Saturday, March 20, 2010


Because of many requests, I'm repeating my sorting tutorial here. Many beginning quilters have problems with value and determining what fabrics are light, medium or dark. It has been my experience that sorting fabrics when you are choosing them for a quilt is very helpful with determining whether you have enough of each value represented in your quilt. I tend to go all dark if I'm not careful or all medium. At any rate, here are some strips I've cut for a Lady Liberty quilt and I'll show you how to sort them.

First sort your fabrics into two piles. One light and one dark. Here's my dark pile:
And here is my light pile:

Now sort your light pile into two more piles. You will have light-light and light-dark. Here's mine:
Then sort your dark pile into two more piles. You will have a dark-dark pile and a dark-light pile. Here's mine:
Your light-dark pile and your dark-light pile are both medium! So here is what you end up with--a pile of dark, medium and light fabric:

You can keep sorting and refining all you want. I usually only sort into the 3 groups: light, medium and dark. Then to avoid my "matchy-matchy" tendancies and get a true scrap look, I put my dark, medium and light fabric piles into paper grocery bags so that I can't see them. When I'm sewing, I close my eyes and fish around in the bag and pick a strip. Sometimes I have to argue with myself to force myself to use what I've picked but I then have a randomish scrap look.

I hope this is helpful and that the people who have been asking can use this information. My photos are dark because it is snowing here and dark - yes, snowing on the first day of spring....Let me know if you have questions! Cheery wave!


hfb said...

Thanks for this! I am so very new but don't want to waste my time creating something that is going to look bad! I have a question- when you make a scrappy quilt, do you alternate light, medium, dark, or is there a rule we need to follow? I am very bad at following patterns that I think scrappy is the way for me to go. Thanks so much for your help!

Bev said...

Hi Heather! I don't follow many rules for scrappy quilts. One rule you have to do with a scrappy quilt is have a calm, quiet place to rest your eyes. For example, use a fairly plain border--one with a small print or use sashing strips that are fairly plain. I always have my students who are making scrappy quilts put the pieces for their blocks in paper bags and shut their eyes and pick a piece without worrying about the color or value. It's very hard for most quilters to make themselves do that because we want to follow rules. Just try it with one quilt and email me at if you have questions. Even though you don't like what you draw out of the paper bag, at least try it and sleep on it. You will be surprised how much you like it the next morning. It is important to have light, medium and dark in a quilt (or light and dark if that's what you want). You have to experiment and find what you like. It's your quilt. Just try to have fun! Thanks for your question! Cheery wave from Bev

Anonymous said...

It's a shame you don't have a donate button! I'd without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog!
I guess for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my
Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will
talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

My web page how does the American Equity Bonus Gold annuity work