Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidery Silk Color Card: The Whole Palette


Amazon Books

Real color cards are the best way to find just the right threads for your embroidery project. By “real,” I mean that the color cards are wound with swatches of the thread. This is the only way to know if you are ordering your embroidery thread accurately.

Think about it: when you view fabric online, do you really get an accurate sense of the color, feel, or weight of the fabric – unless you’ve used it before? Consider the variation in colors on monitors, of colors when printing, etc., and you can see why the thread you ordered that you thought was going to be just right, ended up a tad bit off.

Even printed color cards won’t do. Light has an adverse affect on inks. This is why, when you want a color print job done, professional print shops will show you their color cards (which are generally kept in black cases) but will warn that the color might be slightly different in the final print job. This is also why professional printers have to replace their color cards frequently (and why a set of color cards for printing is so darned expensive!)

But back to embroidery – if you want to be accurate when you select threads, I suggest investing in palettes of color cards with actual thread samples on them.

Last summer, I bit the bullet and invested in the Au Ver a Soie (Soie d’Alger) Color Selection Guide. This guide arranges all the colors in the same manner that a painter would arrange a color palette. Rather than having the threads listed by number, they’re arranged by color groups – cool and warm, hues, etc.

I ordered my selection guide from Twining Thread (no longer in business), and along with it came a hefty amount of coupons for silk, which I immediately cashed in for Soie d’Alger.

Question: Was the purchase worth it? ABSOLUTELY! In the last year, I’ve used it innumerable times to confidently order the exact thread colors I wanted, saving me time and money on projects.

Today, I received my latest investment in a color palette – the Color Card from the Japanese Embroidery Center.

The card sports some 258 colors of flat silk offered by the JEC. Oh, how I wish I had it in hand a month ago! This flat silk is great to work with – I ordered several spools of it a few weeks ago to test it, and I’ll do a photo comparison of it soon (like this comparison on other flat silks). If I had the time to start my sky over again, I’d switch threads! Live and learn!

I like the fact that the sleeve folds up nice and compact, and has a handy ring on the end of it. This makes it great for toting about when necessary.

If you can get your hands on the real thread sample palettes of your favorite embroidery flosses, you won’t be sorry – it’s a great way to ensure precision when ordering, and it will save you both time and money.

And I’m just weird enough over color selections that I like to sit and pour over the colors to no apparent end….! So they can be entertaining, too!


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(4) Comments

  1. Would love to purchase a set of silk color cards like yours…do you have the info on where these can be purchased?

    Thank you,


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