Hand Embroidery: How to Blend Colors in Your Embroidery Piece | Floor Giebels | Skillshare

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Hand Embroidery: How to Blend Colors in Your Embroidery Piece

teacher avatar Floor Giebels, Embroidery Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (58m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Tracing the pattern

    • 4. Starting with the piece

    • 5. Layering the stem

    • 6. layering between colors

    • 7. layering with different colors

    • 8. Starting with the petals

    • 9. Layering the patels

    • 10. Finishing the petals

    • 11. Make your piece stand out

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About This Class

Try out threadpainting with this bird of paradise!

In this class, you will learn how to paint with thread. In this project you will stitch along with me and see the entire process on how to blend colors in threadpainting. You will need some experience for this class, but I encourage confident beginners to have a try.

In the attached document you will find the pattern and other resources for this class


Meet Your Teacher

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Floor Giebels

Embroidery Artist

Top Teacher

Hi, my name is Floor and I'm a Dutch embroidery artist living in The Netherlands.

Originally from a design background, I found my artistic freedom and expression through the more traditional art of embroidery. Entirely self-taught, I started my journey in 2016 and am continually learning new skills and applying them to my work. I also like to explore the boundaries of traditional hand embroidery by creating some pieces as mixed media, to contrast and compliment the thread itself. 

I have found that embroidery has led me to explore the textures present in the world around me - living on the coast, the beautiful beaches, scenery and animals constantly offer me inspiration for new projects. One of my favorite topics to explore in my pieces is the interplay b... See full profile

