Build your color confidence: take out the color (video + giveaway!)

Bee-u-tiful Table Runner
“Bee-U-tiful” table runner from
Knockout Neutrals

When it comes to choosing colors, value seems to be the grand enigma for quilters. We all know that value plays an important role, but Pat Wys is one of those designers who’s figured out how to choose fabric values for quilts just right, every time. And because Pat’s a longtime teacher, traveling all over the country to work with guilds and shops, she’s got a clear, straightforward way of explaining how she works her magic. If you’ve ever made a quilt that lacks contrast, Pat’s wisdom may just give you the lightbulb moment you need.

Now, Pat’s idea for mastering value is an unusual one, but it will give you hands-on practice for learning about value like no other teaching tool can. Here’s what she suggests: to build your value-choosing skills, strip away all color from the next quilt you make, leaving only value to play with.

Quilts from Knockout Neutrals
“Mist” and “Cobblestones” from
Knockout Neutrals

A no-color quilt? Well, not exactly! When Pat talks about taking color away, she means the colors on the color wheel. What’s left, you ask? Neutrals. Whites, creams, beiges, tans, browns, grays, and blacks. Below Pat talks about the value choices she made for one of the quilts from her book, Knockout Neutrals:

“‘Road Trip’ has lots of sparkle because I combined many fabrics—black, brown, tan, very light creams, gray, taupe, you name it. If it’s neutral, it’s in this quilt. It’s the placement of lights right next to darks that makes the fabric jump and move. That strategic placement of value in design, whether you’re working with neutrals or colors, is where we get the term contrast. Value and contrast are both important in designing quilts. Look at them with a sharper eye. You won’t believe what you’ll see.”

Road Trip quilt values
“Road Trip” in black and white, left; the quilt in Pat’s neutral color palette, right. Are you surprised by which fabrics read as light or dark in the black-and-white photo?

When we met up with Pat at Quilt Market, she shared her ideas for setting the “mood” of a neutral quilt—and her choices all depend on contrasts in value. Watch this quick video to see her demonstration; then check out the slideshow of her gorgeous neutral quilts below. Would you choose soft and subtle, or daring and bold?


Watch “Quilt colors: sophisticated neutral quilts” on YouTube

Learn more of Pat’s value tricks in her two bestselling books; follow our Knockout Neutrals and Spotlight on Neutrals boards on Pinterest.


GIVEAWAY ALERT: Pat Wys has been chosen as Aurifil’s Designer of the Month for September 2014, and we’re celebrating early with our friends at Aurifil! At the bottom of this post, learn how you can win one of two Aurifil thread collections, plus a copy of both of Pat’s bestselling books.

Auriful thread giveaway


Which kind of quilter are you: soft and subtle, or daring and bold? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of Knockout Neutrals, Spotlight on Neutrals, and a 12-spool thread pack from Aurifil Threads! We’ll choose two random winners one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

You might also like:Scared to choose colors? Try neutral quilts

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winners are Sandy and Natalie.

Sandy says, “I love bold and bright. Value is the key to making the colors work. With out lights and darks even the boldest or soft colors would be very dull or in your face. The use of a variety of values make a quilt sing.”

Natalie says, “I’m usually a bright and bold girl. I’m in the middle of a Civil War quilt with a neutral taupe and all the brightest oranges, purples, green, blues, yellows and pinks I could find. So excited. But my next project in cream, soft yellow and grey. All I know for sure is that I would never sew without AURIFIL. Simply the best!”

We’ll email you both about your prizes. Congratulations!

J'Adore quilt from Knockout Neutrals

J'Adore quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Day and Night quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Day and Night quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Arboretum quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Arboretum quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Road Trip quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Road Trip quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Dominoes quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Dominoes quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Feels Like Home quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Feels Like Home quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Caramel Latte quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Caramel Latte quilt from Knockout Neutrals

Bee-U-tiful Table Runner from Knockout Neutrals

Bee-U-tiful Table Runner from Knockout Neutrals

La Belle Fleur Bed Runner from Knockout Neutrals

La Belle Fleur Bed Runner from Knockout Neutrals

Back-Porch Basket Pillow from Knockout Neutrals

Back-Porch Basket Pillow from Knockout Neutrals

White Chocolate quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

White Chocolate quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

HavenStone quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

HavenStone quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

French Silk quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

French Silk quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Going My Way quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Going My Way quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Scrappy Nines quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Scrappy Nines quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Summer Stitch In quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Summer Stitch In quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Sunnyside quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Sunnyside quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Baby Its Cold Outside quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Baby Its Cold Outside quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Kitty's Baskets quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals

Kitty's Baskets quilt from Spotlight on Neutrals


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