Stitching with Multi-Colored threads Part 1

This is part one of the article I promised in my last post. It was originally written back in 2001, so my writing style has changed (interesting to see in and of itself!) . It’s been updated a small bit, but not much. 

Stitching with Multi-Colored Threads – Introduction  copyright 2001-2008 by G. Romilly Mueller (Goodfellow) all rights reserved
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Multicolored thread comes in many different brands, colors, types of thread, and prices.  DMC makes a variegated thread, which is evenly dyed, usually in shades of the same color, and now also a thread (Color Variations) that mimics the hand-dyed threads on the market. Caron makes Watercol­ors, Wildflowers, and Waterlilies, which are overdyed threads in beautiful colors. Needle Necessities makes a lovely line of overdyed flosses and pearl cottons that come in longer skeins than the others. Other brands include Weeks Dye works and Gentle Arts Sampler Threads.  I have probably left out your favorite. Don’t worry. The techniques below work with all of them.

You can use multicolored thread with any embroidery stitch.  Each stitch works a little differently and will give you a different result.  Don’t be afraid to experiment!!  If the cost of some of the more extravagant specialty threads is a little high for your budget, experiment with a variegated floss like the DMC. (Although be aware that the color changes in DMC variegated take longer to take effect than in some of the overdyed flosses.)

In this article I’ll go over several techniques for use with the cross stitch, and one for a geometric satin-stitched piece.

Multicolored threads, whether they are overdyed, space dyed, or variegated are a wonderful addition to your stash. They are extremely versatile, allowing you to change the look of a project with one change of thread:

  • You can substitute a multicolored thread for any largish area of stitching.  (You can substitute it in a smaller area, as well, but the nuances of the colors will show much less.)

  • You can also use it to replace a shaded area… if a chart has several colors, for example, in a shaded pumpkin, you might consider replacing the three shades of orange with a multicolored thread that includes similar shades. (Or wildly different, if you like.  I once replaced the orange in a pumpkin with a green overdye, changing it from pumpkin to acorn squash in one fell swoop!) This works as well in general free embroidery as it does in cross stitch.

  • You can use it to stitch the kloster blocks and satin stitches in hardanger for an entirely new look.

There are as many ways to stitch with multicolored threads as there are stitchers. In general, the rule is, if you get the effect you want, you’ve stitched it correctly. In general, the keys to getting the effect you want are:

  • Don’t be afraid to cut out areas of color you don’t like in the thread. You can always use them for another project later.

  • Plan what colors you want, and where you want them.

  • Be willing to experiment.

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