In today’s blog post, we’re diving into a little bit of colour theory for needlework projects. Last year I started a Colour Feature series which I have decided to continue but slightly differently. This post is stripping things down to the basics — after all, any type of needlework involves selecting threads and COLOURS for your project.

Colour choices set the mood and if chosen well will bring your needlework to life.

Some of you will know that I used to paint for many years and fortunately I learned a lot about colour theory early on. This has been tremendously beneficial in many ways given my current dyeing obsession and interest in needlework.

I often hear “my favourite colour is….”. I can’t say I have a “favourite” colour since I like them all.

My favourite is based on whatever project I’m working on at the time. I do have a few colours I’m not as fond of but let’s discuss this further in a later post. Now it’s time for some basics when talking about colours.

Specifically, colour theory for needlework.

Colour theory for needlework basics?

VALUE is in my opinion the most important element when selecting a colour palette for embroidery. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a colour.

Light values are called tints while dark values are referred to as shades.

I could naturally get into far more detail but there are many books available discussing colour theory in-depth, so I will keep this simple for our purposes here. Let’s talk a bit more about creating a palette for your needlework.

Creating a colour palette for needlework

Last year our Colour Feature Series featured one colour each month and the selection of threads featured in the shop that contained this colour. This year, we will be focusing on ONE variegated colour available in the shop and creating various samples and palettes using the specified colour.

When selecting colours for my projects, I always start with selecting a variegated thread first.

I have chosen Colour #72 for January which is a blend of coral and coral/pinks. While this colour combination is one of my monochromatic blends it lends itself to various seasonal palettes as I hope you will see throughout the month.

Choosing A Colour Scheme

Since Colour #72 is a monochromatic blend you could easily create a monochromatic palette by adding various values of both corals and pinks in solids. If this appeals, ensure you choose dark, medium and light values.   

Perhaps you might like to choose an analogous colour scheme. This means you would select colours next to one another on the colour wheel. This creates a lovely harmonious palette. What about fuchsia, magenta, red/orange, orange/yellow – Colours 36, 68, 69, 83 might work well. Add solids in various values and voila! A beautiful palette using simple colour theory for needlework.  

A third option would be a complementary palette, colours opposite one another on the colour wheel. An option might be adding Colour #73 which is a blend of values of turquoise.

Coming up later this week, is our first sample demonstrating some of what we’ve discussed today. You won’t want to miss it.

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