Values workshop

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the pleasure of taking two classes with Canadian quilter and teacher Cheryl Arkison in November. The Saturday class was about Improv Quilting, but the Friday class was about Value.

As Cheryl explained, if you are making a value quilt, the colours don’t really matter. Or at least, they don’t have to. What you are really worried about is the relative lightness or darkness of each fabric. So we were told to bring a wide variety of scrappy 6″ squares from our stash, with a mix of light, medium and dark values. However, as I went through my cupboard, I found a layer cake I’d purchased quite some time ago with no particular purpose in mind, and decided to bring that along.

cheryls value sample 1 cheryls value sample 2Here’s a couple of shots of Cheryl’s sample — you’re to notice that it’s not about coordinating prints or colours, but simply the difference between the lighter and darker values.

Our first step was sorting our fabric squares into light, medium and dark piles. Cheryl noted that most fabric prints that we buy tend to fall in the medium range — something to be aware of when buying fabric! It would be good to consciously think about buying darker and lighter values to complement the medium ones you love.

megan's value fabrics BW

Megan’s fabrics, showing values only

megan's value fabrics

Megan’s fabrics, in colour

Here are Megan’s fabrics. After we laid them out, Cheryl suggested we take a black and white photo, so that we could more easily discern the relative values.

If one fabric stuck out as being significantly lighter or darker than the rest of its pile, we could move it to the appropriate pile. She also noted that multicoloured or large print fabrics could be problematic, as you might get competing values within one square. I had that issue with a couple of my fabrics.

My fabrics, in colour

My fabrics, in colour. Tricky to sort!

My fabrics, black and white

Some of my fabrics, black and white

We then paired up our fabrics, putting together light/dark, or light/medium, or medium/dark pairs, trying to get the most value contrast. These pairs became half-square triangles.

my swirl attemptThen, after lunch, we began experimenting with layouts for the HSTs we’d made. I experimented with a few layouts, including a swirl. Because I’d used precuts, I didn’t really get a lot of variation in my “lights” — they were almost all off-white, which made it seem really obvious when I had an HST where the medium fabric (usually blue) was the lighter value.

using colours when values aren't strongAnother woman used Kaffe Fassett prints, which were mostly a medium tone. Cheryl suggested that, since she wasn’t achieving a huge value difference with her fabrics, that she compensate by grouping similar colours to differentiate a pattern. You can really see the difference when you compare this student’s work with Cheryl’s sample — the student’s pattern is a lot more subtle, because the values are so similar.

This was a really fun class, and although I obviously didn’t get a top sewn together in one day, I did get all my HSTs made, so now it’s simply a matter of deciding on a pleasing layout and sewing them together. I would definitely do another project like this!

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One thought on “Values workshop

  1. Colour talk – Patchwork Tomato

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