>Musings on Inspiration

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These are just a few things that have been inspiring me lately.
(Clockwise from left: a colorful trace I made of a sketch a friend drew;
the Austin skyline; and a shot of something I saw in the background on TV)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about inspiration. First of all, there are many different kinds. There’s the inspiration to create a design from scratch, the inspiration to modify a traditional pattern, the inspiration to just simply make something you’ve seen someone else make. The idea of starting from scratch has always left me dumbfounded. How do you start with a piece of blank paper and sketch out a beautiful quilt? Furthermore, how do you take something you see in real life and translate it to the language of quilt? It’s always really overwhelmed me, to the point where I had almost resigned myself to simply re-creating others’ designs.

But that seemed boring. Well, maybe boring isn’t the best word… defeatist? Yes, I was throwing in the towel. Figuring out the math is one of my favorite parts of the process. Wouldn’t it be even more fun if it were my design? Still, the idea of a blank sheet of paper and a pencil in my hand unnerves me.

I’ve been following the City Quilts Blog Tour, and on Monday I came across a blog post that floored me. Cheryl, who hosted the first stop on the blog tour, had a link on her sidebar titled “Modern Quilting — A Throwback.” Well of course I had to check it out. Actually, you should, too! Cheryl writes about an antique quilts room in a quilt show she attended. It dawned on Cheryl that modern quilting really isn’t so modern at all. Modern quilting is, in fact, traditional quilting, she says.

It’s like the title of that Kaffe Fassett book Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quils. The idea is not new.

As I was reading Cheryl’s post, I found that she managed to put into words many ideas that had been forming in the far reaches of the back of my mind for months. And then, of course, that old Barenaked Ladies song popped into my head: “It’s all been done; it’s all been done; it’s all been done before.” (Hey, I was in junior high when that song came out, so it’s not lame that I know it so well…)

This took the stress away for me. It’s all about putting my own touches on a design that speaks to me. What I need to do is not copy the pictures of quilts I love, but jump off from the idea and make it my own. That I think I can do 🙂

I spent more than an hour last night clicking through the 1,000+ images in the Amish Country Lanes online quilt tour, and I came up with quite a few ideas! (I would love to share them with you now, but this post is already long and text-heavy, so I’ll wait until I have some sketches or InDesign mock-ups to show.)

I really want to know where your ideas come from. Do you prefer to follow patterns? If so, do you follow them to the letter or modify them a bit? Do you buy fabric to fit your pattern, or pick a pattern to fit your fabric? Do you write your own patterns? If so, where do the ideas come from?

What’s the best idea you think you’ve had lately?

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2 thoughts on “>Musings on Inspiration

  1. >I was reading about that very thing not too long ago! Actually, a quilt restorer came into our shop a few weeks back and got me interested. She was working on restoring a hexie quilt and the fabrics were SO similar to ones we have today (and it was over 100 years old!) Very cool topic 🙂 JoannaP.S. I just ADORE the Austin skyline. Hook 'Em!!

  2. >I use to follow the quilt patterns to the 'T' but now I I copy them and brew over them in the back of my mind for however long and then wayla some wonderful idea will come to mind and I'll get to work either planning my new pattern or adjusting the exsisting pattern to work. And the fabric choice has always been up in the air, I do what I want and what I look goods.

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