Value Dynamics!

Today it's my turn to share my part in this quiltalong - Value Dynamics!

So what's that supposed to mean?

I think in our case we'll say that Dynamics = Variations.

Yes!  Yes!  In my small and simple mind, Variations = Exciting Possibilities.

Seriously guys, I've had a hard time knowing what to zone in on.  If you've read my blog for a while, you know this may be a bit random, and not technically accurate:(  I'll do my best though, and hopefully you can gain some inspiration!

So for the first part, we're gonna focus on the block design that I used for my value quilt.

Now, we're going to take this block as our design, and we're gonna throw it in the blender with our three main values, Light, Medium, and Dark.  Are you ready?

So first we've got the arrangement that I chose, we'll call it the original, K?

and here it is in a big quilt!  (please don't judge my computer drawing skills here.  i'm a quilter, not a graphic designer)

Now let's try another one!

This one is exactly the opposite of my original.

And here it is as a whole quilt!  With both these designs, we have the latticework/diamonds design very prominent.  Doing an exact value switcheroo on this one doesn't really change the overall look of the design, although it definitely has a different feel.  (just comparing the two black and white versions, I actually like this one better than mine!)

So now we'll throw it all back in the blender...

And here's what came out now! (Now just to save confusion, the darker grey here is supposed to be black/dark values)

So this is the same as my original, except for one thing.  That very middle nine patch block is switched out from the dark/medium, to a medium/light.

See what a difference that makes?  Ok, this is my secret favorite, because it magically makes stars in the design, and I'm a sucker for stars!

Once more let's put them all back in the blender.

Oooo, something different here!  Now for the first time, the half square triangles are a medium/light value, which means that they will not be as noticeable.  All the nine patch blocks are the same, a light/dark mix.

And here it is as a whole quilt!  Now the pixelated nine patches are more of a focus, and the lattice work is a secondary design.

And then you could lay this one out with all blocks facing the same way and make this slight different layout with stripes rather than lattice.  A bit more modern maybe?

I'm sure you've figured out by now that there are so many different options, but we'll stick with these four for now.  Here they are all together so you can compare.  And remember, they're all made from the same simple block!

I chose to stay with one quilt pattern here just to keep it simple, but there are so many patterns that can be changed around just by changing your value placement!

It's really so important to have a basic knowledge of this while making quilts.  As you can see, changing just one value can really change the look of your quilt!

This doesn't need to be overwhelming, just something you're aware of.

These options I've been showing you are all fairly high contrast.  We're using lots of different Values to make an impact.

Sometimes you want LESS value.  Sometimes you want things to blend.

I decided to try making this same block again with a different value twist.  I kept everything in Lightish Values, except for the half square triangles, which I accented with Dark Values.

I used this one block to virtually simulate a quilt.  I love it!  It still uses value, but it's a softer look.  Lots of blending, which is what you get when you put together lots of fabrics with similiar values.  And just for interest's sake, and to help you loosen up abit,  I made a Value mistake here.  See it?  I used that gold print as one of my Darks, but it's really not as dark as the others.  But hey, it adds interest, and it does still read slightly darker, so it works!

Is your head spinning with ideas yet?  I hope so!!

Ok, now for part two!

So this part is more just my gut-feeling working with values.  I think one of the most powerful aspects of being aware of value when choosing fabrics, is that it allows you to breath life into your quilt.

The Swoon quilt is a great example of this!

I was hoping to have mine completed so I could show it here as an example, but I'll show you a few individual blocks instead.

It's fairly obvious that the center star and points that are made from the dark blue are a Dark Value, while the   yellow portion of the block is a medium value.

Now take this one.  The star and point section of the block are definitely a Lightish Value, whereas the brown woodgrain portion is a Dark Value.  By changing the value placement, I've completely changed the look of the overall block!

Here's one more.  In this one, I'd read the two different colors as being somewhat similiar in value, with the rose colored fabric being slightly lighter.

Now, you put all these blocks together in a quilt, and you get something lively!  Something that twinkles!

Just take a moment to go look at this quilt, (my number one favorite Swoon Quilt) See how changing the values in the blocks gives them each a personality and makes your eyes move around the quilt with interest?

Now, keep in mind that this is just a fun option.  You don't want to change up the values in every quilt.  My original value quilt for instance.  If I changed around the values to make it 'twinkle'?  Well, that may be a fun thing to try actually!  But that's not what I was wanting in that case, since I wanted an overall design.

Another example for 'twinkling' quilts is good ole Granny Squares.

I've pointed out two blocks here on opposite ends of the spectrum, one with a dark center and light outer ring, and one with a light center and dark outer ring.

All the other blocks are somewhere in between.  I was not really thinking about this as I made these blocks, although I was aware of it in a subconscious way.  This is a big part of what makes a quilt of this type come alive.

Well, I could keep on yammering, but maybe that's enough for one day!

Just a reminder once again that you can revisit blog posts from the other Value Quilters and learn so much more valuable info.

Understanding Value - Where the Orchids Grow
Leading the Eye - Badskirt
Value Patterns - Stitched in Color

Next week (likely Tuesday) I'll start my tutorial by posting cutting instructions.

Meanwhile, you can hop on over to our Flickr group and add anything Value inspired!


  1. Yay, that was a very fun post, Jolene. It really is so exciting to see how much is possible with those value tweaks. I've not done any quilt planning digitally yet. Looks like I really should give it a go!

  2. I've only been quilting / sewing for a year, and value has always confused me. But now that I am reading this blog series, it is all coming together! Thanks so much!

  3. Thanks for such a well organized thought on value! It definately helps to identify these specific aspects of fabric selection!

  4. Awesome post Jolene! Hooray for color theory! Thanks for including my Swoon, I'm so flattered :)

  5. Jolene, that was a wonderful demonstration/explanation. Thank you so much for the wonderful examples that you showed. Kudo's to you for a wonderful presentation! :) I am leaving with a little more knowledge than before. What more can we ask for! *smile*

  6. Thanks for sharing some of the variations. I like the stars too and the one where the lattice is formed.

  7. Fabulous post! I loved seeing your examples of the 4 different versions of the same quilt, which illustrates the importance of value placement. Thanks for all the time you spent putting this together, it definitely has me thinnking more about the use of value in quilt design.

  8. Love your pattern, Jolene! I just wondering how much fabric do I need to have if I would like follow your pattern?

  9. Your black white and grey demonstration was fabulous. thanks for showing such a tricky concept in such a simple and easy to understand way.

  10. Thanks for the black and white mind is spinning with ideas now!

  11. Thanks for the black and white mind is spinning with ideas now!