How can you tell which fabrics are ‘light’, which are ‘medium’ and which ‘dark’, let alone ‘light-medium’ or ‘medium-dark’ or any of the other variations you may have come across?

If you are using a monochrome range of fabrics then this may be fairly easy – in both the green Trip Around the World and the black and white Bargello you can clearly see the gradation from light through medium to dark.

But if you want to use a range of colours and prints in your quilt it can be quite difficult to decide. If, like me, you are very short-sighted then taking off your specs makes everything blurry and differences in shade become more apparent; however, this option isn’t available to all! You can buy colour filters like this pink one which are supposed to help – can you tell the difference between light and dark more easily looking at the greens through the filter?

Modern technology comes to our rescue though. A low-tech solution is to put your fabric selection on the photocopier or scanner and select ‘black & white’ to print out. This removes the colours and makes it easier to see the shade differences – just remember which fabric is which though.

A slightly higher tech solution is to use your smart phone. The illustrations here are from an i-phone but I’m sure Android and others have a similar feature; failing which you can upload your photo to your computer and use a photo editing program – there are plenty of free ones to use online for simple quick fixes. So, first take a photo of your chosen fabrics.

Now click on the edit button and you should get a screen that looks a little like this one below on the left. Click on the button I’ve highlighted – it looks a bit like a clock. This will open another menu. Click on the Black and White option to turn your photo monochrome. You can use the slide to change the contrast if you wish. Save your black and white photo with the colour one. This should give you a better idea of which fabric is lighter than the other – and you may be surprised.

Carolyn Gibbs has written a related Hints and Tips blog on ‘Colour and Contrast’ which you can find here.

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