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14th century French Pouch .1 – which color for the hood? …an easy way to match colors

Well, today I have a very special topic for you concerning my 14th century French pouch: “Which color for the hood?”.

Commission – 14th century French Pouch .1 – which color for the hood?

Furthermore this is also a very good reason for another posting about very “basic techniques”. In particular I want to show you “an easy way to match colors” today. 🙂

But first things first – as you can imagine, I have many possible colors which I could use for the “hood” in the 2nd section of my 14th century French pouch.
Well, it’s great to have so many colors to chose from but that’s also the point where the “grande miseria” begins. Now I have to decide which color out of all this color possibilities I want to use for this section.

Btw. at the picture above – presented by my embroidery-cat-assistant Cleo – you can see a rather small selection of possible colors I now have to choose from.

Let me expand a bit to give you a better idea of the “problem”:

Due to the special wishes of my customer I embroidered the main part of the figures in yellow. He agreed that I may use white for the body details too, to be able to work out some of the “special details”, as I like to call them. Well, as you might already know, I love details and i consider them important because they add up to the whole appearance of an embroidery.


As you can see on the picture above – I already used “white” for the face section and yellow (“gold”) for the body. Which means that I still have the hood section left. Well, I didn’t think that leaving away the hood might be an option. In my opinion it adds a lot to the complete look of this figure and without it a really nice detail would be missing. But now I am somehow stuck between two colors – a white and a yellow section.

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Btw. another information at the side you might find interesting:
This is a nice “period detail”. In some allegories in which animals are used you can find animals with hoods like this or dressed with cloaks,… To give you a better picture of what I mean, I searched the internet and found this nice detail picture at the website from “The British Library – Images Online

…and I found this lovely picture:

…I think I should keep this “extra-info” short and leave this topic at this point but I promise to tell you more in an in-depth posting about it… – there is so much more to say about this topic and the relations of embroidery and extern inspirations that I should talk in another posting about it. Yes, I know, I am such a geek… but I love it! *lol* 😉

…now back to the main topic, which is also very interesting in my opinion: “Which color for the hood?”.

Racaire - 14th century French pouch commission
…to see this picture in a a bigger size – just scroll down a little…

Now I have some possibilities.
To show you some some of the points I consider in a case like this, I made a rather detailed list for you about possible points that could be taken into consideration in a case like this This list also shows you which points I actually considered and from which “sides”/”points of view”.
Yeah, detail-planning like this is one of my obsessions, but I guess it’s also one of the secrets why people find my embroidery so appealing. *lol*

OK, let’s start to think it over – I can embroider the hood in:

  • Yellow
    To stay in the color schema of the embroidery, I could embroider it in yellow.
    Pro: no disturbance of the overall “color-appearance”
    Contra: we would more or less “lose” this detail because this section would get a little bit “lost” among the other yellow sections.
    Risk: very low Win: not much Conclusion: ambivalent
  • Red
    To stay a little bit closer to the extant piece, I could embroider it in red.
    Pro: the hood in the upper right section of the extant pouch on which this pouch is based, is also embroidered in red. But because the other colors were changed already, there is some room for another color change in this case too. A nice dark red color might look good in this section – this way another color could be introduced into the color-schema which stays close to the used red that it doesn’t really disturb the whole appearance…
    Contra: I already have a red background in this section. The same red like the one of the background or even a darker red might be too similar and this detail might get lost in the background. Furthermore it could even “tear the whole figure apart”. What I mean? Well, a white face over the body in a “sea” of red might look more like an UFO than what it actually is – a hood with a face.
    Risk: higher – “UFO” Win: not much Conclusion: not really
  • Green
    Yes, now we are slowly getting to the more interesting options. The green I used for the upper left section and which I also will use for the bottom section on the right, is already part of the color schema. Using it in the right upper section for the hood is a little bit daring but still also on a rather safe level of daring in my opinion.
    Pro: it would nicely accentuate the whole figure and put the hood in a nice spot light – I am quite sure that it would “pop out” and add a nice extra to the whole section.
    Contra: it could disturb a little the balance of the color sections – green/red (top) and the red/green (bottom) and a green hood in a red background really “pops” – I mean it would be very flashy.
    Risk: higher – it will “pop” Win: higher – it will “pop” Conclusion: I like this idea 🙂
  • “Light” cream colors
    A rather save but nice option.
    Pro: though a new color is introduced, this colors do not really pop or disturb the whole appearance in any way. It still underlines that this “section” is different but does this in a rather subtle way. This would help to maintain the wish of the customer for a rather homogenous appearance of the figures and would therefore add to the desired result.
    Contra: This color choice is very subtle and the hood might only be recognised (like the wings,…) after close examination.
    Risk: very low Win: adds to the overall appearance and subtle outlines it.
    Conclusion: though not as daring as the green, I also like this idea 🙂
  • …other colors
    Well, last but not least, I also have some other beautiful colors too which I don’t want to keep back but I tried them and definitely got to a point where I said to myself that they absolutely don’t work and therefore I will not even propose them.
    The lovely blue I have or the nice dark colors like darker green – to me it was just one look and I knew that I don’t like it. The blue unfortunately doesn’t work well with the green and red and was, in my opinion, too far away from and too exotic for this color schema.
    It appeared to me that, besides the nice purple, the other dark colors would have also disturbed the color schemata which is rather bright, fresh, shiny and positive.
    Furthermore they would have been too flashy in this section in a rather unpleasant way.

