Value quilts are some of the first quilts I ever made.
Most of us addicted to fabric will find this style of quilt a great display tool for your fabric stash. Baby quilts, wall hangings, bed quilts, or a favorite blankie to cuddle up in on the couch, make it any size you want.
No worries on making fabrics match, we’re going to think in values, or the degree of lightness or darkness of a color.
Close up you won’t notice a design so much. From a distance of 10 feet or more your eye will pull the design.
Work with a design wall. A vertical surface is an essential tool that helps you determine how the values of your fabrics are working to create design and form. I have some tips on making your own design wall here.
Cut your fabric squares. I used 6-inch squares, but you may go smaller or larger.
Divide them in piles into light, medium and dark. Like below:
Our eyes tend to like Mediums. Most likely your stash is made up mostly of this value. Try to direct your fabric buying obsession to Light and Dark values too (that’s right, buy more fabric!).
You won’t immediately know into which pile to place some fabrics. The questionable squares will be sorted out in the next step. Because value is relative, one square will always be lighter or darker than another.
Now you need to pair TWO squares right sides together. Now forget about light, medium and dark, one square just needs to be lighter or darker in value when compared to the other.
Pull a square from one of the Light, Medium or Dark piles and match it with another value, until you have one big stack of pairs.
Put them up together on the design wall and step back if you don’t know or pair with another obvious square if uncertain.
You might have to rearrange some of your squares at the end.
Now draw a diagonal line with a pen or pencil across the wrong side of the mated squares (See above photo).
Sew a quarter inch seam on each side of that line. I generally chain piece a few at a time.
Set your seam with a brief press.
With your rotary cutter, cut on the penned line to make two squares.
Then press the seam open or to the side.
Squaring up your half-square triangles-
Not everyone cuts their squares down, some only cut off the dog ears. I think it’s time well spent. In the end your quilt should come out completely square and points should match if all your squares are the same size.
Easiest method is to buy a template a half-inch smaller then the originally size of your un-sewn squares (i.e. I cut all my squares 6 inches, so my squaring up template is 5.5.” Line up the diagonal of the template with the diagonal of your block and cut around.
If you want to use the original template try this:
Using your template, line the diagonal line of the template with the diagonal of your hst block. We’ll square these up to be 5.5.”
Square up two sides, cutting as little off as possible. See how I have the template to the edge, and the diagonal lined up? Now you know those two sides are square.
Flip the hst block (not the template), line up the triangular corner of the template with the squared side of the hst block and square up the second side. Now you have a perfect square.
Feel free to chime in if this is unnecessary. I’ve just always done it this way.
Now is the time to arrange them on your design wall to see what looks best.
Here are some examples starting with a light and a dark center. You can also pinwheel, off-set, zig zag, place them on point….
You will want to give yourself some distance from your monitor to really see the how values make the design take form.
Once you have your design, START SEWING!
Hopefully this little lesson will help with your quilt design in general.
SOME TIPS FOR DESIGNING WITH VALUE:
*Use an assortment of light, medium and dark to create contrast. Darks and lights together will create “high contrast” and mediums mixed in will give your design a softer edge or feel.
*If you’re not really thrilled with how a quilt turned out, it probably has to due with a problem with value.
*For a successful design, value is more important than color. Same goes for duplicating a quilt you see. Match the values and proportions, not the colors/fabric for success.
If you end up making a Value Quilt I would love to see it, and have created a Value Quilts Flickr Group.
*sigh* so the other day you got the bits and pieces (or whatever it’s called) quilt stuck in my head, and now this. Please slow down, I’m struggling to keep up 😉
Seriously though, this is a great way to use up leftovers from charm packs.
Thank you!!!!! x
This is so fantastic! Thanks for the tutorial.
I’ve had this in my head as a post forever. Still needs some refining.
Oh, THANK YOU. I’ve been overwhelmed by my fabric stash and wanting to play with all my fabrics at once. This will allow me to do that AND to fill that empty spot above the fireplace. Happy, happy day!
This is great! I’m not sure if understand everything completely but I would love to give it a try.
Let me know if you have questions. It might help with the editing.
Great tutorial. I know that I always tend toward mid values and I needed a push to buy some darker and lighter values. I will definitely be trying this out. Thanks.
Oh thanks for posting the tutorial for this….I really need to make one.
Great tutorial. Very easy to understand. I’ve saved it in my bookmarks so i can have a go after the 4 I’m working on now.
o yes I will let you know. Thank you. I’m afraid I will not be able to try it soon though! But I’m very tempted to drop my current projects to start on this one! : )
Thanks for this one. And thanks for not picking prints from the same fabric line for the whole thing. (Those are supposed to match, right?) But it did help me see how value works when the fabrics have nothing else in common but…well, value.
One thing I’m not certain about- why have three piles/values? The photo looks like you’re alternating between lights and darks. Where do the mediums come in?
I was wondering that too.
The mediums will become the light or the dark of the square when combined with another. Make sense?
This is a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing…I need to make one of these pronto!
I love it! So much so that this morning, as soon as I’d seen it I started making one. I have loads of fabric scraps to use although a lot of them are not as highly patterned as yours which I think makes yours looks extra stunning.
HI! Just found you via the sew mama sew link. This is a great tutorial and has given me an insight into new ways and angles to come at quilt design, thanks.xxx
I’ve been after doing this style quilt for some time now. I really like your version as it uses larger pieces. I have alot of larger scale designs so think your quilt layout would be perfect when I finish my quilts currently in production of course!. Great tutorial thanks.
