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I’m back from the Minnesota Quilt Show and had a wonderful time! I wanted to blog while I was there, but I forgot my “cords” bag. What was in it??  Only the cord to hook my camera to my computer and the battery charger. I was able to take a few photos before my camera battery died.  Now that I’m home, I can grab the photos and post them.

I had a wonderful time visiting Rochester, Minnesota, seeing the show and with the students in my classes.

My classes were the best. My camera ran out of battery before I could take many photos, but I did capture this one.

One of my students (Peggy, was this your fabric??) brought in this wonderful tie-dyed fabric. After we made some blocks, I played with the cubes and used the fabric as a background. We loved the effect and had to take a photo!  The cubes are from different peole in the room. It all worked so well and looks fantastic.


The Show was absolutely filled with quilts. There were three rooms filled with beautiful quilts. I took some photos of my favorites while I still had some battery left.

I love scrap quilts and this Friendship Star quilt is lovely. The play of light and shadow is perfect.


Of course, the hexagon is one of my favorite shapes. This quilt is very cool!  Wish I had a close-up.


Another scrap quilt, all done with warm colors. The illusion of depth comes and goes. I love it!

I must be wishing for fall!  I loved the leaves in this quilt. It looks like a fall day with leaves falling from the trees. Nothing like a walk in the woods in a beautiful fall day.


Have you ever seen a “Quilt on a Stick?” A great idea and a wonderful auction idea!


Everything is packed and shipped, my clothes are almost packed and soon, I’m off to Rochester, Minnesota for the Quilted Jewels, the 30th Annual Minnesota Quilters Quilt Show.  I’ve taught there in the past and have had a great time. I always enjoy my visits to Minnesota!

I’ll be teaching

2-Day Patchwork Illusions


Christmas Cube



Celtic Pieced Illusions


The show is always wonderful and I can’t wait to see the vendors! If you are a blog reader, be sure to say hello!


Yup, that’s right. Hollywood, right here in Tennessee!

Last month, the new Hannah Montana movie was shooting in our town. 

When we moved here 18 years ago, we fell in love with the southern charm, the rolling hills and our small town. Our town has a traditional courthouse square, with stores surrounding it. Part of the film was shot around our courthouse and the square.

 Our Courthouse Square

I decided to wander into town several times during the filming. Nope, I was not interested in spotting Miley Cryus or in getting her autograph. However, I was very interested in seeing a major motion picture being filmed!

After arriving on the set, which included several city blocks, I stationed myself to watch the action. When I arrived, many of the extras were on their marks, waiting for their cue.

  Extras on their “marks”

I guess the scene included rain, since the prop crew kept wetting down the street. It was 85 degrees, so the water was evaporating almost as soon as they put it down.

 Oh looked, it rained!

It was interesting to see the “new” businesses that appeared for the movie. Apparently, we needed an Italian restaurant, a shoe store, a music store, a hardware store and a real estate office downtown. While we really do have all these things in our town, it would be nice to have them all together just off the square. I had to take a photo for our “Disney downtown.” Too bad it is not real.

 Disney Downtown

It was fascinating to watch all the activity.

  Setting up a shot

We can’t wait to see the movie next year. It will be fun to see our hometown on the big screen.



My husband Rick and I have been working on some video clips for our web page and for You-Tube. He is my resident “geek” and helped me put everything together.  (Actually, he did most of it!)  Currently, we have three clips on our web page.

Piecing tips and illusion tricks from my book: Celtic Pieced Illusions.   Click here to view on YouTube!



More Illusion tricks and piecing tips from my book:  3-D Fun with Pandora’s Box.  Click here to view on YouTube!


Piecing tips and the Illusion of Transparency from my pattern: Transparent Stars .  View on our website.



I’m looking forward to my visit with Quilter’s Guild of Indianapolis tomorrow and Friday.

I’ll be presenting my “Quilts of Illusion” lecture on Thursday evening.



On Friday, I’ll be teaching my “Patchwork Illusions” class.


See everyone soon!

Value can make or break a quilt. The right value can make a quilt shine and the wrong values will make the quilt look flat. It is one of the most important parts of selecting fabrics.