Well, whatever I will finally use, there is something which will never change in my opinion: “embroidery and colors have the purpose to support the pattern/the whole picture and not to distract from it”.

Finally, I am happy to say that this is a commission for a customer and based on his favorite colors. Therefore I leave the final decision to my costumer. I think that in this case my taste is not as important as the taste of my customer. I can just support him with as much information as possible to make a pouch that he really likes. This is the benefit when you get something made especially for you instead buying something ready-made.

Using the list above I provided suitable information about possible color choices that they were able to choose from. It is always difficult to imagine the colors using text in such cases. Well, I admit that it makes a rather big difference for me, but I am a very visual person.

To solve the problem, I also composed the picture, you can see underneath, to show my customer and you some possible color choices. The colors shown on the upper right corner are based on the colors which I listed above, except for the yellow.

I especially recommend the light-color combinations at the left side, in my opinion they won’t distract from the whole appearance of the completed section. The colors to the right would distract beside the dark red color. I am very looking forward to the decision of my customer concerning this part 🙂

Racaire - 14th century French pouch commission


Well, talking about color combinations – I know how important it is to find the right color combination.

The picture above is especially for my customer. I, for myself, normally have a much easier way. Before I start embroidering I just take the wool hanks/balls/… with which I want to work and put them next to each other – into my hand or on a neutral background.

If I am not already pleased with what I see, I try several mixes until I can say that I am really pleased with the colour combination. Yes, it’s as easy as that. Just lay out the wool next to each other on a neutral/white surface and take some minutes to see how they effect you and your actual mood, if they speak to you,…

Racaire's Malabrigo wool-silk threads

This really doesn’t take much time but it can prevent you from some odd color combinations – like not enough difference between two different shades of one color… Sometimes, even when I like the first mix with which I come up with, I just remember the first mix but I take some extra time and have some fun by trying out other combinations too. Yes, just for fun. Well, sometimes it really surprises me with which color combinations I come up with which are uncommon but very lovely and interesting.

This part is not about the perfect color combination for everyone – it’s about the perfect color combination for you! Please don’t forget – color mixes base on very personal color preferences and also can change like fashion during the years. I, for example, don’t really like brown and orange. Though I admit that there might be some acceptable mixes and there are others who love to use them… *lol*
Well, it’s like with my preference for nice bright and daring colors – not everyone would go for it and though some find it at least interesting. Colors are really a matter of personal taste and the final result you are aiming for.

Over the last years I have seen too many of my friends being really unpleased with their embroidery and their color-choice. Some of them decided to complete it anyway, some of them undid whole embroidery sections to be able to redo them in another color. …and every time I told them about my rather simple technique and about how I match colors, they were very surprised. Nevertheless, I think they don’t have this problem anymore as long as they take some time to use this technique or at least their personal version of this technique.

Btw. when you have an embroidery and want to add a color – what you can see on the picture for my customer is what I actually do when I want to add a colour to an existing (and in most cases uncompleted) embroidery. This is the fastest and easiest way to decided which colour might work best for the whole embroidery because you get an immediate impression. Furthermore you can also try several possibilities and take the one that appeals most to you.

Well, I can’t guarantee that this small solution for color matching I came up with for myself will solve all of your “color problems” or that you will never again have them… It’s just another technique I would like to recommend warmly to you. To make your life as an embroiderer at least a little bit easier and to show you ways how to improve your embroidery with small and simple steps.

I hope you enjoyed my small excursion. 🙂

Best regards Racaire