Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book

FFF Front

Let’s not sugar coat it; Fabrics for Fashion: The Swatch Book is expensive with the RRP £60. I got it for around about £37 and even then I could only afford it due to the stroke of good luck I’ve had recently.

It is however, for someone like me who doesn’t yet know her batiste from her shantung, priceless.

I am one of those people that walk around a fabric shop hanging her head in shame, confused about the properties of various fabrics and all too often drawn to the cotton blends as I know them well.

I am oh so typically British in my embarrassment in asking anyone anything, my husband refers to it as “the shyness”, wherein if I find myself in a situation where I don’t know something the normal me (friendly, chatty, enthusiastic) reverts to the painfully shy and not wanting to attract attention me that I was in my formative years.


This swatch book is perfect for me for a few reasons:

  • I like to order pretty fabrics online but with limited knowledge I find myself stumbling about in the dark, googling dresses made from certain fabrics to get an idea of drape and weight and then fearing the postman will delivery something that I simply can’t work with (this has, so far, not happened as I have been cautious)
  • I’m quite a tactile person when it comes to fabric. I am also one of those annoying people that keeps you in a fabric shop for too long because I’m busy stroking everything. Shop in Abakhan in Manchester? I’ve probably touched your fabric (don’t worry – I have very clean hands).
  • I find prints and colours far too distracting, often considering them more than how the fabric will hang and drape when the garment is made.

There are 100 swatches in the book and with exception of a few they are in their natural, undyed state.  The samples are a good size, giving you a true impression of their feel, weight and structure and all have a description alongside them.


Each section is accompanied with information on fibres, the basic construction of fabric and weave comparison. There’s a fantastic glossary in the back which helps with the terminology used throughout.

All in all, a great reference book that I know I will use time and time again, will save me many future headaches, make purchasing fabric online so much easier and will add much diversity to my future home sewn wardrobe.

4 thoughts on “Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book

  1. I haven’t yet been able to justify the expense but it does look super helpful. I ended up getting ‘The Fabric Selector’ by Dana Willard which comes in at a much more reasonable £12.99 (although I got it for £2.99..huzzah!)…it doesn’t have the swatches but it does give really good descriptions of the properties of the fabric, tips and advice on working with the fabric and how to care for it (including pre-shrinking)…I also started making my own swatch file…whenever I buy a fabric, I take a swatch and stick it in for future reference…loads of fabric shops will let you cut slash send you swatches for nothing too (ok…some charge a small fee or postage) which is helpful too although admittedly more time consuming…anyway, hopefully I’ll become rich and can treat myself…also I’d like to add that I too am a fellow fabric stroker…my non sewing friends think it’s weird so it’s nice to know one is not alone!

  2. i have been lusting after the book for so long. i have a couple of others that describe the fabrics but i am obviously a “toucher” too. that’;s great idea above to make a swatch book./ Also steph from cake patterns sells little swatch books sometimes when she brings out a pattern that are marked with the fabric weight etc. that’s the thing i find hardest, especially when buying knits. is it going to be a heavyweight or lightweight?

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