Sunday, October 14, 2012

Color Value: Maybe I Didn't Want to Know

I sort of jumped into quilting with both feet relying mostly on  garment sewing knowledge from my younger years and a perhaps over zealous feeling that I could pretty much do anything if I just put my mind to it.  During my first quilting experience I discovered the rotary cutter (yup....didn't even know there was such a thing) and the acrylic ruler - which I thought worked like a template.  And with each quilt I learned a bit more.

So, I've been quilting along for just short of two years now and in general have been pleased with the results.  Sure, there were things on most of the quilts that I would have done differently, but overall I was happy.  Whenever I came across something I didn't understand I would look it up online. You Tube became a great source as did Google and Bing.  Now I have a fair knowledge of most of the basics and Ive been studying on the particulars.  My Internet browsing took me to a study of "color value".  Prior to this I would have described color value as the "lightness or darkness" of a fabric.  As I read about how to arrange fabrics with color value in mind and as I looked through a site of quilter self proclaimed "ugly quilts" I began to think through my past creations and found that I was less satisfied.  The good part is that I could now identify why I thought a certain fabric didn't work.  The bad part is that now when I look at some of the quilts all I see is the piece with the "wrong" value.

To be fair, I don't think it's ALL about color value.  But something needs to tie a quilt design together.  Perhaps it's the theme like my pirate or tee shirt quilt or perhaps it's the pattern of the New Wave or Take Five quilts.  Color value does explain why some scrap quilts appeal to me and others seem too busy.  I think even with random pieces there needs to be something that draws the design together or else it just looks way too busy.  So feel free to browse my quilt gallery.  Comments are welcome.  I know that I will be keeping an eye on color value next time I have the opportunity to buy fabric or try to make something out of existing fabric.  I may even treat myself to one of those ruby value finders on one of my next shopping trips.

I guess I'm glad to know about color value.  I honestly don't think I could have absorbed the knowledge much earlier in my quilting journey.  And honestly some quilts like the fractal quilt and New Wave
 I think did well on color value.  But then there's the BACK of the fractal quilt. 
Oh well.  Live and learn.


  1. I was pretty much self taught too for the first couple of years but then started going to a few classes. I think it was the right way round for me to have some experience before learning the techniques. I'm now doing a two year City and Guild course in Patchwork and Quilting (equivalent to A level, the highest level of exams taken before leaving school) and learning so much about different techniques and design elements. I've loved learning about colour value. The only down side is that I spend so much time making samples I really don't have the time to put much of it into practice. I love your blue wave quilt.

  2. I love your Fractal quilt, especially the brick red and cream together.

    I'm with you in needing to learn more about color value. I had to chuckle as I looked at the "ugly quilts." I wonder if every quilter goes through the experience of saying, "Whatever was I thinking?!" Well, maybe some are born with color sense in their veins....