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Make an Impact with Value

Last week we talked about the power of color and what an impact certain combinations make on a finished project. I’ve learned that value is just as important. The value of a color is the amount of white or black that’s been added to its true color. Value is what separates one fabric from another and moves the eye across the quilted surface. The value of one fabric is dependent on the values of the other fabrics in the quilt. A medium blue will appear dark when placed on a pale blue. Conversely, a medium blue will appear very light when placed on a midnight blue. It is the difference in value that makes appliqués pop from their surroundings. Applique fabrics that separate from the base fabric give the most impact. Consider using a value finder – a red or green piece of acrylic that eliminates the color in a fabric. You’ll see only its value.

Remember the popularity of watercolor quilts a few years back? (Okay, so it’s been a decade!) The success of a portraying an image in those types of quilts was dependent on the value of the fabrics. Definition of shapes was attained by the grouping (or separating) of 1” squares of fabric with similar value.

I use that same concept when selecting applique fabrics. In embroidery, I almost always want the applique to separate from the base fabric. I audition applique fabrics on the base fabric and critique the combination. Then I move on to the technical details of some applique fabrics. For instance, dark base fabrics might bleed through lighter applique fabrics. I can still use this combination but I would fuse an interfacing to the wrong side of the applique fabric.

When working with black and white fabrics, such as in New York Beauty, I used value to make contrast. I separated the fabrics into lights and darks and those selected a fabric from each pile to create a typical New York Beauty block. Light fabric goes on one corner and dark on the opposite corner. Working with black and white fabrics really gave me a good understanding of value.

If you take another look at the Lady Liberty quilt block, you’ll notice how not only the color pops, but so does the value. In corners A and C, the points are much darker than the base fabrics. In corners B and D, the converse is true. All of the quarter circles are a much lighter value than the points they are stitched next to. Once I had one block designed (there are actually four blocks in the image), it was fairly easy to follow those rules and select the base and applique fabrics.

You’ve probably noticed that machine embroidery design companies are masters at this technique – getting the applique to really pop off the base fabric. No wonder, they really want you to SEE the applique. Just check out what our friends at Five Star Fonts have been up to.  They select bright and cheery applique fabrics that really let the embroidery be the star.

Do you want to win a gift certificate from Five Star Fonts?  Simply leave a comment telling us if you are on Facebook or not.  All comments will be entered into a drawing for a $100.00 shopping spree at Five Star Fonts!

Last week we asked you what your favorite color combinations were.  The winner of Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique is…Kate Rayburn!

“I like the boldness of complementary color selection so I tend to use that the most often. If I’m trying to go for something more subtle I tend to go with a more monochromatic scheme.”

Congratulations, Kate!




  • Gail Beam

    Yes, I am on facebook and I got the darling Patriotic Designs from Five Star Fonts Fonts facebook page. Love the super cute fabric that you used in your appliques.

    • Eileen Roche

      Thanks Gail!

  • Anne Marie Reilly

    Yes, I am on Facebook and have added DME to my list of friends/likes.

  • Lynn Zukowski from Calgary Canada

    I have been resisting joining Facebook for the last year or so – thinking just one more thing I have to check up on. With email and following blogs, and searching the internet – do I really need to keep on top of one more thing? But then I see that many of the blogs I follow have facebook buttons to click on and continued chats and additional pictures – am I missing out? Do I have the time, or if I join will this take me away from my sewing projects? Decisions! Speaking of Five Star Fonts- I love that site- and often use their embroidery patterns and fonts in my sewing creations. You should check out their Monogram Applique Font- I use it over and over for personalizing anything and everything!

    • Eileen Roche

      I felt the same way about Facebook (how much more can one person do?) but I’ve found I enjoy it. It is a great to stay up to date on well, everything! Friends, family, hobbies, etc. You might want to give it a chance.

  • Shirley R

    No, I’m not on Facebook. Just last week on one of the major networks, there was a segment on being sure that you have activated two areas of your Facebook setup preferences to be sure your personal information is secure. Just another thing to worry about. Sorry to be negative, but for those who may not be aware of these additional security features, you should take a look at your setup. Also, remember that anything you put out there is there – forever!

  • Donna G.

    No, I’m not on Facebook. Frankly, I just don’t “get” the need for it. I can email family and friends, and there’s already tons of other internet sites and groups for information and sharing. Now if there was a site that could give me more Time, I’d join it in a heartbeat!

  • Tonia Jeffery

    I am, but as my babies so grandparents can keep up with the girls.

