Managing sample fabrics

I’ve been working weekends lately, trying to get this place cleaned up so I can get that new CAD system. I still have boxes lying about from when I moved in nearly two years ago and now I’m slowly going through it. Much of what I have is stuff I saved to show people, examples. Before I started blogging, I didn’t have the means to show anyone anything readily and being the pack rat with investment in my “inventory”, I was remiss to toss it. Now that I’m blogging, I can show you bits and pieces of stashed stuff and then I can get rid of it. Introduction dispensed with, I found some cards I made up to manage sample goods inventory for my customers.

Caveat: This is a manual system. As needed, the information can be uploaded into a database you create. I am not suggesting this system is superior but it can be a stop gap measure to manage your sample goods, particularly if you have other hands on site but only one person uses the computer. Another benefit is you have a neatly organized way to keep swatches together, something that was important for me. I didn’t like navigating various sketch sheets just to see attached swatches.

To the right is a photo of a blank card, self explanatory except it’s a two part card. Be sure to put the same inventory control number on the top as on the bottom before detaching it. The larger portion of the card is attached to the piece goods (or hides as the photo below illustrates).

The smaller card you keep on a ring, attaching a small swatch. I like this because I can hang by my desk with easy access to all my goodies (below).

The back of the larger portion of the card looks like this:

This allows you to “charge” given style numbers with quantities of goods, subtracting all the while to keep a running tally of what’s left over. There’s space to keep this information (fabric balances) on the swatch card file ring you keep close by.

If you think this is something that would work for you, I’ve made a pdf that will print 3 full cards on one sheet of card stock (reverse to print the back sides, also included). You can always make up your own cards but this format should get you started.

While we’re on the topic, two previously published entries on fabric organization are How I (kind of) organize my fabric (from Miracle) and A question about fabric libraries. The latter entry contains nothing useful from me because I wasn’t thinking that my sample fabric system would be useful this day and age but there’s comments from visitors that may be helpful.

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  1. dieter says:

    Spot on! I just built a new shelf for sample yardage in the studio and was wondering how I would keep track of the mounting bolts. Now I know.
    Thanks for this post Kathleen.

  2. Natasha says:

    I interned at a small company where I kid you not they cut a piece off the sample staple to whatever design project they were working on and then threw it over their shoulder. Seriously!

  3. Jane E. Smith says:

    When you’re ready to part with outdated samples, our quilting group sure could use them. We make several quilts a month to give to Quilts of Valor and other charitable organizations. Thank you for helping spread a little comfort to a hurting world.

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