Modern Colorful Candlewicking Embroidery Project

Colorful Candlewicking Embroidery
The Spruce / Mollie Johanson

Traditional candlewicking is typically white or cream and forms a decorative design, but sometimes it's fun to break tradition. This modern candlewicking project uses a rainbow of colors to create a simple pattern of stitch clusters that can be used as embroidered fabric in a sewing project or to fill an embroidery hoop.

A gradient of embroidery thread makes this ​a rainbow-inspired project that looks like a party and is sure to please anyone who loves color. But you can easily adapt the colors to suit your style, including making the embroidery more neutral. 

Use a panel of modern candlewicking to sew a tissue case, make a pincushion or simply hang on your wall for a pop of color. Really, any project that might have a place for some embroidery is a good use for this. For larger-scale projects, try spacing out the clusters of stitches.

If you've mastered ​the colonial knot, the embroidery on this project goes very quickly. Pop in a movie and start stitching.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Water-soluble marking pen
  • Embroidery hoop (larger than you want your finished embroidered panel)
  • Needle


  • Linen (natural or a bright color)
  • Embroidery floss (in a gradient of colors)
  • Embroidery hoop (optional; for framing)


  1. Choose Your Embroidery

    When choosing your embroidery colors, select one or more shades from each hue in the rainbow, or limit your palette and select colors that fade into each other. Or choose one main color and have it go from light to dark. 

    The colors shown above (left to right) are DMC 988, 164, 964, 597, 156, 209, 3607 and 600. Refer to these color conversion charts if you want to work with another brand of embroidery floss.

    Colorful Candlewicking Supplies
    Colorful Candlewicking Supplies Mollie Johanson
  2. Mark the Fabric

    Cut a piece of linen that is large enough to fit in your working hoop. Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you may want to add a layer of stabilizer to the back so your thread doesn't show through.

    Use a ruler and water-soluble marking pen to mark the fabric with lines that are 1/2 inch apart. Make enough lines to cover the space that you want to be embroidered.

    On each line, make a mark every 1/2 inch, staggering the markings by 1/4 inch on every other line. Do this by keeping the ruler even at a straight edge of the fabric and marking the first row on the whole and 1/2 inch lines, then sliding it down to the next row and marking on the 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch lines. 

    You don't need to mark the entire area; only the area that will show in your finished project needs to be marked. However, it may be easier to mark it all first and then only stitch the area that will show.

    Or, if you will be framing the embroidery in a hoop, trace the hoop so you have a guide for the area to embroider. All the markings will be washed away later. 

    Mark Lines and Dots Every 1/2in
    Mark Lines and Dots Every 1/2in Mollie Johanson
  3. Embroider Colonial Knot Clusters

    On each row of markings, embroider a cluster of colonial knots. Stitch a knot on either side of the mark, then make a third knot centered just above the first two knots.

    Colonial knots are traditional for candlewicking, but if you prefer to make ​French knots, they will create the same look. You can also apply this same idea with other stitches. For example, instead of a cluster of knots, you might stitch three detached chain stitches in a grouping. 

    Depending on the size of the area you are stitching and the number of colors you're using, you may need to stitch more than one line of some colors. In the finished sample, the top and bottom colors each have two rows.

    Embroider Clusters of Colonial Knots
    Embroider Clusters of Colonial Knots Mollie Johanson
  4. Place the Finished Candlewicking in a Hoop

    When all of the embroideries are finished, wash away the markings with a good soak.

    If you are framing and finishing the embroidery in a hoop, loosen the screw on the hoop a little more than usual. As you press the outer hoop over the embroidery and inner hoop, expand it so that it doesn't pull at the knots at the edges. 

    Some stitching may end up sandwiched between the two hoop pieces. If you remove the hoop, those knots will be a little misshapen, but they can generally be revived. 

    Once the hoop is in the right place, tighten the screw to pull in as much of the gap as possible around the edge. Finish the back of the hoop so your work is covered. 

    If you are using the embroidered fabric to make another project, your piece is ready for sewing into something special. 

    Carefully Press the Hoop Over the Knots
    Carefully Press the Hoop Over the Knots Mollie Johanson