From Seed To Sock: Yarn Dyeing and PMS Matching

Layla Hubbard
January 10, 2024

Over the years, the Sock Club design team and I have worked together to identify and create the most beautiful, versatile, and popular yarn colors. We want to make sure that we have the best, truest colors to represent your brand accurately and make the most unique and eye-catching designs possible.

Like everything about the custom socks at Sock Club, the yarn colors that we have developed are the product of a lot of experience and testing. In this blog, I’ll cover some of the history of our yarn colors, the differences between matching yarn colors and PMS matching, and the best way to get a match for your brand.

Does Sock Club offer PMS Matching?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is far more interesting, and far more custom to your branded sock project. PMS Matching and fabric dye matching are two very different processes. 

What is PMS Matching?

PMS matching refers to the process of matching colors using the Pantone Matching System (PMS), which is a standardized color reproduction system used in various industries, such as printing, fashion, and graphic design.

PMS matching is essential in ensuring color consistency and accuracy across different materials and products. For example, if a company wants to print its logo on various promotional materials, such as business cards, brochures, and banners, it is important to use the same PMS color code for each item to ensure the logo's color consistency.

To achieve PMS matching, the PMS color guide, which contains a range of standardized colors and their corresponding codes, is used. The printer or manufacturer can then use this guide to match the desired color accurately. This is best used in digital and ink press printing.

Is the PMS Matching system accurate in fabric dye?

The PMS matching system can be accurate in fabric dyeing, but it is important to note that achieving an exact match can be challenging because of the nature of fabric dyeing.

Fabric dyeing involves the absorption of color into the fabric fibers, which can be affected by various factors such as fabric type, dye type, dyeing method, and processing conditions. Additionally, the appearance of the color on the fabric can also be influenced by lighting conditions and other environmental factors.

In the case of PMS matching in fabric dyeing, the accuracy of the match depends on the dyeing method used and the expertise of the dyeing professional. It is important to work with a skilled and experienced fabric dyeing professional who understands the intricacies of fabric dyeing and can adjust the dyeing process to achieve the desired color match as closely as possible.

It is also worth noting that while the PMS matching system provides a standardized color code for a given color, the color may appear slightly different depending on the material or substrate it is applied to, including fabrics. This is because each material can have different properties that can affect the way color is perceived. Therefore, it is important to consider the specific material and intended use case when matching colors using the PMS system.

What is the best way to get a color match for fabric?

The best way to get a color match for fabric depends on the specific application and the desired level of accuracy. Here are some options to consider:

Physical swatches: One of the most accurate ways to get a color match for fabric is to provide a physical swatch of the desired color. This could be a piece of fabric or a color chip. The fabric supplier or dyer can then compare the swatch to their color charts and adjust their dyeing process to achieve a match as closely as possible. This is the method that we recommend to get the most accurate match for our custom dyed yarn.

Digital color matching: Digital color matching systems use spectrophotometers to measure the color of a physical swatch and create a digital color profile. This profile can then be used to match the color in subsequent dyeing batches. This method can be very accurate and is useful for large-scale fabric production.

Color matching software: There are various software programs available that can assist with color matching. These programs use algorithms to analyze the color of a physical swatch and provide a list of potential color matches. This method can be useful for small-scale fabric production and DIY projects.

Color consultation: If you are unsure about the best approach to color matching for your specific application, consider consulting with a color expert or fabric specialist. They can provide guidance and advice on the best approach to achieve the desired color match.

It's worth noting that achieving an exact color match can be challenging due to the various factors that can influence the way color appears on fabric. Therefore, it's important to communicate clearly with us and to manage your expectations about the level of accuracy that can be achieved.

A graph showing the colors used in the branding of Fortune 500 companies, where most of the companies use some form of blue

A graph showing the colors used in the branding of Fortune 500 companies (Zippia).

Does Sock Club offer custom color dyeing?

We absolutely do! We charge a fee of $350 per custom color, and recommend allowing 2-4 weeks for the process to complete including revisions to the original match developed. If you are tight on time, like a lot of our clients are, we recommend sticking with one of our existing yarn colors. We will always send physical samples of our past work so that you can see our yarn colors in person.

How did you pick the existing yarn colors?

We started with the basics, choosing the perfect primary and neutral colors. Yellow, Red, Cerulean, Black, White, and Natural were the colors that formed the basis of our yarn selection.

Then, we added secondary colors to compliment the primary colors. Kelly, Purple, and Clementine rounded out our color wheel.

After that, we rounded out the shades of our primary and secondary colors. For instance, Kelly became the basis for Lime, Reef, and Pine. This enabled us to incorporate shading into our designs.

Custom socks for Slack on a wood table with yarn samples showing the yarn colors that were used in the custom sock design

The next round of color development was mainly in response to the demand to illustrate and knit faces and people into our custom sock designs. Skin comes in a variety of colors, so we wanted to make sure that we had the yarn colors to represent all the different types and backgrounds of people that want to order and see themselves on custom socks.

Our ongoing yarn color development is really based on demand and need. For instance, we recently added French Blue because we felt that we wanted to include options with a greyer blue option for our clients. We added Lapis because we felt we needed something between Ultramarine and Royal Purple.

How can I see the yarn colors in person?

I always recommend working closely with your Account Manager and Designer during the design process and asking as many questions as possible! Your whole Account team is really invested in the success of your custom sock design, and we want to support you in getting the perfect sock.

The best way to see of any of our yarn colors is to order samples through your account, and specifically call out yarn colors that you want to compare. These will ship out to you within one business day.