Achieve a different look with contrasting fabric values

Achieve a different look with contrasting fabric values Patchwork & Quilting Tips
Achieve a different look with contrasting fabric values

Today's tip is from our design team and it's about the value of fabrics and how your choices affect the overall look and feel of your quilt.⁠

Value is how light or dark a fabric appears – relatively. A medium grey seems light against black, but dark against white, so always consider value in the context of all the fabrics you're auditioning! Contrast occurs when you have light against dark – the greater the difference in value, the higher the contrast. (If you have trouble seeing contrast, try squinting to blur the patterns out and just see the values!)⁠

Traditional and modern quilt designs often rely on high contrast to make the piecing visible or bold. High contrast gives a dramatic feel to your quilt and lots of impact from a distance.⁠

Many antique and contemporary quilts have much less contrast and closer values across the quilt giving a more uniform, low contrast appearance. This is a subtle effect that relies on close inspection to appreciate the individual fabrics. It gives a more relaxed and comforting feel to the finished quilt.⁠

The middle example above shows a combination of higher and lower contrast rosettes – this random mix makes a simple one-patch design visually lively and a little bit quirky. It's a happy medium (contrast)! 

Here are some value tips:⁠

  • the more complicated the piecing, the more that value contrast will help to define and show it off⁠
  • for a cosy, English antique-style quilt, try low contrast and beautifully patterned fabrics⁠
  • modern-style quilts rely on lots of contrast for their bold look (along with other elements like asymmetric design, bright colours and negative space)⁠
  • don't be afraid to use both high and low contrast in different elements of the same quilt either randomly or to emphasise some elements over others⁠

Examples shown are mini quilts from our Mini Treasures EPP kits.