How do you get inspired to start your next sewing project? Whether it is apparel or quilting, I am always looking for just the right combination of fabric and pattern that gets me excited about working on that project. I don’t consider myself a creative person; I’m more the nerdy engineer. So how do I come up with ideas to make my next project unique?
When I got reinvigorated about sewing about ten years ago, I pored over the big pattern company websites. Then I discovered vintage patterns!!! I confess to bingeing on buying patterns from the 40s and 50s because I love the fashion from that period. If you watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, the show is set is the 50s and the clothing is absolutely inspirational (for me). Every time I watch that show and look through my vintage patterns, I want to make a 50s style wardrobe. Never mind that on most days I wear jeans and t shirts because we live on six acres with a large food garden. Still I want to make an elegantly slim dress with cropped jacket or a summer dress with the full skirt that flares out like a bell. What kind of patterns make you want to hit the sewing machine to make a new item for your wardrobe?
Quilting is a new sewing hobby for me. Just started several years ago and really adore the play with color, shape and design. When I first started learning, I searched the Craftsy platform for classes and bought about a class a month to watch and learn techniques to make quilts.
Craftsy is an excellent app for learning from experienced teachers, being able to ask them questions and to share with other students. If you put the Craftsy app on an iPad, you can download the classes to the iPad for your use. That option is not available on a laptop or smartphone. However, Craftsy provides lifetime access to the class once you pay for it. The classes provide designs and instructions for making the quilt being taught so tons of great ideas for projects in each class.
Of course, YouTube is jam packed with how to videos for any kind of sewing projects you might want to do. The quality of teaching varies greatly but it is still an excellent place to find new techniques, patterns and designs.
Pinterist is probably the app I use most to look at patterns, quilts and bag designs I like. I look at those pins often to refresh my memory about what I am most interested in making. Somehow there is never enough time in the day for all the projects I wish I could make.
When my mother passed away in June 2017, I decided to make a memory quilt in her honor and give it to my son. He spent a lot of summers with her when he was young and they were always very close. But I had a very hard time deciding how to start the quilt.
My mother had a big sunflower print that hung in her living room for years. I decided to look for sunflower quilt designs. I found a few block designs but nothing that really seemed to fit. Then I found a paper pieced design that could have been designed based on the print on my mother’s wall! I was thrilled and that design became the center medallion of the quilt. The photo below is of my mother and my niece sitting under the picture that inspired the start of the quilt.
Another piece of the quilt came from a Craftsy class where the instructor used ¼” line quilting to ‘emboss’ letters in a quilt. I used that technique to emboss my mother’s name into one of the inner quilt borders. (It looks better than this picture.)
Other bits of inspiration came slowly. Quilting a beautiful lace handkerchief to the quilt because my mother always carried them; embroidering some of her favorite things into quilt squares; and the suns in the corners because she always had sun art in her garden.
Recently we had a mini-quilt show for my local quilt guild. I’d had an idea in mind of doing some kind of bubble pattern based on the carpet in our office. The rug pattern looked like overlapping circles of ripples in water; I wanted to emulate the pattern in some way in a quilt. Then I watched Cheryl Arkinson’s Craftsy/BluPrint class on circles in quilts and had an ‘aha!’ moment. Now I had a technique in hand for making the quilt I was picturing.
Inspiration can be found anywhere. Stores, TV, and the internet are the mainstay for researching but I’ve found that everything I see can be translated into sewing art in some fashion. Sunlight through the trees for a place mat design, a shirt on someone I pass, a purse someone is carrying and graffiti on the wall. Tell me about some of the places you have found inspiration for your sewing projects!