Fabric swatches are so helpful when choosing fabrics for your sewing projects. Just like paint chips help you select paint colors, fabric swatch cards help you select just the right color for whatever you’re sewing.
Many fabric manufacturers sell color cards that have swatches of all the fabrics in a collection – such a great resource when making color palettes for your projects. But the swatches are often affixed in a set layout, not allowing you to mix and match individual fabrics to your liking. If you’re like us, you want to look at fabric colors independently and arrange them to create unique color combinations.
The answer? Cut them up, just like paint chips! We’ll show you how to cut out fabric swatch card sections, stick magnetic sheets on the back, cut out the individual swatch magnets, and slap them up on a dry erase board. Whiteboards are magnetic! Who knew?!
So let’s make some fabric swatch magnets! We’re going to use a fabric swatch card that’s cut-out-friendly, meaning that the fabric and text are separated and glued in place. The Kona Cotton Solids color cards by Robert Kaufman are perfect. Or, if you want to use a Century Solids color card by Andover, don't miss our post: How to Make Fabric Swatch Magnets with a Century Solids Color Card
But what if you want to make swatch magnets from loose fabrics from your stash or from a swatch card with overlapping fabrics that aren’t completely affixed and separated? We gotcha covered. Just scroll to the bottom of the post.
No matter which type you have, you can hack your color card - let’s do this!
Watch a video of our founder Angela making her fabric swatch magnets:
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- Fabric swatches. We’re using the Kona Cotton Color Card - 365 Colors by Robert Kaufman.
- Magnetic sheets. Adhesive-backed 8×11” sheets work great.
- Scissors [Amazon]. Use mixed media shears for cutting through card stock and magnetic sheets.
Color wheel. Optional, but fun and helpful.
Use it as a guide to create color palettes.
- Magnetic dry erase board [Amazon]. We used a 36“ x 24” size, since it has more than enough room for all the swatches. Having an additional small size (like this 11“ x 14” magnetic dry erase board [Amazon]) is handy for making separate color palettes for your sewing projects. If using your own whiteboard, make sure it is magnetic – some are, and some aren’t.
MAKE FABRIC SWATCH MAGNETS
1. Cut out large sections of cards
Cut the color card pages into (6) 8.5“ x 11” sections and (1) 3.5“ x 11”, removing and discarding any empty outer margins as necessary.
2. Apply magnet sheets
Peel off the protective paper from the magnet sheets and press the card sections onto the exposed sticky surface. Align them as best as you can.
OPTIONAL: Apply a magnet strip to the back of a color wheel, leaving the middle portion free so the wheel can still spin around.
3. Cut out large sections of swatch magnets
First cut out rows.
4. Cut out fabric swatch magnets
Then cut out the individual swatches. You now have a bunch of little fabric magnets!
Arrange onto a magnetic dry erase board. Use whatever layout you want!
Put it on the wall, on an artist easel, or just keep it mobile to move around as you want. This whiteboard surface measures 35″ x 23” and is holding 365 1” fabric swatches.
An additional small whiteboard gives a bit of extra room for creating color palettes.
Go ahead, hack your color cards and make them into useful magnets! You’ll love how a fabric swatch magnet board is both a helpful tool and a piece of art on its own. It’ll look so good in your sewing room!
Oh, remember we said we gotcha covered if you want to make swatch magnets from loose fabrics from your stash or from a swatch card with overlapping fabrics that aren’t completely affixed? Here are your instructions. You just need a few more supplies and to follow a few more steps.
SUPPLIES (ALTERNATE METHOD)
- Same items as before (for a fabric swatch card that is cut-out-friendly), plus the items below. Make sure the fabric swatches are at least 1” or 2” square (your choice). We like to use 1” for fabrics that read as solid colors and 2” for prints.
- Card stock [Amazon]. Inexpensive white 8.5 x 11” sheets will do just fine.
- Printable swatch card template: choose between 1” swatch template or 2” swatch template.
- BONUS: use this Kona 2019 - 25 template if using the Kona Cotton Color Card - 25 New Colors 2019. We’ve pre-populated the fabric details for you!
Rotary cutter [Amazon] and
- Small clear quilting ruler.
Fine point black marker [Amazon]
. A fine point Sharpie pen is good.
- Elmer’s washable school glue [Amazon]. The liquid kind.
- Foam brush [Amazon]. 1” wide. The uber-cheap kind.
MAKE FABRIC SWATCH MAGNETS (ALTERNATE METHOD)
1. Print the swatch card template
Print the PDF onto white card stock at 100% (no scaling).
2. Cut out fabric squares
Cut 1" squares, then cut 1/8“ from the width so the swatch is .875” x 1“, making it the same swatch size as the Kona 365 color card. Or, cut 2” squares if you’re using that size of template. A quilting ruler and rotary cutter make it easy. Make sure to keep the fabric squares in order, so they’ll be correctly labeled.
Apply Elmer's washable school glue long the top 1" of the card rows. Smooth the glue with the foam brush. If using 2” squares, glue along the top 2”. Or, only apply a glue line to just the very top area if you want to keep the swatch loose to be able to feel the fabric between your fingers.
4. Place fabric squares
Press fabric squares onto the glued area. Use a spare sheet of card stock to temporarily place on top and smooth out the entire sheet – like a pressing cloth. To keep everything in order, do one row at a time.
Use a fine point black marker and very small print to handwrite the fabric name under the swatch. Skip this step if you’re using the pre-populated Kona 2019 - 25 template.
6. Follow previous steps
Just follow the same steps as before for a fabric swatch card that is cut-out-friendly: cut out large sections of cards, apply magnetic sheets to the back, and cut out swatch magnets.
That’s all there is to making fabric swatch magnets! Choosing fabric colors for your sewing projects will be fun and easy. And we hope you’ll consider getting your fabric from Sewfinity :-)