Everybunny: Scrap Quilt Lessons
I always pull out Everybunny this time of year—it’s one of my favorite finishes. There was a lot to learn about scrap quilts when I made it. Let’s pull some lessons from it. Today will be #1 and I’ll do a little series on making better scrap quilts.
The most important lesson and the hardest to learn is how to handle value in our fabric choices. Value is the lightness or darkness of a fabric in relation to its neighbors. Notice above how the fabric for each bunny can be clearly seen against the background fabric. That’s because the bunny fabric is darker than the background.
Differences in value help make a design visible.
Here’s an example of not enough contrast. The bunny body is too close in value to the background. It won’t show up well in the quilt.
One of the keys to making good decisions about value is to stand back, way back, when you’re auditioning fabrics. It’s best to put fabrics on a vertical surface like a design wall and
stand all the way across the room.
We want to make decisions at arm’s length but that doesn’t work. If I reduce the size of this bad bunny, you can see what I mean.
Here’s a block from my stack of long-forgotten leftovers. It’s a cute design but it was rejected because there isn’t enough contrast between the angel and the background.
Zoom out and you can see it better:
Early in my career at Quiltmaker, I designed this little sailboat quilt called Rickrack Regatta.
I’m sure you can see the problem with it right away. There is not enough contrast between the white sail and the light blue sky fabric. So the red boats just look weird and it takes a minute for you to even realize it’s a sailboat. But here’s what happened when I used different fabrics with more contrast.
So much better! You know immediately that these are sailboats on the water. I have more design experience now and there are other things I would change about this quilt, but solving the contrast problem was a big step in the right direction.
I snapped this photo in an antique store a few weeks back. I really liked the quilt’s colors because I was longing for springtime. It wasn’t until I looked more closely that I realized it was baskets. The quilt is even hung upside down, presumably because the baskets were so not evident. There is barely any contrast between the basket fabrics and the background fabrics, so they just disappear.
Work hard at controlling the contrast in your quilts by choosing fabrics that show up against each other when you stand back across the room.
Master this one concept to make better scrap quilts from your stash. Just like a Stash Bandit.