2 Ways to Make your Scrappy Quilt Look Lovely (and NOT like a hot mess)

2 Ways to Make your Scrappy Quilt Look Lovely (and NOT like a hot mess)

You know how some scrappy quilts can look super gorgeous and unexpected, while others look like the quilter had a tad too much wine??

Here are a couple fun effects to make your next scrappy quilt look lovely, and not like a hot mess! 

These effects tells a story. They guide the viewers eye from one side to the other. They are orderly and are great ways to structure a scrappy quilt. 
I'm calling them the Progression Effect
Now, there are 2 types of Progression Effects that I'm going to talk about today: the Value Progression and the Color Progression. Both are VERY easy to execute and will create a very orderly appearance in your quilt. 


1. Value Progression

Remember, value is the darkness or lightness of a color. So for a Value Progression, you will order your fabrics from light to dark or dark to light.
(Bear made by Hawthorn Threads.) I love how they progressed from dark at the bottom up to light at the top.

2. Color Progression

To create a Color Progression, you simply start with one color, then move left or right around the wheel, in order. 

Starting at the top, I have oranges, then moving down to yellows, then greens with some neutrals thrown in there. This guides the eye from the top to the bottom of the quilt. (Strippy Bear Quilt Pattern, here)


Both Progressions Together

For the quilt below, I used both types of progressions in the same quilt.
I've made MANY different skyline quilts the last few years. Most were wallhangings due to the wide, thin shape of the templates. But I knew I wanted to try something different with this one. I wanted to make these wide, thin appliqué pieces into a row quilt. I wanted each row to be different, but I also wanted them to be cohesive, so I thought I'd play with creating an "ombre" effect in the quilt, or a Value Progression
I knew I wanted blue backgrounds, so I chose a range of blues from light to dark. This change in value helped visually separate the rows, but since the colors progressed in an order, the differences were very subtle and orderly. That helped draw all the focus to these vibrant skylines, and led the viewers eye from top to bottom.
For the appliqué pieces themselves, rather than continuing with the Value Progression, I wanted to try a red to yellow Color Progression
So I started with orangey-red fabrics for the first skyline, then moved clockwise around the color wheel. Next to orange, then orangey-yellow, then yellow. 
Both these effects, the Value Progression and the Color Progression when used together or separately, help guide the viewer's eye from one side to the next. They create order and calm. 
There are so many different ways you can use these effects. Have you every used either of these effect in your quilts? Think you might want to give it a try? 
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Even nature agrees with your theory – notice how the grass and bushes behind the city scapes progress from light to dark greens! The bear quilt is on my list, thanks!

Terry Craviotto

You make it make sense!! The bear is magical!! I love him.


This was eye opening moment when I read your article. It is deepening my color vocabulary which I have struggled with in my quilts. Thank you, can’t wait to try it!

Lisa Peet-Lubin

This post was so helpful to me. I love the color progression on these quilts!


Amazing I’m impressed with your skyline quilt. Certainly doesn’t look like s scrappy quilt.

Sharon McLean

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