Christmas and Color and Value

It’s that time of year again…the time where we bounce from one holiday to the next.  This week will find me boxing up all the pumpkins and fall leaves in order to replace them with trees and garland and all things sparkly and covered with bows.  The creche will take the place of the cornucopia in the entrance way and I will count down the days until Christmas with my two excited grand darlings.  Children do revive the Christmas spirit in the even the most curmudgeon person.


Speaking of kids, I had the chance to work with Evangeline over the weekend.  At our guild’s show in August, I bought a quilt kit from U Can Quilt.  It was all pink and had Minnie Mouse on the fabric.  The great thing about quilt kits from U Can Quilt is that they are completely cut out and they include backing and batting.  Sewing with Evangeline is kind of hit and miss. Sometimes she wants to really work on it and other times she could care less – but such is the life of a four year-old.  Sunday, she really wanted to work on it.  Since I had moved her sewing machine into my closet, she settled down on my lap with my Janome 7700 and we made some blocks and some memories.

My Girls

My Daughter, Meagan and Evangeline (left) and Elli (right)

She finished two blocks and that was plenty.  This is a small cuddle quilt, just her size, and when we get the top done, I’m going to set her up with my long arm so she can see how Loretta works.

mm quilt blocks

A few short days after Christmas, we’ll usher in the New Year.  This past year has gone by in a blur.  2017 was our year of Quilting Fearlessly.  I’m thinking about a couple of themes for next year…and will let you know soon what that theme will be.

Color and value have also been on my mind a lot.  Color gets the credit with a quilt…we instinctively gravitate towards some colors (in my case it’s purples and pinks) and run away from others (in my case, it’s brown).  Most likely if we see a quilt in colors that appeal to us, we begin to think about making that quilt – not necessarily because we even really like the pattern, but because the colors invoke some kind of emotion in us.

But it’s value that does the work.

I’ve talked about value before and will again in 2018.  Most quilt patterns will call for so many yards of a light, and a medium, and a dark to make the quilt sing.  These light, medium, and dark descriptions are dealing with the color value of a fabric.  For instance, you could have three, lovely purple fabrics in a quilt – a lavender (light purple), a medium purple, and a dark purple.  Unfortunately, nearly all of us tend to use too much medium valued material and this leads to a very dull quilt.  I encourage my students to lay out the fabric they have chosen and take a picture of it with their phone.  Then convert the image to a black and white one.  This black and white picture clearly shows the values – the mediums will appear gray, the darks black, and the lights almost white.  If you have a range of gray, black, and nearly white, you’ve got a terrific color value range for your project.  And it will draw your eye around the blocks and then around the quilt.  Take a look at these two blocks.


Where does your eye go?  Most likely it’s to the dark every time.  The dark pinwheel in the middle of the first one draws your eyes into the center.  The block with the light pinwheel nearly “pops” out at you, since the dark outer patches draws your eyes around the block.

Now let’s throw in a medium in the mix.  In this case, the pink polka-dot is the medium.

Where does your eyes travel now?  For most folks, the dark triangles, regardless of their size, is going to draw your eye to them.  When the center pinwheel is dark, your eyes zeroes in on the center.  When the dark is used for small, outer triangles, your eyes travel around the edges of the block.  When the large triangles are dark, suddenly the medium-valued pink pinwheel nearly disappears as a large, dark triangle grabs your attention.

So not only is color placement important, but color value also must be given real consideration, depending on what kind of statement you want your quilt to make.


Mull this over for a few days…


The next few weeks will be busy ones for all of us.  My shopping is done, but I need to clean the house and then decorate it.  Address the Christmas cards.  Wrap presents.

So much to do…

Let me encourage you to make time for yourself during the Christmas season.  If you wear yourself out trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone else, it won’t be much of a holiday for you, and you deserve a joyful one, too.


Love and Stitches…


Sherri and Sam


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