Ruby Ambassador Timna Tarr


Today I am excited to launch a brand new series that I have been working on for a couple of months. I have partnered up with a group of amazingly talented artisans, quilters, embroiderers, and sewists to launch the Ruby Ambassador series. I’m kicking off this series with one of my favorite quilting artists- Timna Tarr!


Ruby Ruler by Wise Craft handmade


Timna has been a longarm quilter since 2001. I had known and admired Timna’s work for years. She has a very thoughtful approach to color and value. Her current work she is calling the Barnyard Series is such an amazing example of how color and value can partner up in the design process to produce an image with incredible depth and dimension.


“Mother Clucker”



“Queen of Calico”


My interview with Timna


Timna Tarr, South Hadley, Massachusetts



Blair: How long have you been quilting?

Timna: I have been quilting since 1997. I longarmed for clients from 2001-2016, and have been teaching regularly for about 5-6 years.



Blair: Do you have a dedicated studio space or in your house, as space requires (a picture would be awesome!)? 

Timna: or many years I worked out of my house . In fact we bought our house because there was a bedroom big enough for the longarm. About a year and a half ago I moved from working in my house to a dedicated studio space just over one mile from my house. The change has been fabulous. Our house is no longer jam packed with quilting supplies, and I can leave projects out and about in the studio without the annoyance of a cat rearranging things. It turns out that I am working fewer hours, as I am very focused when I am in the studio.


Blair: Tips for storing fabric and/or thread, etc in your space? By color? By project? 

Timna: I think in color, so everything is stored by color. My fabric is in bins – one bin per color. I do not keep “collections” together. I like seeing how different lines and eras of fabrics play together when they bump up against one another. I do segregate solid fabrics into their own bins and I have one bin titled “novelties”, which is full of weird graphic prints. My thread is also stored by type and then by color. This is a holdover from my longarming days when it was important for me to find the exact color of thread I wanted, quickly. 



Blair: When did you first begin to intentionally see and understand color value in your work?

Timna: It took me a long time to really understand and think about value. I have always liked color, but I would say that I only have consciously started thinking about value in the last several years as I started talking to quilters about color. Color is only one part of the equation. Without value changes, color is boring.

Longarming was the greatest training on how to think about color and value as I worked on thousands of quilts. I got to see masterful quilts that used color and value in the best possible way, while other quilts were more humble. Picking threads for each quilt really trained my eye as to what thread would best complement a quilt top. I learned pretty quickly that a thread that was too dark or too light would be a disservice to the quilt. 


Tips for using color value


Blair: Lots of folks get confused about exactly how and why to use color value in their own work. Can you explain its importance in your work? Any tips on how you would initially approach it in a new project?

Timna: I like to use many, many fabrics in each of my quilts. Just by using so many different fabrics, I automatically use many different values. Not only do I organize the fabrics on a quilt by their color, but I also sort those colors into values. I want there to be a wash of color over the quilt. The value changes give the wash a little sparkle that it wouldn’t have if the value range was narrow and flat.

When starting a new project, I give myself a rule. That rule can be a simple as “use pinks for the background”. Then I make myself only use pinks – light pink, dark pink, coral pink, magenta etc. By doing so I have to really dig into my pink bin and pull out all ranges of colors and values of pinks. By giving myself a rule, I have put up some constraints which is always helpful to me. I can always break the rule if I need to though.

My advice for starting a new project is to pick the fabrics that you really want to be in the quilt and, then choose a few more fabrics that are lighter and darker than the original picks. Most of us quilters gravitate toward the mediums and have few lights in our stash.


Blair: I got an interesting question in a survey I did recently- Does value HAVE to come into play in a quilt design? Is using different colors enough? What do you think? 

Timna: If you are looking to design a very calm quilt that doesn’t have much visual texture, there is little need for value contrasts. But I feel like you could buy that quilt from the local department store. If you want a design to stand out, or to show off a pattern, there absolutely needs to be some value contrasts. A quilt that is made up of medium blues, greens, and purples will look muddy from a distance of 10 feet. If you throw in a few light purples and dark blues, the quilt will automatically become more interesting. Then add a little light coral and now you have something visually appealing to look at.


Blair: Can you share tip(s) for working with color value? 

Timna: Even if a quilt only has a few colors in its design, use different values within each color to add visual interest and keep the viewer surprised.


Blair: Has the Ruby Ruler®️ helped you as you make color value decisions?

Timna: I pull out the Ruby Ruler®️ when I have the basic layout of a quilt on the design wall. Looking through the ruler helps me see design elements that I may have missed with just using my eye. For people new to experimenting with value, I suggest pulling the fabrics you intend to use and then look at them through the Ruby Ruler®️. If you do not see an assortment of light, medium, and dark fabrics, add the missing values to the pile as needed. 


Timna’s upcoming workshops


Blair: What new things do you have happening (this month and beyond)?

Timna: I’ll be on an episode of The Quilt Show that drops June 30. The episode will be free to non-subscribers July 7-14

World Quilt New England is in Springfield, Massachusetts in August. I’ll be teaching the longarming classes.

The July/Aug/Sept issue of Where Women Create has a feature on my studio in it.

An exhibit of all of the barnyard animal quilts will be at MQX Quilt Festival next April. The show is titled “Noble Menagerie: The Barnyard Series”


(Timna will be using the Ruby Ruler®️ throughout all of these workshops. Be sure to ask her about specials for workshop students!)


Find Timna online


Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @timnatarr

Facebook: timnatarrquilts


I will be showing more inspiration from Timna’s gallery of work all month, be sure to follow me on Instagram (where I can usually be found at). You will definitely be inspired by her!

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