A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thread Shading with Multiple Values of One Thread Color

Every thing you draw will have variations in the values represented in it.  The only way to create a realistic drawing  with depth and dimension is to have similar value variations in your drawing.

We’ve looked at how to use one thread color to achieve variations in value.  Today we’ll take a closer look at value variations and how to use multiple values of one color thread to achieve the same purpose.

What do I mean when I say, multiple variations of one color thread.

Let’s say the single color of thread we choose to use is grey. (You’re free to choose any thread color, of course).  

Then the three values of thread we’re going to be working with will be light grey, medium grey and dark grey.

When you use different values of thread to thread shade, the resulting effect is determined by two things.

1. The closeness between stitches
2. The value of the thread being used.

When you thread shade this way, the resulting drawing is more three dimensional than when you use just one thread.

Here are the steps to do this:
  1. Layout a “shading map” before you start stitching so you know ahead of time where you want to have light, medium or dark shading.
  2. Thread shade by matching your thread’s value (L,M,D) with your shading map
  3. Remember to space your stitch lines according to whether you want light, medium or dark shading
  4. Keep in mind that you’ll be stopping often to cut and change threads unlike with the one thread shading method we learned the other day.

Here’s an example of a piece I shaded this way. 

"Table Top Medley" - Stitched Drawing on Cotton by Clara Nartey

Watch the video and practice using the teacup example from Monday, your own drawing or a photo. 

Compare the two samples. Which one do you like better?

That’s it for today.

Let’s go draw.



  1. This info has been very helpful to me. Shading is NOT done the way I had imagined I really thought it was done with over stitching an area with a different color of thread. Looking forward to more in this series.

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the series, Ruth. I do things a little differently :-)


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