  • Bonnie Coalson

    Yes, I am on facebook.

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hi Eileen,
    No, I am not on Facebook; I agree with Donna and Shirley–I just don’t see the need for it, nor do I have any more time to spend on the computer. The rest of the stuff takes so much time, if I started doing all those Facebook “Friends” (some I have no idea who they are) I would have no time to embroider! I would much rather spend my time at the machine than on the computer.

    By the way, the pictures I took of us, and the one of you and Marie when you were in Santa Rosa came out pretty good; what is the best way to send them to you? I would be glad to give it a try.

    Take care, have a wonderful cruise, we will be thinking of you.

  • Jean Guenther

    I am on FB but I have also resisted using it as a few above have mentioned. When people friend me I tell them I am not a good FB friend and they should email me if they want. I am thinking of the time involved reading all that is posted. I keep thinking its just another phase? Time is Tight.
    Thanks for keeping us all up to date with your blog. I DO read this!

    • Eileen Roche

      Thanks for reading the blog, Jean!

  • Sue Anderson

    Yes. I am on Facebook and have friended DME.

  • Linda

    Yes, I am on Facebook and follow DME. I also follow Five Star Fonts and love their designs. I enjoy seeing the photos that “friends” post as it helps inspire ideas. But, like others, time is an issue, and if I’m busy in projects, I can let some time go by before I check in to see what is going on.

  • Michelle

    Yes, I am on Facebook. Now. I was holding a rebellion against it, but finally “caved”. It does give me the opportunity to post pics of items I have done, and keeps me “in the loop”. AND I just love Five Star Fonts! I found them through your magazine and everything I have purchased stitches out amazing! $100 would be too easy to spend there…

  • Jane Anderson

    Yes, I am on facebook. I also have a blog. Both media keep me in contact with my friends and my new friends.

    • Eileen Roche

      And what beautiful photos you have on your blog, Jane. I think everyone would enjoy taking a peak at the projects. Just click here:

  • karin

    I’m not on Facebook, myself, but my hubby has a page, mostly to keep up with the kids & grands. We have our own website, which is our NAME, but somehow, they could never remember to check for updates there! So, basically, we joined ’em because we knew we could never beat ’em. But we hardly ever post content on our own FB page, preferring to comment on others’ or update our own website…and, yes, because of FB security concerns.

  • Terrie

    Just purchased the book. Can’t wait to get started! Great projects, and guidance.

    • Eileen Roche

      Thank you Terrie. Can’t wait to hear how you like it!

  • Melissa

    Yes, I’m on facebook. It’s how I learned to read the blog and comment! It’s a wonderful way to keep up with friends, businesses, news, interests, etc. I don’t play games or download apps. from it and have never had any problems.

    • Eileen Roche

      It is a wonderful way to keep up on – everything. What a world we live in!

  • Dee

    Finally hookedup with Facebook and now find it’s so easy to keep up with friends and family. Fun to see pics and easier to share them. Have “liked” your page and love the updates and ideas.

  • jennifer w.

    yup, i’m on facebook, a little too much actually 🙂 love keeping up with everyone!!

  • Lois

    I’m on facebook. Would live to win.

  • Vonee

    Yes I am on FB, In about five mins can find out everything I would want to know. I am a DIME FB friend and enjoy it almost as much as reading the magazine. Five Stars Fonts is a great site as well, great choices there.

  • Peggy

    I’m also on FB. I found your values post very informative!

  • Cindy

    thanks for all your wonderful information! I love color and I’m not afraid to use it in my home or in my sewing…

  • Marilyn Mason

    Yes, I am on Facebook. I am partially bedridden and I keep up with friends and crafting ideas while in bed. Then once I get up, I head for my sewing room and use ideas and suggestions I have read and seen to get busy relearning my sewing. I contracted MRSR in the hospital and was not given much of a chance (less than 10%) to live. Then they weren’t sure what quality of life I would have. Needless to say, I guess I have beaten the odds and I can walk with my walker for 35-50 ft on a good day. And I can do my quilting and sewing. Once I am up, I get lost in my sewing room and my husband has to tell me it is time to go back to bed! Several nights it has been 10 pm by the time I head back to my bedroom. The web places like Five Star Fonts and Designs in Machine Emb have really helped me get inspired to rejoin the living! I don’t know what I would do if all there was was tv to watch. You can only watch it for so long without going bonkers! So, whether I win or not, thanks for providing inspiration and educational posts for all of us.

