Last week we talked about the power of color and what an impact certain combinations make on a finished project. I’ve learned that value is just as important. The value of a color is the amount of white or black that’s been added to its true color. Value is what separates one fabric from another and moves the eye across the quilted surface. The value of one fabric is dependent on the values of the other fabrics in the quilt. A medium blue will appear dark when placed on a pale blue. Conversely, a medium blue will appear very light when placed on a midnight blue. It is the difference in value that makes appliqués pop from their surroundings. Applique fabrics that separate from the base fabric give the most impact. Consider using a value finder – a red or green piece of acrylic that eliminates the color in a fabric. You’ll see only its value.
Remember the popularity of watercolor quilts a few years back? (Okay, so it’s been a decade!) The success of a portraying an image in those types of quilts was dependent on the value of the fabrics. Definition of shapes was attained by the grouping (or separating) of 1” squares of fabric with similar value.
I use that same concept when selecting applique fabrics. In embroidery, I almost always want the applique to separate from the base fabric. I audition applique fabrics on the base fabric and critique the combination. Then I move on to the technical details of some applique fabrics. For instance, dark base fabrics might bleed through lighter applique fabrics. I can still use this combination but I would fuse an interfacing to the wrong side of the applique fabric.
When working with black and white fabrics, such as in New York Beauty, I used value to make contrast. I separated the fabrics into lights and darks and those selected a fabric from each pile to create a typical New York Beauty block. Light fabric goes on one corner and dark on the opposite corner. Working with black and white fabrics really gave me a good understanding of value.
If you take another look at the Lady Liberty quilt block, you’ll notice how not only the color pops, but so does the value. In corners A and C, the points are much darker than the base fabrics. In corners B and D, the converse is true. All of the quarter circles are a much lighter value than the points they are stitched next to. Once I had one block designed (there are actually four blocks in the image), it was fairly easy to follow those rules and select the base and applique fabrics.
You’ve probably noticed that machine embroidery design companies are masters at this technique – getting the applique to really pop off the base fabric. No wonder, they really want you to SEE the applique. Just check out what our friends at Five Star Fonts have been up to. They select bright and cheery applique fabrics that really let the embroidery be the star.
Do you want to win a gift certificate from Five Star Fonts? Simply leave a comment telling us if you are on Facebook or not. All comments will be entered into a drawing for a $100.00 shopping spree at Five Star Fonts!
Last week we asked you what your favorite color combinations were. The winner of Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique is…Kate Rayburn!
“I like the boldness of complementary color selection so I tend to use that the most often. If I’m trying to go for something more subtle I tend to go with a more monochromatic scheme.”