Selecting Thread Colors

Select Color with Confidence

The easiest way to select thread color is to start with a print that you love, select a coordinating solid and then select the thread. For instance, I spotted this floral blouse in a retail store.

I fell in love with the flowers and immediately thought of pairing it with a denim jacket.  Here’s how to select the thread to go with it.  Audition spools right on the blouse and grab your phone to document the process as you switch out some spools. 

Thread Option 1
Thread Option 2
Thread Option 3

Next, review the photos to see what composition is the most pleasing. Once you’re satisfied with the combination, move the spools to the denim jacket.

Auditioning on the actual fabric

Denim is one of the trickiest fabrics to select thread for because it’s a mixture of light, medium and dark threads. Often what you think will contrast with denim, blends too well and leaves the embroidery looking lackluster.  The colors may be beautiful, but the value (the lightness and darkness of the color) may be too close to the denim’s value making the embroidery almost invisible from a 6 ft. distance.  

To avoid that result, use a value finder.  A value finder is a piece of translucent red plastic or glass. When you peer through the colored plastic, all color is removed from the object. What remains is the value of the fabric and threads.  Look through the red panel to view threads right on the fabric. Your phone camera may have filter available. Check your camera settings.

Use a value finder

If they are the same value as the fabric, you’ll know you must find a lighter or darker thread if you want the embroidery to pop off (or separate from) the fabric. 

I trust the value finder more than I trust my own eye.  Because I tend to fall in love with a color, I try to force it on the fabric. Every time I override the value finder, I’m disappointed with the result.

The final winner of the Farmhouse Sentiments Kit is Linda Alford! Congratulations, Linda. We will email you privately for your mailing address. Enjoy!

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10 Comments on Selecting Thread Colors

  1. Betty
    March 7, 2019 at 9:04 am (8 months ago)

    What kind of thread is that and what brand is it? It looks like cotton?

    • eileenroche
      March 8, 2019 at 7:44 am (8 months ago)

      Hi Betty, The thread shown above is our polyester 40 wt. embroidery thread, known as Vintage Retro. It’s matte finish mimics cotton but has the strength and durability of polyester. It also comes in a heavier weight (15) which we call Rope. To order, you can call 1-888-739-0555 as it’s not on our website at this time.

  2. Anonymous
    March 7, 2019 at 9:07 am (8 months ago)

    Where are your products being made? It seems like everything in JoAnn’s is made in China!

    • eileenroche
      March 8, 2019 at 7:45 am (8 months ago)

      Our products are sourced both locally and internationally.

      • Louine Teague
        March 12, 2019 at 7:09 am (8 months ago)

        I’m still not sure exactly what to look for through filter? Can you show several examples and analysis what is seen?

  3. Judy Warren
    March 7, 2019 at 2:17 pm (8 months ago)

    Congratulations, Linda!

  4. Sharon Repici
    March 7, 2019 at 4:12 pm (8 months ago)

    I’m checking for that filter today! I am hard-headed (soft hearted?) when it comes to colors and I need to learn more about value colors.

  5. Catherine E. Albanese
    March 8, 2019 at 10:35 am (8 months ago)

    is the “Red Value Sheet” available at your site, or can I get it at Nancy’s Notions?

    • Catherine E. Albanese
      March 11, 2019 at 10:31 am (8 months ago)

      Thank you. I ordered one today.


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