Friday, December 2, 2016

Understanding Value in Quilt Design - A Craft University class review

I was so excited to be asked to take and review a Craft University class. My choice. Any class. Um, is it my birthday?  It was difficult to choose just one, and I will definitely have to find time to take another one...or two... or three...

So which one, which one. 

I chose to take the Understanding Value in Quilt Design from Grace Errea of Amazing Quilts by Grace. I've always wanted to learn more about color/hue/value/contrast and everything else that has to do with making a good quilt, great. I don't know about you, but I've had a quilt or two that I was so excited about, only to have it be ho hum, or dare I say, even ugly. How disappointing is that?! All of that hard work and it's just not the stunning masterpiece you thought it would be. Sometimes, you can't even explain why. I think that's where this class will be helpful.

Getting close ups of those gorgeous quilts is a huge added bonus.

There are a couple of useful tools for you to choose from. You can either buy Grace's Value Matching Tool, or you can download her Periodic Table of Value in Color. While I didn't buy the Value Matching tool (I wanted to get going on this class), I did write it down on my Christmas wish list. Let's hope hubby reads it, because after taking the class I realize I need all the help I can get! I did download and print the Periodic Table of Value in Color and I found it extremely helpful. 

Lesson 1 goes into what Value is and how to organize your tone on tone fabrics. (Which, by the way, I don't have a lot of. Apparently I like prints. Who knew!) Each color, or hue, has a value. Grace introduces you to the difference, shows off some amazing quilts and goes into detail about value.  Then she does a crazy thing. She assigns homework. *GULP* Organizing. Your. Stash.  It's a blessing and a curse to know what is in your stash. I thought I was really good about getting rid of scraps. Turns out, I was wrong.

Actually, this was one of my favorite things to do in the class. I think I need to go though and touch and organize my fabrics more often. I have some really pretty pieces that I forgot I had. I tend to buy only what I need for a project, so those extras that I find and purchase get left in the bottom of the bucket. Awww, poor fabrics. 

Though I found I had a ginormous (for me) pile of greens, I stuck with her suggestion to value-ize my reds. It's not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway, but it is worth it!

I think I did pretty well.

In Session 2, Working With Value to Create a Focal Point, we got an assignment with a little added bonus. Did you know you can make your drawings into posters...for free!!!  I tried out the website Grace shares, and it is as easy as she says. I didn't use this size for my project, just printed it out as a test. Yay for poster sized goodness!

So big, I had to stand on a chair, see!

When you are looking at quilts, your eye is drawn to certain areas. Have you ever wondered why? I bet you have discussed it with your quilting buddies at shows or in the shops. How do you make your quilt come to life? How do you give it movement? It all has to do with value choices. 

 Here is my version of our homework assignment from Session 2. 

It's ok, but I could use some work in the value department. As I look at this picture I realize I forgot the little piece of highlight to really make it 3D. Whoops! C+ for effort?

When we get to my Periodic Table of Value in Color you will see how I am missing some values. In the case of the apple, I improvised by "skillfully" placing a piece between the white. That darker part on the apple, that's the backside of a fabric. Improvisation, baby. 

Session 3, Create a High Value Block and a Low Value Block, is harder then it seems. At least it was for me. If I learned anything from this class, I am not good with value. Ha! I think part of my issue was lighting. In MN it really is dark at 5 pm, which makes a difference in what you see. At least it did for me. The other issue is, it's a new skill for me.  One I definitely have not worked on before, but this class was a great starting point.

Here are my versions of our homework assignment. As you can see, I need a little work. :)

High Value

Low Value

The last session, Portable Periodic Table of Value in Color, was a wee bit eye opening. As in, I apparently don't like the lighter anything. I have to say, it's a surprise! I thought I drifted towards lighter things, but apparently I have a dark side. Who knew. Well, probably my hubby, which means it's pretty much guaranteed that I will be getting the Value Matching Tool for Christmas. Bwaahaahaahaa!

A stop at the LQS, Fabrics Plus, was needed to fill in those empties, especially those greens. Remember, I said I had a ginormous pile? I guess I don't like green greens, though, because it was mostly yellowy greens. 

I think this will be a good tool for me. There are still some spaces to fill, but I didn't want to force anything. Besides, this way, I'll have to go back to the quilt shop and play with more fabric. Bummer!

Who knew orange would be so hard?!

While it was a little different, and felt a little slow, I enjoyed the class. This is quite possibly because it is the first online quilting class I have taken. You see, I have always liked to talk in class, much to the dismay of my teachers. I was lonely. Plus my instructor Grace didn't laugh at my jokes.   I learned something (that is so important) about value and hue, and the lack of it in my stash, and I get to continue practicing what I learned (even more important). If you are hoping to have a good understanding of how value works in your quilting, I recommend this class. I am looking forward to going through it again, because it will definitely be worth the time to have Grace teach me again. Even if she doesn't laugh at me jokes.

Happy Stitching!

**No affiliation to any of the links shared. The opinions, and jokes, are all mine.**


  1. Very interesting post! I think I am a print girl too. Did she have any recommendations how to organize those?

    1. She didn't. This was pretty much tone on tone and trying to see the different values. Fabrics with prints tend to have different colors as well as different values just in one piece.

  2. Jen you did a fabulous critique of the class! It looks very much like the important things about color are covered, and I think the homework idea is good. I have a background in art, so it has helped me a lot. But I have to say there are days when that Periodic Table of Value would be so handy! That is when I drag out my art journals! Once again...great job! I enjoy your blog,too!

    1. Thank you, Sharon!! I think I need to take an art class or two, as well. Color/hue/value are things I am not comfortable/confident in.

  3. Loved reading your review. This sounds like a class I could use. I would love to make my quilts sing in color more. I have a husband that said I need to have more tone on tone in my stash. He could see I was the flower child, so for the past few years I have tried to collect more solids at sales. I noticed the local quilt store loved the same yellow. It is hard to buy different shades even at the local. Is there any tips? I do like to see the color in person and it is hard to judge the shade on line.


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