Everyday we have shoppers come into the store looking for a "perfect" fabric they have identified by trolling manufacturer websites and online fabric retailers to match something they have in their stash.
We don't carry every fabric ever made, but we do boast a large in-house selection of fabrics. Often times we have "that" specific fabric the customer comes in looking for that they found online. The identifying manufacturer marks all match. We pull the bolt out of the shelves, and proudly present to the shopper. Just because we present the "right" fabric doesn't mean the shopper is happy. Often the fabric is not quite what they thought and even worse, sometimes a shopper thinks we don't have the right fabric and we are trying to sell them a different piece than what is in the picture.
Is it a dye lot variation? Maybe, but probably not.
Are we doing a bait and switch? Of course not!
Color and scale are so difficult to accurately represent in a digital image.
Technology is SOOO amazing. In seconds, a shopper can easily locate a fabric printed with cats, drinking martinis in Paris. (Ok, I exaggerate a little - I don't think that specific fabric exists.) If a fabric has been printed, it is increasingly easier for a shopper to have as much, if not more, knowledge of current fabrics available than the average shop owner.
When I shop for fabric for the store, I buy from fabric samples and some very high quality paper copies.
The paper copies are great for scale and style, but it is not perfect for color. It is near impossible for me to create a unique kit or candy bar from paper, much less digital images.
Recently we needed to fill in our Kansas Troubles backgrounds in the store. My sales rep visits often, but I didn't want to wait for our next appointment, so I just logged onto the MODA website. The Kansas Troubles palette is relatively controlled and pretty predictable. I ordered several bolts from the Favorites collection. All beautiful, but not one of the bolts we ordered ended up matching the exact tone we were trying to refill.
Let's look at a variety of pictures from this current fabric line Bandana from Me & My Sister by MODA fabrics to better illustrate.
1. This picture is posted to our Facebook from a shot in our foyer.
2. This picture was taken at market from the Me & My Sister booth. Thanks Barb and Mary!
3. This picture is a professional product image from the MODA fabrics website.
4. A specific print image from the MODA website.
5. A camera phone picture taken in our receiving area for Facebook.
Can you tell from the pictures you love the fabric line? ABSOLUTELY!
Can you tell from the pictures you want to make one of the quilts on the wall in the first picture? ABSOLUTELY!
Can you tell from the pictures the green will match your current work in progress? WELL, PROBABLY NOT... Scroll through each of the pictures again, even the green looks different in each of the pictures.
Is it exposure, is it your device, is it the quality of the camera, is it just perception? YES - likely all of the above. :-)
So am I saying you shouldn't buy fabric online? No, I'm not saying that.
If you are reading this blog, you probably don't buy fabric from any store but Patched Works anyway ;-).
What I am trying to say, use caution for relying on digital images to match color ESPECIALLY if you are matching something you have in stash. Shopping online is great for following very specific designers and theme fabrics. It is also great when you need to replenish a specific fabric when you need more and your local shop is out of stock. While we would love to buy everything from us (insert your LQS here), your local store couldn't possibly carry infinite yardage of every fabric released.
If you are fortunate to live near a local brick and mortar shop, nothing compares to matching colors in person!
BTW - I saw white and gold - Frank saw blue and black! ;-)
Hugs and quilts!