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1. Intro : My name is Floor, and I'm an embroidery artist from the Netherlands. I would love for you to join me in this class where I show you how to use color in thread painting. Thread painting is a technique where you create the illusion of a painting with embroidery. It looks difficult, but I'm going to show you how easy it really is, especially because you're working with thread and any mistake can be easily removed. I will show you the basics of thread painting, and afterwards, how to add colors for a realistic effect. 2. Supplies: Now we're going to look at supplies. Because most of the people who watch my videos are from the US, I'm going to use amazon.com to show you all the stuff you need. I first want to talk about threads. Well in the PDF that you got, you can see all the threads you need. Those are all the DMC colors, you don't have to use DMC, there are lot of threads out there that you can use. My preference, what I think is really good option to do, especially because when I see people who take my course and they share the projects they made, you guys are amazing with colors. You choose your own colors, and it looks so good. Also when you use the colors that I suggest, but also when you make your own colors it's really good and I think, especially for this project, it's cool to play around a little bit with colors that you like yourself. If you want to do that with DMC, it is going to cost you a lot of money. Actually, I use DMC, but most of the threads that I use there is maybe an unpopular opinion. But if we go to Amazon, I will look at embroidery floss. Then you see here all these embroidery threads, and I've ordered them all to see how they are and how they feel. My conclusions is when you see here the ones with black and yellow, they are perfect. They are cotton, I don't feel like there's so much difference in the DMC embroidery and it's so much fun to just order this and you get a whole package of so many colors. You can just pick and choose. In my project a lot of these colors are from these. The thing is that they have also numbers on it and they have the same number as the DMC ones. They're different a little bit from DMC colors, but they are fine. I feel like this is really good. I also ordered these ones and I don't feel like the quality is that good. If I zoom in on them you can see that its like the threads are really tight together because we are using only one strand. It's not really good to get one strand out of it. They are really pressed together that's why I don't like those. Not everyone shares this opinion. I must say I once was in an embroidery group, a hand embroidery group. It was a Dutch group because I'm Dutch and we were sharing tips and tricks and everything. I was saying, everybody's talking about thread and I was saying, you can also look at Amazon and you have all these colors and you can just play around with it. I got so much backlash from them. I got DMs, were like, "How dare you, and how would you insult your work with that kind of thread?" I don't agree, I mean, it's also about marketing and those things why prices vary. But make up your own mind what you like. Now, I'm going to show you the needles. These are my go-to needles. The John James pebbles. These are the ones that I have and I love them, the embroidery needles. They are just really nice. You have the 16 needles in a size 5-10. Now you can see your own what you need, what you like, what kind of thickness you like because it's also on your own preference what you like when it comes to thickness. This is a great way to just buy it and see what it is. For the hoops, you can also look at Amazon for hoops. They have great deals if you want to buy them in a bundle. The one thing I have to say is that when you look at embroidery hoops on Amazon, they only have bamboo hoops. They're a little bit less in quality. If you go to Google and just search embroidery hoops from your local craft store or whatever comes up on Google, just look at a material and I would suggest buying wood because it's nicer, but nothing wrong with bamboo, the quality is a little bit less. It's what up to you what you want. For the fabric, it's a bit of a difficult one to fabric because a lot of times when you go on websites that are crafts websites for embroidery and you see embroidery, they always listed as embroidery fabric. That is most of the time is cross stitch fabric. If I would go here to embroidery fabric, wait instance here, then you get this a lot of times and you don't want this because that is really for cross stitch. There was a really big holes in it. I think this is something you probably already know, but I don't know, it's good to say it again. This one is a really good one, but my preference is I would say muslin fabric. They have these. These are like you have the unbleached which is also really nice. But you also have the ones that are just white. It's really nice if here we can look at it really closely. It's really tightly woven. When you see all these nice things on Instagram with really smooth look then most of the times is muslin. Don't get the swaddle ones because those are really thin and not good. Go for the heavyweight muslin. 3. Tracing the pattern: First thing we're going to do is we're going to trace the pattern. I'm going to show you how I always do it. You open up the PDF pattern that is in the file, and when you open it up, you can just see that it's just a PDF. What you're going to do is you're going to go to tools in the PDF and go to Actual Size, so that it's the size you need for the pattern. That's the actual size you need. Can you do that? Now it's the size that is the true size for the graphic, and this is the pen I use. It's a friction pen. It's a clicker, and you can use it, and in the end, you just go over it with a blow dryer, and it will completely dissolve. It will go away. It's my go-to pen. I use it all the time, I love it. Make sure your brightness is set really high, and what you're going to do is you're going to move around a bit so you can rest the hoop all the way down, and now I like to go a little bit to the back. Put it a little bit backwards. I I a lot of faith in my computer, as you can see, I'm not afraid to do a lot with it. But I do this so many times. I do this all the time, I never happened something to my computer. But if you're not comfortable with doing this, then just print it out on the true size and just put it on your window and trace it in that way. You're just going to go over it in lines, make sure you have a good grip. It's a lot of lines you have to do. This is a bit of a complex pattern, I must admit. I tried to make it as clear as possible and with the lines, and don't be afraid to make mistakes or that it's not really straight. Just remember, you can always delete those lines. With this pen, you also have other pens that you can dissolve, but this is my pen that I use. We just going to go over them. Now you see that I'm almost done. You can also see that the lines are not super perfect. It's for me that I just know where the lines are and if it's not straight, that's not a problem at all. In the PDF that I have attached with it, you can also see that I have linked a product called Stick and stage. It's a great product. What you do, I don't use it because I failed to get a printer every time. I still need to get a printer, and this is just really easy for me. I can just like, it's really quick. But if you want to get it really precise, then you can also get a stick and stage that I have in the PDF, and what you do with that is you print it out on this piece of fabric paper, and you put it on the cloth, it sticks, and you can wash it away afterwards. You don't have to trace anything, and