our top-swatch tips for getting the most out of your curtain fabric samples.
Whether you’re transforming an entire room or giving your windows a much-needed refresh, made to measure curtains are always a winning option. They give you that neatly tailored effect, can be made to fit any window space, and look irresistibly elegant once hung up. So, where’s the catch?
Finding the right fabric for your curtains can be difficult. Will the colour match your decor? Is it as heavy or as light as you want it to be? Will it really look like it does online? You can’t find these answers alone, which is why we offer free fabric samples for all our made to measure curtains.
So, whether you’re nearing a decision or keeping your options open, here’s everything you need to know about how to use fabric samples.
A fabric sample – or ‘swatch’ – is a small piece of fabric that’s cut from a larger roll to give you a better idea of what the material is like. Fabrics vary massively in colour, pattern and design, so getting your hands on a sample is the best way to ensure you’re making the right choice.
"I always advise ordering fabric samples before you commit to buying new curtains" says Suzi, Design and Development Manager at furn.com. "Your lighting scheme, current decor and levels of natural light can all influence how a fabric will look, so it's always worth giving yourself a preview".
We offer free fabric samples across our entire made to measure curtains range. You can order up to 10 free swatches per order, provided each sample is from a different design.
how big is a fabric sample?
Fabric samples tend to measure anywhere from 10x10cm to 20x20cm, depending on the level of pattern and detail. We like to keep things simple, so all our free fabric samples come in a standard size of 14x14cm. This gives you the best of both worlds, as they’re big enough to give you a detailed preview of the fabric without being bulky or awkward.
Getting your hands on our free fabric samples couldn’t be easier. We've tailored the whole process to be as convenient as possible, making your decision a whole lot quicker and easier. To order your free fabric samples, just head over to our made to measure curtains collection, and you’ll notice this button underneath each design:
add sample to bag.
Give it a click, and a free fabric sample for your chosen design will instantly be added to your bag. You can add free curtain fabric samples of up to 10 different designs in a single order, giving you more than enough room to feel fully confident in your final decision. We'll work hard to get your curtain fabric samples in your hands as soon as possible after you order, and they'll arrive in a neat little envelope that'll slot right through your letterbox.
Order samples of your 10 favourite fabrics, take a closer look, and you’ll be whittling them down to a single winning swatch in no time.
Wondering what to do with fabric samples once you’ve received them? When your free fabric samples arrive, you can start testing them to see if you’ve found the right material. From whether it fits with your current decor to how it looks in different lighting – there’s a few criteria you’ll have to keep in mind…
Just like paint, your fabric samples will look slightly different depending on the light in your room. To make sure you’re happy, tape your fabric samples to the glass of the window and see how they look in your specific room. You could also pin them to your existing curtains, or net curtains if you have them.
"My first test for fabric samples is always to check how they look in different lighting" explains Suzi. "You don't want curtains that only look great in certain conditions, so check how they look under the big light, smaller accent lighting and natural sunshine from the window".
Just be aware that the colour of your curtains may impact how the samples appear, especially if they’re totally different in colour or tone. Leave the samples on your window for a couple of days, and keep track of how they look in all the different light levels your room encounters.
If you’ve gone for a patterned fabric, take a step back once you’ve pinned it to your window. Consider how the pattern on your fabric samples might interact with any others in the room – is it a bigger or smaller motif? Does it work in harmony with other patterns? Is anything clashing?
Keep in mind that your curtain heading type will have an effect on how the pattern ends up looking. Pinch pleat and pencil pleat headers work great with larger patterns, but can cause smaller designs to become bunched up in the fabric. Eyelet headings create wide waves of fabric that are perfect for showing off more intricate motifs.
Naturally, one of the first things you’ll do when your samples arrive is give them a feel. While you won’t be snuggling up to your curtain fabric, it’s important that you like the feel, texture and style it’ll bring to your space. You might love the softness of velvet curtains, for instance, but will that heavy, luxe style work in your space?
Give your fabric sample a tug and a stretch too to see how durable it is. If you’ve got kids or pets, you can try drawing on it, spilling liquids on it, and even scratching it to see how the fabric fairs.
The weight of your chosen fabric will affect how it looks on different curtain heading types. A thick fabric like chenille, for example, might be too bulky for a pencil or pinch pleat heading, while thinner fabrics that drape well are ideal for those headings.
"Light, bright curtains are great at bringing darker spaces to life" says Suzi. "Darker, heavier designs can make sun-drenched rooms feel insulated and cosy. The beauty of fabric samples is that you can picture the final product before you make an investment".
Not got your samples yet? Head over to our made to measure curtains range and start searching for your favourite fabrics.
We’re big believers in having fun and being adventurous on your interior journey, but we’re also big on keeping sustainability in mind. While our fabric samples are free, they’re definitely not throwaway items.
Materials like velvet, cotton and chenille are far too luxurious for the bin, and besides, there are tons of creative ways to give them a whole new lease of life.
If you’re into sewing, appliqué, or any sort of craftwork – your old fabric samples can really be the start of something beautiful. There are tons of ideas out there for reusing and upcycling old fabric swatches, from the nice and simple to those that take some skill.
Everyone loves a patchwork quilt, and our wide array of fabric samples would certainly make for an interesting design. You could mix woven patterns with printed ones, and even factor in a few swatches of velvet for that little bit of luxury.
keep it simple.
There are plenty of simple ways to upcycle your old fabric scraps out there too, so don’t worry if you’ve not got a sewing machine or simply aren’t the craftiest. Thicker, more durable fabric samples can work great as stylish coasters – just make sure you’re using a fabric that’s easy to clean.
If you can get your hands on some fabric glue, the opportunities for repurposing old fabric samples really start to open up. You could paste them over picture frames, notebooks, or even old bracelets and headbands to give those everyday items a quick revamp.
share the love.
We’re not all skilled crafters, and that’s ok! If you don’t think you can repurpose old fabric samples yourself, there’s always the option of giving them to someone who can. The sewers, stitchers, crocheters and crafters in your life will always be grateful for fresh scraps of fabric. Who knows, they might even thank you with a crafted gift.
If no one in your life can make use of fabric swatches, there are plenty of organisations who’ll accept them as donations. From charities to scrapstores, schools or even your local sewing club – you’d be surprised just how sought-after your fabric samples are. Check out Reuseful’s directory of UK scrapstores, and find your nearest fabric donation point.