If you’re anything like me, you find using fabric swatches helpful for pulling together different fabrics and colors. The first thing I did when I got a Kona color card was bust out the scissors and cut it up! I just can’t visualize what colors will look like together unless I put them next to each other physically. However, this proves a bit more difficult for all the other fabric swatch guides on the market, because instead of already being glued to cardstock, like Kona cottons are, these fabric guides come as individual pieces of fabric layered together in rows.
Happily, I’m here today to show you how with just a few supplies and a free afternoon, you can turn any fabric swatch guide into cards! I’ll be demonstrating today with my Paintbrush Studio Fabrics swatch guide. I love PBS solids and I know having my solids as individual cards will make it so much easier for me to pull together fabrics! It took me a while to come up with a tutorial for these, because I had three very specific criteria: the cardstock had to be thick enough to not bend on its own, the adhesive needed to be strong & permanent, and the method of adhering the fabric to the cardstock needed to be invisible. I didn’t want to use glue because you can end up with a darker spot where the glue was distributed. I’m so happy I found a good solution that I can share with you today!
- A fabric swatch guide
- Rotary cutter
- USED rotary blade (don’t use a new one!)
- Fabric scissors
- 1.5″ double sided carpet tape
- Heavy cardstock: I used Crescent 24 ply Illustration Boards from Hobby Lobby. Comic book boards also work well.
1. Decide on the size of your swatch cards. My fabrics are 1.5″ x 1.75″ and I’d like to keep them as big as possible, so I’m choosing to make my cards 1.5″ x 2.5″. The extra inch will allow me to write the manufacturer and color. Cut your cardstock to your desired size. I have 168 colors so I need to cut that many cards. Use a used rotary blade or you’ll destroy the sharp edge of a new one!
2. Unless you want to pull them off and glue them one at a time, we need to come up with a good system for making our swatch cards. I recommend pulling one fabric off from each column at a time. It is easier to remember which one is Honeycomb versus Amethyst, for example, than Honeycomb versus Flan. So you go across all the columns and pull off the top fabric off each one, make all those swatch cards, and repeat the process for the next fabric in each column.
3. I decided to make all my swatch cards and then add the name of the color afterwards. I ended up writing in pencil the name of the color on the back of the swatch cards so I could keep them straight. You could decide to add the names to all the cards before you start, or write them down as you work on them.
4. Gently peel the fabric off the guide. It should come off easily. Optional: Trim edges straight.
5. Tape your fabric swatch onto the sticky side of the double sided carpet tape, leaving the backing intact. Cut the tape and peel the backing off the fabric swatch.
6. Tape the fabric swatch onto the cardstock and smooth it down to stick. Carpet tape is extremely sticky so this is a good time to slow down and take your time.
7. Write the name of the color on the front of the card. I chose to do the manufacturer and the name of the color because I anticipate making these for all my different solid swatches. If you’re making these with PBS Fabrics, I’ve got all the names typed up for you in this handy pdf. Simply print, cut, and glue! I used an Elmer’s glue stick to glue mine down.
8. Repeat for the rest of your fabric swatches until you’ve got a whole new collection of cards!