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Creating Beautiful Colour Palettes in Embroidery

Creating beautiful colour palettes

Whether you are brand new on the embroidery scene or have been around for a little while, if you haven’t already heard of it, you absolutely have to look up the Stitching and Co Podcast, hosted by the lovely Bess from Life With Bess. It is a podcast about all things embroidery, where Bess interviews a variety of different embroidery artists and gains some super valuable insight into the embroidery world.

Well, last month I had the pleasure of being invited onto the show to talk all about colour palettes! You can find the episode either on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, and you can find the Stitching and Co website by clicking on this link.

So, what did we chat about on the episode?

I can assure you, it was super fun because we talked all about embroidery, how we pick colours, what colours work well together, and how to get inspiration for colour palettes. I’m going to run through some of the main topics below, because I think the information would also be really helpful for those that struggle to pick out colours for their personal projects.

Now, I might be alone in this, but picking out colours is probably my favourite part of the process. One of the things that drew me to embroidery in the first place is that the colours of DMC embroidery thread are so beautiful, and there are so many to choose from!

So in real ‘chicken or the egg’ fashion, what comes first? The design or the colours?

Sometimes I have the perfect idea for an embroidery design in my head and I can’t wait to get it onto fabric, and I then spend forever with several different boxes of thread trying to assess which colours would look best for this particular project. Other times, I already have a colour palette in mind when I design the pattern, which makes the process of picking out the palette much simpler. I also just love to pick out colour palettes, so sometimes I already have one laid out waiting to be used or the perfect corresponding embroidery design. It really does vary, and there is no right or wrong answer for how to go about this process.

So, how do I pick out colours?

On the topic of there not being a right or wrong answer, there is also no exact science when it comes to picking out the perfect colour palette, either. In all honesty, I just try to eye out my colours and try to determine colours I think pair well together, and sometimes this can actually take a little while! I try my best to explain my process of picking out a specific colour palette during the podcast episode, so please do go and take a listen if you’re interested in my process!

During the podcast we also bust a myth that you need DMC’s full 500 thread collection in order to pick out some beautiful colour palettes. I think the key thing here is to pick out the colours which speak to you the most – whether that is muted pastel colours, bright bold colours, moody colours, and so on. When I first started with embroidery, I only had around 15 embroidery threads that I slowly started to add to. Those 15 colours were a range of muted, warm colours, and I slowly bought additional colours that worked well with my original collection of colours. That being said, even when I only had around 15 threads, I was still able to create a variety of different beautiful colour palettes.

As a bit of shameless self-promotion, in the shop we now stock a Beginners Thread Pack, which includes a set of 10 beautiful DMC thread colours in a rainbow colour palette. This is a muted rainbow, with warm soft primary colours that provide a great base of colours for a beginner to expand their collection from.

The last thing I’ll divulge about the podcast are the 3 tips I gave on the episode for beginners about picking out their own colour palettes.

3 tips for picking out palettes:

1. My first tip would be to start small. I know sometimes when you’re picking out colour palettes it’s easy to just grab loads of colours all at once and try to get them all to work. However, if you just pick out one colour to start with that you know you want to use, and then build up the colour palette from there, it’s much easier to find colours that work better together.

2. My second tip is to stay in your lane! It’s much easier to pick colour palettes when you know what colours you like to stitch with! For me, this is muted, warm pastel colours. By sticking to these tones, it’s much easier to find colours that work well together.

3. My final tip is maybe a controversial one.. but keep your threads organised!! Whether it’s keeping them in skeins, winding them onto pegs or bobbins, make sure you have a way of keeping them organised. I organise mine by colour, and honestly this makes it sooo much easier to pick out colour palettes. Once I left my containers until they were a hot mess and when I tried to pick out a palette for a project I just couldn’t, I was rummaging through skeins that were just everywhere to find a colour that worked and it was just so hard trying to find the exact colour I was looking for! If you organise by colour family, for example, it’s much easier to have a blank canvas to pick out palettes that work.

If you’d like to hear more about all things colour in embroidery, including the process I use each time I pick out one of my colour palettes, my favourite go-to threads and more, head over to the podcast and give it a listen!

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about sophie

Hey there! I'm an artist, mama, author and online educator who is obsessed with helping other women re-claim their time and creativity through modern embroidery.

Kick off your shoes, get cosy, and let's dive in to the world of embroidery, shall we?