Reverse Image Search {Tech Talk}


Reverse Image Search

Every now and then I come across a fabric in my stash or on another person’s blog, and I wonder to myself, “What is this fabric?” If you have ever had this thought and struggled with how to figure it out, I want to introduce you today to the concept of a reverse image search. Directly from Google, reverse image search means:

You can use a picture as your search to find related images from around the web.

Pretty slick, right? I will warn you that this does not guarantee that you will figure out what the fabric is, but it is another tool you can use to help figure out the problem (don’t forget the beauty of asking in your blog, on Facebook, or on Instagram – “phoning a friend” in the quilting industry is easy with social media these days!).

I am going to walk you through the steps of a reverse image search to look for details of the fabric shown in the image at the top of the post.

Reverse Image Search Steps

1. Save an image of the fabric.

There are a few tips that I want to share about this step. Think about the way fabric images are typically shared on websites that sell fabric. The images are of the fabric straight on, and the image usually shows the pattern repeat (or multiple repeats). The image is also usually fairly small (1000px on any one side at the largest). Keeping all of that in mind can give you a leg up if you have the ability to take a photo and manipulate it for the reverse image search.

Sometimes the best you can do is take an image that already exists and modify it, though. For instance, if all you have is a picture of a quilt block that has the fabric you are interested in, I would recommend cropping down the image to just show the fabric of interest. The more information in the image, the harder it will be for the reverse image search to find what you are really looking for (if the image is of a quilt block, it will look for similar looking quilt blocks).

So, as an example, I have this image of a folded fabric:

I rotated the image as much as I could to mimic a “straight on” photograph and I cropped the image to only show the fabric:

2. Drag and drop the image into the search box.

If you’re on Chrome or Firefox 4+, you can drag an image from your computer into the search box.

  1. Visit
  2. On your computer, click the image you want to search for.
  3. While holding down the mouse, drag the image into the search box.

3. Review Search Results and Refine Search if Necessary

Search Results
Search Results

As you can see, there are some really interesting “visually similar images” but nothing jumps out as a fabric in the initial results. You can choose to refine the search by typing descriptive words in the “describe image here” location. I tried adding “fabric” and “blue green fabric” and “backing fabric” which lead me to this:

Refined Search
Refined Search

I clicked on “visually similar images” from the refined search.

Visually Similar Images
Visually Similar Images

And while the color scheme is different, the fourth image lead to to find that it is Artisan Spirit Shimmer by Henry Glass.

I hope this adds a tool to your online sleuthing arsenal. πŸ™‚


I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)