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Colorwash Quilts - Tigard

The principle of designing a color-wash quilt is to manipulate color and value to create a quilt with colors flowing from one to another and from light to dark, somewhat reminiscent of an impressionist painting. Sharp contrasts in value can be used to delineate geometric forms while subtle transitions of value create a soothing transitional effect. Designing a color-wash quilt is playful and fun. 

 In this class, you can create your own unique quilt or follow some suggested designs. The quilt can be any size you wish but for your initial project it’s best to keep to a size that will fit comfortably on your flannel design wall through the designing phase.

 Please be courteous to others by arriving for class with the correct supplies. Contact me at 503-631-8806 or helene.m.knott@gmail.comif you have any questions.

A Note to Students:Many students do not realize that once the teacher is paid, the shop offering a class makes little if any income on the class itself. The shop is relying on product sales to continue offering quality classes to you. Therefore, I urge you to patronize this shop when buying your supplies for this class as much as possible and remind you that big chain stores do not offer the variety of classes that the smaller shops do. Keep quilt classes alive by supporting this shop. 

Thank you, Helene


  • Fabrics:(To save class time for designing, please cut your fabrics into 2” squares ahead of time).Ideal choices are fabrics that have many color variations within them and patterns that swirl and blend into one another. Many floral prints are perfect for color-wash quilts. Avoid solids and prints or textures that read as a solid from a distance. Most calicos are too regular in pattern and will not blend smoothly into the adjoining pieces but some may work. Stripes and plaids are also difficult though not impossible to incorporate into a color-wash quilt. Avoid prints where there is a scattering of novelty motifs with large spaces in between. A good plan is to cut a 1 ½” square ‘window’ into a business card and use it to preview the fabric. Hold the window over the fabric and move it about to see how it will look once it is reduced to 1½” squares after sewing. You will need lots of variety. I recommend at least 6 different lights, 6 different medium-lights, 6 different mediums, 6 different medium-darks, and 6 different darks (to make selections easier, think in terms of light – medium – and dark and think of having at least a dozen different prints in each group) A fat eighth of each will probably be more than enough unless you plan to make a large quilt. I strongly encourage students to swap fabrics in class to obtain even more variety; I will bring plenty to share as well. When cutting your squares do not fussy cut! The whole idea is to cut randomly and then play with the resulting squares in a serendipitous fashion. To see examples of color-wash quilts and get inspired Google ‘Colorwash Quilts Images’ and you will see a fantastic array of these beautiful quilts.
  • Fusible Watercolor Foundation Grid:This is a lightweight fusible interfacing with a grid of 2” squares, it might be hard to find and so is optional but can be very helpful especially for those who struggle with accurate ¼” seams. NOTE: You can make your own gridded interfacing by using lightweight non-woven fusible interfacing and drawing a 2” grid on the material with a marking tool like a Pigma Micron pen or blue water soluble quilting pen and a long ruler – DO NOTuse a Frixion Pen – after ironing on your first fabric piece your grid will be gone!
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and a cutting mat.
  • Graph paper, pencils and an eraser:to graph out ideas. (Optional)
  • Flannel for a design wall:42” wide by at least 3 yards. The extra length is so you can fold the bottom of the flannel over your pinned design to keep the pieces from getting mussed up when you roll it up to transport it home.
  • Pins:you will need lots and lots of pins. To give you an example, a 30”x 30” watercolor quilt will have about 400 squares of fabric and once you are pleased with your design you will want to pin each piece to keep it in place until you can sew them together.
  • Ziplock bags or small boxes to sort your fabric squares by value:You will need to sort your fabric squares by value; you will need five such boxes or bags. 
  • Value strip or a Value Finder (available at art supply stores):I have provided a five step grayscale with your supply list at right. You may use this strip to help when selecting your fabrics. A commercial Value Finder has ten steps and you can use one of those if you choose to purchase one. Follow the guidelines at the end of this list to help choose your fabrics.
  • Sewing machine and thread in a neutral color:You may or may not get to the sewing stage during the class, it will depend upon how quickly you layout your design. Bring your machine just in case.

Sorting your fabrics into ‘values’:

Value is the degree of lightness to darkness that a fabric color/print is. You can train your eye to see value but it can be challenging especially with warm colors like orange and red or prints made up of a variety of colors and shapes. A ‘Value Finder’ will help identify and categorize your fabric squares (TIP: It is best to cut your fabrics into 2” squares before sorting as one fabric can represent different values depending on where it has been cut). Hold the fabric square overlapping each step of the strip to the right and squint; the step where the fabric seems to flow and blend into the gray square is the value of that square. 

For easier sorting, I have designated five value steps (a commercial finder has ten) – light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark and dark; these five steps will be easier to work with and undoubtedly, certain fabrics may fall between two steps so just put it in the category you think it is closest to. The exact step is not that important as you will actually be doing some fine-tuning of the values and colors as you design your quilt.

Designate one of each container (Ziploc bags or small boxes) to hold one value step of your squares; that gives you better control when it comes selecting and arranging each square into your quilt.


Skill Level: beginner
Skill Details: Confident Beginner
Instructor: Helene Knott

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Included Materials



This class cannot be purchased online. Please contact the store for more information.


  2414 Portland Rd,
Newberg, OR 97132

12185 SW Main St,
Tigard, OR 97223


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