Choosing Fabric Style and Thread Colors for Embroidery

Sometimes I spend a lot of time picking fabric and thread colors when designing an embroidery pattern.   The fabric you choose can make a difference in regards to the “feel” or emotion of a piece.  

I recently designed a pattern with my sheep, Buttercup.    I wanted the finished design to have a charming/vintage look so I used Osnaburg fabric.  Osnaburg has a very vintage feel as it’s coarsely woven cotton with a natural hue.  I also wanted to reflect the whimsy of the design with the thread colors, so I chose bright primary colors.  All seemed well and the stitching commenced.

Here is the original design, stitched on Osnaburg with primary colors.

Primary Colors

Well. This did not come out at all how I wanted it to.  There’s technically nothing wrong with the colors – they go well together. But there’s definitely something ‘off’ about it.  Maybe the umbrella should have been red? Or maybe the fabric is too busy for the pattern?   Maybe the idea that the water would be darker than the drops doesn’t translate well with thread.  In any event, I didn’t like it.. so back to the drawing board!

For my next attempt, I modified the pattern slightly (mostly making the puddle smaller and a bit less wonky) and selected different fabric.  This time I chose a natural linen with less flecking.  Those tiny bits of color (dark brown to rust) really help the camera focus and show up well in the photography, but sometimes they overpower the design.  

I also chose more vintage style colors.  Here’s how that one turned out:

Definitely more vintage!

 Well, that is SO much better! I also didn’t shadow the sheep’s wool which gives it a softer, more woolly  appearance.  If you look closely I added a whip-stitch around the outline of the umbrella, which softens that color too.

Whip stitching in a complimentary color.

I always provide guides for colors and stitches with my patterns as sometimes folks just want it to look exactly like the picture. But, in the end, it is really a matter of preference.

Here’s a quick pic of both together so you can  better compare them:

Which do you prefer?

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