you can see that in the PDF that is attached. If you want to use that, it's a great product, if you just don't want to deal with this fuzz. 4. Starting with the piece: First, we're going to do the stem of the flower. I'm just going to start with a really dark color, and we're going to start at the bottom. What you're going to do is you're going to hold on with your finger underneath the thread. You're going to hold on to that thread, and then you go all the way to the first slot like this, and we're going to do that with all the threads. Basically, what we're doing now is just a straight stitch, a satin stitch, if you will. This is our first color. If you want to have it a little bit more up, then you can do that. The thing that I really love about embroidery is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because I can embroider right till the end, and I can fix things, I can add more threads over it, I can layer it, that's what I really like. Now I'm going to go in with a blue color. What I'm going to do is I'm going to go here, I'm going to go in on the side. Then next one, I'm going to go in a bit right here in the middle of a thread. I'm going to do that also at the other ones, I'm going to go in on the thread. You're going to do that all the way until you're at the top. I zoomed in way more so you guys can see the process from really up-close. We are going on our next color, and that is a really light greenish. You can see here this part, that part is for a different color, so we're going to go around that color. It's better to start from the bottom and start here. I'm going in the other one, and with some, we go really glug here in the fabric, so you get really that nice layering effect. We're going to go with a different shade of green. I like to mix it, also I like to have yellow a bit, and then go back with the green, so that you know it's the stem of a flower. I didn't want to go too crazy with the colors in the beginning just so everybody knows that it's still the stem of a flower. 5. Layering the stem: I love the yellow. But here I have a little bit of a different color. It's also yellow, but it's like more greenish yellow. I wanted to blend a little bit different. I'm not going to delete this. Delete is not a good word. I don't even know if I'm saying that right, my native language. Is that right? I hope it is. My original language is Dutch. Sometimes I will say things that don't make sense, but you probably know what I mean. This is not like instead of removing thread, this is more to make it a little bit more interesting with the dynamics of the color. This is a pattern, but it's also a guide how you can do it. I'm going to go in here. You see how that really nicely blends if I just use a really different color. You see here, makes it really cool, and then you go to the middle. Doesn't matter how high or how low. If you look at it now, doesn't it make it look more interesting? Now we're going to go back with the dark color just to give it that contrast. I'm going to go back with the green. Now I want to show you guys what I mean with correcting yourself. Here, I can be thinking to myself I want to have a darker color at the end and how pretty that looks if you just go over it with a different color. I mean, it's more work. This is why you need to watch the whole video because I'm going to do things, but I'm also going to layer things and show you how you can correct it and how you can create different effects. This is what I do a lot. I just fill stuff in and then go over it with a different thread. Because here you can really see how it looks with a different color over it. That's also a really easy way to needle painting. A lot of people do that when I see them do pet portraits. They first make a whole color. They fill everything in with the same color and afterwards they do the shading. They don't leave stuff open, they just really go over it with a different thread afterwards. It's just a different way of blending stuff in, I guess. You really see that you get a nice painting effect. 6. layering between colors: We're just going to fold lines. Make sure that your fabric is always tight. You cannot stress it enough, because you don't want to have it to pucker in any way. We're going in with a really dark but bright orange. We're going to follow it through this line. At this point, we're not going to blend it in with this color, we're just going to stop right at the end. I'm just going to go with this light layer, lighter orange. We're going to start here at the end, and go in the other one. We're going to make sure that it blends nicely, so you're going to go halfway in it. Here a little bit next to each other, because you can see here that we have our thread here and there. Especially when there's a curve, it makes it a bit more difficult. So you have to make your stitches a little bit smaller, so you can create that curve. Also, when you see here, you are like, ''This is pretty loose.'' Don't sweat it, just go in the middle of it and lock it down. That is really difficult, which actually is nothing to do with the actual embroidery. Please protect your eyes. I cannot use it right now, because I'm using a video camera and it will interfere with that, but it's really good to use a magnifier because this will destroy your eyes. It destroyed my eyes. I need to have glasses now, and I really forget to use the magnifier a lot. I do like it, but it doesn't feel natural always. But whenever you're embroidering and your eyes have to readjust, when you're now looking at your embroidery work and you, for instance, are zoning out and looking at the TV, your eyes have to readjust themselves all the time. What we're now going to do is we're going to blend it. 7. layering with different colors: With a different shade of orange, we're going to blend the colors together. We're going to go in and blend. The transition softens, also to give it more of that fluid look. This color is not going to be used at the hole in-between, because you will see the other color underneath it, and that's why we're doing this, just so to blend it nicely and evenly. We're also doing this so we can make a transition. I like this look. I'm just going to put one, a little bit over here, but you can still definitely see the other color underneath, and that's what we are achieving. I'm going to take a yellow color, it's not super yellow, it's this. It's getting there, so we're gradually going towards the yellow. Now we're going to move in with the yellow-greenish, and we're going to blend that together afterwards. So we're going to go in here, make sure that it's tight. We're going to blend it in with this. It's a bit in between yellow and green. We're only going to do the blending for this leaf. When we reach the flower, we're not going to do this kind of blending anymore, it's not going to be this invasive. This is also fun to go a bit to the back. I'm going to make it different. Let me see, here one, maybe here one, maybe here. Let's go a bit back. Now I want to go to the really dark green again. At the end we're going to use the same color as we did at the end with the other thread. Here we're going in with green and some light green. Now we're going to go to the flower. 