Using colour

To make my stitched drawings I use rayon embroidery thread and now have a collection of approximately 100 colours. However, this vast collection of colours are still not perfect for my needs and just like an artist who may use paint, pencils or pastels, I have to manipulate my threads so that I can achieve a realistic finish that will cause a discussion about the work.

reels thread
Reels of rayon embroidery thread

After carefully studying the colours in the image, I choose 2 different threads, one for the top and one for the bottom. With my selected colours on the machine, I then play with the tension so that I can alter how much of the bottom thread comes through to the surface, allowing the correct tone. Whilst colours may appear solid, they never are and a much better result is achieved through this process.

Before I use the colour on the work, I test the mix of threads with altered tensions on a spare piece of dissolvable fabric stretched in a hoop.

colour threads
Test colours in little squares on dissolvable fabric

I will never get true to life colours with threads but with this technique, I can get as close as I need to to make the image work.

lady and pushchair photo
Original photo
lady pushchair thread
Free machine embroidered drawing



Sorry for the delay in posting

It is time to start posting again and I do apologise for the delay. March and April were very slow due to a persistent chest infection – as the consultant said “a nuisance disease” which, as a friend suggested, is vaguely reassuring but irritating when there is work waiting to be made. Then there is the determination to try and catch up which means that I am unable to pull myself away from my machine to edit photos of the work and find interesting things to blog about.

So here is the work in progress. What you can’t see is the mound of threads, written notes about colour choices and bobbin cases stacked one on top of the other.

couple on tube
Work in progress, ‘Couple on Tube’, free machine embroidery

During the past few months I have started to make a list of possible tips that I could share on my blog: how to make a repair or make a change to a part of a drawing that isn’t correct, how to do small details like lettering, what materials, threads and needles to use, how to choose the correct colours and the effects of altering the tension.

couple on tube
The drawing so far…