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Working With DMC Variegated Embroidery Thread

As we always use DMC threads in our kits, we have focused this item on the types of variegated embroidery threads that are produced by DMC, but most embroidery thread manufactures will have similar products you can use.


Variegated thread is usually dyed in a number of colours. This may be in shades of one colour or a palette of complementary or contrasting hues.


The picture below shows the three common types of embroidery thread from DMC.


The thread on the left is called ‘Coloris’ and typically features a number of significantly different, complementary colours as in this example using pinks, greens and blues. Used in abstract designs, this can create a wonderful finish to your design. Think about using long and short stitch, seed stitch or French knots to fill areas with this thread, or use it as an outline with back stitch or running stitch. It would also look great used in a simple flower using lazy daisy stitch. The Coloris colour schemes are only available as stranded cottons


In the middle is what DMC called their ‘Variations’ range. This range also feature a number of different colours within the thread, but unlike the Coloris threads, the colours in this range are more complementary and the change in colour is more subtle. In the example shown the colours used range from shades of pink, through peach and into oranges. The Variations threads also look great in abstract designs, but because of the similarity of colours in these threads, they can work also well in more natural designs, providing shading and colour variations to flowers or leaves. Again, they work well with the same stitch types as listed for the Coloris threads. DMC produce their Variations threads as either stranded cotton or as Perle threads


The final variegated thread from DMC is shown on the right and these threads form part of their large of stranded cotton and Perle threads. In these threads the variation of colour comes from shading and are all of the same base colour, in the example shown the colour ranges from pale pink through to darker pink. These are especially good for providing shading when stitching flowers – as shown in the main picture at the top of this article, but can still give you great result in more abstract designs.


The following pictures show each of the thread types used in some our embroidery designs.

This abstract embroidery uses three shades of Coloris thread, with the larger sections at the centre of the design stitched with long and short stitch and the smaller section in satin stitch. You can see how the two stitches changes the way the colour change is affected.

This rainbow zebra has been embroidered using 6 shades of Variations threads and long and short stitch. You can see how this gives an almost water colour finish to the stitching.

In this piece, the blue flowers have been stitched using Variations threads and the pink flower has been stitched using one of the variegated colours from DMC’s standard range of stranded cotton. Long and short stitch has been used again in this design to maximise the impact of the colour change.


Stitching With Variegated Thread


There are a few simple things you can do to make sure you get the best out of working with variegated threads, whichever type you are using.


  • Never fold your thread in half. If you fold your thread you will see that you have two different sections of colour next to other which will dilute the variations in colour when you stitch with it. Unfortunately this means you can’t use the ‘loop method’ for starting your stitching.

  • Keep an eye on the thread and how the colours change, so that when you need to start a new piece of thread, you finish and start with a similar shade to avoid a large step in the colour on your finished piece.

  • Small stitches give a more blended result, but if you want to see a step change then stitching satin stitch will give a good result for filling an area with colour.

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