There’s a very good reason that fabric suppliers and printers provide fabric samples for clothing and other items. In a digital world, you can’t see, feel and touch the fabric you’re about to order. 

You have no idea about their texture. If you’re coming to maake, we use a sample to tell you what the material will look like when we've printed on it.

Why are fabric samples so important to a business?

Everybody wants a tactile experience. No matter whether you're a fashion designer, interior designer, manufacturer, small business or someone creating a home project. Many know that what you view on a computer screen isn’t what the fabric will look like in real life. And this is the case, whether you print on it or not. 

We also have customers who supply us with their choice of material. For them, it’s essential to get an idea of what the fabric will look like when we print on it.

And that’s why it’s important to shop for a sample. Some suppliers offer these free; others request a small fee.

So, whether you’re a fashion designer preparing your next collection for the runway or an interior designer decorating a home with furnishing fabric... Perhaps you're upholstering soft furnishings (sofas, curtains or home accessories) and need upholstery fabric samples, or you’re a small company making fabric products to sell. Maybe you're someone printing fabric for an entirely different reason. But now you know why you need a sample, whether it’s free or you need to purchase it.

A sample helps you ascertain whether the fabric you want to print on will work the way you want it to.

What is a fabric sample?

A fabric sample is a small piece of the material the customer wants. The sample gives an idea of what the material they are about to order will look like. If the fabric is going to have a pattern, shade or design printed on it, the sample will include that information and it will show what the finished item will look like.

Now let’s measure the sample. A sample is usually very small (4in. x 3in.), but a fabric sample is  larger – we use the sample to view larger-scale patterns and designs. We also use sample swatches and a fabric sample when the customer wants us to dye the fabric a particular shade and they want us to provide a colour review.

Why use samples of fabrics?

Fashion designers and interior designers use a fabric sample for shade matching. They also request a sample when they plan to combine patterns, hues and textures effectively. So if you’re mixing shades, designs or colours, a fabric sample will certainly help. 

A very important use of a fabric sample: being able to see how a design, pattern or shade prints on different types of material. By printing on a sample, you can get an excellent idea of how different shades will look when you print on different weaves of fabric, especially if the fabric is unavailable instore.

This is impossible to view in a picture or on-screen; you need to be able to see, feel and touch the products to decide which works for you. That’s why you need a sample.

6 important things to consider when you look at a fabric sample

1.    You can save money by ordering an example

Having a sample, whether it’s free or at a small cost, will save you a fortune if you’ve chosen the wrong fabric for a particular project. 

2.   It will show how heavy the fabric is

The sample will give you an idea of whether the fabric is right for the product you want to make, whether it drapes well for a dress or curtains, what it will look like as a cushion, tea towel, tablecloth, etc. This is particularly important if the fabric is unavailable in-store.

3.   You can wash it to see if the colour runs

This is very important if you are choosing fabric made from natural fibres like cotton or linen including when you buy Brera Moda heavyweight linen fabric ordered on a qty request. For this type of test, you would need to order 2 samples for each type of favourites fabric, so that you could compare each sample before and after washing to ascertain stock qty and quality.

Does the sample shrink, stretch, crease badly? Will the dye run when we wet the fabric? Is the fabric stain resistant? Can you get rid of accidental spills, stains, marks? 

What does the texture feel like after we have washed the fabric? You need all this fabric care info to put on the product’s label for customers to read. So make sure to order a sample.

4.    It shows how colour changes in different circumstances

If you’re a fashion designer creating daywear, for example, you need to have a good idea of what the fabric will look like in daylight. The same applies for evening wear and accessories. 

If you’re creating a fashion collection you need to be able to mix and match the fabric samples together to view what they look like in real life. After all, what you view on the computer screen is not what they look like on a sample that you put in the sun, view at dusk, in a dimly lit or interior space.

5.  You will get an idea of what the material looks like when digitally printed on

By the way, at maake we use digital printing to print on fabric. Typically, the number of inks in digital printing range from the 4 process colours of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) to between 8 and 12 colours. These additional colours add to the overall ‘gamut’, i.e they expand the range of colours the machine is able to produce. 

This is what allows complex designs with a higher range of shades to print more accurately. Depending on the number of colours your supplier uses, your print will look different. This is one of the main reasons that having a sample to look at is essential before you print your fabric. 

6.  Other important information about this free material

At maake we provide a lot of information about the fabric online for you, but sometimes fabric suppliers and printers may only make the information available when you request a free sample. 

This information includes what type of fabric it is (natural or synthetic). It also tells us whether the fabric is a blend of different fibres, whether it’s organic or has a certification (eg Oeko-tex). We also find out if it's durable and what the best uses are for the fabric.

How to shop for samples

We provide a textile samples book for you to see and touch the different types of fabric. This way, you can see exactly what the material will look like when we print on them.  

The fabric samples book offers a sample swatch of every base fabric we offer so that you can see the entire range that we provide for you to print on. We printed on the fabric to reveal what each textile looks like when it is printed on. You can shop for your sample book right here. It includes all sorts of patterns and designs including William Morris: 

Order a fabric sample book

“ Brilliant! A fantastic and extensive sample of fabrics. I didn't even know there were so many fabric options! This will be extremely helpful to determine what I want to use for projects. Thank you!” – Stephanie - 06 Jan 2022

Shop for another useful design tool

maake also offers another excellent fabric sample design tool to include on your list. It will help you in your fabric choices:

Our innovative shade atlas is ideal for shade matching and selection. Designed to fit on 1m of fabric, it consists of more than 2,400 shades and their codes. It allows customers to see the shades on fabric, and to select which shades to use in designs. It’s also useful for shade matching and selection. Put this on your delivery add – make this your remaining order. Shop for your Color Atlas here:

 Here's some inspiring information on creating perfect fabric shades with our Atlas. Check this out now, then shop for yours below.

Order your colour atlas now

It’s time to get creative

There’s a lot you can learn about colour, including the basics of colour theory. We’ve also compiled a fascinating guide that covers how colour affects our emotions, which is an invaluable tool for any fabric design business.

Check out our extensive collection of base fabrics before you shop.


Design your own fabric


Browse our magnificent Design Library


February 01, 2023 — Artemis Doupa