Sew Style Hero: Let’s talk about colour!

Hello Sewcialists,

my name is Anna, blogging at PeterSilie&Co and today I want to talk about … colours. COLOUR? Yes, colour. Why? Well, let me start at the beginning.

My mom has always told me, when I had some kind of fantasy of dyeing my hair a different colour, that my hair colour perfectly matches my skin colour. And, if I am honest, she was right. I always wanted darker hair – a bit like snow white – but it gave my skin a kind of greenish hue. So it seems our natural palette is already perfectly balanced by nature. But what about our clothes? We all have colour preferences. Colours we love and colours we like to wear. The great thing (and problem sometimes) about sewing is that we start choosing colours at a really early point in the process. We have to chose a style we like to wear, the correct type of fabric to work with, the correct size, then make adjustments and so on. In the middle of all these decisions is the colour choice and quite often it is hard to imagine the finished garment.

It all starts with fabric shopping. There is one pretty print after another, wonderful vibrant colours screaming our name. Personally, when I am fabric shopping with my family (I have a sewing mum and sister with whom I share a blog) it is really hard to stick to the colours I know I will actually wear. My family are really passionate about fabrics and so enthusiastic that they sometimes carry me along on a wave on enthusiasm and I end up buying completely the wrong colours or prints for me. Since I also like to buy in colour groups when I buy fabric, I once ended up with a lot of some very lovely beige and light brown fabrics (several) as well as some minty and pink-coloured jerseys (again several meters)! These were totally the wrong colours (and wrong shade in the case of the pink fabric) for me – but a (blond) sewing friend was really happy with them.

It was this photo on Instagram that got me thinking about palettes again and inspired my interest in discovering how to build colour schemes:

Meg’s style is a bit boho for me, but her colour scheme here is great. I really like muted black and white as base colours, with a lot of blue (I sew way too much blue!) and some lovely rose pinks as an accent. They are not pastel colours, but not really bright colours either, but together they are perfectly balanced. So I began on a journey to discover my colours.

To give you a better idea of me and just WHY the perfect colour finding thing is not so easy, I am including a photo of myself in winter (left) and in summer (right). I have dark brown hair that gets lighter in the summer (thanks to the sun), and rosy skin that tans reasonably fast. I also get freckles (which I love) but they are usually only a single shade darker than my tanned skin, so you can only see them when you look up close. Looking at my winter pic most would probably say something like: “Clearly a winter type!”, which I am not! So let’s look more closely at the details.








Finding your colours …

There are a lot of different systems out there to help you identify your perfect colours. I’ll be honest, I have never really done any of them properly. And if you try to, you quickly realize that it is not that easy and straightforward.

As a starting point I can highly recommend Anuschka Ree’s series “Finding your Colour“. She sums up the 4 season colour theory from the book “Color Me Beautiful”. It is based on 4 basic types: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Created in the 90s the system has since updated and upgraded to 12 ‘types’ overall, since a lot of us do not fit that neatly in any single box.

I can remember that my grandma once said that I am not a Winter (which I wanted to be) and so I was really appalled by the statement. If you are only looking at the 4 basic types in the book I fit best within Summer (funnily, that’s what my grandma already said many years ago!). But even if I take into account the secondary factors, I do not fit perfectly into that category.

Meanwhile, Sunniva (@idealiststyle) has created her own system, based on the rules of colour analysis divided into 10 general categories, with some add-ons. This theory is super interesting and inclusive, because it highlights all the small differences between the categories and she has also found representatives of each and every type.

  • Step 1: The undertone of your skin. Mine is cool.
  • Step 2: The contrast level. Sunniva applies a very simple method: by turning photos black and white, you only look at the contrast of your features! I have tried this with my two example photos from above. I found this question harder to answer, but I would probably be in the soft or muted category.








  • Step 3: Individual intensity. This asks the question whether you are a typical representive of a group or border on one or two of the categories.
  • Step 4: The Add-Ons. Trying to describe this ‘little extra’ within your natural palette.
  • Step 5: Add everything up. Simple as that, right?!

Judging from the comments of a lot of women on the topic of finding your perfect colours, it is not easy to find a conclusive answer. I intend to ask a more fashion-focused friend for help with my choice once she is available.

