After years crafting, we come into conclusion that it's not only the making process that's difficult, but also the fabric mix and match!
We got a question lastweek on instagram on how to mix and match fabric for our crafts/products.
The truth is, we don't know. Really. For both of us who doesn't have any design background (fili as a full time seamstress and lino as....well... she has too many backgrounds), mix and matching fabrics and designing a product is very challenging. But we do have some steps on fabric mix and match. This is entirely our opinion, so if you have other opinion, feel free to jump in!
1. Separating your fabrics/papers/yarns/anything based on colour and texture is really helping.
Fili seperated her fabrics based on colours, so when she's about to make something, at least she already has some ideas for coordinating fabrics, just by looking at her stash of fabric in the same spot.
Lino tend to separate her fabrics based on texture and pattern. If you open her fabric drawer, you can see different lines of cotton, medium weight fabrics, ethnic fabric, and coordinating fabric. For the coordinating fabrics, she separated it based on the pattern (plain, checks, gingham, dots, lines).
Looks like we're pretty organised and makes our life much easier, aren't we?
Well, not really.
Even though we already categorised the fabrics based on specific criteria, before we make something, we often ended up in a situation where we just messing with all the fabrics that we have.
which goes to point number....
2. Put every fabrics on the floor.
We're not even joking. If we're going to work with a product with that requires different coordinating fabrics (like a wallet), we often ended up with one main fabric that we love so much but we're not really sure what should we combine it with. We ended up pick a number (a lot!) of coordinating fabrics, and the options can go up to more than five options. Fili likes to choose coordinating fabrics with lighter tone, while Lino loves contrasting fabric but in similar hue. Put all your fabrics in a wide space together, so you can visualize the combination and play with it.
3. Read, see, learn
If some people said that our mix & matching is good, it's because we learned a lot from... everywhere. We try to find colour palette reference from all over the place. Pinterest is the most common one to find colour palette reference (who doesn't?), but we also have a bunch of Japanese magazines, English crafting books, and other awesome magazines (we're looking at you, Frankie!), where we can find colour and textile inspirations.
Some articles to learn about colours:
4. Know your style
Are you more of a bright or a subtle? Are you more into monochromatic or full colour? Know your style, build your own signature/brand character, and you can play around it. If you're more of a vintage/shabby chic girl, then aim for that style. If you like bold crazy wacky colour, go for it. But you won't know until you try it. For us, we've been trying for two years and we're still pretty awkward with it. But at least now we have an idea of what kind of tone that we like, and we try to keep it that way.
In addition to that, it might be good also to match it with your fabric's pattern theme. If the design is more retro-ish, aim for a retro palette (mustard yellow, orange, pale blue, etc). If it's more classic/antique/vintage pattern, go for a more vintage tone (faded colour, light brown, moss green, etc).
5. Matching doesn't mean similar
According to Fili, it's all about balance. Our tone style is more of a balance between colours, texture, and pattern. You will not find us combining a heavy full flower pattern with small dense polka dot fabrics. You will not see us put all polka dots fabrics for the inside of a wallet. Why? Because we feel that it is too much, too heavy, to full. Dots looks petty full and stand out, why not balance it with something more subtle? We're not afraid to combine dots - gingham - strip in a same product, but we have to feel that it balanced each other. For example, a wallet. Strong coloured dots can be used for accent/bias, then for the sleeve you can use the combination of plain and stripe.
Another sample of balancing, if we have a fabric that has lots of colour, we choose one colour as our main colour then play around with this. We might go with similar colour but with basic pattern, similar colour with lighter or darker shade, or go completely the opposite of the colour wheel. As long as we feel it balance the main fabric and makes them stand out, then go with it.
It's never wrong also to combine fabrics with different weight. We tried combining linen and cotton quilting and it still feels nice. We even tried combining a pretty thick bamboo fabric with cotton-linen blend, and it looks good! Medium to heavy fabrics has pretty solid and strong texture, so we personally like them in plain, not in pattern. Combine them with contrasting cotton print, voila, it looks simple but still good.
So yeah, balance, balance, and balance.
6. Practice makes perfect
Yup, indeed. Practice and practice and practice. In the end, we believe color combining is very important for crafters, yet sometimes we just simply ignore it. Believe us when we say the colour, pattern, and texture that you put will definitely affect how your product looks.
That's all, and happy sunday!