I wish that I had a nickel for each time I've been asked for
the "exact" colors I used in aan embroidery design or for a conversion chart for specific embroidery thread brands - I would be a very wealthy woman!
Everyone seems to think that someone is going to knock on
their door with a search warrant if they don't use the exact
colors a designer used in the test sew out or the color numbers
used in the stitch directions.
Not so - if you don't "think outside the box" and use colors that you enjoy, or just prefer, you are really missing the real fun of machine embroidery! Come to think of it, I don't believe that I've ever used the exact color on any design I've ever stitched in 6+ years-some because I didn't have the exact color & others due to a dislike of the colors used. Not only do you expand your design library, but you make each design a more personal experience & you sure won't see your embroidery friends wearing the same design!
Following are some tips to help you to "think outside the box":
1. One misconception is that changing the colors of a design violates a designer's copyright. I don't think that any designer has a "color change" clause in their copyright terms.
2. If you like the colors the designer used, don't fret if you don't have the exact same color in the thread brand used or the brand you prefer. Colors do not have to be exact-a color shade lighter or darker, or even a different tone will not be noticeable when the design is finished.
3. Learn to adjust colors for different fabric colors! Have you ever finished stitching a design on denim & wondered why it didn't look like the image shown on white? All colors take on a different look each time they are stitched on a different color background. If you have the background color change feature in your embroidery software, use it to help you determine when you will need to make a color switch to help the design show up better. If you don't have this feature in your software, keep various colors of felt or fabric on hand to test stitch your designs before putting them on a project. There's nothing worse than having a disappointing finished project.
4. Try stitching some designs in one color instead of the numerous colors a designer used. There are many designs that would lend themselves to an outstanding tone-on-tone design by just using your imagination! Tone-on-tone motifs make any design more "classy" on any garment or project.
The perfect example is a single pink rose with a green stem & leaves. Test that same rose using thread color/s in either lighter or darker shades of the fabric color. [If the design has shading, substitute darker shades of the same color for the shading.]
5. Look through your entire design library to see where you can change the look of a design by just changing the color! I doubt you have even one design that couldn't be given a "designer" look by a color change - even fruit or flowers!
Remember, "think outside the box", or you are missing out on the enjoyment & ability to expand your creativity to optimize the use of your designs! To see what I mean, take a look at the photo of my finished wind jacket post on our web site! I didn't look at the colors in my own stitch directions to sew these out - I just used the colors that I liked & would show up best on the jacket color.
Sandy Carter is the author of embroidery articles at embroidery designs by Thread Artist. She has an article about embroidery software for digitizing and lettering fonts at
embroidery software. There is free embroidery digitizing Tutorial at this web address - embroidery by Thread Artists