The “value” of your smart phone: are you using this quilting trick? 📱

We’ve got a quick quilting trick for you today!

If you’ve ever struggled with deciphering the values of different fabrics, this is a tip that’ll provide lots of “value” when you’re choosing fabrics for a quilt, arranging blocks, or just trying to figure out the value of a particular fabric—not value moneywise, but value colorwise! (Light? Medium? Dark? Sometimes it’s hard to tell!)

Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color.

The secret tool you’ll need to help determine fabric values is probably nearby right now—in fact, it may be in your purse or pocket. It’s your phone—and if it can take photos, it just might become in-value-able to your quiltmaking life!

I was having some trouble organizing these batiks from light to dark in value. Here’s how you can use your smart phone to get the values right:

1. Snap a pic of the fabrics you’re struggling to sort by value.

I couldn’t quite tell where the three center fabrics fell on the value scale, and that pesky blue-green print was tripping me up too. Would it read as dark or medium in my quilt?

2. Tap on the photo you’ve taken; then choose to Edit the photo (in this example I’m using the camera app on an Android phone; you may have similar editing options on your phone).

3. In the Edit menu, you should see a “Grayscale,” “Mono,” or “Black-and-White” option; tap on that.

4. Now your photo should look like a black-and-white photo, with all the colors removed. All that remains are the values of the fabrics.

5. Now that you can see the values of your fabrics, you can arrange them from light to dark and then use them in a way that produces more contrast in your quilt blocks.

Photo with the colors removed

New arrangement of fabrics from dark to light

Those medium-value fabrics can be tricky—but now you’ve got a way to put them in their patchwork place!

A wonderful book to give your value-picking skills some practice is Stashtastic! by Doug Leko. Doug’s designed a dozen beautiful quilts and each quilt is shown in a different colorway, like this:

French Twist quilt
French Twist from Stashtastic!

The value exercise above will give you special insight into creating all of Doug’s gorgeous quilts with your gorgeous fabrics! You can see more quilts from Stashtastic! here.

We hope you found this little tutorial helpful! How do you usually determine the values of your fabrics? Tell us in the comments!

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