The Value of “value” for a Quilt.

“Color gets the credit and value does the work!” declared Pam Goggans talented quilted and pattern designer at our recent guild meeting. When I later talked to Pam about this idea, she said she originally read the words in a Quilter’s Newsletter article years ago. I often entertain myself by reading past issues of QNM. What luck several months later to happened upon the source of this quote: quilter Carol Taylor in the December 2007 issue of QNM!

Pam emphasized this basic concept with a catchy phrase. I wrote it down that night because working with value is central to all my quiltmaking. I first learned to work with value in the late 1990s when “colorwash” quilts were first popular. “Value” refers to the lightness or darkness of a fabric. If you want a high contrast between adjacent fabrics, you need a strong contrast between the two fabrics. Conversely, if you want low contrast between adjacent fabrics, as in “blended quilts” you will seek fabrics with similar value. This is a simple concept, but can be tricky because the value of any single piece of fabric varies depending on what you place next to it! Practice is the best way to learn about the possibilities of playing with value changes in a block. Play with triangles or squares on your design wall and see where it takes you. Note how the the lights seem to move forward and the darks seem to recede.

In 2000 I began these Tobacco Leaf hand appliqued blocks as my favored "take-along" project. Called "Fifteen Years of Applique" it measures 60" x 75". Arranging blocks of differing values gives it visual interest. Note how the lights jump out and the darks seems to recede.

In 2000 I began these Tobacco Leaf hand appliqued blocks as my favored “take-along” project. Called “Fifteen Years of Applique” it measures 60″ x 75″. Arranging blocks of differing values gives it visual interest.

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One Response to The Value of “value” for a Quilt.

  1. Lila says:

    I really like this quilt! And I enjoy your observations about the use of value!

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