Fashion Portfolio Step 8: Find Your Fabrics

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Step Eight To Creating Your Fashion Design Portfolio

One of the best things you can add to your fashion portfolio is swatches of the materials you plan to use. People who work in the fashion industry are a textile group. We like to touch things and feel fabrics and materials. And yes. I know that many people  (especially millennials) have started to resort to showing their fashion portfolios via iPad or other digital versions. But this can be a HUGE mistake! Even if your portfolio eventually ends up in a digital format you still need to START in raw form and pick actual swatches of materials when you are designing anything.

For the last month, we have been going step-by-step through the process of creating a fashion portfolio. If you are just joining us I highly recommend that you start from the beginning. Go to Fashion Portfolio Step One.

Now if you are all caught up you should have a mood board, concept board, color palette, and some rough sketches of your ideas. In my last post ( Fashion Portfolio – Step Seven- Sketch Out Your Ideas) I had you do a brainstorm by sketching out all of your ideas. Then you narrowed down your sketches to the final ones that you plan to use in your portfolio.

We couldn’t cover every possible angle of how to create an amazing fashion design portfolio in just one post! This article is part of an EPIC 10 part Fashion Portfolio Blog Series. If you want to learn all the tricks to make YOUR fashion design portfolio stand out and get you hired you can check out the entire series at the bottom of this page.

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Join The Fashion Portfolio Challenge on Facebook!

As part of this ten-part fashion portfolio blog series, I have created a challenge inside the Pick Glass Fashionable Careers Facebook group. Here you can post examples of your own work and get feedback from the group! Come see what everyone else is working on. Get inspired! It is totally FREE. So, come say hi and meet other like-minded fashion industry professionals just like YOU.

Resources For Finding Fabrics And Materials For Your Fashion Portfolio

The next step in creating a killer fashion portfolio is to find the fabrics that you want to use. Depending on the type of collection you are doing this could mean woven fabric, knit fabric, prints, or yarn. The fabrics you choose will make your designs come to life! Your knowledge of textiles will help you decide what the correct fabric content, yarn size, and fabric weight you need for your designs.

There are several resources for you to find fabrics. Below are 5 places you can start.

  1. Local Fabric Stores – Go to fabric stores in your area and ask for cuttings of the fabrics that you like.
  2. Garments – Cut swatches from existing garments. This is also a good source for design details.
  3. Vendor swatch cards – If you are presently working in the industry you may have access to fabric cards given to you by mills to showcase their collections.
  4. Trade Shows – Visit fabric trade shows and collect swatches from different vendors.
  5. Swatch Houses – There is one more resource available to industry professionals. There are swatch houses for both knits, wovens, and sweaters that sell swatches to a designer for inspiration. However, these are very expensive.

Examples Of Fabric Materials For Fashion Portfolios

Below are some excellent examples that I found on Pinterest where the designers have chosen their fabrics for each of their sketches. For right now don’t worry about adding the swatches to your portfolio. Just make sure you have swatches for every piece you plan to put in your collection.

fashion swatches

Left: Image from Rexy Sung portfolio. Right: Image from Nicole Bradshaw portfolio.

Later on, you will need to cut your swatches neatly and decide how you want to display them in your portfolio. I recommend that you scan in your swatches so that you can make your portfolio 100% digital. However, some people like to then stick the real swatches on top of the digital placeholder on their printouts so that when they show their portfolio the viewer can touch and feel the fabrics.

Often times you might find swatches in the correct pattern or quality, but not the correct color for your collection. This is where you can either use a program such as Adobe PhotoShop to re-color your scanned in swatches, or you can actually CAD the pattern or design in a CAD program such as Kaledo.

When you are finished you need to have all of your swatches or CADs ready to be placed in your digital portfolio. See you next time!

Action Steps

  1. Using the resources I listed above locate swatches and cut swatches of the materials you plan to use for each garment or item in your portfolio.
  2. Decide which swatch goes with each sketch.
  3. CAD if necessary to have the correct color in the correct pattern.

Fashion Portfolio Blog Series

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If you, or someone you know, want to learn how to create a killer fashion design portfolio you can read the entire series here. Learn what it takes to build an amazing fashion portfolio that will get you noticed and get your foot in the door.

  1. How To Create A Killer Fashion Portfolio
  2. Fashion Portfolio – Step 1 – Review Your Current Body of Work
  3. Fashion Portfolio – Step 2 – Find Inspiration
  4. Fashion Portfolio – Step 3 – Get Clarity of Concept
  5. Fashion Portfolio – Step 4 – Create A Mood Board
  6. Fashion Portfolio – Step 5 – Create A Color Palette
  7. Fashion Portfolio – Step 6 – Create Your Concept Board
  8. Fashion Portfolio – Step 7 – Sketch Out Your Ideas
  9. Fashion Portfolio – Step 8 – Find Your Fabrics
  10. Fashion Portfolio – Step 9 – Add flat sketches
  11. Fashion Portfolio – Step 10 – Fashion illustrations
  12. Interview With Karen Avila – Freelance Fashion Designer & Illustrator


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Fashion design portfolio, fashion portfolio, fashion portfolio tips, fashion careers fashion design careers, fashion career advice, fashion industry, fashion portfolio blog series,