment and I didn’t care to record the price of the material, how much I had used or where I had bought it.
As time went by, however, it happened more and more often that I needed this information. Maybe I needed that particular fabric to do a repair, but I didn’t remember where I bought it. A friend asked me to replicate a creation for her and offered to pay for the materials, but we did not remember how much I had paid them. Surely it will have happened to you too, until one day we decide to put our creations on sale and we are forced to catalog all the materials we have accumulated over years of compulsive purchases, without remembering where or how much we bought them. So here’s my first tip:
Start cataloging all your materials right away, even if you are sewing just for you and your family.
My First Attempts at cataloguing
My first attempts at cataloging consisted of small notebooks where for each project I indicated approximately the materials used and how much they had cost me, attaching in the most fortunate cases a tiny sample of fabric or trimmings or a receipt. Even today, sadly, I am left with a lot of materials with no provenance, price or use due to this rough method.
My First Inventory
One day, caught in one of my compulsive cataloging fits (I’m mostly a messy person), I started taking an inventory of all my materials. In reality it was not a real inventory, since I did not indicate the quantity I had of each material, but, through a Numbers sheet (Mac program equal to Exel), I gave each material a code and I indicated the main characteristics .
- TYPE OF FABRIC
- PRICE € / M
For each fabric, I cut out a 10 × 10 cm square of material, finished with zigzag scissors. Then I organized all the fabrics, divided by type, in A4 sheets with its code indicated next to each sample.
With the opening of the Etsy shop and the opening of the VAT number, I needed to add some information to the table. Always selling the same products, the need arose to buy materials in stock in warehouses, both online and physical. With this new purchase method, the following items were added to the list:
- PRICE VST excl. : for all purchases with a VAT number, prices without VAT are always marked;
- Store Item Code: to reorder and identify the item in the warehouse or online shop;
- WEIGHT: weight of the fabric, useful for online purchases, where it is not possible to touch the fabric with your hand. This gives you an idea of the lightness or heaviness of the fabric.
- BAR CODE: if already present, that of the store, or created with an online generator for internal use only. Facilitates identification for inclusion in billing, management or inventory programs.
- COMPOSITION: important to fully understand the characteristics of the fabric, the best way to work it and its best use.
- PHOTO: the photo helps to distinguish the various fabrics even at a glance in the inventory, and is useful to be included in the inventory or management programs.
By now I thought I had reached a good level of organization, but obviously I was wrong. When I had to show a reference sample in a shop, to buy a similar one, I had to carry around the entire binder, which was first of all bulky and I did not have the main data such as the store code, the weight of the fabric or the its composition. Also, since the samples were fixed to the page with staples, it was impossible for me to reorganize them. My sensitivity to chromatic scales was therefore offended every time I leafed through the pages of the Catalog. for Ed is aware of these limitations that I have started looking for an alternative method.
The Ultimate Solution
And that’s how I came to create this new single-card cataloging method. You get 4 A6 size cards for each print on A4 size card. Each board with two holes, so they can be collected two by two in a simple A5 ring binders with 4 rings (18.5 x 22 cm), or, without drilling the cards, you can organize them in ring binders in A4 format, using transparent envelopes with compartments.
Each card is composed as follows:
- CLOTH SAMPLE: this is the space to attach your fabric swatch with staples.
- CODE or BARCODE: here you can indicate the sample code or attach a label as in my case, with code and barcode.
- DESCRIPTION: type of fabric and everything you think is useful;
- H: fabric height
- WEIGHT: weight of the fabric
- COMPOSITION: composition of the fabric with the various percentages (e.g. 100% CO)
- ELASTICITY: useful if the model requires a particular percentage of elasticity. from expressed in% for warp and weft.
- SHOP: indicate the shop of purchase
- PRICE + VAT: cost of the fabric per m including VAT
- PRICE-VAT: cost of the fabric per m excluding VAT
- SHOP CODE: item code assigned by the seller