Pick A Palette From Fall Flowers



When Jack surprised me with a beautiful bunch of fall-colored flowers last week, I knew I wanted to capture the colors for a future stitching project. I took some photos, of course, but those are much too easily “out of sight — out of mind.”

As the flowers started looking a little bit droopy, I took the flowers down to my studio and pulled out my growing box of embroidery threads. To make it easier to choose colors, I put each type of flower and the potential threads on a medium gray background.

I took photos of each flower or foliage with the threads from my collection. Then made a list of thread colors so I can find these lovelies without having to guess. Under each photo, I will post the thread information for the colors that I chose. And before I forget, the process would be the same for picking colors of paint, fabric or any other type of material for a project. I just happen to be thinking about threads today.


My first thought for this flower was a burgundy, leaning toward blue, but after looking closer, I realized the red was warmer and more “rusty.”

Chili (red) — Caron
Pomegranate — Caron
Butternut Squash — Fiber on a Whim


This soft gold was a bit of a challenge to me as my collection tends to run toward bright, clear colors. But the Rhubarb thread that was not on my “must have” list when I bought it turned out to be just right. (Yes, there is a reason to have more than your favorite colors in your collection!)

Rhubarb — Artfabrik


These multi-color beauties were interesting. The red is very dark and the yellow almost leans over into green. No worries, no one is going to have the flowers on hand to critique my thread choices!

Deep Red — Oops! No label to be found!
Copper Queen — Artfabrik
Sunflowers — Artfabrik


This lily was not open when I chose my thread, but I knew it would be a wonderful bright orange. (And I was right!)

Sprouts — Artfabrik
Oranges — Artfabrik


This soft orange rose faded pretty quickly, but it was pretty easy to choose the thread.

Tangerine — Artfabrik


These bright yellow flowers are just a shade warmer than Lemons, so I chose a yellow from Caron.

Saffron — Caron


The pink carnations are the wringer in this bunch of flowers. It also made me realize that my selection of pinks is pretty limited. I’ll have to put that on my list for Houston.

Dianthus — Artfabrik


These greens are another one of the sparks in this bunch of flowers. No problem. Sprouts are perfect.

Sprouts — Artfabrik


I was surprised that my husband did not pick this out of the arrangement. (He’s not very good friends with Goldenrod in the fall.)

M28 Harvest — Valdani
Pickle Juice — Artfabrik


And what’s a bunch of flowers without some greens? This skein of Evening Greens is pretty dark, but it will be a good foil from the brighter colors in the palette.

Evening Greens — Artfabrik


Putting it all together, here is my palette. I added a few colors to give a wider range of values.

Earth Gems, Moss, Petunias, Red Hots, Honey — Artfabrik

I am filing this palette in my studio sketchbook so I know where to find it when I am ready to stitch. If all else fails, I can look it up here on the blog.


Most of the threads in my collection are hand dyed by Laura Wasilowski. I most often use Laura’s Pearl 8, but sometimes I go to a size 5 when I want a line of knots to really stand out. You can browse Laura’s threads at

I have some colors from the Caron Collection. Their Watercolours threads are quite heavy (size 5?) and the Wildflowers are in between a typical 8 and 12 pearl cotton.

In Chicago, I picked up half a dozen Pearl 5 colors from Fiber on a Whim. Jan and Kristen dye up all kinds of fabrics, threads and embellishments in beautiful and colorful ways.

How do you choose colors?

Do you have a favorite way to choose colors for a project? Do tell! Leave a comment here or click over to our Facebook page. I love to hear about how you think and work as you create.


  1. lynnk50 on October 16, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Beautiful palette! Can’t wait to see what you are going to create with it! Great idea! Will need to remember this to do this myself! Thanks for the tip!

    • Shelly on October 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

      You’re most welcome, Lynn. I have a challenge to make by December for my small art quilting group. I may use the colors for that. We’ll see!

  2. Bret Adams on October 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I loved the review of your thought processes as you chose the threads that worked with your inspiration. What I would find helpful is how you select/choose the threads while at the vendors so you have a great assortment like you do. I find I stick with the same favorites and have too many gaps. Advice?

    • Shelly on October 17, 2014 at 9:58 am

      That’s a really good question, Bret. As I am heading down to Houston soon, I need to “make a list” for shopping at the vendors. I’ll tackle your question for next week’s post.

  3. Jennifer on October 16, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Hi Shelly,
    Loved your colour selections for the flowers and would like to ask where I could source your lovely little thread winders for keeping threads neat and orderly and with good capacity.

    • Shelly on October 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Hi Jennifer, I found the thread winders at The link is (Find them under Sewing Notions) After much searching, I found out that Checker Distributors carries the product, so your local shop owner can order them in from Checker for you.

      I like the winders a lot. The thread gets “kinked” a little bit right at the center of the winder, but after the first few yards, the winders keep the thread in good shape. It’s a bit of an investment, but so is my collection of hand-dyed thread. 🙂