As a general rule, the larger the repeat, the better the fabric is going to look when imbedded in a design. Small repeats that are only a couple of inches will be very small when sized to scale, and the fabric can take on a “muddy” appearance (where all the colors seem blended together).
The best fabric images to work with are those that come from a fabric company’s website. In most instances those images are photographed and well-lit, and they generally capture more of the repeat and more fabric.
If no digital swatch is available from the internet, taking a digital photograph of fabric is your next best bed, provided you have a large swatch to work with. It is not recommended to scan a small swatch, as it lends to tilted images, shadows, and distortion. If you are scanning in your own swatches, and they happen to be stripes or plaids, then there is a good possibility that your scanned image is not perfectly straight and that your image contains a slight distortion. When the fabric image is inserted into a design (such as a panel), and if the fabric image is ever so slightly tilted, then that distortion gets repeated throughout your design. Try and align the stripes so that they are perfectly vertical, using imaging software such as Photoshop, Google photos, or any other photo editor.
When you scale your fabric, remember that you input the number of inches that the swatch represents, not the repeat. If you scanned in a swatch that was only 8” wide, then that is what you would input into DreamDraper, regardless if the repeat for that fabric is 27”. Your sample only represents 8”, and that is the scale.
If you are working with an acceptable fabric image but the repeat is small (only a few inches), one way to present the design and try to have the small repeat appear more clear is to change the scale of your design. For example, if your swatch sample represents 12” of fabric (and the repeat is small, say only 2”), normally you would scale the swatch at 12”. However, you might want to scale it larger to something like 20”, just so that you can see the repeat better.
Also, as a tip, remember that you can always darken your lines on your design. Oftentimes when you apply fabric, your detail lines of the design appear faint. Just highlight your design with your mouse, click on the PROPERTIES box, and you can increase the STROKE (line weight). We have a lesson on this on our tutorial webpage, called Change Line Thickness. In addition to increasing the stroke width of your design after you have applied fabric or color, you can also change the color of the lines. This can be effective when working with sheers or pastels.
RENAME your swatches — Sometimes you will want to experiment and reimport the same swatch multiple times, changing the scale. Every time you import the same swatch, remember to rename it. Even if you delete the swatch and you re-import, you must rename it. Otherwise, the program may get confused and it could be applying an image that you thought you deleted. I will usually append the file name with the scale, for example Kasmir-animal-print-20, where the 20 is how I scaled it.
- Scale size — As mentioned above, the general rule is that the scale that you apply to the swatch is the width of the fabric that is represented by the image (not the repeat). Oftentimes you have to guess how much fabric is represented in the image. If working with an image where the scale would be 8” (for example if you scanned a swatch, and the swatch size was only 8” wide), then I would generally increase the scale size. The smaller the scale, the muddier the colors will appear on the computer screen or printout. Generally speaking, I probably try not to scale anything smaller than 20”. I feel it is better for the customer to see the fabric print a bit better, even if the scale is not perfect.
To view how scaling is done, click here for a a tutorial on adding your own fabric.