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Color Clinic: Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Welcome to another installment of Color Clinic! It turns out doing these every week takes a bit more time than I have, so I’m hoping they will be more sustainable at an every other week schedule. With that said, I need questions, so if you have color questions, please share in the comments or email me at anne@play-crafts.com!


I know it seems early to be thinking about Christmas, but it is that time of year where the holiday sewing projects should probably get started. This week’s question is by Rebecca who asks:

In your post on complementary colors, you wrote about avoiding the “Christmas effect,” but now I’m trying to make a tree skirt and having trouble finding the right green for that Christmassy look — it’s surprisingly difficult! Any advice?


It figures, right? You spend all this time avoiding bringing up the Christmas association and then when you actually want it, it turns out it’s harder than you’d think to get there. (The complementary colors post Rebecca is referring to can be found here, by the way.)

So green is a bit of a tricky beast. I’ve heard that it’s the color our eyes are most sensitive to, and the color we see the most variation of (which goes against the ‘we have every blue ever except the one you actually need’ thing on most fabric color cards) but I can’t actually find scientific data to back that up, so maybe it’s BS. However, we can probably all agree that there are a lot of greens!

Am I the only one whose fabric stash leaps from lime green to teal?

The standard Christmas green is pretty middle of the line, not too blue, not too yellow. Sometimes it dips into a darker forest green tone, but it still stays right there in “green” land. The problem is that many new lines of fabric (especially if you are leaning towards modern fabrics) trend towards either lime green/citron or heads over into teals and jades.

Heather Bailey’s upcoming Ginger Snap line uses a lime green.
Cotton + Steel Tinsel goes more for the jade + red Christmas theme.

Of course these days, both lime/red and teal/red (even aqua/red) are used as Christmas colors, and they work just fine. Cotton + Steel’s Christmas line goes with the jade and red route, while Kate Spain and Heather Bailey have been moving more towards the yellow-greens.

A small selection of Michael Miller’s basics in Christmas-y greens.

But if you want to keep your design the more traditional Christmas colors, I’d suggest hitting up the “basics” that are becoming more common with fabric manufacturers. These are often sold in more colors than just those that are on trend, and are meant to coordinate with many different fabric motifs.

Dottie by Cotton + Steel

Another option if you don’t mind shopping online is to use Hawthorne Thread’s search by fabric color feature. They have a color grid you can start from (which humorously does not include Christmas green), or on any fabric page you can scroll to the bottom and see a set of colors that coordinate with the fabric. Click on one of the color blocks and you will get to the search page by that color. This is the listing for all the fabrics they have that match what I would consider a fairly standard Christmas green. (I started with Dottie in Picnic by Cotton + Steel from their basics line.)

I hope that helps, and thanks for the reminder that I STILL haven’t made that tree skirt I’ve been promising to make for the last 3 years.


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