What comes first? The fabric or the thread?

How do you start your projects? Do you have a great piece of fabric that you wish to incorporate into a project, or do you create the embroideries, and then search for the fabrics?

This question has been on my mind this week. I have just finished creating an amazing set of new designs – The Copper Age, and I very deliberately wanted to use the very on trend combination of teal and gold.  I figured I would have no problems at all when I came to find fabric for the project, so left that until last.  I was very surprised when I got to my local fabric shop (which generally has a great range), only to find there was very little there in that particular colour pallete.

Thankfully I had my beautiful daughter Grace with me, who has a magnificent eye for colour and colour mixing.

The first set of fabrics that we saw as was a gorgeous Japanese cherry blossom fabric from the moda range Sakura Park. This fabric was bright, cheerful, and really embraced the aesthetic that we were going for in the project, however there were no colours present in the fabric that were used in the embroidery design.

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I had in my mind to use a traditional Japanese fabric, with a gold imprint on it, however when we moved to that area of the store, and began pulling fabrics and testing them against the block we brought as a sample, it just wasn’t wowing us.

We then went and attempted to find a plain fabric, focusing on the teal that I was incorporating in the design. (I have never really paid much attention to how much trouble it is to match fabric to thread until I tried for an exact match).  We tried 4 different teals before we found one we were happy with.

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Our thought was that if we used the plain teal fabric as a break between the cherry blossom fabric, and the embroidery design, it would bring them together.

Finally the staff at the store took pity on us and helped.

They initially took us over to the Japanese ranges, and after a lot of searching, agreed that none of the colours there worked.

We then went over to the mixer fabrics, and Grace pulled the perfect fabric. It is not one that either of us would have initially chosen, however as soon as we mixed the plain teal together with the emerald and gold fabric, it just sang.  The emerald fabric adds depth to the overall project, and the simple gold stamping on the emerald fabric pulls the colours all together more forcefully.

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I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which comes first. I think that if you choose the thread first, you have to be willing to compromise and open your mind to what fabrics will work with the finished project, however as I have come to learn, some of the best projects come from a mistake or out of left field.  If you choose the fabric first, you can guarantee that the colours will match the fabrics, however you may miss opportunities to broaden your fabric choices (this is a trap I fall into often).

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I would love to hear what you think. Tell us all how you create your designs, and what comes first for you – The Fabric or the Thread!

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

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