Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


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Read My New Article: Color in your Closet

Just published in Colette Patterns‘ sewing magazine Seamwork: My latest article on using color palettes in real life! It’s called Color in Your Closet: Discover (and Use) the Palette Within.

Features:

  • How to coax a palette out of your existing wardrobe;
  • Identifying your primary colors;
  • Ideas for using your palette to create new outfits;
  • Tips for using accent colors in unexpected ways;
  • Using your palette when you shop!
Using color palettes while you shop

Once you’ve created your palette based on the clothes already in your closet, carry it with you when you shop! (Click the photo to go straight to my article. Photo is my own, also used in the published article.)

Colormusing

This post appeared originally at my A Musing blog, here.

Want to see sewing stuff from Colormusing? Check out myBratelier (lingerie sewing, including bras!), and A Musing, covering all things color-palette-related. And don’t miss all my newest projects, including sew-alongs, at the brand-new SewColormusing blog!

Click on the dots above to visit my mother ship, Colormusing.com, where you can also sign up to receive Hue News, Colormusing’s own monthly e-mail newsletter!

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The All-New Colormusing Shop is Live!

This is the biggest newsflash item I’ve had the pleasure to post about so far: I’m actually creating my dream of a color-centric business, by combining several different areas of interest under a single name:Colormusing logoYes! Knittique (yarns, knitwear patterns, samples, & jewelry), Photo/Graphic Design (art on canvas, tutorials, & graphic files), and The Bratelier (lingerie sewing kits) are now all part of the Colormusing family— a reunion of sorts, where all the various relatives play together nicely because they all have one thing in common: color palettes. Continue reading


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Color, Theoretically Speaking

Yes, folks, as promised, here’s a fun little color theory crash course, cleverly disguised as a book review of sorts. What book, you ask? Why, it’s “Color”, by Betty Edwards (the acclaimed author of “The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”). Okay, this seems like a pretty generic title for such a massive subject, so it’s subtitled “A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors”. Yes. That’s so much better.

Color by Betty Edwards

“Color” by Betty Edwards. Yes, the subtitle suggests that this book is geared towards art students, but stay with me— it does connect to your clothes! Click on the picture to see this book on Amazon.com

To back up for just a minute, last month, I started hand-dyeing and painting yarns for the first time, which I started writing about in this recent post (lots more to come on that in future posts). And a funny thing happened almost immediately: I realized how little I actually know about color! Sure, I’ve been producing a line of color-sequencing yarns* based on my own color concepts for over 10 years, and focusing on color-palette creation more recently, but when it came to actually mixing dyes in an attempt to create unique colors, it took me maybe 5 minutes to figure out that I needed more information. That’s when I found this book.

“Color” is written primarily for artists, yes, so most of the exercises are relative to painting. However, there is so much information about color itself that I found the book not only incredibly helpful in terms of basic color theory, but that it also greatly increases my awareness of, and appreciation for, the use of color in actual artwork. But for purposes of this post, I’m focusing on the color theory. I hope you’ll find it as beneficial as I have!

I did promise this would be a crash course, not a treatise, so I’ll make this as brief as possible, starting with a classic color wheel:

Color wheel

Color wheel. Isn’t it pretty? Courtesy of Northlite.net. Click the wheel to see it on their website.

You’re most likely already familiar with the color concepts presented on the wheel: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors. Personally, I thought I had a handle on this, but some specific details gave me new insights. For example, I was aware that each secondary color (green, orange, violet) is a combination of 2 of the 3 primary colors (red, blue, yellow), but I didn’t know that the tertiary colors  (the hyphenated ones) are each a combination of a primary and a secondary color. And for dye-mixing purposes, believe me, this is quite a revelation, as you’ll see.

Tip: When I was just looking around for a good color wheel image, I was startled (and somewhat confused) by the enormous range of wheel styles. My advice is to stick with the basic 12-color wheel; it’s really all you need.

Now that we’ve absorbed the color wheel concepts, let’s move on to the 3 main attributes of a given color: hue, value, and intensity.

Just for fun, let’s use Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid, as our example:

Radiant Orchid

Radiant Orchid. Can you name its hue, value, and intensity? (I couldn’t, before reading Betty’s book.) Click on the picture to find this fab flash drive at Pantone.

  1. Hue refers to the color family your color belongs to; to determine this, find the color on the wheel that you think is closest to Radiant Orchid. I’m thinking Red-Violet.
  2. Value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color: white is at one end of this scale, black at the other. Radiant Orchid looks like it’s slightly on the medium-dark side.
  3. Intensity (also known as saturation or brightness) refers to a scale that goes from bright to dull. A fluorescent color, for example, would definitely be at the bright end, while a smoky shade would be closer to the dull end. Our Radiant Orchid looks like it belongs on the brighter (but not brightest) end.

Tip: If you have worked in Photoshop or another photo-editing application, you’re probably familiar with the term “desaturation”; if an image is completely desaturated, there’s no color at all— it’s greyscale. So you can think of colors on the dull end of the intensity scale as having grey added to them, replacing color. In dyeing, as with mixing paints, adding a bit of the complementary color—the one exactly opposite on the color wheel—also dulls the intensity, but without changing the original hue.

So Radiant Orchid can also be described as medium-dark, medium-bright red-violet. Ta-dah!

