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Easily Find Your Medium Toned Fabrics

Finding your light and dark fabrics is easy, it's that darn medium that isn't always so easy.  There are products out there to make finding your medium easier, like the red lens glasses, but I can't remember to pick my sunglasses up.  I never would make it to the quilt store with the red lens glasses.  The one thing I never leave home without though, is my cell phone.  And that's what we are going to use to find our medium shades.  It's easy, anyone can do it, you don't need to buy anything you don't already have, and you don't have to remember to take anything extra with you to the fabric store.  No one will look at you funny either at the fabric store either.

medium tone fabrics

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Most of the time we need a light, a medium, and a dark.  I find figuring out the light and the dark to be fairly easy.  It's figuring out if that third one is really a medium or not.  I can't count the times I've put a test together only to find out that my design is lost because I didn't have a true medium.  It's frustrating and costly to do that.  If I had an unlimited fabric budget it might not bother me but I don't.  I also don't have a fabric shop just down the street, they are both 20 miles away, I can't be running back and forth all the time.  I had to find an easier way to find that medium fabric.

So how do we use our phone to find medium fabrics?  The camera function.  That's right the camera you use to snap pictures of your kids, grandkids, furbabies, and amazing food is going to now become your favorite quilting tool.  I have an iPhone so my instructions are going to be based on that.  I am 99.9% sure you can do it on an Android phone too but your symbols probably won't be the same.

So we start with a photo of the three colors you want to use.  I laid the bolts on the floor at the quilt shop.  Right in the middle of the aisle so there were no shadows from the other bolts.
Purchase these fabrics - black , orange, acid green
That's the actual photo right off of my phone.  I was 99% sure that the orange was a medium but I like I said before, I've been wrong.  That sneaky 1% gets me a lot.  So what did I do?  I hit the edit button on the photo and turned it into a black and white photo.  I have three options, mono, tonal, and noir.  DO NOT USE noir.  It adds tonal dimension to your photo, which is cool most of the time, but can skew the results of our test.  Stick to mono or tonal.


The mono is on the left and the tonal is on the right.  It's pretty easy to see that the orange truly is a medium fabric isn't it?  Let's take a look at the twisted log cabin quilt.

Striking quilt right?  But does it have light, mediums, and darks in it?  Most of the time our log cabin quilts have all three.  I put the colors together and was sure I had picked at least one of each.  They say the camera doesn't lie and this is no exception.

Yikes!!  There really isn't any lights in this quilt.  Just darks and mediums.  It works to the naked eye but had this been a design that needed all three, it would have never worked.  The design would have been lost and it makes me want to remake it in with all three to see if it changes anything.

So dig your phone out and start snapping pictures of your fabric. Find out if you have light, medium, and dark picked out of if you need to go back to the drawing board.  It's much cheaper to use your phone than to waste fabric or buy any special items.

If you want more great quilting tips be sure to check at all my other tips.  

finding your medium toned fabrics

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Yes! The phone camera is very handy when quilting!!

  2. I'd never even thought of that! Duh!!! You're right, I never leave the phone at home! How silly of me! And we constantly take pictures of our fabric to see if this works with that and send pictures to each other to see what others think- so why not use those pictures to check for ourselves? Where was this article when I was trying to figure out my fabrics for my tumbling blocks fabric several weeks ago? Geesh! Great idea! Thanks Mel!

  3. Except, I don't use a cell phone! :)

    No problem, I work almost exclusively from stash, so I can use my camera.