  • Gloria

    Yes, I am on facebook and I have befriended DME and a few other embroidery sites that have facebook. I know it is the new thing but I prefer emails, I really don’t care who just went to the grocery store or those silly games but I do enjoy your blog!

  • Janice Goodman

    Yes! I am on Facebook and love learning from DME and Five Star Font. I am a beginner and am absorbing as much as I can. My sister has been very instrumental in encouraging me. I bought a good machine while I was still working. Now that I’m retired I can finally learn how to use it.

    Winning from you would go towards more classes.

    Thank you for all that you share through Facebook.

    • Eileen Roche

      You’re welcome! Sisters are priceless, aren’t they Janice? I was blessed with five! And facebook really does help all of us stay connected. Okay, stay connected with our nieces and nephews. The sisters still just pick up the phone and chat.

  • Nancy

    Color value is so important it can make or break a project not only in quilting but in other medium as well such as oils, watercolor, stained glass. color value is a must.

    • Eileen Roche

      I agree, Nancy but it’s taken me some time to see the light! (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)

  • Cathy Grace

    Yes I am on Facebook. I mostly lurk, look at pictures of family, friends, etc but am enjoying that many of the websites I frequent are now on Facebook also! Its fun to see the “new” ideas along with messages from family and friends. I love seeing what others have made, embroidered ,sewn, etc along with messages from friends and family!

  • Brenda Peters

    of course!

    • Tracy

      I done got save all over again u can just feel it in is voice oh my god this will still save souls foreal im in tears i done went in foreal thank u god for wasihng me u didnt have to do but u did thank u god

    • Excellent blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Kudos!

  • Kathy Myers

    Yes I am on facebook and have trouble with color value but this blg helped. Thanks!

  • Jane Waite

    Yes, I am on facebook and use it to keep up with family and all of the embroidery sites! Regarding your article on value finders, I have found that stores don’t seem to know what it is. A couple of years ago I asked for help locating a value finder at my local sewing machine store and at the local Joann’s. No one knew what it was.

  • Betsy

    Yes, I’m on Facebook but rarely go there. I often use my camera on the black and white setting to take pictures of fabric choices. It really helps me to see how a variety of fabrics work together and if one is really darker/lighter than another.

    • Eileen Roche

      Excellent tip, Betsy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Deb Bremer

    Hi I am on facebook and “like ” Designs in Machine Embroidery I love your bloag and the facebook page. I am fixing to head over now and post a pic of a pincushion I just made using one of the flower in Posh Perennials. O lovwe that book!
    Deb B in SC

    • Eileen Roche

      Thanks for posting the photo on facebook, Deb. Your pincushion is too cute – love the frog!

  • Bettie

    I have resisted getting on Facebook. However, I’m getting to the point where I might just have to join in. It seems that it will be a better way to keep in touch with relatives and friends as far as what they’re up to and pictures that I don’t get a chance to see otherwise.

  • Connie

    I am on facebook, which makes it easier to see all the new things here.

  • Paule-Marie

    I am on FB with my two alter egos – one for my friends and one for quilting and machine embroidery. I am however a FB hermit. I have to remember to pop in there occasionally to see whats happening and I almost never post. I get newsletters from the Digital Godess and use her updates and recommendations about how you can protect yourself on FB.

  • Nancy

    You bet I’m on facebook!

  • Ellen perry

    Yes I am on Facebook. I joined to keep up with family and friends. I love five star fonts

  • Judyc

    I am on facebook and use it most with my samsung gallaxy tablet.

  • Kay Butterbaugh

    I love Designs in Machine Embroidery, Have been getting it for many years now, so many good ideas. I also love Five Star Fonts, and their Patriotic designs that they have are great. I have used several of their designs and they stitch out wonderfully. Just found this blog, and love it!!

  • Vicky Morrow

    The combination of Designs in Machine Embroidery and Five Star Fonts is hard to beat. Designs offers the best tips on embroidery that I’ve found, and Five Star Fonts provides a font to meet every need. I love it that you are partnering with another leader in machine embroidery to offer this!! I do have a Facebook page, but I never post to it; I use it to follow my favorite quilt designers and embroidery digitizers. Please keep offering the helpful hints in your blog – you have saved me from many, many mistakes.

    • Eileen Roche

      What sweet words, Vicky! Thank you.

  • Barbara

    I have a page on Facebook and visit it from time to time. I love the opportunity to keep up with dear friends who would otherwise slip out of my life — and now am eager to explore the ways Facebook can connect me with new friends who share my passion for machine embroidery.

  • Yolanda

    Looking forward to being inspired by all the talk, photos and designs.

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