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Have You Captured Color And Value In Your Quilts?

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f you are a quilter, you know the importance of color and value. Do you know how color and value define your quilt? As a beginner, choosing color was the hardest part of quilting. Why?

Six simple steps for capturing color and value.

There are so many colors, and then there are the values in each color. I remember, at the time, I wanted to run away but, I wanted to create a quilt more. Remembering a Winston Churchill quote: “Never, never, never, never give up.” I took his advice and began looking for a solution to my color problem. I found many solutions and in the most unusual places.




How did I conquer color? First, I asked my local quilt shop (or shops) to pick out my fabrics. Or I bought quilt kits over the internet. The kits came with fabrics, but they were not my quilts. This solved my problem – the colors were already done. Or, I shopped for my own fabrics. None of these gave me the results I sought. I knew to be a good quilter I had to understand, love and embrace color.

How did I conquer color? I checked local shops for classes on color values in quilts. The Quilted Fox, in St. Louis offered a “Color Workshop” with Louise Georgia. I signed up. This was a hands-on class. The class began with instructions to pick out one fabric and find 6 complementing fabrics. We brought our choices to Louise. One by one, she reviewed our fabrics and critiqued our color choices. Suddenly, color became visually appealing. I knew I was up to the challenge of choosing my own colors. I just needed practice.

How did I conquer color? In the “Color Workshop”, I was introduced to different color elements. Ms Georgia identified these elements as value, shade and pattern. What on earth is a color value? How do you define value? There is so much to learn. Then, one day while watching HGTV, a designer used a color wheel of paint chips to define values in color. The top color on the chip is the lightest value or shade. As your eye travels down the chip, the value increases, deepening. But values change across neighboring chips as well. To my surprise, I began to understand color values. There were light, bright, deep and subdued shades of each color.

How did I conquer color? Studying the color wheel helped me identify values and shades for an individual color. I still needed to combine these colors. I started by choosing a green, then, moved it to an orange color until I found the shade and value of orange that worked well with the green. Mixing light colors with the bright, intense, and subdued shades created infinite combinations. One after the other combinations came alive. Simply changing one color took a combination from OK to WOW.

How did I conquer color? Surely this meant I was ready for a trip to the fabric store. Not so fast. A quick view of the fabrics and I realized each fabric contained more than one color. This posed a new problem. Manufacturers display the colors in the fabric on the selvage edge. I tried using these to locate additional fabrics – but found this cumbersome. So I went back to the color wheel.

How do multicolored fabrics work together? Easy, locate the colors in the fabric on the color wheel. Look up and down each chip for the right colors to match the main fabric. I then took these colors to the fabrics and chose additional fabrics to audition with my main fabric. Soon, a pleasing, wow, or even spicey combination appeared.

Suddenly my quilts began to have a zing to them. Some danced, some were like a lazy stream as it meandered along, some were melancholy, others filled your soul with energy, and one common denominator was they spoke to me. They made me stand a little taller and filled me with pride.

Is every quilt a success – absolutely not. On reflection, I had skipped one of the above steps. Or, I chose the wrong quilt design for my fabrics. But, let’s say, that the duds are getting to be fewer and fewer. Choosing the right quilt pattern also has something to do with a successful quilt, but that will be addressed in another article.

How did I conquer color?
1. Determination to find a solution.
2. Asked for help.
3. Took classes
4. Used every tool available to me to learn about color- conventional or unconventional.
5. There is always an answer to an obstacle or roadblock.
6. You can do anything you set your mind to do.

How can you conquer color?
1. Commit to being color wise.
2. Search for classes on color. These can be in a quilt shop, an art class, or an interior design class.
3. Be creative for ideas to learn about color. I found the color wheel of paint chips to be my inspiration.
4. Don’t let any obstacle get in your way.
5. Realize practice and research makes perfect.
6. Note - Henry Kissinger would give an aide a writing project. Each time the aid submitted the paper, Kissinger would remark: You can do anything better.
7. Each quilt will be better and better. You can always do better. Practice makes perfect.

Color is everywhere. Observe your surroundings, evaluate colors, dimensions, shapes, and details. There are tools everywhere to help you in learning about color. Explore as many as you can find.
Look at a tree. How many colors do you see? How intense is each color? Are they the same color in different shades and values? Are the complimentary or contrasting.

Studying color has made my quilts go from predictable to dramatic. I know it will make a difference in your quilts.





Darlene Pratte - owner Quilt Fabrics Online An online quilt shop geared toward the beginner quilter. A shop dedicated to assisting the creative quilter. Also, loves to quilt, travel, dance and garden. Teaches, both, ballroom and swing dancing. http://www.quiltfabricsonline.com



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