8. Starting with the petals: Here, I marked a line as you can see. Because this is also going to be purple, I'm just going to do that right away while we have the color here now. Here, we want to make the little pellet flowers. I wanted to use a bright pink for that. It's really funny because those are colors that I'm not a fan of. I don't like purple or hot pink, but for some reason, it all works together. When I see it all together, I really love the color combinations. Now, we're going go into the lighter pink and we're going through that line and we're going to just get them in there. It looks like a petal. We're going to frame it and use here a line. We're going to go back with the pink and you're going to follow this line. It's difficult to make it really into a straight up pattern because it's so many colors. Now, I've framed that and I want to go in with the purple-pink everywhere here in these lines. We can make them a bit thicker to suit your preference. First, we're going to go in with the lighter and we're going to fill that up all the way with the pink. 9. Layering the patels: Now we are going to use some really bright orange. I'm going to go in here. You see how it blends differently when you've already put a color in. But because we want to make this really contrasting, we're going to go in with a lighter pink to make it a contrasting color. We're going to start from a little bit the middle and back the way up. I know you'll be like why don't you just start with the orange [inaudible] or start with this color and make your way up? I'm telling you get a different effect, you really do. It's a different effect, and I really like this effect, the stroking effect. We're going to go with one last color on this, and that is we're going to use purple, a dark purple. So here we just going to make some small [inaudible], because it's really contrasting we going to make not much of them. Now what you can also do to go really crazy with the blending is you can also go on here in with the blending. Now, we're going in with yellow. I want to use this one. I'm going to put a little bit of some strokes in here because we already used that color in the petaled flower. It's going to look really nice, and one here. Okay, one here, that's it. That's nice. Our next line here, and we're going to use a really hot pink. Again, we're going to go to that line. We are going to top it off with some purple on the top. 10. Finishing the petals: We're going to top it off with some purple on the top. First going to do it all the way with the pink. Now we're going with the pink that we used here. Based on your preference we're going to go pretty high up. Here I want to get really high up. To have a little bit more depth in there, I'm going to use something that's really light. To add more dimension, we're going to use the light purple we used here, we're going to use that also here in the end. Now that we added, I'm also going to put it in here because I think this is a bit flap, if I now look at it. First we're going to do this part. For that part what I want to use is a really dark purple with a light purple. We're going to use these two together. Now we're going to frame the edges with the same color and we're also going to do this one. I'm framed up with the color. Here we're going to start with the lighter shade of the purple. Actually, it's a dark shade, it's just a little bit lighter than the other one. We're going to start here. We're going to go all the way up with the outline. We're going to go in with this purple. Now we're first going to go in with pink. Now we're going back in with orange. Now we're going to do the same with this one as we did here. But instead of the pink, I'm going to use the purple and I'm just going to frame in here. With just like the other one, we're going in with pink, if you want to. Just as the other one, we're going to completely make this first pink. We're going to do the same as we did here. Now we're going in, let's see, we're going to use this one. I'm on orange. Then we're going in with the dark one, but we're not going to do the light purple, only the dark purple. Only a tiny bit, otherwise it's getting too crowded. It's already too crowded. We're on to our last petal. I call everything hot pink. We're going go in with a pink. We're going to fill this part all the way up with pink. Now we're going to go with this color. Now we're going in with purple here. To make it full we're going to use this color also there. 11. Make your piece stand out: Now that the piece is done, I'm going to add extra color here and there. This is what I like to do at the very end, to just look at the piece as a whole and see where can I add extra color to make it more interesting, different kind of colors to make it really pop. You didn't have to do this, but I highly recommend it. I am going to use a little bit more color than I intended. It's going to change the piece up here and there. But it doesn't take a lot of time and it's really fun to just do that at the end and it's so easy to just remove it and use something else, another color. It's just a really fun way to add extra details. For instance, you can put here the color blue a little bit, put a stripe of blue. That looks really nice. This is all about playing around with color in the last segment. You can also put a little bit of blue right here in the middle, that would be fun. A little bit here. You get that stroke effect. You can also do it here a little bit, a bit of contrast in it. Maybe here a bit. This is just to show you what you can do with piece like this. Just to give it more color and it's like an easy way to do it afterwards. You can just remove it if you don't like it anymore. I think colors are also very personal. I really like to play around with colors. If you look on my Instagram, it's a lot blueish, and I have a lot of ocean-oriented pieces, but I really also love to play around with color, even if it's hair. Then you can use so many different colors just to create a different effect. I guess here we have the blue. Maybe it's nice to have here a contrasting color. I'm thinking about the pink so that the upper top is coming back. You can have a contrasting color also here at the edge. It's not too contrasting, but it is contrasting far enough to pop it out. Here at the edge, it's nicer with a yellow. This is just an example of what you can do to make the piece really colorful and really stand out. I think this is really cool. Here a little bit. I think this looks really cool to do it like this. What is also fun is I have here this color we haven't used in this piece. I put it here somewhere in. Look, that's very different. Now you don't see the pink anymore. A little bit. You can also put a little bit over here, then it's on both sides. It's just like an explosion of colors, I love it. You can also look online to see what colors you really like to contrast. If you look on Pinterest and you look at color palettes, that is really cool to see some some that contrast with each other. This is cool. I'm going to one one here. Then if I look here, I'm like, I think here should be a little bit more color. Maybe I can put a little bit here. I just have a look at the [inaudible] piece, I'm like, what does it need? Because here, I'm like, this is a little bit weird. Yellow doesn't have any other color in. But because the yellow is not a color we used before in the flower, it maybe be fun to also use the blue that we haven't used before in the color. I think this looks really pretty. Well, stripe it here and here. I think it's done. To be honest, it's really difficult for me. I can go on and on and on and add different things and add more strokes, add more colors. I love to do that and I can go on forever. That's maybe my difficulty. I don't know when to stop, to be like, okay, now I'm done. But I think I'm done. But if you're now making this piece, then just go on and it's so easy to remove any of these threads. So easy to remove this and you can just add another color and just really look what you like. I'm sure you can create some amazing color combinations that I haven't thought about. I don't know, do with gray tones and black tones or white. Create it with white and then going with gray or really soft pastel. I'd love to see what you can do.