Okay. I realize this is still just theory. How does it apply to my dyeing projects? Well, since I’m determined to mix my own colors from primary dye colors (as opposed to using pre-mixed “fashion” colors), this is of tremendous help to me in planning which primaries to mix together. For Radiant Orchid, I’ll no doubt have to experiment to get an exact match, but I’d say that starting with red and blue, with a higher proportion of red (to make the hue red-violet), in a solution that’s not very diluted (so the value stays medium-dark), and possibly with a touch of yellow-green (red-violet’s complement) to slightly dull the intensity.

And what about dyeing your clothes? Well, assuming you’re starting with something other than a pure white garment, technically what you’ll be doing is over-dyeing, that is, adding color to an existing color, as I did with my jeans in one of my early dyeing projects on CYC. So if you’re starting with light-blue denim, which is already on the dull side of the intensity scale, you may want to dye it with a bright shade, which will take on some of the qualities of the original denim color (fiber dyes are essentially transparent); if you used, for instance, a bright shade of green dye, your results will most likely be an interesting blue-green hybrid, but your jeans will probably not be as bright as the dye color itself.

Honestly, now that I’ve learned about color hue, value, and intensity, I feel so much better prepared for my dyeing experiments; instead of just throwing colors together and waiting to see what happens, I have a solid basis with which to predict the results. This (I assume) will not only save me time (less experimenting), but also money, for the dyes and the undyed yarns I’m starting with.

I’ll leave you with this liberating thought: you don’t have to ever dye anything to apply these basic color theory principles to your wardrobe! Simply going into your closet and really looking at the colors that have collected there will give you new insights into the colors you prefer. Dark, light, bright, smoky, neutral, happy? Try to think of words that sum up your colors— then remember them when you’re shopping, dyeing, or otherwise changing your clothes.

*You can find my color-sequencing yarns in the Scraplet Skeins section of my Knittique Etsy shop. (Be sure to look at the color cards to see the entire color sequences in each skein.) And while you’re there, take a look my first hand-painted skeins, in the New! Hand-painted Yarns section.


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What’s Hue? Pantone Reveals 2014 Color of the Year!

For all of you who have been waiting in breathless anticipation, yes, it’s true: Pantone has finally revealed their pick for the 2014 Color of the Year! Here’s a hint:

COY inspiration?

Color of the Year inspiration? (This is one of my own photos; click on it if you’d like to see more. Additional links below at the *.)

Continue reading


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Santa Fe Wardrobe: P.S.

As a follow-up to my Santa Fe wardrobe follow-up, I thought you might be interested in a few stats about my Santa Fe travel wardrobe:

1. Out of the 9 main items I packed (not counting swimsuit, sleepwear, etc.), I made 6 of them myself:

a. The deep olive green silk twill Origami skirt;

b. The pale sage green wide-legged linen trousers with deep taupe herringbone racing stripes;

c. The print silk crepe de chine one-shouldered tunic;

d. The cap-sleeved sage-and-lavender-print knit top;

e. The print jersey V-neck dress;

f. The hand-knitted one-sleeved entrelac wrap (also my original design)

(The ones I did not make are the jeans, teal knit top, and asymmetrical print top.)

2. The only things I bought specifically for this wardrobe were the following (everything else I already had, including sewing patterns):

a. Fabrics for the linen trousers and cap-sleeved knit top;

b. The jeans

(I also bought the pewter jersey to line the bronze dress, which ultimately did not make it into my suitcase for this trip. All other fabrics came from my stash.) Continue reading


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Spooling Colors: A Spontaneous Palette

I was working on a sewing project the other day, and was changing thread colors on my sewing machine. Without really looking at what I was doing, I set down the sage-green spools I’d been using (laying them behind the machine so they wouldn’t roll off the slightly sloping table). Something back there caught my eye, and I suddenly noticed that I had put the green spools down on top of a zip-top bag with a couple of spools inside it. This is exactly what I saw:

Thread palette

I just love the way these colors look together, but how do you translate that into an actual palette? Go to ColourLovers! (The link will take you to my page on ColourLovers, but feel free to browse the whole site. It’s worth the trip, I promise.) Using this photo as my starting point, I created this palette:

Threads palette on ColourLovers
Threads palette created on ColourLovers; note the addition of the white (from the spools) and charcoal grey (from the background of the photo).

When you’re looking at a photo like the one with the threads, the subject matter of the photo can be distracting; it’s often easier to visualize using a color palette when you can see it in solid, flat colors as in the ColourLovers palette.

Why don’t you try creating your own custom palette with a photo? Even photos that are not that great (out of focus, etc.) can be rich sources of beautiful color palettes. You can do this online at ColourLovers, and/or use their palette-creation software, ColorSchemer Studio (they even have a smartphone app version of this!). Have fun! And be sure to post your palettes here for us all to enjoy!


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Food Coloring: Just Beet It!

All right, maybe I’m taking this color obsession a little too far… Yesterday, when I was visiting my sister up in Poulsbo, Washington, we were enjoying a wonderful home-cooked lunch at her house that included many young, delicious vegetables from her garden (and a chicken). This locovore’s delight included a dish of beautiful beets, regular (or whatever the red ones are called) and golden, together on a platter, thus:

Beets Beets, part of a delicious lunch at my sister’s house. Little did she know… Continue reading