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Quilting and Value

solid color fabric scanned for value    solid color fabric arranged by value with the eye

The value of a color is nothing more than the intensity of a color from light to dark. Lavender and plum are both shades of purple, but lavender is light, and plum is a lot darker.

Value is used for contrast, and is considered more important than the actual colors used in a quilting block. Light colors make dark colors stand out. If you are constructing a star and using white for the background, you must use a medium to dark color if you want the star to stand out.

If you were to make the star in a soft beige, and use an off-white background, the two would blend together and your design would be almost lost.

There are times when you want a soft look to your quilt. In that case, you may want to keep the value of the colors the same. However, piecing is a lot of precise work, and in most cases you want your work to show.

There are also some blocks that are all about value.  In the traditional log cabin block, one half of it is light, and one half of it is dark.  It is a play on value.

You may also have some blocks where the color gets darker and darker as you go toward the bottom of the block.  In that case, you need to be aware of the value of the fabrics you use so that you do not put in a piece that looks out of place.

Value can be hard to determine. There are tools you can look through to see value.  However, there are other ways that are frugal and don't cost money or need tools.

On way is to scan the fabrics that you plan to use, and then make the scan black and white or grayscale. This will show you the value.  Then you can number the fabrics so you don't forget.

In the sample at the top of the page, I randomly pulled out some solid fabrics from my stash. I used my eyes to try and line them up from dark to light from the top to the bottom.

Then I took them to the scanner. As you can see from the picture, I did not put them in the correct order.

Value doesn't always have to be precise, but it is important to understand that it is a very important aspect of your quilting design.

In the same way that it doesn't cost any more money to use color wisely, it doesn't cost any more money to use value in a creative and appealing way.

The Quilt Gallery

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