How to convert PMS colors to embroidery thread

Written by steven sester
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Embroiderers are often asked to match corporate colours in sewing identity elements to clothing and it can be time consuming to manually convert PMS (Pantone Matching System) colours to those of embroidery thread. Pantone does not offer a direct conversion table or utility itself. There are many tables for converting RGB (red, green, blue) value codes to thread colours, so consider converting Pantone colours to RGB codes as an interim step if direct Pantone-to-thread colour conversions prove inaccurate.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PMS colour selectors
  • Thread colour charts
  • Colour thread management software
  • Colour-corrected monitor
  • Pixel grabbing utility

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  1. 1

    Matching a thread chart to a printed PMS colour guide is still the most accurate way of ensuring you have the best colour match for your embroidery thread. Make sure that the printed guide and thread chart are current and have not faded or otherwise discoloured. Hold one up to the other and select the thread closest to the PMS colour. It sometimes helps to squint a bit. Repeat with each thread manufacturer being considered until the best match is found.

  2. 2

    Find a PMS colour converter online. While Pantone does not offer a conversion chart or utility, there are a number of websites that provide direct conversion of PMS colour numbers to the closest corresponding embroidery threads from a number of manufacturers. If the manufacturer of choice is not listed, write down the thread number and RGB code if provided.

  3. 3

    Find a thread-colour conversion table, from a the thread manufacturer you prefer. Some thread manufacturers provide tables to convert the thread number of other manufacturers to threads from its own product line, or from its threads to those of other companies.

  4. 4

    Obtain the RGB code corresponding to the PMS colour you need using a pixel-grabbing utility. Free and commercial applications are available that allow you to capture the RGB colour code of any pixel on your screen. Visit a site displaying PMS colours and the pixel grabber will return its RGB colour code.

  5. 5

    Convert the RGB code to embroidery thread. Visit Search online again with a string something like “RGB to Embroidery Thread” and explore sites that will convert the RGB code to thread colours of many manufacturers.

  6. 6

    Make sure to get a thread chart from the manufacturer of choice to confirm the conversion was accurate and to share for client approval.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider licensing colour thread conversion and management software if needs for colour thread conversion and management are frequent and substantial.
  • Since Pantone does not offer direct conversion tables realise that all of them were developed by third parties and may or may not accurately correspond to the PMS system. Use with appropriate caution.

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