Last but not least, let me introduce a colour palette method from a totally different field (recommended by my mother, a trained graphic designer). Johannes Itten, a painter from the Bauhaus era, wrote the book The Art of Color: the subjective experience and objective rationale of color. In it, he introduces a simple task which can reveal everyone’s personal colours. It is really simple:

  • Grab a white sheet of paper and some watercolours.
  • Paint the colours you like in whatever way you like.

The colors you paint usually represent colours we subjectively gravitate to and can wear really well! Try it for yourself. (Only one problem with this method – if you already worked a lot with colours you may be colour biased!)

Actually, I think our wardrobes (and our favourite items in them that we wear) are telling about what colours suit us. So either via some colour finder test, intuition or a friend with an eye for colour, we have to figure out our colours. Why? Because it makes life so much easier. Here’s why:

  • We always look fabulous in them.
  • We would know what colours to sew. (And to buy. And to stash …)
  • Dressing would become so much easier, because everything would fit together.
  • And in the end, please do not forget this – rules are made to be broken. In small doses or in a touch of colour away from our face (like a pair of great shoes) every colour is wearable for everyone.

Find your colour style hero!

As well as looking for sewing bloggers that are similar in body type, let’s find us some colour style heroes! I’ll be honest, I had some colour heroes on my radar but wanted to find a diverse group with inspiring colour choices.

Meg (@sewliberted) shows predominantly muted colours on her feed, although this is in part due to her wonderful fabric choices (dyed natural fibres like linen rarely have saturated, bright colours). I also love her unexpected pops of emerald green and aubergine.

Allie (@helloalliej) likes wearing pastels and light colours. She also manages to sew those really necessary wearable basics that I kind of forget in all the excitment of cool sewing patterns and interesting prints.

Alex (@sewrendipity) rocks her high contrast colour scheme wardrobe with some very bright colours. Her #memademay task of creating 3 capsule wardrobes is a great example of possible colour groups and combinations.

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The Me-Made-May 10×10 capsule madness continues!! After Red Spring, I’m giving you Rhapsody in Blue… More details on the blog (link in profile) on what this is all about and what items I chose and why. So, me-made-may participants, how’s it going 1/3 through? Breezing or slogging? And what do you think of my challenging challenge? Would you consider taking it on next year? Or is it a complete madness? So far, so good, looking forward to showing you my new navy based outfits for the next 10 days! . . . . . memademay18 #mmm18 #mmmay18 #sewist10x10 #capsulewardrobe #makercapsule #10x10friends #sewinglove #sewistsofinstagram #sewist #sewers #sewersofinstagram #diystyle #sewingstyle #makerstyle #diycapsule #diyminimalism #diyfashion #lessismore #simplestyle #isewwhatiwear #instasew #sewingissexy #isew #isewmyownclothes #diyclothes

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Gwen (@gwenstellamade) rocks her vintage style with candy bright colours that really suit her!

While still on the theme of bright colours, Mimi (@mimigstyle) was inspired by another seamstress and designer to create colour coordinated capsule wardrobes. Here is her latest pick – yellow (following on from her capsules of pink and blue).

And lastly, since she inspired Mimi, the queen of colour coordinated capsule wordrobe: Emily (@emilyhallmandesigns) with her latest blue capsule. This one rack is full of amazing shades of blue! The interesting thing about it for me is that all these clothes are from entirely different fabrics, but the chosen shade of blue is very similar throughout.

Some last thoughts.

Are you inspired by all these lovely colours?! I hope so! If you’re unsure don’t forget to take a look into WHAT colours really work with your skin and hair tone. You want to sew yellow? Yes, absolutely but maybe a pastel yellow is sooo much better than a dark mustardy one, or vice versa? Before you splurge on fabric the next time, take a step back, look for a mirror, ask a friend for an opinion, envision the new colour within your wardrobe, and THEN take the next step.

BTW, if you know of a great colour style hero, let us know! (And if you have an opinion on which colour type I am, I am open to that as well! 😉 )

See you!
Anna (PeterSilie&Co)

PS: And as a last thought: If you are in to colour and games as well, check out the smartphone game Blendoku. I am a total non-player, but this game had me hooked for quite some time.