I’ve just recorded an episode podcast for my Stitch Safari on ‘Colour in Embroidery’.

As this topic is so important, I thought I’d write about it here too.

What amazes me is that with all the whizz-bang theory, tools and technology, people are still struggling to work with and use colour.

While colour is a hugely subjective arena based on our perspectives and influences, it should be a relatively easy one.

Yet it’s not.

There seems to be a real fear and lack of colour confidence among many embroiderers, so how do we fix it?

My opinion?  Get back to basics.  Throw out the theory – for a little while only, and play like children.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing with real power, but unless you understand how to apply it, what it is you truly love and admire and the things you don’t, it’s more or less useless.

So be childlike and begin by getting your paint sets out.

Mix colours, play and paint, paint and play on large sheets of paper.

Then cut them up.


Observe the kind of marks you like to make, but more importantly, the colours you like to make those marks with.

What colours give a pop of colour used alongside the first one?  What other colours offer a sanctuary for that first colour to blend in with?

Find out what your colours are by playing – don’t look for an outcome, just observe.

Don’t like paint?  Then get out all your old magazines and start cutting them up – this’s my favourite pastime on a wet and rainy weekend.


Create monochromatic collages to get your eyes looking closely at one colour family, because that’s the secret to success – really looking.

Pull colours out of fabrics you love or look at old china – they use beautiful colour palettes.

Now combine some mixed media; thick and thin black markers, white ink, gold and silver pens and make marks over your work.

Cut some fabrics up and layer them over your artwork – add some gold gift wrapping cord – another favourite of mine.

Make and do – do and make, I believe that’s the only way to gain confidence using and working with colour.

Theory gets you so far, but if you can’t apply that theory then all that knowledge leads nowhere.

Listen to the podcast, take note of what other embroidery artists suggest and begin a new journey to help yourself gain colour confidence.

Put that sort of work in and you’ll get results that are meaningful to you.  They’re your colours and your marks.

Go, play, now.


All views and opinions expressed are my own, except where acknowledged information is included from other sources.