Pattern Variations: Getting the Colors Just Right

Much about creating, whether it is sewing, quilting, embroidery, or any other artistic form, depends on having the ability to visualize the project in your head. I don't know about you, but it is getting harder and harder for me to do that every day.

Sometimes, it is easy to bypass a pattern or embroidery design simply because it isn't presented in a color combination of your liking. The quilting or embroidery may be lovely, but a yellow banana is much more appealing than one that is brown. Imagining designs in your color palette can be even more challenging. Here are two examples.

While visiting one of my favorite local shops, the owner was in the process of piecing this quilt top. Because I am fond of green, pink, and ivory colorways and like machine applique, the pattern was particularly appealing to me. Until I saw it.

At any other glance, the photo on the pattern cover (above) was not one that I would give a second look, but seeing it in colors I like made me purchase the designs on site.

On another visit to a local shop, I saw this wall hanging on display. Again, the colors and fabric prints were spot on. 

The pattern (below) was okay, particularly if you like shades of blue, but I would never have purchased it had I not seen it created in another colorway.

The next time you see a particular embroidery design, technique, pattern, or shop display you like, try to imagine it in thread colors and fabrics you would use.


Here are some ways to gather ideas:

  • Visit fabric, embroidery, and craft-related shops. Their displays often inspire a new project or color combination.
  • Take a photo and jot down notes. Include them in your embroidery journal.
  • Search trade magazines.
  • Browse online blogs, forums, customer galleries, and project pages. The same designs used differently in layouts and color combinations provide numerous possibilities.
  • Sites like Pinterest, Flickr, and Facebook often showcase creations from the artistic world.


Who knows what you might discover!

What is the most unlikely pattern you have ever purchased?


Debbie SewBlest


Comments (2) -

Great Blog!  Understanding colors and their affect on each other and us as people is simple and complex at the same time.

You have obviously zeroed in on your colors.  You have a palette that is right for you and your surroundings.  Not everyone is able to make that determination.

One way to determine your personal 'favorite' color (I have loved them all at one time or another-I remember my 'avocado' phase.), you can sort all  your clothing together by color.  Mix the dresses with the pants, tops and even shoes.  You will see some sort of pattern as to what YOU like.  

Pick up some paint chips from your store and keep them in an envelop in a handy place.  Having those to see with your idea can be very helpful.  Additionally, put some colors in your Smart/iPhone.  Use, it is free, and put those color/pictures in the notes to give you a sense of what is right for you.

I have been doing this for awhile and have been trying to play with new colors for me.  It is HARD to break old habits of the colors I like, but I do have a chance to try something really new.

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

Thanks, Pat. I remember my mauve and colonial blue phase. Paint chips are a great idea! I

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