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Sofía Domínguez
Written by Sofía Domínguez

How To Prepare Fabrics for Scanning

A simple two step guide that covers how to prepare and scan your fabric samples to ensure you achieve an accurate result.

To achieve the most accurate digital fabrics, it's important to create a high quality scan by prepping the fabric sample properly to be scanned. Digital materials are a complex collection of optical data properties that need to be captured will to bring the material to life in the digital world.

To ensure the best results during the scanning process, follow these steps:

1. Selecting the area of your fabric to scan

  • Avoid problem areas such as damaged areas, stains, large light or dark areas, and thicker yarns or slubs that are not characteristic of the fabric.

  • For yarn dye patterns, ensure that more than one combined structural woven repeat and yarn dye pattern is included.

  • For printed fabrics, ensure more than one straight repeat is selected if possible. Otherwise, if the pattern is in a half drop, ensure that more than one area of the motif is selected.

  • For organically patterned fabrics like heathered fabrics, larger is better. Try to avoid uncharacteristically splotchy areas if any are present in your fabric.

  • Many solid fabrics have subtle yarn variations. Again, larger is better. The more natural variations present and scanned in your fabric sample allow your new digital material to take on its natural appearance in the 3D world.

  • Check to confirm that the area selected is not larger than your scanner platen size. If it exceeds the scanner platen size, it is not suitable for digitization with your scanner.

2. Cutting, blocking, and pressing

  • Cut a swatch of the fabric that is at least 10 cm x 10 cm or 4 in x 4 in. It can be close to the scanner platen size or slightly larger by about an inch or so. The swatch should not be so large that it would prevent the scanner lid from completely closing.

  • Double-check any patterned fabrics to confirm slightly more than one pattern repeat is visible in the cut swatch.

  • Remove lint, dust, pills, and loose threads with a lint brush.

  • For fabrics with nap-like velvets and corduroys, carefully brush the fabric to lay uniformly in one direction.

  • Steam or press most fabrics (see our guide for the best methods to steam and press various types of fabrics/fibers and for the exceptions when steaming or pressing is not advisable) to remove wrinkles assuring fabrics are properly blocked.

  • Ensure your fabric is completely dry before moving on to scanning.