Discussing machine embroidery

Considering colours changes for a special embroidery

Designs in the Vintage Grace collection probably have more colours in them than any other collection at Graceful Embroidery. I would encourage you not to let that daunt you. These designs like the Antique Sewing machine are for embroidering works of art to be cherished and so are worth the effort and time it will take to stitch them out on your machine.

When you open one of the designs in your software or on your machine, you may be overwhelmed by the number of colour changes, but there is a very good reason for this. I do not want to restrict your colour choices and so I do not colour sort my designs fully. Just because I choose one colour for two elements in a design, does not mean that you may want to do that. I always advise that after making your colour choices you colour sort the design and save it under a new name, so that the number of thread changes are reduced as much as possible. Can I point out that it is never possible to stitch out every section of the design in each colour individually? There have to be overlaps in detailed embroidery like the large designs in the Vintage Grace collection so you will find that you return to the same thread colour several times.

| “after making your colour choices you should colour sort the design and save it under a new name” |

As a former bridal dressmaker I am always considering making my designs suitable for bridal embroidery, which was the reason I started Graceful Embroidery in the first place. In creating the final designs for Vintage Grace 5, which is for 12″ by 8″ hoops, I spent a long time working on the bodice shaped design. I started with the large flowers in the collection, deciding which to duplicate and place them in a balanced way.

Then when this looked right I added the smaller elements to fill in the gaps. This is the result, but when it came to stitching it out, I decided that I would tone it down considerably, as would be necessary for bridal embroidery.

I have to confess that I have never been perfectly happy with all the colours in the designs. The blue of the cornflowers and the bright yellow of the round flowers always looked too much of contrast to me!!! You probably know how passionate I am about colour as much as the actual stitches in my embroidery.

The results of my stitch out were not perfect, but then I suggest that any embroidery that is going to grace the front of an all important wedding gown, should involve at least one full test out, if not more. Colour is very much a personal choice and the colour scheme chosen for a wedding should be considered, taking into account the colours of the flowers and the bridesmaids and flower girls dresses.

As I love pastels and off white shades I am never happy with the selection available, but then that is true of the greens available and the pinks, mauves…. You hear my frustration!!!

This is why I have introduced some blending in my designs, so that two colours can be used to create a colour which is not available. In the flower below I have used Sulky Rayon 1082 Ecru and Sulky Rayon 1002 Soft white on top to tone it down slightly. This may not be obvious in some lights, depending on where the light is falling on the embroidery. A white edging will soften the flower further.

| “A white edging will soften the flower further.” |

| “Do experiment with colours.” |

Do experiment with colours and remember that all the elements of this collection are available in Vintage Grace 1 so you do not need to stitch out the whole of a large design with over 100,000 stitches to make your colour choices.

I must confess that the choices that I made for this design were chosen as I worked through the design. The reason for doing this was so I could decide on the correct colours as the design was worked out. It is sometimes easier to do this as embroidery software does not display thread colours accurately. My designs often look different on my laptop and PC. In the past I have sorted colours for a design in my software, thinking they were perfect only to be very disappointed with the finished stitched out. So my preferred method of colour choice is more like an artist with his palette of oils.

Each of the large flowers are stitched out in sequence apart from some centres, before moving on to the next flower, so I was able to enlarge the screen on the machine so that each flower was visible. This helped me a great deal. I advise that you keep a record of your colour choices as you go, as it can be quite difficult to decide afterwards which colours you selected especially for small areas.

| “I advise that you keep a record of your colour choices as you go.” |

I made some poor choices where the colour was too bold in my opinion, but in most cases I was able to tone them down with the next colour as shown above. Although if I was stitching this again I would opt for Sulky Rayon 1127 Medium Ecru rather than Sulky Rayon 1828 Seashell. In this instance where the flowers were too dark I added a soft white around the edges.

The outer petals of this flower are Sulky Rayon 1002 Soft white and the inner petals are Sulky Rayon 1071 Off white. Notice the very slight difference. Be aware that in nature a flower has deeper colours at its centre so the outside colours should be fractionally lighter.

I think the biggest mistake I made in this stitch out was in choosing Sulky Rayon 1275, Sea mist for the leaves of the rosebuds. This pale green is too blue making it too prominent (I prefer yellow greens) and out of character with the other colours in the design.  I would have done better with Sulky Rayon 1063, Pale yellow green. The tiny sprigs which stitch out at the beginning of the design were done in Sulky Rayon 1229, Light putty, but on ivory silk dupion this is too dark and Sulky Rayon 1085, Silver would have done the job better.

To give a little sparkle to the embroidery I used a metallic silver thread for the outlines and details of the leaves and for the veins of the flowers. Changing the leaves to light greys worked better than using too many pale greens. I advise you not to do too much metallic embroidery and of course when using metallic thread slow your machine down significantly.

| “When using metallic thread slow your machine down.” |

This is a large design with over 115,00 stitches and it took me most of a morning to stitch out. I had done the first sixteen colours the evening before, but overall I was delighted with the results.

|”You may opt for omitting some of the flower outlines.” |

 Here are some other considerations to make in the stitching out of this or similar designs. You may opt for omitting some of the flower outlines. This will give a very different softer look to the large, as well as the small flowers. If some of the centres of flowers do not appear dense or pronounced enough stitch them a second time.

| “If some of the centres of flowers do not appear dense or pronounced enough stitch them a second time.” |

You could also replace the centres with crystals or seed beads. As I checked the design before the final colour I thought that it had enough sparkle with the metallic thread, so I decided on Sulky Rayon 1085 Silver for the centres, rather than a metallic thread. In finishing I laid these hot fix pearls in the centres to see what a difference they would make to the overall embroidery.

If you are keen to stitch this design out, but do not have a dress bodice to embroider consider placing it on the back of a jacket! You could always add a design or two each side to extend it at the top. Here I have added GFE-VNG -1-1 and GFE-VNG-1-5 to one side.

I carefully selected this little flower and moved it over a little. You may want to add a few more small elements.

After you have changed the colours accordingly to match the rest of the design, select the new additions to copy them and paste on to the other side of the design, then flip them horizontally. You can see I have turned off the grid in my software but I enabled it to check my alignment.

| “Use the grid in your software  to check alignment.” |

Use this link to check out all the designs in the Vintage Grace collection at Graceful Embroidery.

Vintage Grace 5 is being released today, 8th March 2019. Enjoy!

Happy embroidering from Hazel

4 thoughts on “Considering colours changes for a special embroidery

  1. Hi Hazel, The new Vintage Grace design is an absolutely stunning set of designs. I really like the layering of the colors to give subtle effects to various areas of the designs. The pearls and metallic threads add additional elegance to the elegant vintage flower arrangement. As always I enjoyed reading about how you discovered things that you would change when stitching out one of the designs as it adds to achieving a successful stitchout that far exceeds just giving us a color chart.

  2. Hazel,
    I am in love with this collection. After reading your write up, I understand your frustrations with Color. When I do find the right item to embroider this design on I will make the color changes you suggested as I believe you were right in stating that a few of the colors might look better with a different choice of color. I must say the attention to detail in this entire collection is amazing! As always you have produced yet another amazing set of embroideries! I refer people to you all the time, I hope they are joining and enjoying your designs as much as I do!

    1. I think that are many ways to use these designs but I think decorating a tote bag would be fantastic. I need a new bag (purse) and would love to embroider it with these lovely lilies.

Leave a Reply