“Gradients” are all the rage these days. Whether you’re sewing, knitting, dyeing Easter eggs, or getting dressed–it’s much more fun to choose colors that are related to each other, of different values, than to go monochromatic.

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I have a post brewing (oh, it’s been so long!) about how I really became a knitter this winter and how knitting has opened up this whole new way of thinking about piecing quilts and making in general. Really, the knitters have gradients COVERED. Even the self-striping yarn makers are catching on to the gradient craze: I knit these socks last month using some KnitPicks Felici Fingering.

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But that’s not all! Quilty people tend not to use the word “gradient” quite as often as knitters, but we’re doing the same work. We tend to talk more about “value,” but it’s all part of the same thing. (Differing values make gradients, after all.) I love how Alex at Teaginny is working with color value lately (you just have to glance through her first few recent posts to get the idea! She’s a master). Joshua at Molli Sparkles has done some gradient geese that make me die of jealousy every time I see them. Cath at Wombat Quilts made this stunning baby quilt last year, that plays with value and the relationship between plummy purple and orange. In this case, she uses lighter values of yellow to convey heat at the center of the quilt.

So. For our May Grace circle quilt, dump your scrap bucket (or, okay, don’t, because if I did I’d drown–rifle around in it a bit, at least) and choose a bright, cheery color or two that you have in several different values. Obviously, I have a thing for pink. But I also had quite a collection of aqua scraps, and quite easily made a block out of aqua too. Each block takes 36 2.5” squares, laid out 6 x 6, to make a 12.5” square block. Lay them out in gradient-ish order, across a diagonal.

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May Grace circle block samples

You can send me two blocks of the same color, or two of different colors. Got a lot of aqua and pink, just like me? Send ’em! Doesn’t matter. Just make your colors bright and cheery not muddy. As much as I love them, I don’t think gray and black belong here (yet. I reserve the right to sash in black!). I think this will be a girl quilt, so feel free to girl it up with the pinks, peaches, purples, yellows, and aquas!

And ladies–it’s time to pull out that .25” foot and be really precise with your piecing. These are really simple, quick patchwork blocks so let’s press and lock our seams and make them perfect.

Finally, if you find you’re lacking in any particular part of the gradient–say, you have a lot of red fabrics but they’re all dark values–never fear. Send me a quick Flickr messsage, ping me on Instagram, or email me to let me know, and maybe you can do either a center block or I can help you out from my own overflowing scrap heap.

I can’t wait to see what we all come up with! I think it will be so fun to play with these blocks.

THE SKINNY
–36 2.5” squares per block (x 2 blocks), 6 x 6 layout
–bright, cheery, girly? colors (no black, gray, or “muddy”)
–finishes at 12.5” square
–gradient across the diagonal. Doesn’t matter if you do left to right or top to bottom I’m going to turn it however I want it 😛

a final PS: our fearless leader Rachel has done some great work with color value, and ran a QAL in 2012 with lessons and writeups re: determining value, if you’re stuck. Don’t sweat these blocks too much. This is an improv quilt at heart and precision isn’t the idea–play is!

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