This is so great! I will definitely be adding it to my things to do!
i am so grateful for this! thank you….
Thank you Katie. I found this very helpful. You are right that most of my stash is medium, but I found that pairing off the mediums each with a dark or a light totally made the design click. (I am making a small coin quilt. I’ll put it up on flickr when it’s done.) You are wonderful!
i am so looking forward to trying this – thank you for the inspiration!
love this quilt! thanks for the details!
This looks like a great, easy quilt design. I’m looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for the great tutorial!
AHA! OK, I have recognized this in those little postage stamp quilts where the little square are divided diagonally and I LOVE that. Thanks for this great tutorial. I have you bookmk’d and I will ck. out the Flickr group. (: izazbz at yahoo dot com
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful quilt tutorial and I will be making it very soon.
Love love your blog and thanks for your kind words about my birds.
Have a beautiful weekend from sunny and warm UK!
Whey intr. good patchwork!!! Leja
Whery intr. good patchwork!!! Leja
Gretchen Skovron says
great tutorial! You explained it beautifully. Now I “get it”, thanks!
Wow you make it look so easy! Heading off to a craft fair this week, so I AM going to splash out and get some bits I totally need and make one, for who, don’t know yet lol
oooh…this is just beautiful. thanks for the flickr invite for the quilt along. very very tempted. I’ve never made a real quilt before. but I’m all over the whole value thing, being a former art major and all. hmmmm.
hi Katie! how many squares it needs for a quilt like yours?
wow this is beautiful. i’m adding this to my to-do list..
Wow! Thanks for giving such great thoughts on fabric value. I want to try what you did and I know I will understand much better about why some fabrics looks so well together!
Melanie T says
Thanks for this tutorial. I love these. This is mine…being quilting (because I won a giveaway!) by Norma from petitdesign.co. So excited! I will post a pic here when I get it back.
I have the same metal glider that you do, only mine is yellow. How funny. (I got mine of craigslist, but I think it came from pottery barn originally.)
Has anyone done a quilt as you go value quilt? I’m trying to figure out how I’d do that. Must get a 5.5″ square ruler!!
Sew Katie Did says
unknown, but would love to see it!
Thanks for sharing this. I struggle with picking a range of color values when I’m planning a quilt, so I think doing a value quilt might actually strengthen my skills in picking fabrics overall.
Hola Katie, en mi blog puedes ver un Quilts que he hecho inspirándome en el tuyo,
Gracias por compartir.
I am just beginning my journey into quilting…this inspirational post is brilliant, just what I needed….apart from a design wall that is lol!!
it is a perfect tutorial for a beginner! happy quilting.
Katie, I am in love with this tutorial! I have just posted about my efforts on my blog….!! Thank you so much for a clever idea 🙂
Very, very, nice along with great designs, and fabrics. Thank you for sharing. Best, Mtetar
Very nice tutorial. Will also look flickr group.
i saw one of your value quilts at the island quilter a few weeks back and was instantly in love!
thanks for sharing, i need to make one soon 🙂
Silvana Pereira Coutinho says
Thank you soooo much for this lesson! It is soo helpful for me!! I will try it!
Catia Mindov says
Maravilhoso trabalho! Parabéns Katie
How many hst did you use to make what size quilt? I notice one of the above quilts has 80 hst, but what is the finished size?
Would, also, like some ideas on the best way to piece the top together. Go around the center square and work out? Work in blocks? Rows? Columns?
I usually go in rows, but it depends on the design. If I’m creating the diamond layout I just do four-patches. Hope that helps!
Thank you so much for the response. I have charted out the off centered diamond quilt in graph form on paper which helped a lot. I plan on sewing four patches, then rows. I will post the pieced top when I finish! 🙂
Marcia Long Haynes says
I finished my high contrast value quilt and wanted to share a photo with you. Do you have an email?
Apologies is this had been asked: What percentage or ration of light to medium to dark would you say is “pleasing”…, for example: 1:2:1.
Madonna Carter Jackson says
Wow, for me the great lesson learned is: “Match the values and proportions, not the colors/fabric for success”. I have been doing it all backwards. I’m so in love with my colors and the fabrics that I didn’t see the obvious. Sparked a light in me, thanks for sharing all that you do.
Hi Katie! I just wanted to let you know that I used a picture of one of your value quilts (with credit to your name and a link back to this page), but because it was the first picture in a series of pictures on my post, that’s the one that’s showing up when I share the link. I’m still looking for ways to fix this, but I just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t stealing your image or misrepresenting it in any way. Here’s a link to the article, in case you’re interested: http://measuringsuccessquilting.blogspot.com/2014/11/finished-green-value-quilt.html
If you want me to remove it, please let me know. Like I said, I’m still trying to figure it out. You’d think changing a thumbnail preview would be pretty easy, right? 🙂 Thanks for posting such a great tutorial! I had fun using it as a guide for my latest finish.
Never mind. I did some switching around to make it work. Sorry to bother you with my petty formatting problems. 😉 I left the link/credit to your site with the picture.
What do I do if I want to use an 8 inch square ??
It’s the same process, you’ll just have a bigger quilt. Trim your squares to 7.5″ or 7.”
Jodie Richeal says
Love these quilts. Your instructions are always so helpful. Thanks!