Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I've recently taken on re-decorating my bedroom again (for those of you counting this makes 6). I really wanted to commit this time though so I changed the wall color, put up some wainscoting, really fell in love with the bedding and even began picking out a fabric for drapes. I work in the home decor business... how hard could it be?

After well over a dozen samples and an equal number of disappointed heartaches, I realized how hard this really was for me. If picking out a fabric to match a room was this hard for someone in the design business, I can't possibly imagine how hard it would be for someone who didn't have a design background at all! So here I am, sharing a few things I've learned about picking fabrics and the importance of SAMPLES SAMPLES SAMPLES!

Now, I knew how different lighting can affect wall paint but never imagined how badly it would affect fabric! Typically, you will look at a fabric in a showroom. Showrooms usually have fluorescent lighting. Then you bring it home, to a room with home lighting and maybe even some outdoor lighting that filters in from a window or doorway. Lighting makes a HUGE difference. I did an experiment to show what one fabric looks like in 3 different lighting scenarios.
These images HAVE NOT been altered and were all taken with a soft flash using the same camera. How disappointed would you be if you saw an ivory/sage fabric in a showroom and brought it home to discover it was blue!?!

What's in a name? Well, when choosing a fabric, names can be both helpful and EXTREMELY deceiving. What might be red to one person may come across more as a pink to another. Black and white are no longer black and white. Instead, black can be noir, onyx, jet, black, midnight or storm and white can be ice white, snow white, true white, off white or blanco. Don't always go by just a color name of a fabric. Get the samples so that you can go by what they look like rather than what they're called.
Just like calling a color by a zillion different names colors can actually come in a zillion different hues as well. While trying to pick out a blue fabric for my bedroom, I found out that I actually didn't want a true blue. Instead, I found I needed a blue with a more purple hue.
This color card is a good example of just how many different "blues" or "oranges" there are out there. Notice on the last two lines how all the colors would be considered blue but notice how many different hues there are. Some look more green or more aqua, while the first and last ones on the bottom row look white and black! Make sure when choosing fabrics to pay attention to those hues and undertones to ensure you get a perfect color match.
So let's say you've decided on a fabric. You've taken it home and it matches perfectly! Once the fabric arrives from the manufacturer though, it doesn't seem to match quite as perfectly as before. Why does this happen? Two words, dye lots. Every time a fabric gets reprinted at a manufacturers warehouse a different dye is used. Now, most of the time any differences aren't even noticeable but occasionally, a dye will become unavailable or a manufacturer has to switch machines or printers and the dye lot can vary.
Look here at the difference in color of the bird. The one of the left appears to be a muted brown while the one on the right is clearly grey in color. Although the yellow print is identical this small difference in the bird could make quite a big difference if you had already matched one up to your existing decor.
So how do you avoid a dye lot debacle? Choose a CFA (Cutting For Approval) whenever you are needing an exact dye match. Most manufacturers and retailers offer these at no charge. CFAs can be especially important if you are choosing a silk, velvet or faux silk fabric as these fabrics are the worst about changing dye lots.
Samples samples samples and more samples! Most companies won't allow returns under a certain amount of yardage or dollar amount so if you order a fabric without having ordered a sample you can get stuck with fabric you can't use or, if you can return the fabric, you'll often times be out a restocking fee or handling fee. Most companies charge small fees for ordering samples but most companies will allow you to receive a refund or a store credit that you can use toward the purchase of actual yardage. Even if you have to pay... ordering samples can save you big!