You may be asking yourself, “I know it’s important, but what is value?” Value is the lightness and darkness of a fabric, not how much you paid for it at the store!

Many quilters are afraid of value. They don’t know whether a fabric is light, medium or dark. It may seem confusing, but it does not have to be. There are a few tricks and tips that can help you determine the value of a fabric.


Remember; the value of the fabric is the lightness or the darkness of that fabric. Many times the value of the fabric is relative to its neighboring fabrics. This demonstration may help you understand how value is determined.

When this fabric is viewed alone, it looks light.



However, when lighter fabrics are placed next to it, it looks darker.



When very dark fabrics are laid next to it. The fabric looks lighter again.



You can see how a fabric’s neighbors can influence its value.



Some fabrics will always be a light or a dark. For example,  off-white fabrics are light and very dark fabrics are dark, no matter what fabric surrounds them.

As you can see, the value of a fabric depends on the fabric that surrounds it and it’s own lightness or darkness.


There is a tool that is helpful in determining the value of a fabric. A value finder is a tool that takes away the color of the fabric and shows the lightness or darkness of a fabric. It is as if the fabric was photocopied and the color was removed.

The red value tool will work on all colors of fabric, except red. When you are determining the value of red fabrics, use the green value tool. The green value tool will work on all colors of fabric, except green. When you are determining the value of green fabrics, use the red value tool. Consequently, you will need both the red and the green value finders as you work with different fabrics.

If you have a multi-colored fabric, overlap the tools and use them together. When placed together, they create a brownish color and this will work on almost every color of fabric. You may find using both tools together a bit dark, but you will still be able to see through them.

To use the value tool: Select several fabrics whose values puzzle you. Place them next to each other or slightly overlap them. Put the tool up to your eyes and look through the tool. The fabric should appear light or dark, almost black or white. You can now tell if the fabric’s value is light or dark.

 Fabric viewed without a value tool



Viewing fabric with value tool


Some quilters have trouble using a value tool; usually when this happens, they are not using it correctly. They are laying the value finder on the fabric instead of putting it up to their eyes. To work correctly, the tool must be put up to your eyes and looked through. If, in the past, you have trouble with value finders, give this a try.

After learning how and why to use a value tool, it will become a very important part of your quilting tools. It is invaluable in distinguishing a fabric’s value.


Today, I was writing an email to my Aunt Vonnie.  She has sewn all her life, but is starting to learn to piece and quilt. I’m having so much fun helping her.

As a “seasoned” quilter, there are just things I take for granted. Chatting with my aunt helps me to remember these things.

For example, a Fat Quarter. I throw this term around and realized not everyone knows what a Fat Quarter is and why we like them.

A 1/4 yard is normally 9″ x 44″”. As a quilter, this is not a very useful piece of fabric. A Fat Quarter is better.

A Fat Quarter is a piece of fabric that is 18″ x 22″. To make one, cut a 1/2 yard of fabric (18″ x 44″), cut this piece of fabric in half. This makes a Fat Quarter, 18″ x 22″.   (I keep a list of Common Yardage cuts on my website.)

I recently sent my Aunt Fat Quarter bundles of my Gilded Greenery fabric.

I was explaining that this fabric is a basic. That means it is a co-ordinate, it “goes with” fabrics with more texture. For example, here is a Variable Star with Gilded Greenery in the background and Blank Quilting’s Chelsea collection in the Star.


By placing the Gilded Greenery fabric in the background, the more textured Chelsea fabric is allowed to “pop”.

This contrast or difference in value is important. It lets each part of the block be seen. If the values are too close together the parts of the star and background will blend together. I often use this trick in my quilts. I like to see a strong contrast between parts of my designs.

In the block below, the value of the background and the star points are close to each other. The patches blend into each other.


Here is the Variable Star block with stronger contrast, set into a quilt. I’ve played with the coloring. Each background is the Gilded Greenery collection and each star is made from Chelsea. Notice how the background “pops” the star pattern. The different colored backgrounds also add a secondary design to the quilt.


 While the colors are beautiful, it is really value that is doing all the work. I like to say, in my quilts, “Value does all the work and color gets all the credit.” A Value Lesson can be found on my website.





Karen Combs is a internationally known quilt teacher, author and fabric designer. Visit her web site at

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