Tuesday Treats: Clever colours … thread colours for piecing that is

Some thread colours are clever, they are chameleons, changing colour depending where they are used and I am not referring to those old solar-active, colour change, threads from last decade.

Some of my favourite chameleon colours in my favourite thread weight

Some of my favourite chameleon colours in my favourite thread weight

This week we had several requests to pick piecing colours for customers, and this started a lively discussion among the staff.

Should we pick true clear colours for each colour family?

Do we pick light & dark colours?

Do we include black & white?

and so the discussion went.

We eventually settled on colours from each colour family, but chose muted versions of the colour where some black had been added to ‘dirty’ the true colour.

This softened version of a colour will absorb, rather than reflect, light so that the thread will disappear into the colour of the fabric.

A selection of piecing colours from the Aurifil Cotton Mako' range

A selection of piecing colours from the Aurifil Cotton Mako’ range

Our selection was also influenced by the fact that we were picking colours for patchwork rather than for general sewing.

When dressmaking, you are usually stitching the same fabric colour to itself so the thread colour chosen is based on the colour of the one fabric.

Quilt design in grey scale

Quilt design in grey scale

However, when joining pieces together for patchwork you are working with light, medium & dark shades, to create the pattern, so the thread has to work across both light and dark fabrics.

Then add in the complexity that the pieces will often be cut from a multitude of different colour families to make up the light, medium or dark pattern piece and it starts to make sense to choose a thread that is not a distinct colour.

Same design with colour

Same design with colour

This is where our idea of using chameleon colours comes into play.  Rather than matching the thread exactly to the colour of the fabric, look for a colour that will blend across the fabric colours.

This brown thread blends very well with fabrics in the red family.

This brown thread blends very well with fabrics in the red family.

I am not a fan of the “I only piece with Grey” thinking, I much prefer to use a thread that has a connection to the colour family that is being pieced.

This may mean that a brown, with a hint of red, will work better than a thread that is a true red or a dirty khaki green could be better than a thread in a more distinct green colour.

So our final selection included light, medium & dark colours within each family that had been muted by the addition of black.

We also added in a true bright white, as anything else would look wrong when stitching a true white fabric, and some very dark colours for the times that you are working with a rich dark fabric palette.

Download a list of our favourite piecing colours to build your own piecing thread collection.

(The document download is a FREE service accessed via the Box file sharing website. You do NOT have to be a member, or sign into the website, to access the document. Simply ignore any such request that may pop up.)

The piecing colours, suggested in the list, will work for both hand and machine piecing.

Please leave a comment to tell us about your favourite piecing colour.

6 Responses

  1. Even though I work at Always Quilting – I have downloaded this guide. I will see what colours I need to add to my collection for piecing. Thanks Jenny, it is such a useful chart.

  2. Within the past two weeks I picked up #2021, #2600 and #2615 to use on some quilts I purchased fabric for. They blend so well. Gotta have Aurifil!!

  3. I often use grey for a multi-coloured or scrap quilt, but with less colours, and for applique, I use a darker version of the fabrics, the one with black added!

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