Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My segue into machine embroidery has not been without challenges. Finally last week I really got a hankering to use the machine. I had a few ideas and I went for it.

I am somewhat handicapped yet because I don't have a full complement of colors in my thread box. A modest estimate of what I've spent for thread would be about $200. The colors last a long time so it's not as bad as it sounds, but on the other hand, I have had to exercise a little restraint and ease into this a color or two at a time.

I don't know how many companies manufacture embroidery thread. Some are good and it's fine to use those threads, apparently interchangeably. Some are not good and might mess up your machine or shred before your eyes or fade and cause you to cry. Stay away from those. Regardless of good or bad, each company names and numbers its colors independently of others. When I try to coordinate the color sheets accompanying the designs with my seemingly meager supply of thread, I just have to laugh to myself. And if you're picking colors mainly by name instead of number, which you often have to do, just how do you determine these colors?

Taupe – Is taupe a real color, and how does it differ from "putty" anyway? Taupe today was silver yesterday and light gray last week.

Finding a color to be golden tan was bad enough. What's light golden tan? Well, today it was the same thread that was cream brown yesterday and yellow the day before. (I really do need to augment my collection of yellows.)

Cinnamon? Hmmmm. Or rust brown?

What color is dark stone? And how is it different from charcoal?

Cool gray, light silver. What's the difference?

Pine green, light pine green, dark pine green. Grass green. Apple green. Brook green. I don't have a color I can call brook green. I had to go with blue. I wished I'd had brook green. I'm not sure I'd know brook green if I saw it.

Now think – What's cornflower blue? Now find light cornflower blue and dark cornflower blue. Smoky blue. Dusty blue. Dark dusty blue.

I figure all that matters is that I coordinate my colors and remember by which name I'm calling which color today. I can line up the spools according to progression but it gets tricky when colors are re-used. Now which one of these browns did I call cinnamon today? Which spool did I call taupe and which is light silver?

The photo shows my recent embroidery work. The two lace edged pillowslips will become pillowcase dolls. The bicycle design was fun but is horribly puckered. I'm still learning about hooping. Hallie helped me design Mike's M-bar-W brand which I combined with a pheasant on Mike's pillowcase. And the crinoline girl with umbrella makes me happy. I searched the web for a design pack of these old-fashioned full-skirted ladies. It was difficult since I didn't know what they were called. These are the first designs I have purchased outside the user-friendly Embroidery Library. These ladies remind me of my mother and my grandmother and the ladies of the sewing circle. KW


Chris said...

Wow!! You've been busy! And they look great!

Ahh, I well remember the days of yore when I, too, had limited colors. Too bad that's not a problem any more! :-) But, I have twelve and a half years of this under my belt now.

Here's what I do when colors are used and or reused. I actually write them down in order according the color number on the spool. I do line them up, but when you reuse, as you say, it's easy to get confused. As long as you're happy with your color choice, no one else will know. Ann regularly changes colors and hers look better than the recommended ones. She'll match a fabric or just a look she has in mind and away she goes.

Hooping is always interesting, but you'll get better as you go.

Kathy said...

Thanks, Chris. I decided to quit letting my worries govern and just get some experience. My hooping and positioning are improving and I'm learning to use the grids. I'm using our old pillowcases for practice. The lace-edged ones I got at the rummage sale.

Writing down the color numbers is a good idea. You're so organized! Ann must have really good color sense.