Scrap Quilts 101: The Value of Value
I built a picket fence yesterday! Here’s the scrappy story.
I’m making a sampler quilt for my new Triple Crown program for guilds. It’s a pattern from the Jen Kingwell folks called Girl Next Door. This house is at the center of the design.
The house is surrounded by a picket fence. I’ve seen lots of Girl Next Door quilts online as people have made them. The picket fence has been problematic in many of them. There isn’t often enough contrast to make it stand out.
This is an adorable version but I don’t see a picket fence, do you? I see green strips standing on end.
Another nice version, autumn-like. But I don’t see a picket fence here, either.
Even on the pattern itself, the picket fence disappears. So I was determined that my fence would show up and look like a fence.
Here is the thing: Value is the most important part of getting your quilt to work. Value is more important than color—much more important.
Value is the lightness or darkness of a fabric compared to its neighbors. That’s it! It’s not a difficult idea but it can take years of practice to understand it and be able to make it happen. I knew that choosing the right values for my scrappy greens was going to make or break this fence.
These are the fabrics I eliminated because they were too light or too dark or too splotchy. I was after the same medium value in all my fabrics. I wanted them to contrast nicely with my fence fabric. These are the fabrics I used because of their similar value:
You’ll notice that they aren’t all the same type of green. Some are more yellow and some are a bit more blue. Some are true grass green, but they’re all about the same value, or in other words, lightness/darkness.
This is why the fence works!
I decided to make another fence section to show you what would happen if I had not kept the values very similar.
In this version, I used the very lights and very darks that I had eliminated earlier. Now it just looks weird. The darks grab your attention. The lights blend in with the pickets. There is no cohesion. It doesn’t look like a fence!
If you step back, you can see it better. (Always step back, it’s so important!)
What you want is a bunch of greens that blend together nicely and let the fence shine. You don’t really see the greens, you see the picket fence!
The best way to judge the value of fabric is to put it on a vertical surface and stand back. Stand way back across the room, I mean like 10 to 15 feet.
Another way is to use a reducing glass. Some people buy a peephole at the hardware store and use it by peering through the “wrong” end. The effect is the same as that of a reducing glass.
You can take a digital photo and look at it on your phone.
The 3-in-1 Color Tool from C&T Publishing has built-in value finders in both red and green.
Do whatever it takes to make the values work in your quilt!