Gathering Inspiration

Mar 11, 2022

I often get asked by quilters-- where do you get inspiration for your quilts?

Inspiration can be found literally everywhere - and you don’t have to go far to find it. 

 If you're lacking inspiration, it may be that you could use some fresh experiences. These don't have to be elaborate excursions-- even a walk through your own neighborhood can fill you with sights and sounds that refresh your mind and soul and awaken your inspiration.


Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty   

"Put yourself in the way of beauty" is a phrase author Cheryl Strayed's mother told her as a girl. I love the idea of intentionally looking for beauty around us, seeking it out.

How can you put yourself in the way of beauty? Go on regular walks through nature, visit a museum, browse a local antique shop-- go wherever you find beauty. Be open to inspiration, and you’ll never have a shortage of ideas.

For me that is in nature, while traveling, at museums, the theatre, particular movies, particular music, certain shops like antique shops or shops with gorgeous displays (like Anthropologie), walking around downtown, just going to a cool and funky coffee shop on a random Tuesday, reading certain books that cause my mind to wander…

Really sit and think about this-- when was the last time you felt expansive, lit up, and excited? Was it at church, during a fabulous meal, the last time you went on vacation, or when you were listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton while on an evening walk?

Find what lights you up, where the muse gives you little nudges and go there as often as possible.

Let Your Work be Different

Consider seeking inspiration outside of the quilt industry.

The quickest way for your quilts to look like everyone else’s quilts is to only draw inspiration from other quilts.

Don’t get me wrong-- I am constantly inspired by other quilters-- quilt exhibits and books are a huge source of inspiration for me. But all of your inspiration cannot come from the quilt world alone if you want to develop a unique style that is expressive of who you are.

You are not only a quilter. What else do you love? Follow that.

Are you a huge fan of Impressionist painters? Ask yourself, how can I incorporate that same movement and energy they have in their paintings into my quilt?

Do you love the desert? How can you incorporate a desert palette or the stark shapes into a quilt?

Are you a fabulous cook? Perhaps take a look at the gorgeous dinner you made last night and draw inspiration for a color palette. 


Your Turn

 There are quilts to be made that only you can make.

If you've been feeling a little stuck creatively, this is a perfect place to start.

Go put yourself in the way of beauty-- today. Plan it out right now-- it can be as simple as a walk through your neighborhood to look at lovely landscaping, or planning a trip this weekend to a local museum. Make a plan, and go do it!

Look for the beauty in the everyday. How can you take note of those bits of inspiration and remember them for when you sit down to create? 

One way to get your creativity flowing is to give yourself a prompt and go looking for it.

For example, let's take the prompt "Shapes". What interesting shapes can you find in your day to day life? Perhaps it's the new blossoms on the tree in your yard, or a graphic wallpaper you notice at your favorite coffee shop. Take notice of the environment around you, intentionally looking for inspiration. Take a photo, sketch a quick copy, take a clipping and set it on your desk. Gather inspiration.; 

Would you like some coaching on how to take the inspiration you've gathered and turn it into a quilt design? We have a whole set of classes in the Meander Quilt Guild that focuses on Design. Design Labs are available exclusively to Meander members, but you can join today for just $19/month (and cancel at any time). Click here to learn more!


I'd love to hear from you! What lights you up? Where do you go for inspiration? Leave a comment below!

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