Prepare to be inspired by social media: 5 tips for new quilters

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”
— Jack London, Author

They say that inspiration is everywhere, but where do you begin to find it if you’re new to patchwork and quilting? As modern quilters, we have incredible, free, digital resources: Instagram and Pinterest are deep wells of inspiration, but social media can also leave you feeling dazzled and overwhelmed. Endless possibilities can sometimes slow down the creative urge. If you’ve felt paralysed by choice, don’t worry: you can do simple things to focus your inspiration and use social media effectively.

 
 

1. Relax: you’ve made good choices about colour, shape, pattern and form before.

Look in your wardrobe, around your home, at the car you drive. Your eye will be drawn to your favourite things and you’ll start to notice what they have in common. Maybe it’s bright, vibrant colour or perhaps you have a thing for florals. Try to pick out two or three characteristics of what you like best and keep them in mind.

2. Start small: look for the building blocks of inspiration.

A great start for patchwork and quilting is a block-compendium book. There are many, but this one is a great example to get your creative juices flowing. Which shapes are you drawn to? Get an idea of what you like, and you’ll start to recognise your favourite patterns as you widen your search.

3. Out and about: buildings are full of shapes and geometry.

 
 Clamshell rooftops in Strasbourg

Clamshell rooftops in Strasbourg

 Victorian tiled floor

Victorian tiled floor

 

As a beginner, you’ll probably start with geometric patchwork. Look at tiled bathrooms and floors or pavements and walls. They are usually made from geometrically shaped pieces which lock together, just like patchwork. Look out for interesting patterns and remember to take photos to save your inspiration and ideas.

4. Colour clues: some people have a natural sense of colour and combine them easily.

Luckily, they leave clues for the rest of us! Look at the covers of books, magazines and music. Artists and designers will have worked hard to bring together colours that work. Illustrated children’s books are brilliant for striking colour combinations. My favourites are the Mr Men books: I loved them as a child and read them to my girls now. Did you know that Roger Hargreaves lived in Cowden and wrote some of the books here?

 Mr Slow (image from www.mrmen.com)

Mr Slow (image from www.mrmen.com)

5. Community: see what other people are making.

Do you have a local quilt shop or quilt group? Perhaps a friend or neighbour who sews? Which quilts would you love to have made? Appreciate what others have created, but which wouldn’t float your boat? Quilting is an investment of time and effort, so be just as clear about what you don’t like (but be nice!).

Now you can pin, like and follow to your heart’s content. Social media is not for everyone, I know. If you do use it, try not to spend all your spare time scrolling instead of stitching! Edit your saved images every so often and you’ll soon have a personal library of inspiration at your fingertips.