Colors Oh My The Colors

The history of Embroidery, indeed any kind of embellishment upon garments is centuries old. This is not about that..but recreating the styles and techniques of Embroidery from the middle ages to the renaissance.  Designs we can come up with, but what about the colors? Do we use Wool, or silk? I don’t know about you, but when I price skeins of Wool Embroidery yarn I cringe, silk is only a bit more expensive, and that leaves us with Cotton Floss. We know that cotton embroidery floss is well into the more modern age when it comes to materials for embroidery, but it’s so much less expensive than wools and silks. I got bored one day and thought about the colors available back then, and while not so abundant as our modern color palette, they still had quite a selection. Digging through my seeming abundance of colors, some mine and some I inherited from my mum I looked for pictures of the colors and found one reference. Pinterest, blessed Pinterest!  for the Tudor Era Colors I found a lovely chart, created by(  July 4, 2012 by staceywng. and the rest of the colors for the Medieval List come from Rosalies Medieval Woman page..Amazing Resource for those starting out or needing a reference when doing some sort of research..(Remember, This project of mine got started because I was bored) ( Please Understand that I am in no way going to post pictures from their pages, even if I found them on Pinterest. Because this page here is just a starting point for any who would do deeper research I fully expect you to do your own research and citations, It was only a few minutes worth of time googling the names of medieval and renaissance colors. Pinterest is also a good place to start, don’t forget your local libraries.

I am going to go alphabetically with the names starting with the Medieval List and then bring in the Tudor List. Many of the colors will have salty names, like Bloody Flux a dirty red brown  and Puke a deep grey brown..but don’t be alarmed, they are not ugly colors, just differently named. In many instances the colors are simply named and it’s in the Tudor Era that the names get more creative and sometimes snarky sounding, such as Dead Spaniard (Slate grey). Where you see the same name from one era to another means usually that it is a very popular color. Please Note: These are the colors that I use which may not be correct in color or hue, but are what I can get close to color wise from the confines of my color stash. Where the names have remained the same I have kept the DMC colors the same for a bit of continuity.

Medieval Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Aureole – Orange 741
Bristol Red-Red 606
Bloody Flux 816
Burnet-Brown 400
Carsey-yellow 973
Cendre/Cinder 535
Garance- madder-red 498
Goose-turd- yellow green 772
Gris-Grey 318
Grisart-Light Grey 415
Inde-Indigo Blue 3843
Maiden Hair-Bright Tan 728
Mezereon- Rose Purple 326
Milk and Water- Blue-ish White 3761
Popinjay-Blue Green 827
Puke-Dirty Grey Brown 840
Raw Flesh- Pinkish Orange 352
Russet-Dark Brown 300
Sheep Color- Natural Creamy White Ecru
Tawny-Dusky Orange Brown 722
Vert- Green 906
Violet- Purple 552


and now for the Tudor Color List.

Tudor Color Name DMC Cotton Floss Number
Apes Laugh 164
Beans Blue 518
Biskaye 823
Bottle Green 334
Bristol 606
Brown Bread 3772
Burnet 400
Cane Colour 437
Chimney Sweep 317
Dead Spaniard 452
Devil in the Head 700
Goose-turd 772
Loves Longing 3687
Lustie-Gallant 351
Maiden Hair 728
Maidens Blush 899
Merry Widow 973
Milk and Water 3761
Mortal  Sin- True Black 310
Ox Blood 814
Pansey 554
Pheasant 816
Puke 840
Purple 552
Raw Flesh 352
Russet 300
Scarlett 326
Sea Water 517
Soppes in Wine 355
Straw 782
Tawny 722
Turkey 898
Ultra Marine 311
Watchet 820
Whey 677
Yellow 743