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, but from a distance your eye will pull it.
Work with a design wall or other tools like the black and white option on a camera phone. A vertical surface is an essential tool that helps you determine how the values of your fabrics are working to create contrast, and thus design and form. I have some tips on making your own design wall here.
-CUT YOUR FABRICS SQUARES:
I used 6-inch squares, but you may go smaller or larger.
-SORT YOUR SQUARES:
Divide them in piles into light, medium and dark. (For the heart shapes make one light and one dark pile).
Our eyes tend to like Mediums. Most of your stash is likely made up of this value. Try to direct your fabric buying obsession to Light and Dark values too (that’s right, buy more fabric!).
Some fabrics are deceptive and you won’t immediately know into which pile to place them. Not to worry, 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.
-PAIR (2) SQUARES RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER:
Now forget about light, medium and dark. One square just needs to be lighter in value when compared to its mate.
Pull a square from one of the Light, Medium or Dark piles and match it with another value (lighter or darker), until you have one big stack of pairs.
- *If the pair seems questionable in their value difference put them up together on the design wall. Value is best determined at a distance so step back if the contrast in values isn’t obvious.
- *I generally stay away from large scale prints due to the fact that they generally have many values to create the design on them.
- *You might have to rearrange some of your squares at the end.
-DRAW THE LINE:
Now draw a diagonal line with a pen or pencil across the wrong side of the mated squares.
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.
-TRIM YOUR SQUARES SQUARE;):
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.
I find the easiest method is to buy a template a 1/2″ 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 (in my case 6″) 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 (5.5″ in this case) and square up the second side. Now you have a perfect square.
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 because mediums “soften” the contrast.
*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.