#myquiltcouldlivehere- Value, a scrap quilt story

I have so much to share with you! Now that my book is officially out on the shelves, I want to talk a little about each of the quilts in it and share some background of how they came to be and the meaning behind each one. I thought I’d start with one of my favorites, a quilt called Value. 
A scrap quilt in the truest sense of the word, Value was actually the second project I created for the book. I wasn’t actually writing a book at that point. I remember so many details about making this quilt. Music was playing and even though it was Winter and Seattle gray, I was feeling all the optimism of a new year. Fabric had been gathered both from my own stash and with the help of friends. The size of the patchwork is intentionally small. Its designed that way. Meant to truly use scraps. Even if we all have overflowing fabric stashes, and there isn’t a scarcity of fabric or a need to piece and patch together cloth to make a quilt in most cases, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Forget about all those big pieces of pretty fabric for a minute. There is SO much inspiration to come from making a quilt of scraps.
When I was designing this quilt, I knew I needed a LOT of different fabrics to tell the story. The shocker was that I didn’t have enough variety. (I guess all my “use what I have” mantra has helped reduce my stash more than I realized.) So I started cutting into old curtains and clothing, took snips of pretty cloth from friends who offered up. As I gathered pieces for this quilt, I began playing with color value. My friend Katie does this whole value play exceptionally well and she was really the one who inspired my love of playing with fabric this way, many years ago. I love that it creates a harmony out of chaos. Little scrappy pieces of many different colors and patterns suddenly work together. Its truly like magic.

For creating a pattern like this, I suggest using standing back from your design when its on the wall and looking at it through a reducing glass. Often. I use a door peephole to look through like this one. Standing away from the wall, looking at the design through a peephole can allow you to take in the entire design rather then focus on individual areas or fabrics- even in tight spaces where you can’t really stand back as far as you’d like. The patterns of the fabrics are really irrelevant in the overall quilt pattern. Its one of my favorite parts of designing a quilt like this. Standing back and seeing the design emerge.

Photo by Stephanie Congdon Barnes

I thought Stephanie did a beautiful job of photographing Value for the book. At the time this photo was taken, she only had vague notes and texts about what I was looking for. She was able to capture, along with the family cat Chester, the true essence of Value. A quilt made with love, exuding happiness and joy. A gathering of many many bits to create one fabric story.

And where would Value live? Well, other than in the photograph above, which I think its very happy in, I see it being that one thing in a space, small or large, that makes the person who uses it smile whenever they see it. The sight of it conjures up warm feelings of all the friends and family members that contributed scraps to help it grow. Probably owned by a creative spirit, someone who appreciates the design of the quilt and covets it for all that it represents in their life. The rooms of their home are functional but never overdone. And like Chanel always said about taking one accessory off before you leave the house (or something like that), this is the one accessory you’d never “take off” in a room. This is the pearl necklace of her space, the one she was given as a graduation gift and has loved ever since.

Value quilt collage

From top right- Kitchen :: Wall of abstract watercolors :: Bedroom :: Flowers :: Paints :: Elbow patch :: Value quilt

(See the whole assortment of quilt collages here- #myquiltcouldlivehere)

I am very proud that this quilt was chosen as part of a special exhibit called Beauty in Pieces: Scrap Quilts For the 21st Century, a show curated by Mary Fons for the International Quilt Festival Spring show in Chicago. It will be on the road for a while, and possible some of you may get to see it. I probably won’t see it for a while, so now that I’ve written a post about it I can come back and visit it when I miss it.
The complete instructions to make your own Value quilt, and more information about it can all be found in my book. Don’t forget to tag your quilt photos of projects from the book on Instagram with #wisecraftquiltsbook.

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