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 some of my Gilded Greenery fabric.

I was explaining that this fabric is a basic. That means it is a coordinate, it “goes with” fabrics with more texture. For example, here is a Variable Star with Gilded Greenery in the background of 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 slightly different. 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.