Tag: Value Tricks

Mysterious Values

Value can be a head-scratcher. When separating your fabrics for a project like…let’s just say, the FREE River Heritage Block-of-the-Month Mystery Quilt, you might find yourself guessing which fabric goes where.

That’s because the fabric value can change, depending on what value it is next to.

Say what?

How can a fabric value change, you ask? While the value of the fabric itself doesn’t physically change, how you see that value can be affected by what is around it. Let me explain and then give you a simple way to test your values…

Here are three piles of fabric stash I’ve selected for my River Heritage. Dark, Medium, Light. Straight forward.Image of Fabric Stash


However, if I were to choose to use a dark Light and a light Medium together, they suddenly look similar.

I’ll use my first-run at BOM as an example.

Because I like to mix it up with background fabrics in my #usebothsides quilts, I thought I could do that with my BOM as well. As you can see, the neutral on the bottom right from my Lights pile stands out and interferes with the rest of my block. (My eye goes right to it.)

Image of Paddle Wheel

See how the bottom right square competes with the rest of the block?

My Medium looks too light when I use that dark of a Light!

Or you could say…

My Light looks too dark when I use that light of a Medium!

The best way I have found to truly see the value of a fabric is to take a black and white picture.

Image of Black and White Paddle Wheel Block

Check your values by taking a black and white picture.

Boom. There it is. Block is fixed.

Image of Paddle Wheel Block

Paddle Wheel
Month One
River Heritage

(Now how did those too Grunge Dots get so close together? Come here, Sam ( the seam ripper). Read more about The Tricky Traits of Value here and here.

So why does mixing of values work in other quilts? Mixing up my neutrals for #usebothsides works because my focus fabric is a very vivid Dark value. Even a dark Light or light Medium  works in the background of these quilts.

Image of Quilt with Bee.

Phoebee was designed using both sides of a focal fabric.

You can really see that in Phoebee the focus fabric will be strong enough to override even a medium background fabric.

While I still want to encourage you to live on the edge (only in quilting circles) and mix up those fabrics, you do have to pay close attention (maybe even more so) to values.

If you’ve been in my classes, you know I don’t give any opinions about fabric options until I’ve taken a black and white picture first. I’ve been stumped many times by guessing and it’s just easier to know for sure. So grab your stash  and your camera and sign up below for the FREE River Heritage Block-of-the-Month Mystery Quilt! The clue for Month Two is three weeks away!

Subscribe to my blog posts below to get the mystery clues sent directly to your email when they post! Share with friends and on social media. Share your progress using #riverheritage and let’s do this together!

The Tricky Traits of Value in Quilts

Determining fabric values isn’t hard, but it can be tricky.

I have long thought I understood the value of value in quilts. It’s what makes a simple, two-color quilt have bold areas of light and dark or it is what makes those cool secondary patterns in your multi-color quilt design. Easy, right?

Light. Medium. Dark.

Then (more than) a few years ago, Blended Quilts became popular. They threw me under the bus with value! I would study and read about fabric choices and how to combine fabrics to work together and yet be not so obvious. Not such an easy thing to do, successfully!

My Grandma Emma Wichern’s lavender and white embroidered quilt is precious to me. I love seeing crazy-quilts. Modern is fun, bright, and happy…or sometimes calming and simple. I have some appreciation for all types of quilts. But what really gets me excited about a quilt is when it is successfully splashed with all kinds of colorful and different fabrics. What makes that work is value.

To see the value of fabrics, you have to remove the color.

You can do this numerous ways, but the simplest trick for me is to take a picture of fabric choices or my blocks on my design wall with my phone and change the picture to black and white (mono).

Values change depending one their surroundings.

The fact that my neat little piles (okay, not neat) of lights, mediums, and darks can change their values depending on what is around them was a V8 moment for me!

Take Lily, for example:

Her background is made of all fairly light neutrals (scrappy) plus a couple of accent, color strips. When compared to the focus fabric, the background is light, the flowers (reverse side of focus fabric) are medium and the dragonfly (focus fabric) is dark.

When you are just working on your background, those strips of color can look quite bold and may seem too dark to be part of the background. But when looking at those same fabrics in black/white WITH the focus fabric laying across them, they all fall into the light category and they work!

Image of dragonfly quilt in black and white.

Even the colorful accent strips disappear in this black and white photo.

I knew that choosing the backgrounds for Lily, and her sister quilts, Phoebee, and Belle, might be a little out-of-the-box for some quilters because they call for mixing white-white fabrics with seriously beige fabrics while they combine mini-prints with batiks and more, all in one background setting. So when describing how to choose those fabrics, I even refer to the “darkest lights” as “light medium”. My intention is to encourage combining a variety of background fabrics which on another quilt might not work, but gives this quilt an interesting base for the bold winged-girl made of a dark focus fabric.

Just take a picture.

Image of Dragonfly Quilthttps://www.etsy.com/listing/537263774/

When compared with your focus fabric and its reverse, in the case of the Colorful Wings quilts, do your background fabrics appear light? If so, they work!

What tricks do you use for determining value in your quilt fabrics?

When did you first realize the value of value?


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